Newtown Veterinary Clinic

PH: 03 5221 5333

121 West Fyans Street, Newtown, Victoria

After Hours : 03 5222 2139

Common Household Toxins

Toxic Human food for dogs, It's best not to share!

If you share your home with a dog it can be hard not to share your snacks, and it may seem a kindness to give your dog a share of your tasty meal.

However, just because it is good for you does not mean it is good for your pet and in fact you may kill your pet with kindness.

  • Chocolate is very palatable to dogs, they often like it almost as much as we do but while it just stacks the kilos on owners, it can be fatal to dogs.
    Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromide, a chemical that adversely affects the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system and urgent veterinary attention is required if your dog eats chocolate. As little as 50 grams can poison a small dog. 
    There are chocolate flavoured dog treats and ‘dog chocs’ available but these do not contain theobromide and are quite safe. Best to buy these for your pet and keep all the ‘human’ chocolates for yourself.

  • Caffeine can also damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and central nervous system of dogs and restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting are the first signs of toxicity, followed by panting, weakness, staggering gait, increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions.
    Common sources of caffeine include soft drinks, coffee beans, coffee grounds and coffee drinks as well as large amounts of tea. Sharing your cappuccino or ‘cuppa’ with your dog is not advisable.

  • Onions and garlic are also very poisonous to dogs although it is not known what quantity needs to be eaten. Onions, in all their forms of raw, cooked, dry and powdered are toxic even when they are simply an ingredient combined with other foods, such as in soups and casseroles. While some people use garlic as a ‘natural’ wormer it can have a cumulative affect. Onions and garlic cause hemolytic anemia which is a destruction of the red blood cells. Pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, weakness and lethargy are signs that urgent veterinary treatment is required.

  • Most dogs love grapes and owners are often tempted to share on a ‘one for you, one for me’ basis but just a few grapes can be toxic to small dogs. Dried grapes (raisins and sultanas) are also poisonous and symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, decreased urine production, weakness and a staggering gait usually appear about 24 hours after consumption.

  • Although not usually fatal, Macadamia nuts may cause vomiting, weakness, depression, drunken gait, joint or muscle pain and joint swelling within 6 to 24 hours of consumption.

  • Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener made from fruit and vegetable products and is promoted as a natural sweetener having 40% less calories than sugar and being without side-effects. It is commonly found in confectionary and ‘sugar-free’ foods but also available as a sugar replacement for domestic use. Although safe and approved for human consumption it can cause serious side effects in dogs. It stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and can also cause severe liver damage. Weakness, a staggering gait, collapse and seizures can occur within 30 minutes of consumption, Urgent veterinary treatment is imperative

  • Apple seeds, cherry pips, peach, apricot and plum stones contain the toxin cyanide. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, fast heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias and coma.

  • Potato peelings, green potatoes and rhubarb leaves contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems.

  • Tobacco contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, collapse, coma, and death. Keep your dog away from ashtrays and cigarette butts.

  • Alcohol, in all its forms, is toxic to dogs. Drunkenness with symptoms of staggering, excitement, or decreased reflexes, depression, and a slow respiratory rate occur, and the dog may go into cardiac arrest. If your pet imbibes seek veterinary advice.

  • Avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs although it is not usually fatal.

  • Giving dogs human vitamins can cause health problems, especially with iron supplements. Dogs have different vitamin requirements to humans and supplements should only be given with advice from a veterinarian.

  • Spoiled or mouldy food should not be fed to dogs as it can cause digestive problems, or in the worse cases botulism or salmonella with fatal results. If it is not good enough for you to eat, throw it out.

While you may be aware of the danger of feeding the above foods to your dog, it is often children who feed the dog chocolate or grapes, and guests who share a beer with it at the family barbeque and it is hard to persuade children and some friends that a few grapes or chocolates may cause you to lose your pet. Better by far, to lock your dog away with a dog biscuit during parties or barbeques.


© Copyright 2011 Katrina Warren

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