We all know to keep dangerous poisons from our pets, but you may not realize that common foods and other items that humans may regularly ingest can lead to equally big problems for your dog. What follows is a list of 10 things you should always avoid feeding to your dog.
But first, always, if you think your dog has eaten any of the items in the list below or suspect he has contacted any type of toxin, you should note the substance and amount ingested and contact your veterinarian. Another great resource for poisoned pets is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline, (888) 426-4435, available 24 hours, 365 days a year. Please, take out your phone and put this number into your contacts, right now. See the ASPCA website for more information on foods, plants and other potential poisons.
Here are 10 items to be sure to keep away from your dog, in alphabetical order…
1. Alcohol: Just like humans can suffer ill effects after too many cocktails, alcohol acts as an even more potent central nervous system or brain toxin for dogs. Even if your best bud seems interested in your beer, be a responsible pet parent and DO NOT SHARE. Alcohol poisoning can result in coma and death for a dog.
2. Bones: Although there are those who believe feeding bones is natural and safe, the truth is dogs are admitted to veterinary hospitals every day when ingestion of bones from meat, poultry or fish result in choking or gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation (blockage or puncture of the stomach or intestines), which can be fatal. There is no size or type of bone that is risk-free for your dog.
3. Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine: You’ve probably heard about this one, so here are the facts. The plant products used to make chocolate, as well as coffee and caffeinated sodas, contain substances called methylxanthines. Dogs’ sensitivity to methylxanthines can cause problems ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity to seizures and death. The darker the chocolate, the higher the methylxanthine content and the more dangerous it is, so be sure to keep the dark chocolate-coated coffee beans out of your pup’s reach.
4. Raw Eggs: We’ve all heard that raw eggs can harbor bacteria that are dangerous for humans and should therefore be cooked before eaten, and that is no less true for your dog. In addition to the risk of Salmonella and E. coli infection, raw egg white contains an enzyme, avidin, which interferes with absorption of a vitamin, biotin, which is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nerve function. Raw egg white also includes antitrypsin compounds that can reduce your dog’s ability to digest the protein in his food.
5. Raw Fish: Even sushi-grade raw fish may be a problem for your dog, due to the potential to contain a substance that destroys thiamin, an essential vitamin needed for nerve function. Raw fish can also transmit parasites and may contain harmful bacteria.
6. Garlic, Onions, Chives: You may have heard about the health-promoting properties of these plants for humans, or even that feeding these can help repel fleas. But you really should keep your French onion soup to yourself. Although many dogs enjoy the taste of garlic, onion or chives, overconsumption can lead damage to red blood cells, which are vital for bringing life-sustaining oxygen to all the body’s tissues, and even life-threatening anemia. The small amount of garlic or onion flavoring that can be found in some pet foods and treats, however, is not considered dangerous.
7. Grapes and Raisins: Although veterinarians and scientists are not sure what substance in these fruits are the cause, development of kidney failure and death in dogs that have eaten grapes or raisins has been documented. Without a better understanding of the conditions needed to cause these health problems, no amount of grape/raisin consumption should be considered safe for dogs.
8. Marijuana: Increasing legalization and availability of marijuana in food products has led to more reports of toxic reactions in dogs. Far from inducing a “mellow high”, marijuana exposure in dogs can result in problems ranging from vomiting and depression to seizures, coma and rarely, death.
9. Raw Meat: We all know that raw meat can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli, which can cause illness and even death. Dogs may have evolved eating raw meat, but they are all by no means immune to the harmful effects of these microorganisms. The ground turkey you bring home from the grocery store likely contain more harmful microbes than the fresh-killed wild bird your dog’s ancestor may have enjoyed, so make sure to cook it, for your health’s sake as well as your dog’s
10. Xylitol: This sweetener can be found in gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, and even peanut butter and is considered safe for human use. Unfortunately, dogs are highly sensitive to the effects of xylitol on the release of insulin from the pancreas and adverse effects on the liver. This can lead to low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and even death. Because you may not be aware when the new low-glycemic muffins on your kitchen counter contain xylitol, the best policy is 1) read your food labels and 2) don’t offer sweet treats to your dog.
And one more word of caution on feeding people food: if you decide to share your dinner with your dog occasionally, the total amount fed should never make up more than 5 to 10% of your pet’s total daily intake in calories. As a result, it’s important to make sure you have an accurate estimate of how many calories your pet needs on a daily basis. You can find information on the calorie content of human foods by checking the package label or using online resources, like Calorie King.