Thursday, November 5, 2009
By Linda Cole
The holiday season is an exciting time of year. We're preoccupied with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations, and may not be paying close attention to what our pets are up to. However, the spilled raisins on the floor or the bowl of candy sitting on the coffee table could harm them. It never hurts to have a reminder about foods dogs should never eat, especially during the holiday season when more food is available and easy for canines to find.
Recently, CANIDAE received an email regarding a pet owner whose dog ate half a canister of raisins and became very sick. The owner didn't know raisins were toxic to dogs, and wanted to share his story so other pet owners would be aware of it. I have written about dangerous foods for dogs here before, but with the holiday season fast approaching, now is a good time to revisit the topic.
Raisins and grapes are favorites during the holidays in cookies, salads or by the handful, yet they can be deadly for dogs. Scientists have no idea why, but raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure quickly in dogs. Both contain an unknown toxin and just a few can cause your dog to vomit and become hyperactive, which are early signs. Within 24 hours, they will become lethargic and depressed.
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and death. Even though most people know never to give their pets chocolate, the holiday season sees an increase in pets that have been poisoned by chocolate every year.
Candy and gum are foods dogs should not eat, especially those containing Xylitol. This “natural” low calorie sugar substitute is made from Birch tree bark, and can also be found in sugar-free baked goods, mints, toothpaste, kids vitamins and diet foods. Many people are not aware of the dangers of Xylitol to pets, because vets have only recently discovered its toxicity in dogs. It takes very little to increase insulin in the dog's system which leads to a drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
Because Xylitol is present in so many products, we may not realize that what our dog just ate could be lethal. It's important to read labels to determine if Xylitol is present in the cupcakes or cookies you left on the kitchen counter. Vets are anxious to get the warning out to pet owners about the dangers of Xylitol to dogs. Please pass the information along to your friends and family, and keep all products with Xylitol safely stored in cabinets and away from inquiring canine noses.
Nutmeg is a spice often included in homemade recipes for dog food and treats, but is considered a food dogs should never eat. Nutmeg is known to cause seizures and tremors in dogs. It can cause dogs who eat large amounts to hallucinate.
Salt and other spices are ingredients dogs don't need. Too much salt can produce sodium ion poisoning and can be fatal. Salty snacks should be avoided along with most spices.
Macadamia nuts and walnuts cause muscle tremors, rapid heart rate, weakness or paralysis in the hindquarters. Nuts in chocolate candy or cookies is double trouble. Nuts can also cause bladder stones, and just a few is all it takes for some dogs.
Onions and garlic can make your dog anemic by destroying red blood cells. A small amount may not hurt them, but if they eat large amounts or daily (whether cooked, raw, dehydrated or powdered) they risk becoming anemic. Garlic is not as toxic as onion, but it can build up over time and cause a toxic reaction if eaten daily. Cats should never have garlic.
Fat trimmings and cooked bones should not be given to your dog. Fat can cause pancreatitis, and cooked bones can splinter or become stuck in the dog's throat. Splintered bones can cause lacerations in the dog’s digestive tract.
Fruit pits and seeds, if swallowed whole, can obstruct the small intestines and cause painful inflammation for dogs. Peach, plum and cherry pits contain cyanide which is poisonous to us and dogs.
This is a small list of foods dogs should never eat. Most of these foods will be in kitchens, in fancy bowls on coffee tables or counters, and will be raw, baked or cooked this holiday season. Please make sure all guests, young and old, understand it's alright to pet the dog, but not to feed him or allow him to steal a “treat.” It only takes one bite of the wrong food to end a holiday celebration early with an emergency trip to the vet.
Add the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888)-426-4435, to your emergency phone list alongside your vet's. If you think your dog ate something they shouldn't have, call your vet or the ASPCA immediately. You can also see a comprehensive list of foods dogs should never eat at peteducation.com.
Read more articles by Linda Cole