It can be tempting to share your food with your dogs, but what we consider to be treats can be extremely dangerous to our dogs. So here are a few pointers to keep your dog from needing a visit to the emergency vet.
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromine differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it). Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Signs of
theobromine poisoning will occur from 4-24hours following ingestion and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dog has eaten. You may see vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures.
Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight are toxic to dogs
There is no antidote to theobromine. In most cases your vet will make your dog vomit. Other treatments will depend on the signs your dog is showing. They may need intravenous fluids (a drip), medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and seizure activity (fits).
Like chocolate, caffeine also contains stimulants, as this substance is found in the fruit of the plant that is used to make coffee.
Dogs are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee will not do any harm, but the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds or tea bags can lead to serious problems. Signs are similar to chocolate toxicity and treatment is broadly similar.
Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal (stomach and gut) irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.
Onions are particularly toxic and signs of poisoning occur a few days after your dog has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness.
Alcohol is significantly more toxic to dogs than to humans. When consumed, alcoholic beverages and alcoholic food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. So, remember to keep alcoholic beverages well out of reach of your dog!
A substance called Persin that is contained in the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. In addition birds and rodents are particularly sensitive and serious reactions such as the development of congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart can result.
Grapes & Raisins
The toxic substance that is contained within grapes and raisins is unknown; however these fruits can cause kidney failure. Dogs that already have certain health problems may have an even more serious reaction so this is certainly one to avoid.
Within 12 hours of ingestion macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature). These symptoms tend to last for approximately 12 to 48 hours, and as with all the other food groups mentioned if you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts note the possible quantity consumed and contact your vet.
Ingestion of yeast dough can cause gas to accumulate in your dog’s digestive system as a result of the dough rising. Not only can this be painful but if may also cause the stomach or intestines to become obstructed (blocked) or distended. So whilst small bits of bread can be given as a treat due to the fact that risks are diminished once the yeast has fully risen, it is advised to avoid giving your dog yeast dough.
Whilst feeding your dog bones may seem like a good idea in that it takes our dogs back to their ‘roots’, it is important to remember that domestic dogs may choke on the bones, or sustain injury as the splinters can become lodged in or puncture your dog’s digestive tract, so if you choose to give your dog bones be sure to keep an eye on him while he tucks in, and avoid giving cooked bones (which splinter easily) or giving bones that are small enough to get stuck in their bowels.
Eating large quantities of bone can often cause constipation, so try to monitor the amount your dog manages to consume.
Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob may seem like a healthy table scrap to give your dog, but unlike most vegetables, it does not digest well in a dog’s stomach. If your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even whole, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to it’s size and shape. If your dog gobbled up corn on the cob watch for signs of trouble such as vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or sometimes diarrhoea and signs of abdominal discomfort. In this case, have your dog see a vet immediately and be careful to never feed corn on the cob again.
The artificial sweetener xylitol found in many foods such as sugar free gum, diabetic cakes, diet foods etc. causes insulin release in many species leading to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels). The initial symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and loss of coordination, following this recumbency (unable to stand) and seizures may occur. Xylitol has also been linked to fatal acute liver disease and blood clotting disorders in dogs. Even very small amounts can be extremely dangerous and if you think your dog has eaten any amount of xylitol then you should seek veterinary advice immediately.
As dogs do not have significant amounts of the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose in milk, feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upset.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of these items, please note the amount ingested and contact your vet as soon as possible.
This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.