Human Foods that Poison Pets!
Human Foods that Poison Pets Disclaimer
Feeding pets food that we enjoy is not only wrong, it can also be fatal. There are some foodstuffs that humans relish which cause illness and death if eaten by pets.
Chocolate, macadamia nuts and onions are good examples. Each of these foods contains chemicals which rarely cause problems for humans, but for dogs, these same chemicals can be deadly.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic.
When affected by an overdose of chocolate, a dog can become excited and hyperactive. Due to the diuretic effect, it may pass large volumes of urine and it will be unusually thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common. The effect of theobromine on the heart is the most dangerous effect. Theobromine will either increase the dogís heart rate or may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially with exercise.
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.
Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud 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 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.
Onion and garlic poisoning
Onions and garlic are other dangerous food ingredients that cause sickness in dogs, cats and also livestock. Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger.
Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the petís red blood cells burst while circulating in its body.
At first, pets affected by onion poisoning show gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea. They will show no interest in food and will be dull and weak. The red pigment from the burst blood cells appears in an affected animalís urine and it becomes breathless. The breathlessness occurs because the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body are reduced in number.
The poisoning occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness.
Onion poisoning can occur with a single ingestion of large quantities or with repeated meals containing small amounts of onion. A single meal of 600 to 800 grams of raw onion can be dangerous whereas a ten-kilogram dog, fed 150 grams of onion for several days, is also likely to develop anaemia. The condition improves once the dog is prevented from eating any further onion
While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness.
The danger of macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are another concern. A recent paper written by Dr. Ross McKenzie, a Veterinary Pathologist with the Department of Primary Industries, points to the danger of raw and roasted macadamia nuts for pets.
The toxic compound is unknown but the affect of macadamia nuts is to cause locomotory difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated.
Dogs have been affected by eating as few as six macadamia kernels (nuts without the shell) while others had eaten approximately forty kernels. Some dogs had also been given macadamia butter.
Luckily, the muscle weakness, while painful, seems to be of short duration and all dogs recovered from the toxicity. All dogs were taken to their veterinary surgeon.
Pets owners should not assume that human food is always safe for pets. When it comes to chocolate, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts, such foods should be given in only small quantities, or not at all. Be sure that your pets canít get into your stash of chocolates, that food scraps are disposed of carefully to prevent onion and garlic toxicity and that your dog is prevented from picking up macadamia nuts if you have a tree in your garden.
Other potential dangers
Avocado (all parts) - the toxic ingredient in avocado is called persin (toxic amount unknown). Symptoms include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart.
Pear pips, the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, apple core pips (contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide posioning)
Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)
Hops (used in home brewing)
Tomato leaves & stems (green parts)
Broccoli (in large amounts)
Raisins and grapes
Cigarettes, tobacco, cigars
Xylitol (sweetener often found in sugar-free gum)
Wow, that's a lot of important info! I didnt know avocado was bad for animals! Dont have any pets right now, but was considering getting cats in the future. Anything else I should know?
Registered Holistic Nutritionist in training
Thanks for posting this. I've been educating myself on natural dog care and have come across the same list of food items.
I've had my puppy zen for 4 months now and I want to give him the best. I've given him saw raw bones with a little meat on them that were designed for dogs and he loves those. It's a special treat. Also giving him raw meat for dogs that's in pellets. It's great there are options available in my area. As far as other foods go so far he likes the following.
I give them to him in small amounts. Out of all these he likes the bell peppers the most.
Bell pepper,(mainly the red)
carrots, but not his favorite
Thank you Lucy - I am really strict with my pets diets, but you never know what might happen accidentally.
Human Foods that Poison Pets
I like the website, thanks for the suggestion. I agree, we should all be extra careful with our pets. Its horrible to lose one Especially if you could have done something to avoid it.
I would add "(in large amounts)" after avocado just like it is after broccoli. I've given my pets lots of avocado over the years and they are still alive. :-) I know a lot of people who feed their pets avocado too and they are all fine.
When I was a kid in California our families dogs (and I'm sure many other people who had avocado trees dogs as well) ate TONS of avocados that fell from the avocado tree in our yard with no apparent ill effects.
Raw Food & Emotional Eating Coach
I can testify to the chocolate part. My Pitt Mix used to love to open boxes when she was a pup. My husband took her out for a drive. He stopped at a gas station. By the time he came back Elsa had opened a box of Little Debbie's Chocolate Granola Bars. She had gotten them out of the wrappers and eaten every single one. She was sooo sick. We thought she was going to die. She couldn't even lift her head. She recovered with the help of a good vet and time.
She loooves tomatos. She will eat them off the plants as they grow. I never knew the green parts were bad for her. Good information.
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