Top 5 Foods to Keep Away From Your Pets

Most of the poisonings we see in the veterinary ER are from pets getting into their owner’s medications. Thankfully, we don’t see malicious poisoning very often, and most people know to keep typical “skull-and-crossbones” poisons (like antifreeze and rat poison) out of reach of their pets. There are some things out there that we humans can eat by the handful that are deadly toxic to pets, so I thought I’d share a few of these with you right now and help keep your pets safe.

  1. Raisins and grapes: I have always thought raisins were disgusting. It turns out that not only are they gross, raisins and grapes are deadly! Dogs (cats are too smart to eat them) have eaten as few as 1 or 2 grapes and gone into kidney failure, while others can eat a whole cluster and have no problems.

Grapes and raisins have an unknown toxin in them that is found in some, not in others, and damages the kidneys through a mysterious process that no one really understands. The bottom line here is stop tossing them to your dog as a treat and if your dog gets into any, call your veterinarian or veterinary ER for advice.

  1. Gum: Who dies from gum? Well, sadly, sometimes dog do. The low-calorie sweeteners found in gum are usually quite safe for us but not so much for dogs. One of them, xylitol, causes dangerously low-blood sugar, and can also damage the liver. I have treated several cases of xylitol toxicity where the dogs emptied purses and chewed up a pack of gum. Next stop – the vet ER!

All the cases that I have treated have made a complete recovery due to the fast-thinking and knowledgeable pet owners who brought them in. If your dog chews up your gum, check the ingredient list. If you see xylitol on the label, call your veterinarian right away. As little as one piece can contain enough xylitol to put your dog in the hospital.

  1. Chocolate: Chocolate is often cited as posing a humongous threat to dogs. I don’t want to advocate feeding any chocolate to dogs, but if your 95-pound Great Pyrenees eats two M&M’s, you’re going to be fine, trust me. It takes quite a bit of milk chocolate to cause problems: somewhere around 1 pound of milk chocolate for 30 to 40 pounds of body weight.

Dark chocolate is far worse because it takes less to cause symptoms, and baking chocolate is worst of all. If you cook with chocolate, save it for the people and not the pooches!

  1. Onions: Onions and garlic can cause serious problems for dogs and cats. In both species, a chemical found in onions/garlic causes damage to red blood cells and leads to anemia, if enough is eaten. Cats are particularly sensitive. Pets are usually pretty averse to eating these foods, but never add them to dog or cat food and make sure your goofy Labrador doesn’t steal an onion off the countertop.
  1. Anything moldy: Moldy food contains a toxic brew of poisons that can do anything from cause seizures to produce full-on liver failure. Just like raisins – gross and deadly. If you are thinking that you can save some money on dog chow by feeding that week-old leftover Chinese to your Shar-Pei, think again. What you save in pet food costs you will spend many times over on treatment.

So, now you know what NOT to feed – how about some things that are OK, delicious and vet-approved? For one, many dogs love the crunch and sweetness of carrots, and don’t know that they have next to no calories. Use them in training or as a reward and you can strengthen the bond with your pet while keeping them slim and fit.

The same goes for green beans – for those dogs that can’t seem to get filled up on normal (and calorie- packed) dog food, a cup of cooked green beans added to their food can replace a portion of kibble and help slim them down, while keeping them full and happy.

Skip the bad stuff and stick to the good stuff and you’ll have a happy and healthy pet!

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