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Dangerous Foods

Some foods must never be fed to dogs because they may produce symptoms ranging from indisposition to illness to death. These include chocolate, onions, raw eggs and meats, liver, bones, pork, milk and mushrooms.

Chocolate (deadly)
If your dog has a sweet tooth, you may have a problem. Theobromine, a substance found in chocolate and cocoa, is a poisonous to animals. It diminishes the blood flow to the brain and can cause heart attacks and a variety of other life-threatening problems. An important rule to remember is that the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and the more dangerous it is,

    • Toxic dose: The approximate toxic dose for a small dog (15-20 lbs.) is
      – Milk chocolate: 8-12 oz.
      – Dark chocolate: 1.5 oz. of baking chocolate
    • Symptoms of chocolate poisoning
      – excessive drooling
      – excessive urination
      – pupil dilation
      – rapid heartbeat
      – vomiting and diarrhea 
      – hyperactivity
      – muscle tremors and seizures
      – coma
    • Treatment: If your dog has gotten into a box of chocolate, the results could be fatal if he or she is not treated immediately. If you witnessed the tail end (literally) of the chocolate raid, induce vomiting immediately. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, but do not know when, or if your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of chocolate, get them to a vet immediately. This is a life-threatening situation!
  • Prevention: Make sure that others, especially children, are aware of the ill effects of chocolate. Children are inclined to giving treats to dogs, and if they don’t know that chocolate can hurt or kill a dog, they are likely to give them the treat that is their favorite. Chocolate candy should be stored in a cupboard or the refrigerator-not on the kitchen counter or a coffee table.

Onions (dangerous)
Onions, both raw and cooked, contain disulfide, a substance that, while harmless to humans, can cause oxidative damage to the red blood cells in cats, dogs, horses, sheep and cattle. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to the rest of an animal’s body. The condition caused by consumption of onions is called Heinz body hemolytic anemia.

    • Toxic dose: As little as two slices of onion a week can damage red blood cells sufficiently so they cannot carry enough oxygen to meet the body’s needs.
    • Symptoms of onion poisoning
      – weight loss
      – lassitude
      – excess panting
      – depression
      – rapid pulse
      – weakness
      – pale mucous membranes (gums and mouth)
  • Treatment: If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet. This is an urgent situation. Your dog may be fond of cooked onions, although raw ones might be too pungent for their sensitive noses. Since you can never be sure where the limits of your dog’s taste may lie, keep them out of the garden if you’re growing onions, and make sure the garbage cans are secure.

Liver (dangerous)
Liver is a favorite food for dogs. Many of the treats and prepared foods you give them contain liver. In SMALL amounts, liver is great for your dog. If their liver intake is too high, however, it can cause nutritional problems because liver has a high content of Vitamin A. Consumption of this vitamin in large amounts can lead to vitamin A toxicity, or hypervitaminosis A.

    • Toxic dose: If your dog eats raw liver or consumes three servings of cooked liver a week, they could be headed for bone problems. Never feed your dog liver if they are also on vitamin A supplements.
    • Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A:
      – Deformed bones
      – excessive bone growth on the elbows and spine
      – weight loss
      – anorexia
    • Treatment: If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, take them to the vet. If left unchecked, hypervitaminosis A has in some cases caused death.
  • Prevention: If you are feeding your dog both canned food and liver, check the label for ingredients to make she they aren’t getting a double dose of this treat. Also, always cook liver, never feed it raw.

Bones (dangerous to deadly)
The big, treated bones that you can buy your pet in a pet store are of an entirely different composition from the bones in the meat you buy at a grocery store. Store-bought bones are specially treated so they will not splinter. If splinters break off, they can becomes lodged in your dog’s throat or lacerate the insides of your dog’s mouth, esophagus, stomach or intestines. Cooked poultry bones are the worst culprits for splintering, but any cooked, dry bone can be deadly.

    • Symptoms of choking:
      – pale or blue gums
      – gasping
      – open-mouthed breathing 
      – pawing at face
      – slow, shallow breathing
      – unconscious, with dilated pupils
    • Treatment: This is a life-threatening situation. Try to move the obstruction and rush your dog to a vet.
    • Splintered bones: It may be hard to tell if a bone is splintered. If it lodges in the mouth or high in the throat, you may be able to remove it. If it splinters in the stomach or intestine, the only symptoms may be severe pain and death.
  • Prevention: You can treat bones yourself by cooking them until they are soft. This can be done quickly in a pressure cooker. The marrow is a good source of calcium, phosphorous and copper. Chewing on bones also helps remove plaque from the teeth.

