Almost anyone who has a pet, knows that people food is not pet food. You cannot provide proper nutrition for your dog or cat by simply feeding them the same dinner the rest of your family is eating. But did you know there are many people foods that we might be tempted to give our pet as a “treat" that could be harmful to them?
1) Alcohol - depending on the amount ingested, alcohol can cause our companion animals to suffer vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, acidosis, coma and even death.
2) Chocolate - Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death in severe cases. It can also cause the development of life threatening pancreatitus. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity in animals. As little as 10 ounces of milk chocolate, or a mere 2 ounces of baking chocolate can cause serious problems in a ten pound dog.
3) Coffee - In all forms, coffee, beans, and even the used grounds contain a potentially toxic amount of caffeine for your pet.
4) Macadamia nuts - Raw or roasted, as few as six macadamia nuts can cause locomotory difficulties in dogs; including weakness, tremor, and paralysis, as well as excessive panting and swollen limbs. This muscle weakness seems to be quite painful, but if treated by a vet the dog can recover. Some dogs have also had this problem after being given macadamia butter.
5) Onions, Onion Powder, Garlic and Chives - These plants and others of the allium family contain disulfides. If ingested in large quantities they can cause gastrointestinal irritation and damage to red blood cells. Cats are more susceptible than dogs.
6) Raisins and Grapes - As few as five raisins or grapes can cause renal failure in dogs.
7) Avocado - Dogs can experience significant GI (gastrointestinal irritation) including vomiting and diarrhea. Birds and rodents appear to be particularly sensitive and can experience respiratory distress, generalized congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart, and possibly death.
8) Spoiled or Moldy foods - if you wouldn't eat it or feed it to your family, don't feed it to your pet!
There are a number other people foods that are potentially dangerous to pets if eaten in significant quantities. Pear pips, apple cores, potato peelings and green looking potatos, brocolli, and others.
The best policy is to keep your food to yourself, and buy appropriate treats for your pet at the pet store.
If you have seen your pet ingest something you know is potentially harmful, or you suspect she has, contact your vet immediately. Harmful effects are not always immediately apparent, so even if the pet seems fine, it is safer to consult with your vet. Gather a sample of the substance, and/or the container it came in, to take to the vet with you. If your pet has been vomiting, take a sample of the vomitus in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag to the vet with you.
The ASPCA poison control center is on call to assist you and your vet. The number is (888) 426-4435, however there is a $60 fee for the service. For more information visit the ASPCA's website at http://www.aspca.org/
Summer Fey Foovay is an artist, writer, and webdesigner. She has been involved in animal care most of her life, both professionally and as a hobby. Her website, Animal Nerd is full of information about caring for your pet.