We asked a vet what food should we keep away from our dogs?Michaela Rakosova
We sat down with a vet and asked the most pressing issue of the season. ‘’What foods should we avoid feeding to our dog?’’. We all know that items such as chocolate or onions can very toxic, but some foods may surprise you. We also asked on the effects that for some advice on how to identify symptoms of toxicity and what to do in a situation where you suspect that your pet ate a toxic item! So which food items from your Christmas table should you keep away from your pet?
I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Dogs cannot digest chocolate and it causes stomach upset. The clinical signs to watch out for would be vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst or panting. It can take several hours for the symptoms to develop. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, we recommend you call your vet immediately, based on the symptoms and the suspected amount your dog has eaten they will recommend the best course of action.
2. Grapes & Raisins
This Christmas while you’re enjoying your Christmas pudding make sure not to let your dog take a bite. Grapes, raisins and even currants are very toxic to pets and can even be fatal. The symptoms usually start with vomiting however in just a couple of hours after ingestion of grapes or raisins signs of acute kidney damage will show, these includes lack of appetite, abdominal pain, trouble breathing and lethargy. If you suspect that your pet has ingested grapes it is vital that you call your vet immediately!
3. Onion & Garlic
Another plant family that you should never let your pet eat are onions, chives, leeks and garlic. The reason for these to be on our list is as they contain a compound called N-propyl disulphide which caused a breakdown of red blood cells, leading to anaemia. Symptoms of onion ingestion include lethargy, pale gums, fainting, increased heart rate and red coloured urine as the kidneys are unable to process the red blood cells. When it comes to onion poisoning it can take several days for the symptoms to appear, therefore your vet may recommend repeat blood tests after a week or so.
You may be wondering what is Xylitol, I know I was, and why is it so bad for your dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in a variety of popular household products. It can be found in sugar free gum, toothpaste, deodorant, ketchup and most importantly sugar free peanut butter! We all know how much our dogs love this smooth and crunchy treat especially in their KONG’s. However, we would recommend that you check the ingredients on this treat before giving it to your dog! When your dog ingests xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and releases insulin from the pancreas, this causes hypoglycaemia, a drop in blood sugar, this can lead to liver damage and if not treated even liver failure! Xylitol poisoning signs can be visible in as little as 10-60 minutes. In cases of xylitol poisoning, it is vital you contact you vet as soon as you suspect xylitol ingestion.
5. Milk & Dairy Products
Unlike some other items on our list, milk and dairy products are not like to lead to any sever damage to your pet, nevertheless, it still not recommended to offer your pet milk or dairy products. Did you know that most cats and dogs are actually lactose intolerant? This is why ingesting dairy products can cause intestinal problems such as diarrhoea, vomiting, gas or constipation. Generally, the symptoms of gastric upset appear within 12 hours of ingesting dairy. In most cases dairy ingestion should not be a serious issue however never ignore the signs of distress and when in doubt contact your veterinary surgeon.
Another item from our Christmas table that we should never share with our pets are bones. Poultry bones are soft and easily caught in your pet’s throat and lamb bones are very sharp and can tear through the stomach and the digestive tract if stuck. Along with being a choking hazard, animal bones can be too tough on your pets’ teeth and damage them. If you wish to give your dog a bone, it is best to purchase one from a pet shop.
7. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are a staple in some recipes, unfortunately, they are toxic for dogs. These are amongst the most toxic human food items that can be fatal for your pet. The cause of the toxicity is currently unknown however since we know the effects this toxin has on our pets; all we can do is keep them away. After ingestion some dogs will experience spells of vomiting and lethargy, in some cases however dog can experience high fevers, tremors and even inability to walk. As always, we recommend you contact your vet as soon as you suspect your dog has eaten macadamia nuts.
Salt is a natural substance and just like you or I, our pets need salt in small amounts. If, however you pet ingests too much salt you should call your vet immediately! Salt poisoning (hypernatremia) in dogs is of course rare, nevertheless, extremely serious. Salt dries out the cells in your pet’s body. This includes destruction of brain cells causing neurological symptoms such as dizziness and seizures. When the cells in the muscles lose moisture, they can become stiff and cause jerking and tremors. In truly extreme cases of sodium toxicity, your pet may experience high fever, seizures, confusion and can even result in death. As before it is important to note that salt is an essential part of our pet’s metabolism, when in moderation. It is always important to keep fresh water available for our pets after food! Examples of foods very high in salt would be tuna in brine or bacon!
We have an outbreak of obesity in our pets. Fatty foods such as avocados, bacon or fat trimming from your Christmas dinner are generally unhealthy. They can also cause pancreatitis, which is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. We understand that it is very difficult to resist those puppy dog eyes, begging for the pigs in blanket, but in the long run your pet will be grateful.
10. Tea & Coffee
It may be last on our list, but certainly not the least concerning. Dogs and cats are a lot more sensitive to caffein than you or I. Symptoms of caffeine toxicity can present in as soon as 30 minutes from ingestion. Caffein has detrimental effects on your pet’s heart, live, kidneys and lungs! Caffein raises blood pressure and can cause you pet to lose control of their muscles resulting in tremors and jerking. If you suspect you pet may have ingested caffein call your vet immediately, early intervention is key in preventing a disaster.
To keep your vets safe always follow the vets advise, our team is always here to help when things go wrong.