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Lisa Scarbrough
Coastal Pet Rescue
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David Adams
Department of Health Sciences, AASU


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What NOT to Feed Your Pet

by David Adams

December 24, 2013

Alcohol poisoning is common in dogs. Signs and symptoms vary by the amount that the dog has ingested. Typical symptoms of alcohol poisoning include respiratory depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, and incontinence. Other symptoms include urinating or defecating involuntarily. In extreme cases, the dog may lapse into a coma and die. Onset may be rapid (a half-hour or less) when ingested on an empty stomach or delayed (as long as two hours) when ingested on a full stomach.

Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of these fruits can prove fatal. Symptoms of grape and raison poisoning include vomiting and/or diarrhea, appetite loss, lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, reduced urine output, kidney failure, and death.

Macadamia nuts can make dogs quite sick. Symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning will vary according to the amount of nuts ingested. They include severe lethargy, elevated temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, difficulty in walking (especially on the back legs).

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are poisonous to dogs and cats alike. In fact, garlic is far more toxic than onions. Common signs and symptoms of onion and garlic include drooling, nausea and vomiting, elevated pulse and respiration, lethargy, and pale gums

Chocolate can be toxic to dogs. Less sweet, darker chocolates such as Baker’s Chocolate are especially so. Common signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning include gastrointestinal upset, hyperactivity, pancreatic inflammation, abnormal heart rhythms, hypertension, seizures, and even death.

The United States is home to several thousand mushroom species, only a small percentage of which are poisonous. If your dog eats a mushroom, assume that it is a toxic mushroom and seek immediate medical attention. Although the clinical signs of mushroom poisoning varies by species, common ones include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, inebriation, tremors, and seizures. Liver and renal damage may follow.

Caffeine, often taken in a cup of coffee or tea, is a daily jump-starter for many people. It is, however, quite toxic for dogs. Obviously, a dog is not likely to belly up to the Mr. Coffee, but he may ingest caffeinated substances in other ways. Household caffeine sources abound in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, soda, energy drinks, weightlifter supplements, OTC pills (e.g., NoDoz), and diet pills. Dogs and cats appear to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to poison most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily kill small dogs or cats. When ingested, clinical signs include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, collapse and death.

Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found chewing gum, mints, foods (e.g., pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and OTC supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). It is, however, quite toxic for dogs. Even small amounts can spark life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within a matter of a few minutes. Larger doses can cause liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremors, seizures, jaundice, tarry stool, coma and death.

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