Looks of anticipation from our furry family members – so cute and endearing as we enjoy a meal or a snack is something that all pet owners – well, mostly dog parents, experience on a daily basis. We’re not excluding kitties, but they are usually more discerning about their foods and would rather not appear like they care at all!
Our love and willingness to add to the joy of our pets tempts us to hand over a morsel or allow them to devour the leftovers from a meal. However, we also have to be responsible about treating them. There are many foods that cause, at the least gastrointestinal distress and the worst that require immediate medical attention and/or death.
Here is a list of those foods that should never be given to them for many reasons:
Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine: These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. These can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note: The darker the chocolate the more dangerous.
Alcohol: Have you ever had one of “those” friends who thought it was “cool” to give their dog or cat beer or liquor? Well, we hope not – but any alcoholic beverage or food product containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart.
Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts can be found in cookies and candies. First, cookies and candies should not be fed to your pets because of the added calories – empty calories that contribute to obesity. In the case of these nuts however, cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Grapes & Raisins: Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. For pets who are older or who have certain health problems this is especially true.
Yeast Dough: Not sure why anyone would feed their dog uncooked bread dough – but just in case you are tempted – don’t! Until the dough is cooked the yeast is still “alive” and will continue to expand in your pet’s digestive track. Needless to say the gas that it will cause will be painful and in the worst cases can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. The risk of stomach distress does diminish after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen and pets can have small bits of bread as treats. Please keep the volume of these treats five 5 to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones: Just like with us, it is important to reduce the risk of sickness or even death from the bacteria that is present in raw or undercooked meats and eggs. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. Raw eggs also contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who are likely to choke on bone splinters, or sustain a grave injury when they become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
Xylitol: Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
Onions, Garlic, Chives: These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.
Milk: Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Salt: Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!
If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.