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September 14th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Most of us are guilty of sneaking a tasty table scrap to our pets during or after dinner. While there is not anything inherently wrong with giving your pet an occasional morsel left on your plate, there are some very good reasons to limit your handouts to treats made for dogs. Giving dogs a bit of leftover lean meat, non-buttered vegetables, and a little rice will not cause problems, but unfortunately, many people do not stop there.

Don't fill the dog's bowl with table scraps. Most are too fatty for an animal's digestive system. Table scraps (in large amounts) are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.

Here is a list of common foods that are bad or poisonous for your dog/cat. If you suspect that your pet might have eaten any food that might be toxic, contact his/her vet immediately.

Alcohol
Do not give your dog/cat sips of any alcoholic beverage. Ingestion can lead to injury, disorientation, sickness, urination problems or even coma or death from alcohol poisoning. Some dogs may be attracted to alcoholic drinks so don't leave one setting where a dog/cat can reach it. Hops found in beer has an unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.

Apples & Apricots

The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which can result in cyanide poisoning.

Avacodo
Avocado contains a toxic element called persin which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in many animals. Avocadoes are high in fat content and can trigger an upset stomach, vomiting or even pancreatitis. The seed pit is also toxic and if swallowed can become lodged in the intestinal tract where it may cause a severe blockage which will have to be removed surgically. Since avocado is the main ingredient in guacamole be sure and keep your dog/cat out of the dip.

Baby Food
Before feeding any baby food to your dog/cat check the ingredients to see if it contains onion powder, which can be toxic to dog/cat. Feeding baby food in large amounts may result in nutritional deficiencies.

Cat food is generally too high in protein and fats and should no be consumed by dogs.

Chocolate
This is one of the most common dog/cat poisoning agents which is reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Chocolate contains two different kinds of toxins called methyxanthines. One of these is well-known to most people as caffeine, but the other, theobromine a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic, is less known and more dangerous.

Although many people are aware that chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, it's something that is commonly left on a table or counter top. Dogs may tear into a box of candy when the opportunity presents itself. In large quantities, chocolate causes coma and death. In lesser quantities, it will cause gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea. The degree of toxicity depends on the weight of the animal and the amount and type of chocolate consumed
Cooking chocolate is the most dangerous type, followed by dark chocolate and then milk chocolate. Cocoa powder is also very toxic. Less than 1oz/lb of milk chocolate can be lethal to dogs, or 0.1oz/lb of baking chocolate. A 22lb dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of a 9 oz packet of cocoa powder or half of a 9 oz block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell.
Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 9 oz block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

After their pet has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected. However, the signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours. Symptoms include Staggering, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, heart rate increase, arrhythmia, seizures, coma, death.

Chocolate tends to cause digestive upsets initially, as it is high in sugar and fat. Vomiting and diarrhea are often the initial symptoms. Six to twelve hours later, the chemicals themselves start acting. They tend to have a diuretic effect, so the pet may urinate more than usual and become thirsty. Pets often become agitated and start pacing.
More dangerous symptoms then develop, including an elevated, sometimes irregular heart rate, blood pressure changes and seizures. These signs can last for up to three days if untreated, and can be fatal to the pet, with the heart or breathing giving out. Any cases of suspected chocolate toxicity should be immediately reported to your vet. Prompt treatment will mean a much better prognosis for recovery.

Citrus oil extracts can cause vomiting.

Corn on the cob: This is not a toxic product. Corn kernels are a commonly-recommended ingredient in homemade diets. However, if swallowed whole on the cob, it is the right size and shape to block an intestine. This will initially seem like your dog is constipated dog with abdominal pain. However it can become serious if not cleared, as it can damage the intestine wall. Food backing up behind the blockage will do more damage to the intestine and can lead to perforation and a very sick dog. Surgical intervention is generally required to remove corn cobs.

Bones: Feeding dogs bones is a hotly-debated topic. For every advocate of the health benefits gained by dogs eating bones, there will be someone just as strongly opposed to them.

Cooked bones are dry and brittle and can absorb water from the gut, causing constipation and blockage of the intestines. Whilst cooked bones are the main culprit, raw bones can also splinter and perforate the gut (leading to severe illness), which usually requires surgery to repair. Bone fragments can also become lodged in the mouth or throat, causing discomfort at best, choking at worst. Especially bad bones are turkey and chicken legs, ham, pork chop and veal as well as fish.

Raw bones can also, in rare cases, cause food poisoning if contaminated by bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. coli, leading to diarrhea and vomiting (as with humans). Bone marrow is primarily composed of fat, so overindulging in this part of the bone can result in pancreatitis in susceptible dogs. Discuss this topic with your vet and make up your own mind, but be aware of these risks and always supervise your pet while chewing on bones if you do decide to feed them.

