Dogs have a tendency to get themselves into trouble – especially when food is involved. In some instances, though, pet owners may be unfamiliar with the list of foods that a dog should not have and unwittingly provide a “healthy” snack that is perfectly fine for a human yet toxic to a pet.
Listed here are foods that your pet should avoid.
Even if your pet is a party animal, he or she should never be given alcohol. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks all smell enticing to pets, but pet owners should be aware that even a small amount of alcohol can be detrimental to an animal’s wellbeing. Since most pets weigh significantly less than humans and have a faster metabolism, even a few sips of higher-proof alcohol can turn deadly. If a dog or cat has ingested alcohol, look for symptoms of vomiting, disorientation, diarrhea, depression, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and loss of coordination.
Similarly, pets should also avoid caffeine. While a couple sips of tea or coffee will not hurt an animal in most cases, consuming a tea bag or coffee grounds could be harmful. Signs of caffeine toxicity in pets include elevated heart rate, hyperactivity, vomiting, seizures, and collapse.
Perhaps the most well-known pet poison is chocolate, although all chocolate ingredients are not equally toxic to animals. For instance, baker’s chocolate, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate are far more dangerous than milk chocolate or white chocolate varieties. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, seizures, tremors, and death. The dosage that an animal consumes is important, with smaller animals being more susceptible to chocolate poisoning than larger ones. You can use this chocolate toxicity calculator to see the expected symptom.
Cooked Bones / Poultry Bones
Most people incorrectly assume that bones are safe for dogs, when in reality this assumption is rarely true. Cooked bones (including smoked varieties) can splinter easily, causing cuts in the mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines. In general, raw bones are safe to give dogs, so long as large pieces are not swallowed whole. Poultry bones, on the other hand, should never be given to dogs due to the fact they are hollow. Therefore poultry bones, raw or cooked, can splinter very easily and cause serious gastrointestinal problems for the animal. Symptoms that a dog is experiencing issues due to the consumption of a bone include vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or bloody stool.
Foods with high-fat content such as chicken skin, avocado, or gristle cut from meat should not be fed to pets because of the difficulty most animals have in processing fat. This problem is especially pronounced in small dogs, who can develop pancreatitis as a result of a rich treat. Symptoms of pancreatitis include fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dehydration.
Grapes / Raisins
It is easy to forget that grapes and raisins are dangerous to dogs and cats because they are healthy for humans. However, grapes and raisins can result in very serious problems for pets, including kidney failure, dehydration, and lethargy. Symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity can be delayed, so it is important to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if you discover your dog has snuck a “healthy” snack.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, and symptoms of poisoning may not be apparent for up to 12 hours after the tropical nut has been consumed. Signs that your dog has ingested macadamia nuts include depression, lethargy, vomiting, weakness, tremors, and fever. While these symptoms can be scary to witness in a pet, the good news is that macadamia nut poisoning is not fatal.
Onions / Garlic
Onions and garlic are both part of the same family (Allium) which is why they are combined into one category here. Garlic is the more toxic of the two vegetables, with one clove of garlic causing potential problems for a small dog versus one onion. Additionally, raw onion and garlic are more toxic than when these ingredients are cooked. Pet owners should beware that symptoms do not appear immediately, with symptoms generally appearing 48 hours after ingestion. Since onions and garlic cause hemolysis(i.e.the destruction of red blood cells), symptoms of poisoning in dogs include lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
By far the most toxic food on this list is xylitol, which is a sugar substitute found in many “sugar-free” foods. Common foods and products that contain xylitol include toothpaste, sugar-free gum, breath mints, and sugar-free peanut butter. The dangers of xylitol should not be underscored, as this sugar alcohol is one hundred times more toxic to pets than chocolate. Only 400 mg of xylitol per 5 kg of body weight is lethal for a dog, which equates to 2 sticks of gum for most brands. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, seizure, tremors, coma, and death. If your dog has consumed anything containing xylitol (sometimes labeled as “sugar alcohols”), do not wait for symptoms to appear and contact your veterinarian right away. In this instance, you can never be too safe when it comes to the health of your pet.
What to Do If a Pet Has Ingested Toxic Food
If you observed your pet ingest something that is known to be toxic, contact a veterinarian or pet poison hotline and provide the following information: your pet’s weight, breed, and approximately how much of the ingredient was consumed. A vet tech will be able to tell you whether your dog ingested a toxic dosage, and what to do next. In some cases, you will be given instructions for how to induce vomiting in your pet. However, never do so unless instructed by a veterinarian. If your pet consumed a dangerous dosage of a toxic ingredient, you may be instructed to go to your nearest veterinarian to have your dog’s stomach pumped and to receive supportive care. If your dog ingested xylitol, skip the step of calling and asking for advice and instead immediately go to the veterinarian (but do call ahead to let them know you are on your way). In the vast majority of cases, a dog can be restored to full health when the problem is caught in time!
I love to travel around the world and a mother of two dogs – Mia and Kellie