With their chin resting on your knee and those sad eyes staring into your soul, how can you resist giving your dog human food? Dogs often beg for human food. At first it may seem harmless but it’s important to know what foods can be potentially dangerous.
Here are our top 5 foods to keep safely away from your dog.
Chocolate and Caffeine
The easiest way to think about it is the higher the cocoa content, the higher the risk is for your dog. As an example, baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate is higher in toxicity, whereas milk chocolate is lower. Even white chocolate has toxic levels. Ingestion of any type of chocolate, depending on the quantity consumed, can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures and coma. The main toxic ingredient in chocolate is theobromine, but the other factors are caffeine and methylxanthines.
One ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight is enough to cause a potentially lethal dose. For example, a 3 ounce piece of dark chocolate is enough to be fatal to a 25lb dog.
Coffee/tea also fit into this category since caffeine toxicity is identical to chocolate toxicity. Within 1-2 hours of consumption of toxic levels of caffeine your dog can experience hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, tremors, seizures, and even death.
It’s a sugar alcohol you can find in things such as chewing gum, mints, candy, baked goods and diabetic products. It can also be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, chewable vitamins, and cough drops. When ingested by dogs it can cause a sudden drop in their blood sugar which can cause liver damage and liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, seizures and loss of co-ordination. These symptoms can occur anywhere from a few minutes to several hours after ingestion. Ultimately it can result in death.
To date there have been no reports of problems with other sweeteners. For good measure you should keep all common sugar substitutes away from your dog. To emphasize the severity of xylitol’s toxicity, a 10lb dog would only need to eat a single piece of gum containing it to reach toxic levels.
Onions and Garlic
We’re talking anything within the onion family – garlic, shallots, chives, scallions – whether it’s in its natural form or even powder. They contain disulfides and sulfoxides, compounds that when broken down in the digestive system can cause anemia, gastroenteritis, and damaged red blood cells. Dogs that are heavily affected may require blood transfusions or oxygen therapy.
Typical signs of onion or garlic poisoning often don’t appear for days after ingestion. It can include lethargy/weakness, vomiting, breathlessness, and orange to dark red coloured urine. A small does might not do much harm, but frequent small doses or one large dose can lead to poisoning.
Fruits, Seeds, and Pits
Apples, cherries, peaches, and other similar fruits make this list because different seeds, pits and even stems contain cyanide. As an example, the casing of an apple seed contains a natural chemical called amygdlin that releases cyanide when digested. Cyanide is not only poisonous to dogs but it can also cause intestinal issues of varying degrees if consumed in moderate to large quantities.
The peels, flesh, and seeds of citrus fruits contain citric acid and limonin. These can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea if a lot is consumed.
Grapes and raisins can cause vomiting and diarrhea in as little as 12 hours after ingestion. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain. With the possibility of developing kidney disease with this poisoning, your dog could die from kidney failure within a few days if toxic levels are reached.
Avocados also pose a threat to your dog. The flesh, pits, and skin contain a fungicidal toxin known as persin. The pit of an avocado holds the most toxins (persin levels drop if an avocado is ripe), but thankfully they are only toxic in high doses. Another dangerous part of the pit is the choking hazard. Consumption can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart congestion. If a small piece of avocado has been eaten it may not be the end of the world, but monitor your dog for any warning signs.
Alcohol and Yeast Dough
Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your dog’s health. Alcohol contains ethanol while beer contains hops. Both of these ingredients/compounds can cause alcohol poisoning in your dog. Hops in particular can cause malignant hypothermia which can be fatal. Symptoms of intoxication include vomiting, high body temperature, excessive panting, and even seizures.
Dogs that show signs of alcohol intoxication should be monitored by their vet since it can cause organ failure or even death.
In addition yeast, when it ferments, creates an alcohol compound that can therefore lead to alcohol poisoning. Another threat about yeast dough is that it can literally rise in a dog’s stomach and cause blockage in their digestive tract. Less severe cases cause gas and stomach discomfort where has severe cases can cause stomach and intestinal rupture.
Remember! Even a small amount of human food can cause great distress to your dog. Check, check again, and check a third time before giving your dog human food. It might just save his or her life!
Camille Salter is the founder of All Dogs Toronto and a certified, knowledge-assessed dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She is the author of two books on dog behavior: Pandemic Puppy, and Decoding the Dog Park.