Symptoms of choking are:
Pale or blue gums
Gasping Open-mouthed breathing
Pawing at face
Slow, shallow breathing,
Unconscious, with dilated pupils

Fat trimmings
can cause pancreatitis.

Grapes and raisins: Though it isn't clear to scientists just what makes grapes and raisins toxic to both cats and dogs, even a relatively small amount can damage the kidneys. For this reason it's unwise to feed these to your pet, even if small amounts are tolerated. Also avoid giving bits of cookie or other foods that contain raisins.

These are a fairly recent addition to the poisons list for pets, and the toxin contained in these so far has not been identified. The typical signs of grape/raisin poisoning in pets include vomiting, followed by diarrhea and anorexia. Animals develop abdominal pain and lethargy, which has now been linked to kidney damage in affected pets. The signs can commence from 24 hours after eating the fruit and can last for weeks.

If the kidney damage is severe enough to halt the production of urine, this snack can be fatal. If aggressive medical therapy is started early, treatment can be successful, so contacting your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice a pet has eaten these fruits is imperative.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Liver large amounts can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.

Macadamia nuts are soft, light-colored nuts often used in cookie recipes. They are considered toxic to dogs because they tend to cause gastrointestinal upsets, lethargy, vomiting and muscle tremors or stiffness.

Marijuana can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and changes in the heart rate.

Milk and other dairy products some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.

Moldy or spoiled food, garbage can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.

Mushrooms There are several types of toxins in different types of mushrooms. These can cause anything from kidney and liver failure, (with abdominal pain), to delirium and hallucinations, to vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, coma and possibly death. The symptoms can start anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 hours after ingestion of the mushrooms.

The wide range of signs which can be seen with mushroom intoxication means that the treatments and prognosis are highly variable. Amanita mushrooms tend to be the most toxic. Bear in mind that these can grow wild as well as appear in your kitchen, so care when walking dogs in grassy or forest areas that they do not feast on these when you are not looking.

Onions & garlic Whether fresh, cooked or powdered, garlic and/or onions can be found among the ingredients of many prepared meals, including baby food. Onions are more problematic than garlic, but both should be avoided. If preparing a meal for yourself that will contain garlic or onions, consider preparing a side portion without these ingredients for your animals.

These vegetables contain substances called disulphides, which damage the surface of red blood cells and cause them to burst. Cats are more susceptible to this disease than dogs. The result is a disease called Heinz body anemia. As red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen all over the body, the pet becomes weak and breathless, tiring easily. Severely-affected animals may require a blood transfusion for recovery. The red pigment from the burst blood cells appears in the urine (called hemoglobinuria), and can be easily confused with a urinary tract problem.

Digestive upsets with vomiting and diarrhea normally precede the respiratory problems and discolored urine by a day or two. A single large exposure or several small exposures to garlic or onions over a few consecutive days can cause this problem. The toxic component is contained in the bulbs and stems of these plants and remains in even processed forms, such as powders, so we advise avoiding all sources of these for the best health of your pet.

Persimmons seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock. Tomatoes of all kinds are toxic to cats, as are parts of the tomato plant. Ingesting as little as a cherry tomato can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.

Raw fish can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.

Salt If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Sugary foods can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.

Tobacco contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.

Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines

Antifreeze spills are extremely hazardous and toxic to dogs/cats. While the sweet smell and taste may be attractive to his sensitive nose, if your dog/cat consumes any amount of antifreeze, rush him immediately to the veterinarian. (Check your garage and driveway for spills and clean these up before your pet has a chance to smell and potentially ingest this!)
Xylitol is a sugar-alcohol sweetener contained in chewing gum and candy. Seizures, lethargy and weakness are the result if dogs consume significant amounts of this chemical.

Ibuprofen, like antifreeze, may smell sweet. Dogs will eat it if they’re found lying on the floor and don’t be surprised if your dog tries to chew threw a bottle to eat the entire contents. This is definitely toxic to dogs. It causes ulceration and perforates the lining of the stomach, and decreases the blood flow to the kidneys.

Other foods to avoid include turkey skin; nutmeg; and anything with caffeine, including tea..

Since many of the signs of toxicity are similar, call your veterinarian immediately if your pet appears distressed, lethargic or in pain. Bloody stools or vomiting are also possible signs of toxic poisoning. Gastrointestinal problems can lead to gas build-up until the stomach becomes distended or bloated and hard to the touch. This is a painful condition that can cause the stomach to burst if not treated. The good news is that, in most cases, treatment for toxic poisoning can be successful if administered in time. There are also poisoning assistance hotlines devoted to animals find one near you.
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