Some pet owners are not aware that many foods and food ingredients can be harmful or fatal to dogs and cats. Our research has produced an interesting list of common "people foods" that are toxic to pets and can seriously harm your furry friends.
We grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and like many people at the time, we fed our dogs table scraps to supplement their diet. No one realized at the time that we may have been shortening their lives by feeding them foods that were harmful to their health.
Keep in mind that a dog will eat almost anything and some cats will do the same. Be aware of the common food hazards found in almost every home.
Here is a list of the most common foods that are toxic to your pets. Some items on the list may surprise you.
Grapes and Raisins
Raisins and grapes contain a chemical that can cause acute renal failure in dogs. As few as 7 or 8 grapes or raisins can be toxic. This was one that surprised us, and prompted our investigation into other toxic foods, because one of our German Shepards loved raisins and begged for them whenever we were snacking on a box. We only gave him a small number of raisins and he lived to be a ripe old age, but eventually had to be put down due to kidney and liver failure. We often wonder if his love of raisins contributed to his demise. As much as your dogs may love raisins, do not give them a single one.
A Common Sweetener
Xylitol is a common sweetener found in some candies, baked good, chewable vitamins, sugar-free gums, toothpaste and other products. This has been confimed by Vets, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and in a Snopes article called Xylitol Danger. One of the most common foods that contains Xylitol is sugar-free gums, such as Orbit. It looks like small amounts of Xylitol induces an insulin surge that can put a dog into hypoglycemia and with higher doses can cause liver failure. While it is harmless to humans, just 3 grams of Xylitol can kill a 65 pound dog.
Onions and Garlic
Cats are more susceptible to these foods than are dogs, but they are nonetheless harmful to both. Low doses may be harmless, but never feed your pets anything that has been cooked in onions or contains gravy that may include onions or garlic.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
A partial list of other foods that can be poisonous or toxic to pets to one degree or another includes macadamia nuts, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms, mustard, rhubarb leaves, tomato plant stems and leaves, fruit pits and seeds, and potato peelings.
Any beverage containing caffeine or alcohol is harmful. This includes coffee, tea, soft drinks, hot chocolate or any food or drink containing alcohol.
Most people know about this one. Chocolate contains a derivative of the cocoa plant that is poisonous to pets. This substance can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and death. Baking chocolate, which is used in cookies, is the most dangerous type of chocolate. If your pet ingests chocolate, you need to seek emergency care immediately.
Small amounts of baked breads may be OK, but large amounts should never be given to a pet because the yeast in the dough tends to expand and can rupture the stomach or intestines. For that reason, raw dough should never be given to a pet, even in small amounts. If you like to bake bread and love your pooch, keep him or her out of the room.
The ASPCA site has an article called the Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008. It is worthwhile to read this article because it contains other common household items that are hazardous to your family friends.