Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Seven Deadly Foods

It’s dinner time once again and as if by clockwork your dog starts circling the table looking for a free hand out. We may not think much about giving our dogs table scraps, after all what was good for us must surely be good for them, but we often forget just how different we really are from our beloved pet. Below is a list of seven everyday foods that could do your pooch more harm than good. Some are only trouble if given in large quantities while others can be deadly in any amount. Either way these tasty treats could lead to serious problems.

Most commonly used as the main ingredient in guacamole, avocado includes a toxin called persin. While relatively harmless to humans (unless you are allergic) persin can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs when consumed in a large enough quantity. And not only does the fruit contain the toxin but so do the seeds, leaves, and bark from the tree.

Candy, Gum, Toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods
The products in question from the list above are those sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occuring sugar substitute often used in the food industry. If ingested it can potentially cause an increase in insulin, a drop in blood pressure, seizures, and possibly liver failure. Initial symptims may include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination.

It’s common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs. But did you know the main culprit behind this deadly treat is called theobromine? A bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, theobromine can be found in all forms of chocolate including white chocolate. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate contain theobromine at it's highest conecntrations so should be avoided at all costs. Potential symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and excessive thirst. If a case of severe poisoning is observed heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even possibly death may occur.

Fat Trimmings and Bones
It has been a long held belief that all a dog wants in life is a warm bed, a spare hand to throw a ball, and a good bone to chew on. However, bones may not be the great treat they appear to be. In general bones are a choking hazard and when chewed may splinter causing an obstruction or laceration of your dog’s digestive system. In addition all the fat we often leave attached to the bone can lead to furtrher health issues such as pancreatitis. So do your dog a favor and next time they look at you with those big brown eyes put that bone in the trash where it belongs and not in their dog bowl.

Grapes and Raisins
A show of hands, how many of you give your dog a grape every once in a while? It’s more common than you might think, after all it’s only a grape so what could possibly be the problem. The problem is grapes and raisins can potentially cause kidney failure in dogs. The reason for this is still unknown but the fact of the matter is you shouldn’t be handing out free grapes to your four legged friend. Early signs of poisoning can include vomiting and hyperactivity. If left unchecked within a day your dog may become lethargic and depressed.

Macadamia Nuts
In general no nut is a good nut when speaking in terms of your dog. However, macadamia nuts are surely one of the worst. As few as six nuts is it all it can take to make your dog ill. Symptoms include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of hind quarters, elevated body temperatures, and rapid heart rate. If chocolate is added to the mix the symptoms can be even worse.

Onions are toxic in all its forms whether it’s powdered, raw, cooked, and dehydrated. The problem with onions is that in a large enough quantity they can destroy red blood cells causing anemia. While a very tiny amount once in a while may be ok a large amount in one sitting or small amounts over a long period can be harmful. Symptoms of onion poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, dullness, and breathlessness.

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the items on our list then be sure to check their mouth thoroughly and make sure nothing was swallowed. If you think your pet may have swallowed something contact your local veterinarian immediately and have the phone number for poison control on hand in case you are directed to give them a call. The phone number for the ASPCA Poison Control Center is 1-888-426-4435.

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