Dog/Cat/Pet Dangers (Chocolate, Onions, Nuts, Eggs, Fish, Etc.)

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Dog/Cat/Pet Dangers (Chocolate, Onions, Nuts, Eggs, Fish, Etc.)

Reprinted by permission from Vitamin Research

by Gary L. Ailes, DVM

Many pet owners are not aware of common substances that can pose grave dangers to their family pets.  There are numerous toxins lurking in all areas of the home, including houseplants, which can be poisonous when consumed, and cleaning products that can cause serious damage even if only a drop or two are consumed.  In this article, I will focus specifically on some foods we humans eat that can cause serious illness in our four-legged companions.

Chocolate
One food that can be a great danger to pets is chocolate.  While many of us are living proof that humans can consume vast amounts of this substance with few side effects (besides a large smile), it can be deadly to our pets.  This is due to the compound theobromine, a cardiac stimulant and diuretic that is found in chocolate.

The highest concentration of theobromine is found in baking chocolate.  A 20 pound dog will be seriously affected if it consumes just one quarter of a 10 ounce packet of cocoa powder or one half of a block of cooking chocolate.  Semi-sweet and dark chocolate contain less theobromine than baking chocolate.  A dog would have to consume relatively large quantities of these types of chocolate to experience toxicity.  The size of the pet will greatly impact the severity of the signs they display.  For example, a candy bar eaten by a 100 pound Rottweiler may not cause any signs of illness.  The same candy bar when consumed by a 4 pound Yorkshire terrier could potentially cause death.

The symptoms of chocolate toxicity include staggering, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, increased heart rate, seizures, and coma.  If your dog has consumed chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.  If the chocolate was eaten within three hours, it may be possible to induce the pet to vomit, thereby decreasing toxicity.

Onions
Another common food that can cause illness in pets is the onion.  Onion poisoning can occur after a single ingestion of a large quantity of onions (for example, 20 to 25 ounces of onion consumed by a 20 pound dog).  Or, after repeated meals that contain small amounts of onion (5 ounces of onion fed to a 20 pound dog several days in a row).  Garlic can also cause toxicity in pets but must be consumed in very large quantities.

Pets affected by onion poisoning will develop hemolytic anemia -- a condition in which red blood cells burst while in circulation.  Symptoms include lethargy, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and discolored urine.  Problems are usually noticed a few days after the onion is consumed.  Again, a visit to the veterinarian is warranted.  They will perform a physical exam and may run diagnostic testing to see if any lasting damage has been done.

Nuts
Many types of nuts can be dangerous when consumed by pets.  As with humans who are allergic to nuts, even a small amount (one macadamia nut per pound of dog) can cause grave illness.  Signs of this poisoning include fever, muscle tremors, weakness, and paralysis of the hind limbs.  Some dogs may be unable to rise or stand.  Their limbs may be swollen and painful when manipulated.  If treatment is sought quickly, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting before the nuts are absorbed.

Eggs
Many owners feed their pets raw eggs to supplement their diets.  While this is done with good intentions, there are drawbacks to this practice.  Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin that is helpful in the management of neuropathy and enhances glucose utilization).  A biotin deficiency can cause skin and hair coat problems.  Raw eggs may also contain excessive salmonella bacteria which can cause illness in humans and pets.

If you feel you must supplement your dog's diet with eggs, be sure to wash the egg well and preferably cook it before serving.  Washing the egg helps to clean away salmonella contamination and cooking it degrades the avidin.

Fish
Cartoon cats seem to love eating raw fish out of garbage cans and many owners assume their own pet cats would like the same treat at home.  However, feeding raw fish can also lead to a deficiency of vitamin B1, thiamine.  The problem occasionally manifests as pain along the spine that seems to radiate out from the muscles.  This has happened, although rarely, when simply feeding a fish-based diet.  Regularly feeding raw fish treats can lead to loss of appetite, seizure and, in severe cases death.

Grapes/Raisins
Grapes and raisins have been shown to cause acute kidney failure in pets.  The exact dose of this food necessary to cause illness is unknown though a small handful of grapes may be enough to cause toxicity in a 20 pound dog.  Pets made ill by grape or raisin consumption are likely to begin vomiting and you may notice grape skins in the material they bring up initially.

If you know your dog has consumed grapes, contact your veterinarian.  Aggressive intravenous therapy may need to be initiated as soon as possible and continued for at least 72 hours.  If the quantity consumed is large enough and damage to the kidney is severe enough, even aggressive therapy may not save the pet.

Poultry Bones
Feeding pets chicken bones is a common practice among pet owners which can lead to severe gastrointestinal damage.  When cooked, the hollow poultry bones splinter into sharp shards as a pet chews them.  When swallowed, these shards can lacerate and even penetrate the gastrointestinal tract.  Surgery is often required to remove these shards as the damage they cause can be life threatening.  This surgery is invasive, costly, and avoidable.

Supporting Pets Intestinal Health
The proper supplementation can help strengthen your pets intestinal tract to make it less susceptible to the damage that may occur if it were to consume a toxic substance.  This may give you a little more time to get to your pets doctor for proper treatment.

It is important for pet owners to monitor the foods their pets are consuming especially around holiday seasons as houseguests and special meals can contribute to a chaotic atmosphere.  Everyone should be informed about the dangers of these festive foods that pose danger to our pets.  Ideally, pets meals should be restricted to a complete, balanced, high quality, species-specific diet.  Combining a healthy diet with proper supplementation will ensure that you are providing them with all the nutrition they need to live a long, healthy life.

Some Pet Foods Unfit for Animals - Pg 1 | Pg 2 | Life Extension Dog Mix with Ground Flax Seed - Dose |
Life Extension Cat Mix with Resveratrol - Dose | Dogs and Cats and B12

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