Humans have a strong desire to share foods that they enjoy themselves with their pets; however, this is not always the wisest thing to do.
When was the last time you brushed up on the foods that are a danger to your pets? Valentines Day has been with us again, and all those chocolates lying around—does your pooch look at you with those pleading eyes, just begging for a taste as they smell so tempting? It’s hard to imagine that something most people find delicious could be so toxic to your dog. But beware, just one bite could be fatal.
Other foods on the list below could also prove fatal. It’s good to know the foods to absolutely steer clear of when it comes to the family pet. Remember, there are plenty of yummy foods and treats that they can enjoy without fear of suffering.
A list of 10 foods and substances dangerous to your dog
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical harmless to humans. However, it is toxic to your dog. Just a small amount can cause vomiting and diarrhea, whilst in large amounts, it can cause seizures, heart irregularities, muscle tremors, or a heart attack. Symptoms of poisoning may happen immediately or take a day to manifest.
Any type of alcoholic drink, be it wine, beer, or spirits, can give your dog a dose of alcohol poisoning. Dogs’ kidneys are not designed to filter alcohol, and due to a dog’s size, it takes a much smaller dose to affect them compared to humans. Symptoms can occur very quickly, and can include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty urinating, and if the poisoning is severe—even with just a small amount of alcohol—coma, kidney failure, and heart failure can ensue. So don’t let your dog’s natural curiosity lead to tragedy.
We humans often need that morning cup of joe to get into the day, and many look forward to it. It smells delicious, and the aroma is enough to want you to give a sip to your four-legged friend, but beware; caffeine is toxic to your dog even in small doses. Coffee-flavored ice creams are no less toxic, and don’t forget those chocolate-covered beans the barista might put on the side of your cup—they pack a bigger punch of caffeine and chocolate.
Grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs even in small amounts. Just three or four grapes is considered a toxic dose for a 20-pound (approx. 9-kilogram) dog. Ingestion can lead to severe health problems, including kidney failure. Research has not determined the substance in grapes that causes the toxicity, and not all dogs are affected by eating grapes. Remember, foods such as raisin toast, raisin-filled cookies, grape juice, cake containing dried fruit, and other foods containing raisins are also on the banned list for dogs.
Can dogs eat avocado? The answer is yes—as long as they don’t ingest the leaves, skin or seed of the fruit—which are toxic. So it is okay as a treat from time to time, as long as you don’t combine it with other toxic foods like onion, garlic, and other spices.
“In general, dogs (and cats) should not eat any type of fruit seed or pit. Many of them (such as apples and apricots) contain cyanide,” says Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, author of What Cats Should Eat and Paleo Dog: Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight, and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf.
Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives contain a substance called thiosulphate; keep your canine away from it—it is toxic to them as they don’t have the enzyme in their system to digest it.
While a bite of foods containing onions every now and then might not affect your dog, if they are to eat onions on a regular basis the toxin can accumulate over time and cause a condition called hemolytic anemia, which destroys red blood cells. Although dogs don’t usually like the taste of onions, anything is possible, so if your dog has ingested a large number of onions, seek immediate help.
Most nuts are high in fats making them hard for dogs to digest, and can cause digestive upset. But some nuts are to be avoided at all costs. The top of the list for toxicity is the macadamia nut. Walnuts and pecans also fall into this category, and while other nuts might be less toxic, it is best to avoid them all. After all, your dog depends on you to know what he can or can’t eat. It is not certain what makes them so toxic, but even just one or two macadamias can cause your dog to suffer dizziness, tremors, or temporary paralysis.
This artificial sweetener can be found in many foods from lollies, bread, cakes, chewing gum—even dental products. Xylitol stimulates the release of insulin, causing blood sugar levels to drop dramatically. Vomiting, tiredness, seizures, and collapse can then happen in a very short time. Dr. Dana Brooks, an internist at Seattle Veterinary Specialists in Kirkland, says there has been an increase in the number of dogs and cats admitted with xylitol poisoning. “Immediately after ingestion, vomiting may occur. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) develops within 30 to 60 minutes, resulting in lethargy and weakness. These signs may quickly develop into ataxia (trouble walking), collapse, and seizures. Prolonged blood clotting times, as well as skin and intestinal hemorrhaging, are clinical signs that may develop within hours and warrant a very poor prognosis,” she said according to The SeattleTimes. Xylitol is not something you want to give your dog.
Corn on the cob
Dogs can love the taste of that leftover morsel of corn on the cob, with the taste of butter and salt added. They might like to chew on the cob, and can even swallow fairly big chunks of it. This is where the problem arises. The pieces can cause an intestinal blockage; though a bigger dog might be able to pass the cob through its tract, for small dogs it’s almost impossible. It can quickly become a medical emergency, and apart from being a costly visit to the vet, it could cost your dog his life. It would be much better to offer a safe treat instead.
Never feed cooked bones to your pet, they can easily break into sharp pieces as they pass through the intestinal tract and cause damage or an obstruction. Raw bones are safer, but it does depend on the type of bone. Big bones the dog can gnaw on are a better bet, but it is advisable to keep an eye on your dog just in case they swallow big chunks. Poultry or pork bones, either raw or cooked, should never be given to your dog. The safest way to give your dog a bone is to offer it after a meal; he is not likely to eat too much of it this way and you can take it away after 10 or 15 minutes and keep it wrapped in the fridge. Remember that any bone can cause a blockage, so if Fido is having trouble with constipation, it does need investigation by the vet.
For more information on foods toxic to canines, go to Animal Poison Control.
Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and if you suspect your dog has eaten something toxic and is suffering, call your vet.