The Dangers in Your Kitchen

As a child, I was notorious for bringing home injured birds, stray dogs or cats, and any other animal in need of help. My parents would always tell me jokingly, “If you keep bringing home these animals, you’re going to have to become a veterinarian to support your habit.” I knew that was my calling at a very tender age. One day when I was seven years old, I was looking out the window and saw a scruffy little black dog that was wandering stray with no one around. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a bag of Doritos and laid a path of treats from my front steps into the front door of my house—and I inherited my first dog.

I was young, but I knew veterinary medicine was my calling and that calling is as strong today as it was then. Now many years later, God has blessed me with an 18,000-square-foot building which my husband and I converted into a small animal emergency hospital. Our hospital is fully staffed and open twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year for any urgent situation that might arise with a beloved pet. As an emergency room veterinarian, I see many tragic cases that are heartrending, many of which can be prevented. Believe it or not, food toxicities are some of the most common, preventable, and expensive cases that we see.

Believe me, I understand how difficult it is not to share your delicious provisions with your beloved pets; but it can be the safest way to prevent food toxicities. Should you feel compelled to share your food with your furry friend, it is important to know whether it is safe or toxic for them. There are some foods that should be avoided to protect your pet from becoming ill. The top five foods that are potentially toxic for your beloved pet are:

  1. Chocolate

The chemical in chocolate that is toxic is called theobromine. Humans metabolize theobromine very quickly. However, dogs metabolize it very slowly. If your pet ingests enough chocolate, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, seizures, and death. The severity of symptoms is dependent on the amount of chocolate ingested, the size of your dog, and the type of chocolate (dark chocolate contains more theobromines than milk chocolate and is therefore more toxic). This delicious treat should always be kept out of reach of dogs and cats.

  1. Grapes and Raisins

Though they are healthy snacks for humans, they can cause severe side effects if ingested by your pets. Toxicologists have tried to determine the exact component which causes toxicity, but it remains unknown. Recent studies have shown that every dog processes grapes differently, and even one grape can result in kidney damage or kidney failure. So, even though you may be tempted to share your healthy snack with your pet, play it safe and stick to the dog and cat treats.

  1. Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in sugarless gum, candy, and baked goods. Xylitol may have some health benefits for humans, but it is very toxic for animals. It can cause a sudden release of insulin and result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar. It can also cause liver damage or even liver failure. As little as one piece of sugarless gum can be a toxic dose for a ten-pound dog. So be sure to keep that gum and candy in your purse or kitchen, out of reach from your pets.

  1. Onions and Garlic.

These add flavor to many delicious recipes, however, in large or chronic amounts they can have toxic effects on your pets. These vegetables can cause red blood cell destruction and result in an anemia. Less than one ounce of onions or garlic can be toxic to a ten-pound dog. Signs of potential onion or garlic toxicity are lethargy, pale pink gum color, elevated respiratory/heart rate, vomiting, and decrease in appetite. To prevent possible toxicity, it is best to avoid sharing any foods flavored with these vegetables.

  1. Alcohol and Raw Dough.

Alcohol and raw bread dough are very toxic to dogs and cats. First, when unbaked bread dough is ingested, it expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated, distended stomach. A distended stomach can progress to a serious life-threatening condition called gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach that requires life-saving surgery. 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. Separately ingested alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated dogs and cats can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

This is a short list of the top five foods to avoid. However, there are many more that can pose a potential risk to the well-being of your pet. Before you are tempted to give your pet a taste of your food, it is always recommended that you do a little research to ensure that a particular food is safe for your loved one. If you have any questions or uncertainties about the safety of a food for your furry friend, it is best to consult your veterinarian. If you think your pet got into any of these foods or is acting abnormally, seek veterinary care immediately. Keep an eye on your food; keep an eye on your pets; and keep everyone safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: