Category Archives: Dog Info
Dog owners know all too well just how much pups seem to love people food, but where is the line between giving Fido a nice treat and putting his life on the line? Certain foods that are quite safe and enjoyable for humans can be quite dangerous to dogs. So which foods exactly can cause problems? Here are some (but certainly not all) things to watch out for the next time your dog gives you the sad puppy dog eyes under the kitchen table.
What dog wouldn’t love a nice bone? Not any I’ve ever met. But when you give your dog a bone from your plate, you could be asking for trouble. It seems crazy that a bone may not be healthy for a dog to eat, especially since you so often see bones as dog treats and toys, but smaller bones from chicken or fish can splinter or break and cause your pooch serious problems. For instance, a splintered chicken bone could cause lacerations/cuts to the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract. So, while that nice bone from the pet store may be a tasty treat, reconsider feeding your pup bones from the table.
This is another one that might seem strange. Dogs often eat fat in other foods or on bones they get from the human friends (those that haven’t read this!), but large amounts of fat can cause some serious problems, including pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed, which can be quite painful for your canine friend. Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea. Not fun!
#15: Raw Meat
So, no bones, no fat and now you’re telling me I can’t give my dog raw meat? What did dogs do before mass-produced dog food? Well, as noted above, smaller amounts of fat can be OK and the right bones shouldn’t hurt Fido, but it’s still important to be careful and keep an eye out for symptoms of illness. With raw meat, the issue is much the same as if you or I were to grab our steak off the grill too early: bacteria. Dog’s stomachs can handle it a little better than ours, but much like the human stomach, dogs have evolved over time and consuming large amounts of bacteria (commonly found in raw meat, among other things) can cause food poisoning and result in some serious tummy problems.
#14: Cat Food
I don’t know about you, but the first thing our two pups do when they go into someone’s house who happens to have a kitty is find that bowl of cat food and chow down. Not so fast pups! Cat food, although not terrible for your dog, isn’t great either. Cats are carnivores while dogs are considered to be omnivores and can have a diet of both meat and plant-based foods. Not surprisingly, cats need some different things in their diets than dogs, including more protein. Cat food, naturally, contains much more protein than dogs need. While eating a can of cat food shouldn’t cause any long-term effects (recent studies have shown dogs to be much more tolerant of protein than originally thought and can tolerate diets with protein levels over 30%), the different protein and vitamin levels will likely be enough to cause an upset stomach. In addition, prolonged diets of cat food can lead to kidney problems (due to the higher protein content) which are no picnic!
We’ve already covered the potential issues caused by eating too much fat or protein, so naturally you can see a problem with eating too many nuts, which are high in both. In addition, both walnuts and macadamia nuts are known to be toxic to dogs. Just a few of these nuts can cause serious illness in your pup, which might begin to show symptoms such as vomiting, weakness and even paralysis in the hind quarters, muscle tremors, a rapid heart rate and elevated temperature within 12 hours of swallowing the culprit.
#12: Fruits With Pits
Our dogs both LOVE fruits, especially apples. But be careful when you feed your pooch his or her favorite fruit. Fruits with pits can be very dangerous, especially if left unattended. Not only can the pit become lodged in the esophagus, but it can obstruct the digestive tract further down the road. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and problems with bowel movements. In extreme cases, the blockage can lead to death. Common pitted fruits include peaches and plums. In addition, plum pits are known to contain cyanide, which can be extremely dangerous.
#11: Milk & Other Dairy Products
Have you ever met a dog that wouldn’t love a little bowl of milk? Me neither. In fact, I can think of more than one occasion when I’ve put a dribble or two of milk on our pup’s diet food to get her to eat it. I’ll think twice next time. Dogs lack the enzyme lactase, which metabolizes the lactose in milk and other dairy products. So what can that mean? You guessed it: upset tummy and, in some cases, diarrhea.
#10: Raw Egg Whites
We’ve all been told not to eat too many raw eggs for fear of getting food poisoning from Salmonella, and that’s true for your dog too. But raw egg whites can also have some negative effects on your pooch’s skin and fur, including skin lesions and dried eye discharge. Egg whites contain an enzyme called avidin, which can reduce absorption of vitamins critical to a healthy coat (namely biotin). Fear not dog owners! To prevent issues, simply cook the egg whites to render the avidin inactive and your pup can enjoy eggs along side you. Just remember that too much protein can be bad for dogs!
Avocados are known to be great for the human heart, but they also contain a toxin called persin, which can cause some tummy problems for dogs. But the trouble isn’t limited to the tummy. Although avocados are good for your heart, they can cause serious problems for a dog’s cardiovascular system, including fluid accumulation around the heart, respiratory distress and even death. So, say no to the avocado!
