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Sunday, 30 May 2010

*FOODS POISONOUS TO PETS*

By Megan Zehnder, Care2

We all know that pets aren’t supposed to have people food. But let’s face it, sometimes, it happens…something falls on the floor when you’re cooking dinner, and Buddy is quickly there, vacuuming up the crumbs, or Felix steels something off the plate when you aren’t looking…

There are some healthy “people foods” for pets (only small amounts– not replacements for pet food). But there are also many foods that can be dangerous to our feline friends and canine companions.

Here is a handy list of the top common foods that are toxic to your pet along with tips on what to do if your pet happens to get a hold of any of these substances.

Avocado
Avocado
While many pet owners say they feed their pets avocados with no problems, studies have shown that their leaves, fruit, seeds and bark can contain a toxin called Persin. According to the ASPCA, the Guatemalan variety, which is commonly found in stores, contains the most toxicity.

Onions, onion powder, chives and garlic
These all can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage. All forms of onion can cause problems including dehydrated onions, raw and cooked onions. Cats are more susceptible than dogs, but it can be toxic to both.

Grapes
Grapes and raisins
These can be toxic to dogs and cause kidney failure. Researchers say there are still many unknowns about the toxicity of grapes and raisins, including whether only certain types of dogs are affected, but it is advised not to feed grapes or raisins to dogs in any amount.

Yeast dough
Dough that is not cooked and contains yeast can rise in your pet’s stomach, causing pain, and can potentially cause the intestines to rupture. This risk diminishes once the dough is cooked.

Bones
Left-over bones
Left-over bones pose a choking hazard to pets, and they can also splinter and puncture your pet’s gut or intestine. Additionally, do not feed your pet undercooked meat or eggs, as they can contain harmful bacteria.

Foods with a high salt or fat content
Excessive fats can cause upset stomach and potentially inflame the pancreas causing pancreatitis. Salty foods can pose a risk for the development of sodium ion toxicosis, according to the ASPCA. Be aware that if your pet gets into food with a high fat or salt content, she could experience stomach problems including diarrhea and vomiting.

Chocolate
Chocolate, coffee, alcohol
According to the ASPCA, the substances in chocolate, coffee, and caffeine, methlxanthines, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and potentially death in pets. The higher the cocoa percentage, the more dangerous the chocolate is, making dark chocolate more toxic than milk or white chocolate. All these products can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death.

Sugarless candies (products sweetened with xylitol)
This compound can cause liver damage and even death in some more vulnerable dogs. Xylitol is in many products including gum, candy, sugar-free cookies and toothpaste.

Macadamia nuts
These nuts can cause weakness, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Symptoms generally last up to two days, and usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion.

What do you do if your pet ate something poisonous?
If your animal is having seizures or losing consciousness, bring him or her to your veterinarian or emergency vet center. If your pet is not showing symptoms, but ingested something potentially toxic, call the ASPCA hotline at (888) 426-4435. Have the following information available: the species, breed, age, sex, weight, and information about the product exposure. It is best to have the package of the product available for reference.

Megan Zehnder, an animal lover and committed vegetarian, is an editor and producer for Care2's Healthy and Green Living.

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