Protect Your Pets (Part 1)
Some of your favorite foods can be lethal to your dog or cat.
Of course you don’t encourage begging at the table, but doesn’t it feel good to treat your dog or cat to something you’re enjoying, too? Unfortunately, some unexpected foods can mean serious sickness—or even death—for your pet. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Centers around the country are routinely called by well-meaning owners who didn’t know they were treating their beloved pet to a dose of danger. Here are some foods to avoid (find more at aspca.org):
Seemingly benign avocados contain a toxic component called persin, which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in many animals. It’s extremely toxic to dogs, cats and many other animals.
Think it’s funny to give Fido a sip of your beer? Think again. Alcoholic beverages can cause the same damage to an animal's liver and brain as they cause in humans. But considering that your pet is likely much smaller than you are, the effect can be deadly. Even a small amount of alcohol may cause vomiting and damage the liver and brain, especially in small pets.
Every nut can present a choking hazard, but walnuts and macadamia nuts are downright toxic. Within 12 hours of eating macadamia nuts especially, pets may start to develop symptoms such as an inability to stand or walk, vomiting, elevated body temperature, weakness and an elevated heart rate.
Nuts are toxic, but combine them with chocolate, and it may mean a death sentence for your pet. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can kill your pet if eaten in large quantities (especially dark and unsweetened baking chocolates). Even letting your pet lick the bowl for the chocolate cake you’re making can cause a dog or cat’s heart to beat irregularly. And though many people know of the threat—and wouldn’t purposely give their pet chocolate in the first place—it’s something that people might leave on a counter or tabletop.
The common artificial sweetener Xylitol is another product you’re not likely to be feeding your pet, but if they get hold of it—in the form of candy, chewable vitamins or sugarless gum—it can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, seizures and death. As little as 3 grams (about five pieces of sugarless gum) can kill a 65-pound dog.
Grapes and raisins
Although the minimum lethal dosage isn’t known, grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs. Because the symptoms—including vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure—can be so aggressive, the National Animal Poison Control Center advocates immediate treatment to get them out of your pet’s system. Inducing vomiting, stomach pumping or intravenous fluid therapy may be needed based on the results of blood tests.
Your table scraps, like a little spaghetti sauce here or a little hamburger meat there, can seem like no big deal, but if they contain onions, they are. Onions cause hemolytic anemia, which means that red blood cells break down, leaving your pet short on oxygen. Onion poisoning can occur at once, or over repeated meals of small quantities.
Just like you would for a curious child, hide medicines from your pets. The most common cause of pet poisoning is from animals ingesting human medicine—either because they got into an open bottle, or because unthinking pet owners gave an over-the-counter drug like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to a pet with an ache. But these active ingredients can cause gastric ulcers, liver damage, kidney failure and death.
Although there are a number of surprising foods responsible pet owners should avoid, there are some table scraps that you can hand out (although you should consult your veterinarian). Generally safe items include lean meats (without bones); vegetables such as zucchini, carrot sticks and green beans; fruit such as bananas and apple slices; baked potatoes; bread (but no bread dough, which can expand and cause gastrointestinal pain); and cooked rice and pasta.
Image © Media Bakery
TO LEARN MORE
Visit the ASPCA website for a wealth of information on pet poisoning prevention and treatment.
NEXT MONTH: Steps to pet-proof your home and keep your animals safe.
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