(Original Post Date: 5/30/14)
Many owners will either add human food to their pet's diet, give some as treats, or pets will help themselves if they find something that might be tasty! There are some foods that we eat on a regular basis that can be very harmful to our pets.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in some sugar-free gum, candies, chewable vitamins, even in some sugar-free baked goods. The amount of xylitol compared to the weight of the pet determines if toxic effects are to be expected. Therefore, it is important to find out how much xylitol is in an ingested product (many companies will report the amounts). The main toxic effect of xylitol is a severe and sudden drop of blood sugar ? the effects can start to take effect quickly, within 15-30 minutes of ingestion. Higher doses can cause severe liver damage. Symptoms are weakness, collapse, and digestive symptoms (vomiting, lack of appetite, etc.). Because of the quick and severe onset of the toxicity, it is important to receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Treatment includes intravenous fluids and glucose, along with other supportive care if the liver is damaged.
Ingestion of grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. Because the toxic amount is not known and can vary from dog to dog, ingesting any more than just a few grapes or raisins should be considered potentially dangerous. Within the first 24 hours, affected dogs will start vomiting. Lethargy, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite develop in the next 12-24 hours. The kidneys will begin to shut down about 2-3 days after a toxic ingestion. The prognosis is poor at this point. The sooner treatment for kidney damage is started, the better the chance for recovery.
Most people know that chocolate is toxic to animals. Theobromine and caffeine are the toxic ingredients in chocolate. The type of chocolate is just as important as the type of chocolate. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate is, the more of the theobromine it contains, therefore, the more toxic it is. Dogs are very sensitive to the effects of chocolate. Initial clinical signs include vomiting and diarrhea, but can progress to hyperactivity, restlessness, tremors, even seizures and death if the amount consumed is large enough. Treatment depends on the amount ingested and the symptoms.
Although also toxic to dogs, cats are especially sensitive to the effects of onions and garlic. This includes both raw, cooked, even powder forms. They damage red blood cells, causing anemia. Pets will show signs such as weakness, pale gums, and increased breathing rate and effort.
Macadamia nuts can cause signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, even tremors, muscle weakness and incoordination in dogs. The toxic amount of nuts is not known, but signs usually occur within 12 hours of ingestion. There is no specific antidote, just supportive treatment. Most dogs recover well within 72 hours.
Rising, uncooked bread dough can be very dangerous to dogs when ingested. The heat from the body will cause the dough to rise in a dog?s stomach, expanding the stomach. The rising process also produces alcohol. Dogs may become lethargic, have difficulty with coordination, and develop abdominal pain and bloating. Surgery to remove the dough may be required, along with supportive care for the alcohol toxicity.