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10 Common Foods That are Toxic to Dogs and Cats

By Friday July 28th, 2017Blog

Many of us, pet owners, love to share our favorite foods and meals with our beloved furry friends.

Our dogs and cats are usually thrilled to participate in these meal time rituals. However, as responsible pet owners we need to be aware of particular food items that can be harmful to our canine and feline companions.

Here is a list of some of the most common foods that are toxic to both dogs and cats:

ALCOHOL

Whenever you decide to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, make sure your dogs and cats stay away from the party.

Alcohol contains ethanol, which is extremely toxic to dogs and cats. Exposure to seemingly harmless amounts can have very serious side effects for your pet.

The effect alcohol has on your pet’s liver and brain is similar to the effect it has on humans, but it takes a much smaller dose to do its damage. Just 2-3 teaspoons of a beverage with a high concentration of alcohol, such as whisky, is enough to cause a coma, or even death, to a small dog or a cat.

CAFFEINE

While small amounts of coffee, tea or soda don’t contain enough caffeine to poison most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds and tea bags can have devastating effects in small dogs or cats, including death.

Common symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, tremors and heart palpitations.

If you suspect your pet is experiencing caffeine poisoning, seek veterinary assistance without delay.

CHOCOLATE

A favorite and irresistible treat amongst most humans, chocolate is considered toxic to dogs and cats.

In very small amounts it is usually not a huge issue, but with larger volumes and with darker chocolates pet owners should be concerned.

Chocolate contains methylxanthine theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Its ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, issues with normal heart beats, seizures and in some severe cases even death.

It is best to keep your favorite chocolate treats in a good hiding spot, where your pet won’t be able to find it.

BREAD DOUGH

Carbohydrates are the enemy of many dieters, and the same can be said about dogs and cats.

Unbaked bread dough is considered poisonous to our pets. When ingested, the bread dough expands in the stomach as a result of its warm and moist environment, which can lead to a bloated or even twisted stomach.

In addition, yeast is often added to our baking products to help make bread rise, and when yeast is fermented it produces both carbon dioxide and alcohol, which might be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature.

Common clinical signs include vomiting or retching, distension of the stomach, weakness and collapse.

GARLIC & ONIONS

We often forget that many of our meals contain these two popular ingredients, and allow our pets a few bites or licks of our food.

Onion and garlic both can cause a type of poisoning that results in damage to red bloods, making them more likely to rupture. They can also cause stomach upset and mouth irritation.

In terms of symptoms, the most common are pale gums, increased breathing or drooling, and vomiting or diarrhea.

Our dogs and cats may not be offended by our garlic breath, but it is best to keep them from ingesting food with either of these two seasonings.

GRAPES & RAISINS

Dogs and cats should also avoid grapes and raisins, since they can lead to acute kidney failure.

Most pets intoxicated by grapes or raisins will begin to experience vomiting and/or diarrhea within 6-12 hours of ingestion. Other abnormal clinical signs include lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration and tremors. In most severe cases, kidney failure develops within 24-72 hours of the initial ingestion.

There are some pets that don’t experience these devastating side-effects, and the reason for this is not yet clear from a scientific point of view.

If you believe your pet has ingested grapes or raisins, you should contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary facility right away.

MOLDY FOODS

We have all been there: reaching into the back of our refrigerators and pulling out a questionable food item that has passed its expiration date by a few days, weeks or even months.

Additionally, many dogs and cats are garbage grazers and think of your trashcan as the secret treat holder.

Moldy food can put your pet’s health at risk. They contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and mental confusion.

So, make sure your pet isn’t an active participant the next time you decide to clean your fridge!

XYLITOL

Avid gum chewers are well aware of the benefits of chewing after meals in order to prevent tooth decay and keep their breath fresh all day long.

The most common ingredient used in sugar-free gum is xylitol, which is a non-caloric sweetener. It is also found in some oral rinses, toothpastes and vitamins.

Xylitol and most animals do not mix; it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. Dogs and cats will often display signs of disorientation, black tarry stool, tremors and seizures.

In some severe cases, pets have been reported to develop liver failure. After consuming your garlic meal (by yourself) feel free to chew some gum, but keep it out of reach of your furry companions.

MACADAMIA NUTS

Ingestion of these nuts has not been proven to be fatal in dogs and cats, but can cause them to experience uncomfortable clinical signs, including fever, joint stiffness, vomiting, tremors and difficulty walking, especially in their hind legs.

Often your pet will start to feel better after about 48 hours, but supportive veterinary care, such as pain medication, may lead to a faster recovery.

AVOCADOS

The truth is this fruit provides many health benefits, including healthy levels of potassium, fiber and vitamin K.

Avocados are not actually poisonous to dogs and cats, but as many veterinarians can tell you, the avocado pits can cause a foreign body obstruction.

On the other hand, avocados contain persin, which is actually toxic to the majority of pet birds. The abnormal clinical signs associated with avocado ingestion include respiratory distress, inability to perch, liver and kidney failure and even sudden death.

Although they are not considered toxic to dogs and cats, all foods should be given in moderation, as stomach upset is always a concern.

With this in mind, go forth and enjoy your favorite foods, but remember which foods you should avoid sharing with your furry family members. Whenever in doubt, we suggest you ask our experts for healthy and safe food suggestions.