Seal off your garbage can to ensure that your dog doesn’t prowl for tidbits. Not only is this dangerous because of possible choking and suffocation, but also there may be other hazardous items inside, such as broken glass or discarded cleaning bottles.

Raw eggs (dangerous)
Although athletes seem constantly to be consuming raw eggs in one variety or another, think twice before giving your pet raw eggs. Although cooked eggs are high in protein and make an excellent treat, raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which can deplete your dog of biotin, one of the B vitamins. Biotin is essential to your dog’s growth and coat health.

Additionally, raw eggs are often contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella, and you could end up giving your dog food poisoning in addition to biotin deficiency.

    • Symptoms of biotin depletion:
      – hair loss
      – weakness
      – growth retardation
      – skeleton deformity
    • Treatment: If your dog is suffering from these symptoms, the situation is urgent, and should be taken to the vet immediately.
  • Prevention: Eggs, when cooked, are high in protein and essential nutrients. It is only the raw white of the egg that contains avidin. You could just feed your dog the raw egg yolk, which does not contain avidin, but you would still be risking bacterial food poisoning.

Raw meat and poultry (dangerous to deadly)
Although dogs in the wild hunt and eat animals, they rarely prey on cows or chickens raised under commercial conditions! Your dog’s immune system is not adapted to handle the bacteria that contaminate commercially raised and processed raw meats; as well as danger from food poisoning, raw meats often have traces of pesticides and other chemicals that break down or dissipate with heat.

The two major culprits in food poisoning are salmonella bacteria in poultry and clostridium bacteria in meat.

  • Salmonella: Salmonella is a gastrointestinal infection. The bacteria enter the stomach, surviving on the acids inside to colonize your dog’s small intestine and lymph nodes. From there, they can spread into the blood stream.

Once your dog is infected, they can transmit the disease to other dogs, children, and adults with impaired immune systems. Keep this in mind, and keep your pet in a secluded area for the duration of their illness.

    • Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning:
      – poor appetite 
      – high fever
      – diarrhea
      – dehydration
      – abdominal pain
      – depression
      – lack of energy
    • Treatment: If left untreated, salmonella infections can result in death. This is a life-threatening situation, and your pet should be rushed to the vet.
    • Clostridium: These bacteria give off a toxin that affects your pets’ nervous system. If your dog contracts clostridium poisoning, they may need nursing care for up to three weeks.
    • Symptoms of clostridium poisoning:
      – vomiting
      – stomach pain
      – diarrhea, bloody in several cases
      – shock
      – paralysis
    • Treatment: This is an emergency situation. Rush your pet to the vet.
  • Prevention: Making sure that your garbage cans are secure and cooking meat until it reaches the proper temperature can prevent both kinds of food poisoning.

Pork (disagreeable)
The fat globules in pork are larger than the fat globules in other meats. Thus, they can clog the small blood vessels of a dog. Avoid pork products, ESPECIALLY BACON, which also contains sodium nitrate.

Milk (disagreeable)
If your pet has been eating ice cream and yogurt and has never had any problems, you have a lucky pet! Many dogs are lactose intolerant–unable to process the enzyme lactase, so they cannot break down the lactose, or milk sugar, in dairy products.

If your dog drinks milk and you observe symptoms such as excess gas, diarrhea, dehydration or skin irritation, you should determine if they are lactose intolerant. Removing milk should solve all your problems!

To avoid or correct the problem, you can purchase lactose-free brands of milk products specially formulated for dogs. Lactose-free milk for humans can also work, although the nutritional balance is not quite as good. Canned milk or sweetened, condensed milk are usually tolerable, even to a lactose intolerant dog, and can make a good substitute for the occasional must have treat.

Mushrooms (disagreeable to deadly)
Although store-bought mushrooms are perfectly safe for a dog to eat, it isn’t a particularly good idea for your dog to develop a taste for them. If they have free run of the backyard or is an allowed to roam off leash in a field or park, a taste for mushrooms can be dangerous. Dogs with a mushroom fixation will be on the lookout for these as treats. If they sniff out some poisonous mushrooms and eat them, the effects can range from disagreeable to deadly.

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