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Which Foods Could Harm Your Pet?

Common Foods Toxic to Pets

                Most of us know that chocolate and grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and cats, but there are many other foods that can be harmful to our furry friends.  Here are five lesser known toxic foods to avoid feeding your pet.

  1.  Potato/tomato vines or green potatoes/tomatoes.  Ripe tomatoes and cooked potatoes are not toxic, but, the vines or leaves of tomato and potato plants as well as the unripe tomatoes and potatoes contain a substance called solanine that can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.  Keep pets out of the garden to prevent accidental ingestion of unripe veggies and vines.
  2. Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that can cause lethargy, fever, vomiting, tremors and stiffness of the legs or inability to walk.  Happily, most dogs will recover within 24-48 hours, but they may require some supportive care like IV fluids if severely affected.  Other types of nuts may cause stomach upset in dogs.  Larger nuts like walnuts could also cause intestinal obstruction.  Peanuts and peanut butter are not toxic, though don’t give artificially sweetened peanut butter to dogs.
  3. Avocados are a bit tricky when it comes to toxicity.  Avocados contain a substance called persin.  This is not thought to be toxic to dogs and cats, though stomach upset could occur if eating avocados, and the pit could become lodged in the esophagus or intestines if swallowed whole.  However, persin IS highly toxic to birds and to ruminants like cows and goats.  Pet birds and goats should never be fed avocado as it can cause inability to perch in birds, respiratory distress, organ failure and even death in these species. 
  4. Onions, garlic and other plants in the Allium family such as chives or leeks can cause a type of anemia in dogs and cats called Heinz body anemia.  Cats and Japanese breeds of dog such as Shiba Inus are more sensitive to the effects, and large amounts or chronic exposure are more likely to cause illness—about 1-2 ounces of onion or garlic could be toxic to a 15 pound pet.  Affected pets may have pale gums and seem weak or lethargic.  Garlic is sometimes used as a natural flea preventative, but it is not very effective and could be toxic to your pet, so we do not recommend this home remedy for fleas.
  5. Unbaked pizza or bread dough can cause bloat and alcohol poisoning in dogs or cats who ingest the dough.  The yeast is the culprit.  The warm, moist environment of the stomach activates the yeast in the dough, causing carbon dioxide to form.  This can lead to bloat:  the stomach expands with gas and could even twist on itself.  Fermenting yeast also produce alcohol which can be rapidly absorbed into the blood stream causing lethargy, respiratory distress or even seizures.  Affected pets may exhibit signs of retching or vomiting, distended stomach, and collapse.  Pets can die from these symptoms, so, if you are a bread baker or make your own pizza dough, make sure pets do not have access to the unbaked dough. 

Hopefully, your pets are never exposed to these potentially toxic foods, but, if accidental ingestion occurs, call your vet or contact a pet poison helpline for help.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.