We are often told that this food or that should not be fed to our dogs, but more often than not we don’t know why a certain food is fine for us to eat but can be lethal to our beloved pets. This article (with references from www.aspca.org and www.drkatrina.com.au) hopes to shed some light on this problem.Plate of grapes

Avocado 

This fruit contains a toxic substance called persin. It is found in avocado leaves, seeds and even the bark of the tree. The Guatemalan variety (common in stores) is especially rich in this substance. Although this substance is not especially toxic to dogs, mild stomach upset can occur if your pet eats a substantial amount of it. 

The pit, though, can cause obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract if swallowed. 

Bread Dough 

Raw bread dough made with live yeast, when swallowed, can cause the yeast to multiply in the moist environment in the stomach. This expansion can lead to decreased blood flow to the stomach wall, resulting in death of the tissue. 

The expanding stomach can also press on the diaphragm resulting in difficulty in breathing. As well as this, as the yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can result in intoxication. This can lead to, in extreme cases, to death. 

Chocolate 

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. This substance can lead to vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, seizures and death. 

The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous. 

I wrote an article on this a couple of years ago after a friend of mine lost her beloved Shetland sheepdog when he ate a block of dark chocolate. 

Ethanol 

Dogs are much more sensitive to alcohol than humans. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur. Sweet alcoholic drinks are very appealing to dogs so please be careful. Any dog that is so drunk that it can’t stand up must be taken to the vet! 

Grapes and raisins 

Grapes and raisins have recently been associated with kidney failure in dogs. The exact cause is not clear. Some dogs can appear to eat a few without problems, others do so for a while only to become very ill later on. 

Signs of grape and raisin toxicity are vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of eating. As the dogs becomes more ill, there can be increase in urination or no urination in later stages. Death due to kidney failure occurs after 3 or 4 days. 

Hops 

Hops are used to brew beer. Home kits for this can be found in many supermarkets. Both fresh and cooked are dangerous. Affected dogs can develop an uncontrollably high body temperature (greater than 42 Celsius) which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Symptoms include restlessness, excessive panting, muscle tremors and seizures.

Macadamia Nuts 

Although these are unlikely to cause death in dogs, the nuts can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that can last up to 48 hours. These include weakness in the hind legs, pain, tremors and low grade fever. 

Caffeine 

Caffeine can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and central nervous system of dogs. Signs include restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting followed by panting, weakness, a staggering gate, increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions. Caffeine can be found in coffee and coffee drinks as well as large amounts of tea. Do not share your drinks with your dog. 

Mouldy Food 

A wide variety of moulds grow on foods and some produce toxins which can cause serious and even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Signs of this type of poisoning begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to total body tremors and finally to convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. If you can’t eat it, neither can your dog! 

Onions and Garlic 

All close relatives of the onion family (shallots, garlic, scallions, etc) contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells if eaten in sufficient quantities. The rule of thumb is “the stronger it is, the more toxic it is”. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions. While dogs may be able to tolerate a small amount of these vegetables, exposure to concentrated forms such as onion soup mix powder or garlic powder puts them at risk to poisoning. The damage to red blood cells doesn’t become apparent for about 3 to 5 days. Affected dogs appear weak or reluctant to move. They may  appear to tire easily. Their urine may be orange-tinged to dark red in colour. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed. 

Xylitol 

Xylitol is a calorie-free sweetener that is used in sugar-free gum as well as sugar-free baked goods. In dogs, xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels. 

Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of eating products containing this substance or signs can be delayed for several hours. Some dogs who have ingested large amounts of this substance can develop liver failure, which can be fatal. 

Caffeine 

Caffeine can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and central nervous system of dogs. Signs include restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting followed by panting, weakness, a staggering gate, increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions. 

Caffeine can be found in coffee and coffee drinks as well as large amounts of tea. Do not share your drinks with your dog. 

Apple seeds, cherry pips, peach, apricot and plum stones
These contain the toxin cyanide. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, fast heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias and coma 

Potato peelings, green potatoes and rhubarb leaves
These contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. 

Tobacco 

This contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Symptoms include a rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death. Keep your dog away from ashtrays and cigarette butts. 

References: www.aspca.org and www.drkatrina.com.au

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