It is hard to resist those big brown eyes as our canine companions hover around the dinner table, begging us to drop a morsel of food their way. Many of us are guilty of feeding our furry friends table scraps, or slipping them the odd piece of human food. For the most part, these occasional little treats do no harm, and our pampered pooches adore us for it. However, there are some foods that can cause harm to your dog, some well known and others a little more surprising.
Whether you have an adult dog or are trying to train a new puppy, you must be constantly vigilant so that your pup doesn’t grab a leftover morsel from the kitchen counter or gobble up food accidently (or intentionally) dropped on the floor. Here are some of the big ones to avoid.
Dogs, like humans love chocolate. Whereas we only have to worry about the damage it can do to our weight, there is a compound in chocolate called theobromine that is toxic to dogs. Theobromine occurs in all forms of chocolate, although milk chocolate has significantly less of it than dark chocolate. When ingested in sufficient quantities, theobromine can cause severe problems and possibly even death. If your dog has ingested chocolate, seek immediate veterinary advice. Likely, For a 17-pound dog, 2 ounces of the very dark bakers chocolate could cause problems, whereas 2 ounces of milk chocolate would only cause a tummy upset. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include restlessness and hyper-excitability, rapid heart rate, frequent urination, tremors, vomiting and diarrhea.
Grapes and Raisins
Many dog owners are surprised to learn that grapes can be harmful to their pet, causing acute kidney failure. Some dogs have been able to tolerate quite large quantities of grapes and raisins, whereas others have died after ingesting as little as a handful of raisins. What is even more puzzling is that no one is sure exactly why some dogs are unable to tolerate grapes. Vomiting and diarrhea may be the first signs of grape toxicity, followed by weakness and abdominal pain. Acute kidney failure can develop within 48 hours.
Garlic, Onion and Chives
Canines are partial to a little seasoning and happily ingest the most pungent of foodstuffs. However, onions and garlic contain thiosulphates that, in large quantities, can cause haemolytic anaemia in dogs. A little garlic or onion is unlikely to cause harm; in fact, they are common ingredients in dog food. A single large dose of onion or a cumulative dose fed over a few days, however, has the potential to cause anaemia. Garlic is less likely to cause a problem as it contains less thiosulphate. Symptoms of onion poisoning begin with vomiting, followed by breathlessness and lethargy as the blood cells begin to die off. The condition improves when onion is discontinued.
Macadamia nuts appear to induce a form of temporary arthritis in pets. Symptoms include muscle and joint pain, swelling of joints, weakness, lethargy and vomiting. The illness is not usually fatal. As few as six macadamia nut kernels can cause toxicity in some dogs, while other dogs have much higher tolerance. Usually, a full recovery is made within 48 hours.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free products. It can be found in gum, candy, cookies, low-carb and diabetic products, as well as in healthcare products such as toothpaste. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause acute symptoms within just 30 minutes of ingestion. It causes blood sugar to drop dramatically, resulting in vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, seizures and, if not corrected quickly, coma. If treated quickly by a veterinarian, most dogs survive. Still, it is very important that Xylitol poisoning be treated as an emergency.
Other substances that can be harmful to dogs include caffeine, alcohol, fruit pits, walnuts, tomatoes (a small amount of atropine is present in unripe tomatoes), cooked bones, green potatoes and dairy products. If you suspect your dog may have swallowed a toxic substance, seek veterinary advice immediately and, if possible, provide a sample of the substance ingested.