Dogs are curious critters, often getting into things they shouldn't. Kitchens are no exception. Certain foods and spices can cause serious health problems and as pet parents, knowing what's safe and what's not helps Fido stay healthy.
Healthy for Humans, Not for Fido
Avocados are considered healthy for humans but that's not the case for dogs. All parts of the avocado plant can cause stomach upset but of greatest concern is the pit, which can cause serious digestive obstruction. Bread dough can result in stomach upset causing reduced blood flow to the stomach and respiratory distress as the dough expands. Onions and garlic -- all members of this shallot family -- can cause damage to red blood cells, lethargy and weakness.
Alcohol is No Good for Your Pup
Any form of alcohol is unsafe for dogs as they are much more sensitive to it. When ingested, Fido can become uncoordinated, lethargic and in some cases, seizures, or death can occur. Included in this category are the hops used in the beer brewing process. Extreme hyperthermia can occur in dogs and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Chocolate, Nuts, Grapes and Raisins
Chocolate is perhaps the most commonly known toxin to dogs; the darker the chocolate, the worse it is. Methylxanthines are the culprit and can result in restlessness, vomiting, increased heart rate, hyperthermia, seizures or possible death. Macadamia nuts and raisins are often covered with chocolate, causing a bigger problem as these nuts can cause hind end paralysis that may persist for up to 48 hours (though symptoms will subside). When raisins are eaten, recent studies have shown kidney failure can occur in some dogs. Without knowing if your dog is susceptible, it is suggested both these and grapes be avoided.
If it's too Moldy for You, it's too Moldy for Fido
Moldy foods can have a whole host of organisms growing and can cause a wide range of effects including seizures and tremors. If however, your pup does get into the garbage, most molds do respond to appropriate veterinary treatment.
Spices, Candy and Coffee
Any foods containing the sweetener, Xylitol, should be avoided. This toxic substance causes severe drops in blood glucose and is often found in sugar free gums and candies -- gums that also can cause digestive obstruction. Coffee and tea containing caffeine can cause significant behavior changes. Many spices, given in accordance with veterinarian recommendations may be quite beneficial to canine health but others such as salt and mustard seed should be avoided. Spices should never be used to treat disease without veterinarian approval.
A Veterinarian is the Best Resource
It is never known how a dog will react to human foods, even those suspected to be safe. As a result, it is always best to clear any food choices with your veterinarian before making dietary changes. But, as pet owners know, dogs like to get into things and sometimes there is no preventing it. If concerned your pup may have eaten something he shouldn't, contact a veterinarian right away.
Working with both small animals and exotics, Pamela Meadors has devoted more than 15 years to the veterinary field. She possesses a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and is the proud mom of a blind hedgehog.