Saturday, October 20, 2012


As we look down at our beloved pet while eating, it can be very hard to resist those soulful eyes peering up at you.  We often just want to give them a little taste.  After all, if we are enjoying what we are eating, then most likely they will enjoy it, too.  However, falling prey to those begging eyes and giving dogs human food can often harm them.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center receives thousands of calls per year.  In most instances the poisoning was caused by common human foods.  Unfortunately, many of the foods we enjoy are dangerous to animals.  Here is a listing of many of the foods that can cause harm to your pet:

Alcoholic beverages and foods containing Alcohol - Can cause the same damage to an animal as it does to humans.  Even a small amount of alcohol may cause coma and death in both dogs and cats.

Artificial Sweetener - Sugar-Free candy or anything containing Xylitol (a common sweetener) can cause a sudden drop in an animal's blood sugar resulting in a loss of coordination and seizures.  If left untreated, the animal could die.

Avocados - They contain a toxic component called persin, which can cause difficulty in breathing, abdominal swelling, and fluid accumulation in the chest and around the heart, again, resulting in death.  This fruit is very toxic to dogs, cats and most other animals.

Baby food - Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs and cats.  (Please see onion below)  It can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts.

Caffeine - Coffee, tea, and anything containing caffeine contains an alkaloid called theobromine.  Theobromine acts as a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic, which in turn can cause a heart attack or other heart and nervous system problems in animals.  It definitely can be fatal to dogs. 

Chocolate - Contain substances called methylxanthines, that  are found in cacao seeds.  Methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.  Dark and unsweetened baking chocolates are especially dangerous

Eggs (raw) - Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of a B vitamin.  This can lead to skin and coat problems.

Grapes and Raisins - Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can lead to kidney failure in dogs.  The effects are cumulative, which means that even if a dog eats just one or two grapes or raisins regularly, the toxin builds in his system and will eventually kill him.

Milk and other dairy products - Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk.  The consumption of milk and milk products by a lactose intolerant pet can cause excessive intestinal gas and foul-smelling diarrhea.  It is best to avoid most dairy products, although most dogs can tolerate small amounts of cheese or plain yogurt, since these products have less lactose than milk.

Mushrooms- Contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, causing shock, and resulting in death.

Nuts - Walnuts and macadamia nuts are especially toxic.  Effects can be anything from vomiting to paralysis and death.  Within 12 hours of eating the nuts, pets start to develop symptoms such as  vomiting, hyperthermia, weakness, and an elevated heart rate.  These symptoms can be even worse if your dog eats some chocolate with the nuts. 

Onions and Garlic (raw, cooked, or powder) - Contain thiosulphate which damages red blood cells.  Cats are more susceptible than dogs.  Garlic is less toxic than onions.  Destruction of an animal's red blood cells can lead to anemia, weakness, and breathing difficulties.  The effects are also cumulative over time.

Salt - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium 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.

Tobacco - Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems.  Can result in rapid heartbeat, collapse, coma, and death.

Yeast dough - Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Accidents can happen.  If you suspect your pet has consumed or been exposed to something toxic, even if they are not exhibiting any symptoms, stay calm, and call for help immediately.  Keep the telephone number of your local veterinarian handy ,  along with the  ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center  Hotline phone number (888-426-4435).


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