Written by Alyssa Dayton, DVM
It is always recommended to avoid feeding your pet food from the table, no matter how happy it makes them. The habit tends to lead to bad behaviors, weight gain, and gastrointestinal upset. However, there are a few foods that should always be avoided for their safety. This list is not exhaustive, so be sure to do research on any foods and substances before you share them with your furry family members.
Chocolate and Coffee:
Some of the foods that bring us the most joy can be very dangerous to share with our dogs and cats. Chocolate and coffee include a product of the cacao seeds called methylxanthines. When ingested in higher quantities, methylxanthines can cause a hyper-excited state in your pet that is seen as abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, excessive drinking/eating, and panting. In the most extreme cases, it can be fatal. Baking chocolates and dark chocolate include the highest concentration of this dangerous ingredient, but owners need to be cautious of where any sweet treats are stored to be sure that no animals can get access.
Onions, Garlic, Chives:
These ingredients, and any dishes they are used in, can cause gastrointestinal irritation in your pets that will be seen as drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe effects can be seen if higher quantities are ingested, like damage to their red blood cells and subsequent anemia. Cats tend to be more at risk for severe side effects, but dogs are in danger as well. It is important to know that more serious effects can be hiding for days before you see any signs. Keep a close eye on pets in the kitchen and if they ingest these ingredients, take them to be seen by a veterinarian, even if they seem unaffected right now.
Grapes and Raisins:
The nature of grape and raisin toxicity is not well understood yet, but after a small amount is eaten some animals can experience kidney damage. Be vigilant around children while they are eating these fruity treats, as they often share with their fluffy friends or drop them on the floor for them to scoop up.
While you make any baked breads, always clean up spills quickly and do not let your pet sneak any dough from you. Yeast dough will continue to rise in their warm stomachs and cause bloat and in worst cases can cause the tract to flip over on itself – this can be fatal if not treated quickly. In addition, the gas that the yeast produces is ethanol, which can lead to a drunken effect in your pet and possibly alcohol poisoning.
The ingestion of alcohol in your pet can lead to the signs you may expect to see – decreased coordination, vomiting, and depressed nervous system. However, side effects can progress to tremors, seizures, difficulty breathing and even death. No sharing your beverages with your buddy, and if you take your dog to breweries or bars for a field trip, be aware of any spills or glasses that they can reach.
If you are concerned, or believe your pet may have ingested one of these substances, it is important to stay calm and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to see what the next steps are. There are two reliable pet poison hotlines that you can contact – ASPCA Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661.