Home Poisonings in Pets. Part 3
The way we feed our pets is a key factor for their health. Their diet must be nutritionally complete, balanced, and adapted to the type of animal. Not everything they would eat happily is good for them: many things we humans eat are poisonous for animals. Some of them produce only mild digestive discomfort, but others might do serious harm, and even end our best friend’s life.
The effects also vary depending on the amount taken: most of the items listed below are not dangerous in small doses, but a few of them — such as chocolate — can cause trouble even in small quantities.
Here are the kinds of food that can be more harmful to our pets.
Chocolate, Enemy no. 1
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that can be very poisonous for dogs. It must not fool us that for dogs — as for us — chocolate is very appetizing. Although it does not affect all dogs equally, we must be cautious, and never let them eat chocolate, alone or mixed into other candies.
The amount of chocolate that can be damaging depends on:
- its purity: the highest the concentration of cocoa in the chocolate, the more theobromine it will have
- the weight of the animal: the effects are stronger on smaller or slimmer dogs
- the breed: breeds with flat snouts such as bulldogs, boxers, or pugs are more inclined to suffer the negative effects of chocolate, since they are more prone to respiratory or cardiac distress
The first symptoms that dogs usually show after eating chocolate, within only a few hours, are digestive. Theobromine causes tummy irritation, leading to increase in the secretion of gastric juices, and therefore vomits or diarrhea. In the long term, this condition might even cause stomach ulcers.
If the dog eats a lot of chocolate, theobromine will seep into the bloodstream, causing alterations in the heart’s rhythm, trembling, and agitation. In the worst case scenario, dogs might even have convulsions, enter comma and die.
The treatment of chocolate poisoning depends on the seriousness of the symptoms. If the poisoning is mild, the veterinarian will only the effects on the digestive tract. If there is cardiac or neuronal trouble, the dog will need to be hospitalized.
In any case, always ask a veterinarian before taking any measure.
Garlic and Onions
Raw or cooked, garlic, onions, leek, and other vegetables of the kind contain thiosulfate, a substance that attacks the red cells of dogs, putting them at risk of hemolytic anemia.
Hemolytic anemia is characterized by the destruction of red cells at a higher speed than it should, so the organism cannot restore them as needed.
The main symptoms of garlic and onion poisoning are:
- cardiac alterations
- difficulty in breathing
The treatment may entail medication to reinforce the immune system, or blood transfusions, so the pet will need to be hospitalized.
The leaves, as well as the fruit, seed, and peel of the avocado contain an element that is poisonous for many animals, especially for cats, rodents, and some species of birds: persina.
Persina is a protection agent in avocados that kills mold. In cats it can cause:
- difficulty in breathing
- accumulation of liquid in the heart.
Avocado is less harmful for dogs than for other pets, but as it has a lot of fat it can cause stomachaches, vomiting and pancreatitis.
In case of cats and rodents, a poisoning from avocado will mean very probably hospitalization, to clean the organism, and treat the effects.
In the case of dogs, usually only the digestive symptoms will need to be treated. In the worst case scenario, the dog might need hospitalization to be administered intravenous fluid and pain killers.
Grapes and Raisins
The exact cause of grapes’ and raisins’ toxicity is unknown at this time. It affects mainly dogs, although not all of them equally. Some dogs can eat grapes without showing any symptoms, while others have died after eating only 8 raisins. Just for measure, it is advisable never to give dogs grapes or raisins.
The main symptoms dogs poisoned from grapes can show are:
- during the first 24 hours after the ingestion:
- occasionally diarrhea
- after 24 hours:
- abdominal pain
- acute renal failure
If a dog poisoned from grapes has only mild symptoms during the first 24 hours, without any further development, the veterinarian will treat only the digestive problems.
If the dog shows more serious effects, they will need urgent hospitalization.
Other Kinds of Food to Be Avoided
Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that in dogs and cats can cause fever, motor impairment, muscular trembling, weakness, and paralysis of the hind legs.
Due to their high concentration of fats, nuts in general can cause also stomach trouble, and vomiting.
Other kinds of food that can cause digestive problems are:
- dairy products (in adult dogs and cats)
- baby food
- Jamaican pepper
- alcoholic drinks
We must avoid these prohibited food items, and provide our pets a balanced diet, easy to digest, and palatable. We should to try to give them the right amount of essential nutrients, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
Commercial formulae, be it dry (fodder) or humid food(cans), fulfill all these conditions. We recommend always to choose specific products for the type of pet, and preferably top of the line, since the quality of the ingredients is very good.
Health always begins in the mouth.