Food Safety...what you need to know to keep your dog safe
One good thing about dogs is that they’re not especially finicky. One bad thing is that they’ll eat just about anything. Unfortunately, that can include foods or other substances that may be potentially toxic.
Virtually any substance can be toxic to your dog if consumed constantly or at high dosage. Even if no adverse effects are immediately seen, that does not mean a certain substance is safe.
There are many myths about what is or is not safe or healthy for pets. Before getting on the bandwagon, keep in mind the commercial motives of those perpetuating the myth. Demand scientific evidence for the claims.
Dog foods to avoid
The following lists some of the substances for which there is credible evidence of toxicity at dosages your dog could conceivably consume:
Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol can cause gastrointestinal irritation, drunkenness, tremors, difficult breathing and/or panting, coma and even death
Avocados: Avocados can result in respiratory distress and the accumulation of fluid around the heart
Chives: If fed in excess, these can lead to GI upset and perhaps damage red blood cells
Chocolate: Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate
Coffee: Coffee (including the grounds and beans) can cause the same symptoms as chocolate
Grapes and raisins: Depending on the amount ingested, clinical signs can range from vomiting to life-threatening kidney failure
Spices: If fed in excess, these can lead to GI upset and perhaps damage red blood cells
Spoiled food: Spoiled food may contain food-borne pathogens, molds, and mycotoxins that can result in GI irritation, tremors, seizures, and death. All food, regardless of shelf-life claims, loses value and may grow toxins over time. Dogs CANNOT tell if a food is spoiled.
Onions: If fed in excess, these can lead to GI upset and perhaps damage red blood cells
Salt and salty foods: Excess salt and purified salt can result in sodium ion poisoning with symptoms of regurgitation, tremors, excessive thirst, diarrhea, high temperature and seizures. On the other hand, moderate amounts of natural salt can be healthy.
Tomato: Fruit is not a problem in moderation, but the leaves, stem and unripe fruit are. Ingestion of these can cause GI upset, excess salivation, drowsiness, dilated pupils, and weakness. The same symptoms can be seen with the ingestion of any green plant parts of the potato and many household plants;
Xylitol sweetener: This sweetener in candies and gum can also cause a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression and seizures;
Yeast dough: Dough can be double trouble in that as it rises, the dough can expand the GI tract, possibly causing the intestine to rupture. The yeast can also form alcohol as it rises, leading to alcohol poisoning
Antifreeze, cleaning products and all household chemicals and drugs should be kept out of reach of pets. Some of these substances (such as antifreeze) actually taste good to pets and can cause serious illness and death.
Be sure to use caution with spicy foods, cooked bones, singular supplements, and virtually any commercial product fed continuously. Again, the principle to keep in mind is that variety is the spice of health. Since anything can potentially be toxic if fed in excess, varying the diet is the best safeguard. Even so-called 100% complete commercial diets have caused serious illness and death when fed exclusively.
If you think your cat may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, immediately call your veterinarian. Be sure to let them know what she has eaten and how much, the estimated time of ingestion, if you know it, and any problems she is experiencing.