Toxic food and plants for your pets
In the average home, there are dozens of common foods and similar items that can be potentially hazardous to your pet. Some foods, such as chocolate, are well known, while others are not. Please educate yourself about the many toxic food items that can sicken or even be fatal to your beloved pet, including raisins, grapes, chocolate, nuts, onions, avocado, sugarless gum and mushrooms.
Toxic doses vary between animals and species. Like any toxin, there are variables, like the size of the pet, the quantity that has been digested, your pets’ overall health and, like humans, some individuals have underlying food allergies and sensitivities.
Chocolate- contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and diuretic. Symptoms include labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, drooling, extremely fast heart rate, seizures, coma and even death. After pets have eaten large amounts of chocolate, many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected since symptoms of sickness may not be seen for several hours. However, death can follow in as little as 24 hours. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 22 pound dog can be seriously affected if it eats one quarter of a 7 ounce packet of cocoa or half of an 8 ounce bar of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolates contain ten times the theobromine than milk chocolate. Semi-sweet and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous. Cats are affected the same way as dogs and are typically smaller so it would take much less for a toxic dose. Always protect your pet from your stash of chocolate and contact your veterinarian in case in digestion.
Onions and Garlic- contain thiosulphate, onions posing the most danger to pets. Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the pets red blood cells burst while circulating in its body. Symptoms include labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and discolored urine. The poisoning occurs several days after the pet has digested the food containing the onion. All forms of onion should be avoided including dehydrated onion, raw and cooked onion and table scraps containing onion or garlic. Leftover pizza, Chinese foods, and commercial baby foods contain onion so always check ingredients before giving your pet a treat. While garlic also contains thiosulphate, it seems garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be consumed by your pet, but should be avoided.
Grapes and Raisins- as few as a handful of raisins or grapes can make your pet quite ill, but in large amounts can lead to acute renal failure. When kidneys are not functioning properly, toxins can accumulate in the body and lead to death due to the toxins. Urine production will slow significantly or cease in cases of severe toxicity. Symptoms also include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and abdominal pain.
Avocado- the fruit, pit, leaves and actual plant are potentially poisonous to dogs and cats as well as pets such as mice, rats, birds, rabbits, horses, cows and goats among others. They trigger fluid accumulation in the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and death due to deprivation of oxygen. Fluid accumulation can also affect the heart, lungs and abdomen.
Cat Food- since commercial cat foods are high in fats and protein, when digested by dogs, particularly in large amounts or on a regular basis, can cause pancreatitis. It should be noted that all high fat foods have the same potential such as ham or bacon and should be avoided. Cat food can also cause weight gain in dogs due to its’ high fat content and obesity is not good or healthy in any species. On the other hand, while cats are usually too finicky to eat dog food, it generally won’t hurt them, however, cat food contains taurine which is essential in a cats diet to its’ heart health. It is best to give a dog, dog food, and a cat, cat food.
Tomatoes, Potatoes, & Rhubarb- contain oxalates which trigger abnormalities in the nervous system, kidneys and digestive tract. Especially toxic are green tomatoes, green potatoes and potato skins, and tomato leaves and plants which can trigger tremors, seizures and heart arrhythmia. In some pets, digesting as little as a cherry tomato can cause severe gastrointestinal distress.
Xylitol- a sugar substitute found in many types of candy, chewable vitamins, sugarless baked goods and gum such as Trident and Orbit. As little as five pieces can kill a sixty-five pound dog, with a smaller dog succumbing to as little as one to two sticks. Within 15-30 minutes of ingesting xylitol a dogs insulin levels surge and its’ blood sugar drops, resulting in lethargy and loss of balance. Permanent brain damage can occur and without treatment, liver failure will result in death within 24 hours. If your pet digests a product containing xylitol, call your veterinarian or animal emergency services immediately.
Milk- some adult cats and dogs do not have a sufficient amount of the enzyme lactase needed to breakdown the lactose in milk causing diarrhea.
Chicken Bones- though not toxic, chicken bones splinter and could get stuck in the throat, mouth, and intestine and should be avoided.
Mushrooms- various species of mushrooms are toxic to pets and cause shock and even death. Effects will differ according to species ingested, so avoid feeding or accidental eating any type. Pluck “backyard” mushrooms that may sprout in your yard, as these are known to be toxic to pets.
Macadamia Nuts- also walnuts are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis when consumed regularly. They can cause gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, vomiting, muscle stiffness and tremors. Like humans, pets can also be allergic to peanuts, so use caution when feeding your pet peanut butter to disguise medicine.
Alcohol- pets cannot tolerate alcohol, even in small amounts. Hops, an ingredient in beer, is also potentially toxic to pets. Alcohol consumption can result in intoxication, liver failure, coma, seizures and death.
Other miscellaneous foods that are toxic to pets include raw eggs and egg whites, raw fish, nutmeg, tobacco, marijuana, salt, yeast and dough containing yeast, liver, persimmons and human iron supplements.
Feeding cats and dogs a healthy, well balanced diet of natural foods as described by many veterinarians, you can ensure that your animal companions lead a longer, healthier, happier life.
As we let our pets roam freely in and out of the house, we need to be aware of the hazards that we are exposing our pets to. There are various plants that are poisonous to our pets both inside and outside the home. Below is a brief chart of some of the more common plants our pets may come in contact with. Keep in mind that every region of the country have specific species unique to the area that could be potentially dangerous to your pet. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with your surroundings and research the types of foliage in your space so you can understand their hazards to your family and pets.
Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. May be fatal.
Oleander- Extremely poisonous. Affects the heart, severe digestive distress, may cause death
Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane, Elephant Ear- Intense burning and irritation of the mouth. May cause death if swelling of the tongue occurs and block air passage of the throat.
Rosary Bead, Castor Bean- A single Rosary Pea has caused death when ingested if the hull is broken. One or two Castor Beans is a near lethal dose for adults.
Lily of the Valley- Irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually accompanied by digestive upset and mental confusion.
Foxglove- Large amount can cause dangerously irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually digestive upset and mental confusion. May be fatal.
Bleeding Heart- May be poisonous in large amounts. Has been proven fatal to cattle.
Rhubarb- Fatal. Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, coma and followed rapidly by death.
Golden Chain- Bean-like capsules which the seed is suspended can cause severe poisoning, excitement, staggering, convulsions and coma. May be fatal.
Rhododendrons, Azaleas- Fatal. Produces nausea, vomiting, depression, difficulty breathing, prostration, and coma.
Jasmine Berries- Fatal.
Lantana- The green berries are fatal. Affects lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system.
Wild and Cultivated Cherries- The stems and foliage are fatal. Contains a compound that releases cyanide when eaten. Gasping and excitement are common symptoms.
Oaks- When digested, the foliage and acorns affects the kidneys gradually. Symptoms appear after several days or weeks. Takes a large amount for poisoning.
Easter Lilies- Can result in serious illness in cats. Easter lilies, tiger lilies, day lilies and hybrid lilies have been know to cause kidney failure.
This is a list of the most common plant dangers. Make sure your pet is safe by familiarizing yourself with the plant surrounding your area.