This post goes out to my readers who have 4-legged family members. Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and feasting, but should we allow our canine and feline friends to indulge in the foods we eat? Many foods we ingest are toxic for our furry family members, and below you will find a list of the most common toxic foods. It is also a good idea as a pet owner to keep the number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center on hand. The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their number is: (888) 426-4435. Please note that the ASPCA charges a consultation fee for services provided.
Foods that can be toxic to our Canine and Feline Friends:
Turkey skin and bones: Turkey skin can cause pancreatitis, a serious inflammatory condition of the pancreas that causes vomiting, dehydration, and can lead to death. While a bit of turkey meat (skin removed) is a nice treat for Fido please remember to remove the skin. Turkey bones from the cooked turkey are also best avoided. These bones are soft enough to splinter causing vomiting, choking, or intestinal perforations.
Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may be fatal.
Chocolate (all forms): Chocolate and Coffee contain substances called methylxanthines. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate and cocoa powder contains the highest.
Coffee (all forms): See the explanation above for Chocolate.
Macadamia nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Onions/onion powder: These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.
Raisins and grapes: Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure.
Excessive Salt: Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!
Garlic: See Onions/Onion Powder
Xylitol: Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
Wishing all of you, furry family members included, a happy and safe Thanksgiving!