Surprisingly Dangerous Foods For Dogs
We love our dogs and want to spoil them rotten, often indulging them with snacks and other human food. Who can resist those puppy dog eyes of your beloved pooch begging for a tiny morsel?
Dogs are voracious eaters and even more enthusiastic beggars. However, don’t cave! Some foods, while perfectly suitable to the human palate, are potentially toxic to dogs.
In addition to unknowingly feeding them potentially toxic snacks, some dogs are cheeky buggers that can get into trash bins, containers and smack into trouble. Don’t forget to keep these foods way out of reach and securely stored. Just because Fido has never ransacked the house doesn’t mean he would never.
A dog’s metabolism and digestive system differ vastly from a human’s. Some foods can cause severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upsets, seizures, and even death.
While not exhaustive, this list highlights some common foods around the house that your dog should never get his paws on!
1. Chocolate, Caffeine, and Coffee
At the top of the list is the widely known snack most dog parents know about. Theobromine found in dark and baking chocolate isn’t harmful to humans but can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration in dogs.
In severe reactions, it can cause abnormal heartbeats, seizures, tremors, and death. In addition, the methylxanthines found in the cacao seeds used to make coffee can cause similar symptoms.
While white chocolate contains the lowest levels of methylxanthines and theobromine, dark and baking chocolate have the highest, so save the sweets for yourself.
The leaves and skin of an avocado fruit contain an oil-soluble compound called persin. The low concentrations found in the pulp are considered harmless to humans.
However, when domestic animals consume persin through the leaves, bark, skin, or seeds, it can lead to respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation, and in severe cases, death.
3. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are high in fat content, over-stimulating the pancreas and leading to a severe inflammatory condition called pancreatitis.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, and tremors. Symptoms of pancreatitis can appear within 12 hours and last one to two days.
When yeast rises in bread, it will expand and grow when in the digestive tract. While this isn’t a problem for humans because of our larger intestines, it might prove a problem, especially with smaller dogs.
Mild symptoms of ingestion yeast are some flatulence and discomfort, and severe cases include ruptured stomach linings and intestines. In addition, yeast dough can ferment and rise, releasing ethanol into your dog’s bloodstream and giving him symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in some plants, extracted from trees to make medicines. It is widely used as a sugar replacement in chewing gums, mints, candy, and other sweet snacks. Other familiar sources of xylitol are peanut butter, toothpaste, and some baked goods.
Although xylitol is apparently harmless to humans, it is highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. It triggers insulin release in some species, which can lead to liver failure. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include lethargy, seizures, liver failure, and death.
While sharing your favorite brew with your best friend might be tempting, indulge without the pooch.
The metabolism of a dog is way different than that of a human. The alcohol is absorbed rapidly by the canine gastrointestinal tract, and ethanol converts into acetone, depressing the central nervous system, and causing a host of potential symptoms similar to humans being extremely inebriated such as:
- Vomiting and dehydration
- Disorientation and inebriation
- Loss of body control
- Salivation and drooling
- Difficulty breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Irregular heart rhythm
While the obvious sources of alcohol are our favorite beverages, it can also manifest in:
- Alcohol-based sprays such as flea sprays
- Rubbing and cleaning alcohols
- Windshield washers
- Cough syrups, decongestants, or other medications
- Fermenting bread dough or yeast
7. Onions and Garlic
Although a frequent addition to most of our dishes, think twice before letting your pup polish off the leftovers from your plate.
Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are members of the Allium plant family, containing N-propyl disulfide, a compound that damages the hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to the body’s organs and tissue, transporting carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Damage to the hemoglobin can cause the red blood cells to rupture and lead to internal organ damage and failure.
As little as 15g ingested per kilogram in weight has been reported to show changes to hemoglobin levels. This roughly equates to one-fourth of a cup making a 10kg dog sick.
8. Raw Meat, Fish and Eggs
While the BARF diet remains a subject of heated debate, numerous vets worldwide and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest feeding raw food with caution. Some vets suggest lightly cooking these foods to kill any present bacteria and parasites that can be harmful, even fatal, to dogs.
Raw meat can contain salmonella and e.coli bacteria, while raw fish and eggs can contain parasites and enzymes that can cause infections or skin conditions. These risks can be reduced through freezing and proper preparation to minimize the risk of bacterial or parasitic infection.
The critical takeaway is to understand it is absolutely not safe to simply buy raw meat and chuck it in your pup’s bowl for what looks like an indulgent treat. Thorough research to understand the risks and minimize them is necessary when considering a switch to a BARF or raw food diet. When in doubt, always check with the veterinary professionals.
9. Grapes and Raisins
A mycotoxin is suspected of causing kidney failure immediately following the ingestion of grapes and raisins.
The phenomenon was first discovered in 2003, with 140 cases seen by the ASPCA in a year. Of the 140 cases, 50 developed symptoms ranging from vomiting to kidney failure, and seven died. (Source).
Final Thoughts On Dangerous Dog Foods
While it is perfectly normal to share everything with our furry kids, their food is not human food. Despite the human-like qualities we all see in our beloved dogs, we are two vastly different species with different metabolisms and digestive systems.
By sticking to only pet food and avoid feeding anything you are unsure of, you could prevent a potentially expensive trip to the vet, worry, and heartbreak.
Good luck, and may you have many long, happy years with your pooch!