While it is true that the origin of the friendship between dogs and primitive men was marked by the similarities in their diets and the mutually beneficial association that they forged by hunting together, it is also true that by living on their own, dogs had the freedom to instinctively choose to eat foods that were most beneficial to their health.
As domestication evolved, men began to decide their furry companions’ entire diets. During the last decade, a new approach to dog ownership shows that most dogs kept as pets are actually considered family members, and are thus, consequently, adopting humans habits. Overweight dogs are a current and rather recent concern that has arisen from the effect of humans’ modern lifestyles on pets. Nowadays, on average, dogs exercise less and eat more human food that their ancestors did.
Despite similarities and common ingredients between the diets of dogs and humans, these are not identical, and sometimes human food can be the cause of food poisoning in dogs.
Human Foods That Are Dangerous To Your Pet
Many foods that humans consume on a regular basis are not adequate and could be dangerous for dogs. Furthermore, some of them have proven to have adverse effects on dogs’ health, even when ingested in small portions. Amongst them we can find:
Chocolate is known to be a highly common goodie given as a gift. However, theobromine and caffeine are toxic substances present in chocolate and cocoa products. Indeed, theobromine is a toxin particularly dangerous for dogs due to its accumulative effect.
Since the elimination of theobromine is slow in dogs, pooches are more susceptible to toxicity following chocolate ingestion. The highest concentration of this substance is in baking chocolate, and dark chocolate.
Both theobromine and caffeine are stimulants of the central nervous systems. As such, symptoms can be hyperactivity, tachycardia, arrhythmia, rapid breathing, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, agitation, excessive urination, convulsion, seizures, coma, heart failure, and even death. In senior dogs, the ingestion of these elements can easily cause cardiac arrest.
Stone Fruits Seeds (Cyanide)
Peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, persimmons, and stone fruits contain cyanide in the seed at their center. When chewing the pit of these fruits, dogs could ingest the seed and experience the effects of Cyanide poisoning. Although only one seed may not be enough to trigger signs of toxicity, the latter depends on the the size of the dog and the amount consumed.
Immediate treatment is necessary since cyanide toxicity can be fatal in a short time. Cyanide poisoning symptoms include bright and red gums, salivation, increase in heart rate, convulsions, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, generalized seizure, paralysis, and death.
The ingestion of Macadamia nuts can also be highly toxic for dogs. Macadamia nuts are common ingredients for cookies, candies, and other party treats. Sometimes, they are combined with chocolate, which has synergistic effects that can exacerbate the symptoms and lead to a more severe and dangerous health condition.
Many cases of food poisoning from this nut have been observed, however, the actual cause of the reaction remain unidentified and are still being researched. The symptoms appear usually within 12 hours after the first intake and include vomiting, tremors, difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, tachycardia, and weakness.
Xylitol is a popular sweetener used in many products like sugar-free gum, candies as well as baked goods, cookies, and cakes. It is highly toxic for dogs, but not for humans. Therefore, it is often employed to sweeten medicines and personal care products such as cough syrup, chewable vitamins, and toothpaste.
In dogs, Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, i.e. low concentrations of sugar in their bloodstream. As it is the case with humans, the level of sugar in dogs’ blood is controlled by the insulin released by the pancreas. Unlike humans, however, xylitol strongly stimulates insulin release in dogs, causing an acute decrease of blood sugar levels. The clinical signs of hypoglycemia occur within 10 to 60 minutes after ingestion and the symptoms include vomiting, lack of coordination, tremors, weakness, lethargy, seizures, liver failure, coma, and can be fatal.
Raisins and grapes
Raisins and grapes are present in numerous recipes, drinks, and preparations. Its toxicity produces gastrointestinal problems and, in many cases, acute renal failure. The symptoms include vomiting with subsequent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weakness within the first 24 hours of ingestion.
The degree of the condition is not related to the amount of grapes or raisins ingested or the size of the dog. Renal problems could also lead to acute renal failure which is a serious condition that implies a sudden decline of kidney function, requiring hemo-dialysis as treatment. It is important to note that this treatment, unfortunately, does not necessarily improve the animal’s chances of survival.
Almonds, like most nuts, can increase the risk of pancreatitis in dogs due to their high fat content. Although almonds are less toxic than macadamia nuts, they can lead to problems in dogs’ gastrointestinal tract and can induce symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, meteorism, hyporexia, lethargy and weariness.
Onions and garlic
Onions and garlic are part of most of our dishes and are also very dangerous for dogs. This is due to the fact that they contain organo-sulfoxide compounds, which are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. The intake of a sufficient amount of onions in all forms, such as raw, cooked, dehydrated or powder, can damage canine erythrocytes, i.e. red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anaemia.
The symptoms appear several days after ingestion as a result of anemia, and they include weakness, pale mucous membranes, tachycardia, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, this may evolve into renal failure, and death.
Avocados are popular amongst humans, but due to a toxin called Persin, they may induce symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. High in fat, avocados can also cause inflammation of the pancreas. However, the most common health risk of avocados is due to its large seed which can cause obstruction when swallowed. Lack of stool production could be a symptom of esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract obstruction.
Coffee & Tea
Caffeine, also referred to as 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine, is present in coffee and tea. Like chocolate and cocoa, the symptoms of ingesting this ingredient are related to its ability to stimulate the central nervous system.
This type of food poisoning requires immediate medical attention so you should keep any food that contains caffeine away from your dog.
Alcohol or ethanol is another dangerous substance. Although, it is not often deliberately feed to dogs, ethanol is the cause of many accidental food poisonings. Due to dogs’ small size, even the smallest quantities of alcohol can be dangerous to them. Indeed, the ethanol present in alcoholic drinks, cleaning products, mouthwash, and hand sanitizer is highly toxic to dogs, even is small doses.
Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, lethargy, disorientation, and, in severe cases, you might notice muscle tremors, paralysis, extremely slow and shallow breathing, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Dogs that have ingested ethanol may vomit or become nauseated, and they can become dizzy and unsteady.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of the aforementioned foods and/or exhibits any or many of the symptoms listed above, please contact your veterinarian and/or animal poison control center as soon as possible.
24/7 Animal Poison Control Center: Pet Poison Helpline — Call 800-213-6680 (U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean) See More Useful Links
A Resounding YES For These Healthy Snacks
Fortunately, there are lots of foods that your dog can eat and thus be part of your family dinners and snacking sessions. Amongst the most popular and beneficial human foods that can be shared with our dog, we can find:
- Fresh, frozen or cooked vegetables, such as carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, and spinach.
- Fruits, like apples, cantaloupes, pears and oranges.
- Cooked eggs and meat without seasoning or sauces, for example, turkey without bones.
If you want to indulge your pooch with a homemade special treat you can try this recipe:
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