Our pets are often considered members of the family, and it can be very difficult to consistently make the right decisions regarding the foods that they eat. Like us, animals receive pleasure from eating foods that taste great. The temptation to share this pleasure with your furry friend can be hard to avoid, especially during family gatherings and holidays when love and leftovers are abundant. Unfortunately, some animals simply cannot process and digest the chemicals found in certain foods, and other foods that are harmless to us may actually be considered poisonous to a dog or cat. Here are some of the most potentially dangerous household foods that you should avoid feeding your cat or dog:
Chocolate – Chocolate is typically the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions dangerous foods for pets. Chocolate contains a stimulant known as Theobromine that is naturally found in cocoa beans. Consuming too much of the stimulant can result in diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death. But how much is too much? While it is true that chocolate can be toxic for your pet, ingesting a small amount is not necessarily deadly. Different types of chocolate contain different levels of Theobromine, and the size of your pet is also important to consider. White chocolate contains the least amount of the stimulant, while cocoa and baking chocolate contain very high amounts. A 10 pound dog can potentially consume up to a quarter pound of milk chocolate before getting sick, but the same dog would only need to consume a single ounce of baking chocolate to become poisoned. Play it safe. Never feed chocolate to your pet!
Caffeine – Much like chocolate, products that contain caffeine should be avoided at all times. Be wary of any coffee pots or half-empty soda cans sitting around the kitchen.
Xylitol – A common sweetener found in candy products, Xylitol causes an excess secretion of insulin that can result in hypoglycemia and liver failure. People rarely feed candy to their pets, but there may be a candy dish on your coffee table that is within reach. Remember that pets don’t always consume only the foods that you specifically provide for them.
Grapes & Raisins – When you think about the perfect snack for a dog or cat, you probably won’t be thinking of grapes or raisins. You also wouldn’t assume that these two food items are almost as dangerous as chocolate, as they can lead to vomiting, kidney failure, and even death. The jury is still out on what actually causes grapes to be so toxic, but the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises against feeding these items to your pet in any amount.
Onions & Garlic – Despite the obvious side effect of somehow making a dog’s breath even worse than normal, onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure. While you may not feed these to your dog directly, there may be a sizeable quantity of onions and garlic found in the ingredients of other foods. Check the label!
Milk – Cartoons and movies have helped to promote the assumption that cats and milk are a natural combination. Many cats, as well as a large majority of dogs, lack the ability to digest milk properly. So unless you have a stack of carpet cleaning coupons that you want to burn through, you should definitely avoided feeding milk to your indoor pet.
What To Do In A Food Emergency – Contact your veterinarian with specific details regarding the exact food and how much was ingested by your pet. If you are unsure of the food that was consumed, make note of the symptoms that your pet is displaying and seek immediate help. You can contact a local veterinarian or animal hospital as well as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Next week, we’ll take a look at several other unsafe foods for your pet that may surprise you.