Household Foods And Drinks That Are Deadly To Dogs

It’s hard to resist sharing food with your dog, especially when she looks up at you with those, well, puppy dog eyes. But, while some human snacks are safe in small doses, others are downright dangerous for dogs.

Puppies in particular are notorious for getting into things they shouldn’t, and they tend to operate on the assumption that everything is edible until proven otherwise.

If your little guy thinks it’s perfectly okay to eat that cardboard box, he won’t think twice about snacking on anything that you leave lying around!

So, keep Fido safe by making sure he never gets a chance to eat (or drink) any of the poisonous items below……

Alcohol

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places. Rum-soaked fruitcake or unbaked dough containing yeast result in alcohol poisoning and other life-threatening problems. Unbaked bread dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach (called “bloat”), which can then progress to a gastric-dilitation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs of GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Secondly, when the yeast in the unbaked dough is fermented, it results in the production of carbon dioxide (causing the bloat) and alcohol. Alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Apricot

The seeds, leaves, and stems of the apricot tree contain cyanide. This toxin inhibits cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport, preventing appropriate oxygen uptake by cells. When ingested in toxic amounts, clinical signs of dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock, and death can be seen.

Australian Nut

Australian nuts, also known as Macadamia nuts, are derived from the Macadamia intergrifolia in the United States, and in Macadamia tetraphylla in Hawaii and Australia where they are cultivated. Symptoms start to appear within 3 to 12 hours of ingestion. Australian nuts are found to be more toxic to dogs than cats

Avocado

Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats. Only certain species are poisoned by persin. While dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cattle). The bigger risk to dogs and cats is a foreign body obstruction, which can occur if the dog swallowed the whole large, round avocado seed; due to size alone, this seed can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract of dogs.

Pet birds should never be fed avocado, as canaries, parakeets, cockatiels and large parrots are extremely susceptible to persin toxicity. Signs of persin poisoniong in birds includes the inability to perch, respiratory distress, fluid accumulation around the bird’s heart and lungs, liver and kidney failure, and sudden death.

If you suspect your pet has avocado poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for treatment advice.

Bread Dough

Unbaked bread dough can be poisonous to dogs and cats. When ingested, the unbaked bread dough expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach (called “bloat”); this can then progress to a gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs of bloat or GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Secondly, when the yeast in the unbaked dough is fermented, it results in the production of carbon dioxide (causing the bloat) and alcohol. Alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated dogs and cats can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Caffeine

Humans continue to drink and use more and more caffeine, making pets more frequently exposed to this dangerous chemical. There are several sources of caffeine in the house: in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, soda, energy drinks, weightlifter supplements, OTC pills (e.g., NoDoz), and diet pills. Theobromine, a cousin chemical to caffeine is also found chocolate. Dogs and cats appear to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. When ingested, clinical signs of hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, collapse and death may be seen.

Cherry

Cherry trees and shrubs (Prunus sp) including the Choke cherry, Black cherry and cherry laurel contain cyanogenic glycosides. All parts of these plants other than the ripe pulp around the seeds are considered toxic and contain cyanide. Cyanide inhibits cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport, preventing appropriate oxygen uptake by cells. When ingested in toxic amounts, clinical signs of dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock, and death can be seen.

Chocolate

While the occasional chocolate chip within one cookie may not be an issue, we worry about certain types of chocolate – the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your dog. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. Other sources include chewable, flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. The chemical toxicity is due to a methylxanthine (like theobromine and caffeine), and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and rarely, even death. Dogs make up 95% of all our chocolate calls, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat chocolate! In smaller dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in a secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines.

Currants

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

If you suspect your pet ingested grapes, raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations

Garlic

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are in the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats if the dose is right. Garlic is considered to be about five times as toxic as onions for cats and dogs. Certain breeds and species seem to be more sensitive: Japanese breeds of dogs (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu) and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days. While minute amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large ingestions can be very toxic.

If you suspect your dog or cat have onion poisoning or garlic poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.

Grapes

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

If you suspect your pet ingested grapes, raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.

Hops

Humulus lupulus, commonly known as hops, is a plant used in the process of brewing beer. As home brewing increases in popularity, more dogs may be at risk for exposure. Hops plugs (which typically are dried) tend to be more toxic than hops pellets. The exact toxic principle is unknown, but may be related to essential oils, resins, phenolic compounds, or nitrogenous constituents within the plant. When ingested by dogs (or rarely, cats), signs of hop poisoning include malignant hyperthermia (with temperatures exceeding 105⁰F/40.6⁰C), increased breathing, a racing heart rate, anxiety, vomiting, abnormal clotting, and even death. Death has been reported in dogs poisoned by hops within 6 hours of ingestion (without treatment). Any breed of dog may be affected, but breeds predisposed to malignant hyperthermia (e.g., greyhounds, Labrador retrievers, Saint Bernards, pointers, Dobermans, Border collies, English springer spaniels, and northern breeds) are at higher risk for toxicity.