#8: Tomato Stems or Leaves
The green portion of tomatoes (stems and leaves) contain a toxin called Solanine, which is poisonous to dogs. Coincidentally, Solanine is also found in the green spots on potato skin. Solanine poisoning symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and irregular heartbeat. Not too fun! So next time Fido wants to share a tomato, make sure he only gets a bite of the juicy, red part!
We can’t talk about tomatoes without also discussing the perils of onions. Onions, as well as garlic and all other members of the onion family, contain sulfoxides and disulfides, such as thiosulphate, which cause hemolytic anemia and destroys red blood cells. This can result in weakness, breathlessness, reduced appetite and vomiting. Thiosulphate is found in all forms of onions, including powder, so be sure to watch for it as an ingredient in any food you are feeding your dog .
Perhaps more serious than tomatoes or onions, another common cooking ingredient (at least around our household!) can be life threatening to your pooch. Mushrooms contian amatoxin and phallatoxin which can cause serious problems in the kidneys and liver. Kidney failure, jaundice, hypoglycemia, acidosis, and hemorrhages have been associated with the toxins found in mushrooms. All of the above can cause death. No fun for anyone, especially Fido! Bottom line, don’t feed your pup mushrooms and don’t let them get into any if they are out and about!
#5: Sugar Free Gums/Candies
On to the (not-so) sweeter side! Lots of sugar-free gums and candies contain xylitol, a sugar alcohol made from birch, raspberries, plums and corn. Xylitol causes a rapid release of insulin in dogs and can result in a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Additionally, xylitol is now believed to cause major liver problems in dogs within 12-24 hours of being ingested. In a 2006 study done by the ASPCA, six of eight dogs exposed to xylitol experience liver failure before the onset of hypoglycemia. Five of the eight dogs died as a result or had to be put to sleep. The message? Don’t let your dog have anything that you believe to be sugar-free!
#4: Sugary Foods
While not quite as fast-acting, overly sugary foods can also cause problems in dogs. Just like in problems, ingesting too much sugar can cause obesity, dental issues and possibly diabetes. You want to be healthy and you should strive to keep your pooch healthy too. Just don’t replace the sugary foods with sugar-free foods!
#3: Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol seems pretty obvious, right? We know the effects it can have on humans and those same effects are multiplied on dogs. But caffeine can also be dangerous. One of the reasons we drink coffee in the morning is to help us wake up. This is caused, in part, because the caffeine causes a chemical release which starts our “fight or flight” response. In short, drinking caffeine causes our heart rate and blood pressure to go up. In smaller mammals – like dogs – this effect can be amplified causing rapid breathing and increased heart rate. In extreme cases, caffeine can cause heart attacks, coma and even death. Symptoms of alcohol ingestion in you pup might be the opposite, but can lead to similar tragedy. Early symptoms of alcohol consumption in a dog include decreased rate of breathing and decreased heart rate, as well as lack of coordination (much in the same way it can affect humans). However, alcohol can cause lack of consciousness, coma and death in dogs. When it comes down to it, if your drink causes any sort of reaction for you – waking you up, putting you to sleep or otherwise – you probably shouldn’t let your pooch have a sip.
We mentioned above that our dogs love to eat fruit and we already know that fruits with pits can cause major problems for pups. But grapes and raisins are two more fruits that can be deadly to your pooch, even without pits. The toxin contained in grapes and raisins is not know and the fruits don’t seem to affect all dogs the same. However, eating grapes and raisins can cause renal (kidney) failure in some dogs, which may lead to death. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as increased drinking and reduced urine production. No fun for anyone and certainly not worth the risk of finding out if your dog is one affected by grapes or raisins.
Last, but not least we have chocolate. Most dog owners have at least heard that chocolate is not good for dogs and avoid feeding it to their pups. One of the problems we run into with our own dogs is young children. What little kid doesn’t love some chocolate? For that matter, what pup doesn’t? Our issue arises when the little rugrats find out how fun it is to feed the pooch or simply drop some of their snack (that would never happen, would it?!?). Chocolate contains, among other things, theobomine. Theobromine is toxic to dogs and even a relatively small amount can cause problems, such as constricted arteries and increased heart rate. Chocolate can also cause abnormal heart beat, seizures and death, in addition to the typical vomiting and diarrhea associated with dogs consuming toxins. So, while you may have heard it before, it’s worth reiterating: DON’T FEED YOUR DOGS CHOCOLATE!
Think your pooch has gotten into something they shouldn’t have (even something not on this list)? Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435 (fair warning, they may charge you a consultation fee). If your dog starts to show any of the symptoms discussed above, go see your vet. Nobody knows your dog better than you do and sometimes you can just tell they aren’t right. Get them checked out! If you want more information about things that are poisonous to dogs (not just food!), check out the ASPCA’s website. They have tons of information about everything you can imagine.