Sharing Food with Pets
Sharing food with your pet may seem relatively harmless, but outside of encouraging bad begging behaviors and possibly even weight gain (extra calories), you could actually be putting your pet’s overall health and life at risk.
There are a number of foods and ingredients consumed by humans every day, like chocolate, milk and garlic that can trigger serious toxic reactions in pets.
We’ll take a closer look at the ones that can be most harmful to your four-legged friends.
Your Pet Ingest any of the following Human Food Products Immediately call: Your Emergency Vet Hospital And/Or The Pet Poison Hotline: (800) 213-6680 $39 per incident
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea in your pets, as well as decreased coordination, affect the central nervous system depression and possibly cause difficulty breathing, give your pet tremors, cause abnormal blood acidity, or even put your pet into a coma and even cause death. The level of the poisoning typically depends on the amount of alcohol consumed as well as the pet’s weight, but bottom line is, there’s nothing funny about putting a cocktail within your pet’s reach. If your pet does ingest some liquor, don’t just let it “sleep it off.”
The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin. Persin is incredibly toxic to most animals, including dogs, cats, horses, birds and rodents. Its presence in animals leads to difficulty in breathing, severe congestion, inflammation of the mammary glands, accumulation of fluid around the heart and even death. Just a small amount can cause massive vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats, so keep the avocados out of reach.
Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
However, chocolate serves as a double whammy of sorts to pets, as it also contains theobromine, another potentially toxic element that can trigger reactions like restlessness, vomiting and muscle spasms. Just four to 10 ounces (113 to 283 grams) of milk chocolate could be lethal to smaller dogs. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest amounts of theobromine, while white chocolate has the lowest. That said, it’s best to keep all types of chocolate out of reach.
Grapes, Raisins and Currents
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, the impact on pets that ingest them has been well-documented, and ranges from hyperactivity and repeated vomiting to lethargy, depression, kidney failure or even loss of life. In addition to keeping grapes and raisins from your pet, you also need to keep away products such as fruit salads, cereals, granola bars, and raisin cookies.
You can serve your pet fresh fruits such as slices of apples, pears, oranges, bananas, and seedless watermelon. However, steer clear of fruits with pits such as peaches, as they can become lodged in your pet’s throat. Did you know peach and plum seeds also contain trace doses of cyanide? The pits can prove fatal to cats and smaller dogs. (It’s not good for humans either but humans know not to eat the seed!)
Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies or eaten alone however, they can prove fatal for your pet, whether eaten raw or roasted. If you have a weak spot for macadamia nuts, make sure to keep the jar tightly closed and out of your pet’s reach at all times. Symptoms include vomiting, tremors, weakness, and depression. The symptoms usually start within a half-day after ingesting and last about 12 to 48 hours. Reactions can worsen to include paralysis of the hindquarters and hyperthermia.
Because pets, milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset. The image of a cat lapping at a saucer of milk is certainly a familiar one, but in reality, that bowl can spell trouble. While a glass of cold milk can do your body good, the same can’t be said for your pets. Neither cats nor dogs come equipped significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk). As a result, introducing cow’s milk or milk-based products like ice cream into their diets can lead to digestive issues including upset stomach and diarrhea, or even food allergies.
Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage, and asthma attacks, and even liver damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Immediate signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, discolored urine and lethargy. Reactions seem to be more prominent among cats than dogs, though both have been known to react when exposed to raw, cooked or dehydrated varieties of these ingredients. While cats and dogs aren’t particularly attracted to the smell of onions or garlic, these items are so present in cooked food, we must remember not to give our pets meat that has been sautéed or garnished with these seasonings.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
While the idea of a pup gnawing on a bone might seem like second nature, you could be introducing a health risk by handing one over. It could splinter and cause choking, intestinal blockage, or tears in your dog’s digestive tract. Nevertheless, the act of chewing a bone does help with dental issues by scraping off plaque and stimulating gums, which help control bad breath. However, it’s safer to purchase nylon-based or pressed rawhide bones for these purposes.
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods, many diet products and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which leads to hypoglycemia (or lowered blood sugar levels). Signs of ingestion include vomiting, coordination problems and lethargy and the symptoms can come on quickly and are often fatal. These symptoms can progress to seizures and even liver failure within just a few days. Avoid setting out candy dishes in your home and keep an extra-vigilant eye on your pet during holidays, when sweet treats are even more likely to be around.
You Bakers, beware: If your dog or cat gets some yeast dough, the consequences can be great discomfort at the very least, if not a more tragic outcome. Yeast dough can expand in your pet’s stomach, leading to increased gas production in its digestive system. This could trigger rupturing of the stomach or intestines. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal discomfort and bloat.
Bread presents less of a risk as the yeast has already risen, but even so “bread-based” treats shouldn’t exceed more than 5 to 10 percent of a pet’s overall caloric intake. It’s better to get your pet a “pupcake” from a dog bakery.