Macadamia Nuts

The Macadamia tree is a member of the Protaceae family. The nut is typically cultivated from the Macadamia integrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla trees. Depending on the amount ingested, clinical signs of severe lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and inability to walk (commonly hind limb) may be seen. The toxic mechanism is unknown but can effect nerve function (specifically, the motor neurons, neuromuscular junctions, muscle fibers or neurotransmitters).

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins)

Ingestion of moldy food from the garbage or a compost pile puts dogs, cats, and even wildlife at risk for toxicity due to tremorgenic mycotoxins. These toxins may be found in moldy bread, pasta, cheese, nuts, or other decaying matter like compost. Clinical signs include vomiting, agitation, walking drunk, tremors, seizures, and severe secondary hyperthermia. Signs may persist from hours to days, but typically resolve within 24-48 hours with aggressive veterinary treatment.

Mushrooms

There are several thousand species of mushrooms located throughout the United States, but only a small percentage is considered toxic. As accurate mushroom identification can be difficult, it should be left to experts (mycologists). While the majority of mushrooms are considered non-toxic, some may result in severe clinical signs (even death). The majority of confirmed fatal mushroom toxicities in pets are secondary to mushrooms from the following genera: Amanita, Galerina, and Lepiota. Depending on the type/species of mushroom ingested, several general organ systems can be affected: hallucinogenic (e.g., visual disturbances), gastrointestinal (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea), central nervous system (e.g., ataxia, tremors, seizures, death), liver failure (e.g., vomiting, black-tarry stool, increased liver function blood tests, etc.), kidney failure failure (e.g., halitosis, anorexia, vomiting, inappropriate thirst or urination), etc.

In general, all mushroom ingestions in veterinary patients should be considered toxic unless accurate, rapid mushroom identification can occur. Clinical signs from mushroom poisoning are dependent on the species of mushroom ingested, the specific toxin within that mushroom, and the individual’s own susceptibility. Early clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, walking drunk, depression, tremors, and seizures, with liver and renal damage occurring later.

If you see your dog eat a mushroom, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for treatment advice.

Onions

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are of the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Garlic is considered to be about 5X as potent as onions. Certain breeds and species seem to be more sensitive: Japanese breeds of dogs (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu) and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days.

If you suspect your dog or cat have onion poisoning or garlic poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.

Play Dough (Homemade)

Homemade play dough, which is often made by parents as toys for their children, is generally comprised of food coloring and salt. When accidentally ingested by dogs or cats, homemade play dough is quite toxic, resulting in salt poisoning. Other sources of salt poisoning in dogs and cats include rock salt (for de-icers), paint balls, table salt, sea water, enemas (containing sodium phosphate), etc.

Salt poisoning in dogs and cats results in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated. Treatment for salt poisoning includes careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

If you think your dog or cat ingested homemade play dough, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice.

Raisins

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

If you suspect your pet ingested grapes, raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.

Salt

Salt, while commonly used for cooking in the kitchen, is quite poisonous to dogs and cats. The use of salt to induce vomiting in dogs and cats is no longer the standard of care and is not recommended for use by pet owners or veterinarians! Other sources of salt can be found throughout the household: in homemade play dough, rock salt (for de-icers), paint balls, table salt, sea water, enemas (containing sodium phosphate), etc.

Salt poisoning in dogs and cats results in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated. Treatment for salt poisoning includes careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

If you think your dog or cat have been poisoned by salt, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice.

Star Fruit

Soluble oxalate-containing plants contain oxalic acid and oxalate salts, and must be differentiated from insoluble oxalate plants (which are less toxic). Examples of soluble calcium oxalate-containing plants include: star fruit, common or garden rhubarb, shamrock plant, etc. In general, soluble calcium oxalate poisoning is more commonly associated with large animals (from livestock chronically grazing). However, when ingested in large enough quantities in small animals, it can result in poisoning in dogs, cats, and even humans.

Soluble calcium oxalates are present in varying degrees in all parts of the plant. For example, rhubarb stems are edible, but the leaves are not. When soluble oxalate salts are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, they bind with body’s calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals. Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods (e.g., pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and OTC supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). The xylitol content of these products can vary widely depending on brand and flavor. In dogs, smaller ingestions can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes. Larger ingestions can result in acute liver necrosis and liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, and even coma or death. If you suspect your dog ingested xylitol, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment recommendations. Depending on the symptoms in your dog, vomiting may be induced by your veterinarian. Treatment includes monitoring of blood sugar and liver values, IV fluids, sugar supplementation in IV fluids, and liver protective drugs [e.g., S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)], as needed. Activated charcoal does not reliably bind xylitol, therefore is not recommended. Blood work (evaluating liver function) should be re-evaluated 2-3 days after discharge, depending on the toxic dose ingested.

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