March 19, 2014

My little 16 pound dog inhaled a half of a sandwich. She just grabbed it from my husband and swallowed it whole. We just stood there in disbelief as she stared at us licking her chops. It was pretty funny when it happened, and it goes to show you how much dogs love food. Sometimes, that can be a bad thing if they happen to get hold of something that isn’t good for them. Here is a partial list of foods that can be bad for (or even fatal) to your dog. (For a complete list, please check with your veterinarian.)

AVOCADO: The whole avocado, and even the leaves and stems possibly contain a toxin known as persin. Certain varieties are more dangerous than others, because the levels of the toxin can vary. Birds and rabbits, and even some large animals, like horses, are more at risk due to their sensitivity to this toxin. Some dogs and cats will experience stomach upset, but most likely there won’t be any signs of a serious illness. Of course, eating the large pit in the avocado poses the risk of intestinal blockage and that CAN be fatal if urgent veterinary care is not obtained.

BREAD DOUGH:  Raw bread dough that is made with active yeast can cause serious issues if swallowed.  The warm and moist environment in the stomach is the perfect place for the yeast to multiply. This results in a huge mass of expanding dough in the stomach. If enough was swallowed, it can decrease blood flow to the stomach, cause intestinal blockage, or expand to press on the diaphragm, which will cause difficulty in breathing. Possibly more dangerous is that when yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can be absorbed into the blood stream, and it can make your dog drunk. In extreme cases, seizures or coma can occur and could lead to death from alcohol poisoning. If your dog shows mild symptoms, keep a close eye on them. If they have more severe symptoms, it might be wise to have a vet monitor them until they recover.

CHOCOLATE:  Chocolate can be fatal to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, due to the concentration of the cocoa. The things in chocolate that cause the issues are the caffeine and theobromine. These are in a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. The types of chocolate and the amounts eaten can greatly vary in the amount of methylxanthines that are ingested. Signs of chocolate intoxication can include vomiting, increased thirst, stomach ache, restlessness, agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, fever, seizures, and even death. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms any more severe than mild restlessness, they should be taken to the vet immediately.

ALCOHOL:  See section above on bread dough. Dogs are much more alcohol intolerant than people are. Vomiting, loss of coordination, and disorientation are possible symptoms.  In extreme cases, seizures or coma can occur and could lead to death from alcohol poisoning. If your dog shows mild symptoms, keep a close eye on them. If they have more severe symptoms, it might be wise to have a vet monitor them until they recover. (Hops, which is used for brewing beer, is also an extremely dangerous toxin to dogs. High fever can cause damage to organs and failure of organ systems. Dogs that are poisoned become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and/or seizures. Veterinary care is necessary to prevent death in these dogs.)

GRAPES AND RAISINS:  Grapes and raisins are associated with the development of kidney failure in dogs. Right now, there is no exact reason WHY this happens. Some dogs can eat these fruits without issue. Others develop symptoms within 12 hours of ingestion – vomiting, lethargy, and/or diarrhea. As signs get worse, they will get more lethargic and become dehydrated. Some dogs have eaten them without issue in the past, and then at a later time eat them again, and then develop issues. Kidney failure death can possibly kill your dog within 3 to 4 days, or your dog could even end up with long-term kidney disease if they survive. Prompt veterinary care is necessary.

MACADAMIA NUTS: While macadamia nuts most likely won’t be fatal to dogs, they can definitely cause symptoms that can be uncomfortable. Symptoms will usually go away within 48 hours or so. They can include weakness in their legs, appearance that they are in pain, low grade fever, and muscle tremors. If your dog has more than mild symptoms, a vet can help with IV fluids and pain control.

MOLDY FOODS:  There are many different types of molds that grow on different types of foods.  Some of these produce mycotoxins, which can cause serious, life-threatening issues for your dog. Symptoms can be as bad as total body tremors or convulsions. Rule of thumb is, if you won’t eat it, then don’t feed it to your dog.  You can’t know which molds are safe and which ones aren’t, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Good news is that if your dog accidentally does get mold poisoning, they will usually be fine after some veterinary care if it is caught in time.

ONIONS AND GARLIC:   All types of onions are garlic (onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, chives, etc.) contain chemical compounds that can damage red blood cells in dogs if ingested. The stronger it is, the more toxic it is. The blood cell damage won’t become apparent until about 3 to 5 days after ingestion. Dogs may seem weak or not willing to move. They will tire more quickly after even mild exercise. Urine may be orange to dark red in color. These dogs need immediate veterinary intervention. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

XYLITOL: Xylitol is a sweetener that has no calories. It is used in some sugar-free gums and baked products. Xylitol doesn’t affect the blood sugar levels in humans, but in dogs, it can produce a dangerous rapid drop in blood sugar. Within 30 minutes, they can get disoriented and have seizures – or it may even be a few hours later. Some dogs that have ingested large amounts have developed liver failure, which can be a fatal condition. Any dog that has ingested Xylitol should be taken to the vet immediately.

All of us want our pets to be safe and healthy. We were very lucky that the sandwich that my dog inhaled didn’t have any of the listed foods on it. Please keep an eye on your pooches so they don’t get into any trouble. And, like I mentioned before, these are only some of the foods, so please check with your veterinarian for a complete list.

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