Hazardous food for pets

Who doesn’t like to spoil his pet with a treat? We all do it, it’s so hard not to, you are eating and your pet is looking at you with its big yearning eyes and you just give in… This week we will talk briefly about the main human food items that are toxic for pets.

One of the most common intoxication I get to treat, especially around Christmas time is chocolate poisoning. Chocolate contain Theobromide, which is toxic to the pet’s heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system

–  Onion and garlic can cause destruction of the red blood cells, a process called Hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia are usually pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness and lethargy. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine. Poisoning can result from raw, cooked and dehydrated forms of onion, garlic and chives.

–  Coffee or Tea contain caffeine, which is toxic for pets, the Caffeine effect on the body is pretty similar to the chocolate effect.

–  Grapes/resins contain unknown toxin, which leads to kidney failure in pets.

– Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, and affect the nervous system.

-Sugar free gum and candy are dangerous to pets when they are sweetened with Xylitol that mimics the action of sugar in the body, causes release of Insulin from the pancreas which leads to a condition called Hypoglycemia- low blood sugar. This condition is manifested by weakness, drunken gait, collapse and seizures.

Another food to avoid is Avocado. Avocado is dangerous for pets, it contains a toxic fatty acid called Persin. The symptoms of toxicity are usually of gastrointestinal irritation.

It is well known that pets should not be exposed to alcohol. Alcohol contains Ethanol a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression. Uncooked yeast dough and rotten fruits also produce ethanol. Even small amount of ethanol can cause toxic effects.

Please avoid giving bones to your pet, especially chicken and pork bones. These bones are very sharp and can cause damage and even perforation of the intestine. I would also recommend avoiding giving to pets any food items that can lodge and obstruct the gastrointestinal system, such as corncob or fruit pits.

Symptoms of intoxication depend on the organ affected. In general the symptoms are usually vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and loss of appetite and energy. When the kidneys are involved you might note lack of urine production. Toxin which affect the nervous system will lead to signs such as depression, wobbliness, and even seizures or coma.

If your pet was exposed to any toxic or harmful food item seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Early intervention is critical. Depending on how long has it been since the pet has ingested the poisonous food, the vet will attempt to prevent the poison absorption by inducing vomiting, performing stomach lavage (pumping the stomach) or by feeding active charcoal which absorb some of the toxins.

Some toxins have an antidote- a chemical that reveres the toxin effect. The earlier the antidote is given the better chances of the pet to recover. Supportive treatment including intravenous fluids is also essential in many cases.

Pets are part of the family, they enjoy many family activities which obviously include food. There is a large variety of pet commercial food and treats. If you wish to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet to keep your pet healthy and safe.