Have you ever looked down at what you're eating, looked over at your patiently waiting dog, and decided to give him a little bite? If you're like most dog parents, of course you have! It's fine to give your dog a small taste of safe human foods every now and again, but you'll want to avoid some surprising poisonous foods for dogs at all costs.
You might be shocked that certain foods are toxic for dogs — it's not always what you might expect. Various fruits and vegetables, sweet treats, salty snacks ... the list of harmful people food for dogs goes on and on. Thanks to your pup's tendency to gobble up whatever morsel she can find, you must pay attention to what you have in your kitchen and what your canine companion might be able to gain access to.
Poisonous Foods for Fido
Many foods that are safe for humans aren't good for your dog. And remember: Large amounts of any foreign food that your dog isn't used to can make him sick. Let's take a look at some of the most surprising poisonous foods for dogs.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes might seem like a fun bite-sized treat for your dog, but they're very dangerous. Grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs. Currently, it's not known precisely what component of grapes and raisins causes toxicity, but ingestion of grapes can prove deadly nonetheless.
Symptoms of grape and raisin toxicity include loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, problems with urine production, and renal failure (kidney failure). Permanent kidney damage can result if a pet isn't treated promptly. Beware of all types of grapes (red, green, seedless grapes, etc.) as well as foods that contain grapes or raisins, like fruit salads or cookies.
Avocados are all the rage, and they're considered very healthy for humans. Unfortunately, you can't let Fido indulge in that homemade guacamole. The pit, leaves, and skin of the avocado contain a chemical toxin called persin, and there can even be trace amounts in the fleshy inner part of the fruit.
Onions and Garlic
Onions are one of the most dangerous veggies out there for our canine friends. Compounds in onions can cause oxidative hemolysis of the red blood cells — essentially, your pet's red blood cells become damaged, which can lead to anemia.
Onions are part of a plant family, the Allium family, that includes related foods like garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, and scallions. Garlic is actually the most potent of all of these vegetables, so the toxic dose is extremely small. Certain dog breeds, like the Shiba Inu and other Japanese breeds, seem to be more sensitive than other types of dogs. No matter what kind of dog you have, keep Fido away from onions and garlic.
According to the ASPCA, cacao seeds that are used to make coffee contain methylxanthines, toxic components that can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, and worse. Keep your dog away from any and all sources of caffeine, including coffee, soda, and chocolate.
Have you ever thought about salting dog food to give it a little more taste for your pup? Think again. Salt is a no-no for our canine companions. Large amounts will result in excessive thirst and urination, and too much salt can even lead to a serious case of sodium ion poisoning.
Macadamia nuts might not be as common as some of the other foods on this list, but they can still prove dangerous to dogs. As is the case with grape and raisin toxicity, it's not known what precise toxin is at play in macadamia nuts. Still, they cause symptoms like lethargy, hyperthermia, impaired coordination, and vomiting. Don't let your dog chow down on that trail mix!
Never let your dog get their paws on sugar-free gum. It's often sweetened with a sugar substitute called xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol causes hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can prove deadly if it's not dealt with quickly. Xylitol may also be used to sweeten toothpastes, peanut butter, candies, and other sweet treats, so check ingredient lists carefully.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
Picture this: You enter your kitchen to find your dog eating grapes that have spilled onto the floor. You know that they're toxic, so you shoo your dog away. What do you do next?
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Something Harmful
If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten some dangerous people food, it's important to act quickly. In almost all cases of poisoning, the faster treatment is started, the better chance your pet has of making a full recovery.
If your dog eats grapes or some other toxic food, contact the ASPCA animal poison control center immediately. The professionals there will tell you how to proceed. It may be necessary to check your dog's mouth to stop them from swallowing any more of the poisonous food, or you may be instructed to induce vomiting in some cases.
In most instances, you'll want to rush your pet to the closest veterinary emergency room for quick treatment. Vomiting may be induced to get rid of the toxin in the gut, or your pet's stomach may be flushed. Sometimes, activated charcoal can be administered to help absorb the remaining toxic material in the stomach.
Try to remember to take note of the details when your pet ingests a toxic food. For instance, estimate the amount of grapes your pet has eaten, and the type. This can help the veterinarian to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment right away.
Pets recovering from poisoning will likely need intravenous fluids to make a full recovery, and oxygen supplementation or blood transfusions might be needed in severe cases, especially if acute kidney failure has set in.
Preventing the Problem
Wouldn't you want to prevent something like grape toxicity or onion poisoning if you could? Luckily, that's as easy as making sure your dog never has access to poisonous human foods. Be careful about what you bring into your home, and store toxic foods in cabinets or the refrigerator where your dog can't reach them.
When you're cooking meals at home, keep a close eye on your dog if he wanders into the kitchen. It's easy for Rover to gobble up scraps or shavings that fall onto the floor. If necessary, send your dog to their bed or secure them safely in their crate until you're done cooking.
While you're enjoying your meal, be careful about the table scraps you slip to your dog. Even better, train them not to beg at the table.