We all know there are things in our world that can be toxic to our pets. But, did you know that there are things in your kitchen cupboards that are toxic to your cat and dog?
Let’s go over some common ones so you don’t end up in the veterinary E.R. with your favorite 4-legged companion. Here is a list of 4 common household foods that can be very toxic to your pet:
Chocolate, or more specifically the methylxanthines (yikes, that’s a big word) in chocolate, can cause a wide range of toxic effects to our pets. As a rule of thumb, dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most toxic, while milk chocolate and white chocolate are a little less toxic (but still toxic in high enough doses). There can be a wide variety of symptoms depending on how much chocolate your pet ingested and how dark the chocolate is. Milder signs include agitation and diarrhea, but in high enough quantities chocolate ingestion can cause seizures and even death. We should note that, coffee/caffeine also has methylxanthines, but pets tend not to get into these products as often as chocolate. If your pet gets into chocolate (or caffeine) grab the wrapper and call your veterinarian immediately. They can calculate what we refer to as the toxic dose and determine if your pet needs emergency intervention.
2. Garlic and Onions
Vampires aren’t the only ones that should avoid garlic. Garlic is toxic to both dogs and cats. It takes large doses to effect dogs, while cats are sensitive to small doses of this food. Hmm, that makes me wonder if Vampires are part cat and that’s why they hate werewolves (which are obviously related to dogs). Dogs are not in the clear though. While it may take a larger amount to cause toxic effects, dogs are more likely to eat a larger amount of these foods as they gobble down the dinner that was left on the stove. So, what does this food do to our sweet pets? It actually destroys their red blood cells, essential in carrying oxygen to the body, resulting in severe anemia.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in sugar-free gum but is now being used in other “sugar-free” things including some peanut butters. In dogs, this sugar-free substance causes a rapid and large release of insulin. Not to get too deep into your biology class, but that insulin drives down blood sugar, making your dog hypoglycemic (low blood sugar). It can also cause life threatening liver failure. The effects can be rapid with large consumption or a slow onset if your pet has ongoing access to small amounts of xylitol. If you realize your pet has consumed xylitol, grab the wrapper and call your veterinarian immediately.
4. Grapes and Raisins
Unlike many toxins, we don’t know the exact toxic dose of grapes and raisins. Raisins are considered more toxic than grapes due to the dehydrated nature of the food and the animal’s ability to eat a larger quantity. The major conundrum we face with this category of food is that some dogs are affected by a single grape while others are not affected at all. This means we must err on the side of caution and always recommend veterinary intervention as the toxic effects can be serious. These foods can damage the kidneys resulting in acute failure of the kidneys and even death.
I know we said we were going to tell you about 4 food, but we had to make mention of a few other fruits to be cautious of. Citrus fruits can be an issue, although rarely severe. The citric acid in the leaves, stems, peels, and fruits can cause central nervous system suppression and lethargy. This seems to be more common in cats. Also worth noting is pitted fruits (peaches, plums, persimmons) that can cause obstructions of the GI tract.
Grab the wrapper and call your vet.
If you think your pet has gotten into a toxin, grab the package and call your vet or the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline to determine if your pet needs emergency intervention. And remember, time is of the essence. The sooner we intervene, the better the outcome for your furry companion.