If you own a pet, you know that their little noses and big sense of curiosity can get them into a lot of trouble, and may even lead to them eating something they definitely shouldn't. However, a bigger problem is that some pet owners simply don't know that some people foods are more dangerous than others. Many times they either leave dangerous foods in reach of their pets, or willingly give them to their animals.
Two Italian researchers from the University of Milan, Cristina Cortinovis and Francesca Caloni, discovered that human foods are often the cause of accidental pet poisonings. They found that the "will-eat-anything" attitude of dogs can (not surprisingly) get them into more food trouble than cats.
Here are five of the biggest food culprits that can cause big problems for pets.
Onion, Garlic, Leeks And Chives
This problem can actually follow you from the kitchen to the garden. These plants contain a compound called allium that, when eaten, causes a pet’s red blood cells to break down. Even a small amount can have toxic effects. It doesn't even matter if they are cooked, dried or eaten raw. According to the Italian study, 69 dogs and four cats were poisoned between 1994 and 2008 after eating a wide range of allium-containing foods, from baked garlic to onion soufflé to Chinese dumplings containing chives. The toughest part is that symptoms can take a day, or several days, to appear, depending on how much the animal ate.
The rise in the use of artificial sweetners by humans has been met with a rise in sweetener poisonings in pets. The artificial sweetener xylitol is used in sugar-free gum, sweets and baked goods, as well as in a number of dental care products, because of its antibacterial properties. Xylitol causes a “dramatic decrease in blood glucose levels” in dogs, and also has been associated with liver failure. Symptoms can occur within an hour, but could take up to 12 hours to appear. Signs that your pet has eaten xylitol include vomiting and can worsen to lethargy, collapse and seizures. A recent study reported 192 cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs from 2007 to 2012. All the dogs survived, thanks to prompt veterinary care, researchers noted.
We know! You love a good macadamia nut. But whether it is in a cookie, or just plain raw, these treats are toxic for dogs. That is not to say that dogs can't eat one or two and be okay; the problem is it's unclear how much is too much. Studies indicate as little as a quarter of an ounce for every 2.2 pounds a dog weighs is enough. Most dogs have recovered within 24 to 48 hours with veterinary care, and so far no deaths have been reported.
Accidental ingestion of ethanol generally happens when a pet decides to drink from a human's cocktail, but that isn't the only way our pets can be poisoned with this substance. Cases of alcohol poisoning in dogs have been caused by ingesting rotten apples, sloe berries (used to make sloe gin) and uncooked bread or pizza dough. It's also found in other household items like paint and varnish, medication, perfume, mouthwash and certain types of antifreeze. Within an hour of ingestion, the animal may exhibit signs of, well, being drunk; depression, loss of movement control, lethargy, sedation, high body temperature and hypothermia are comment symptoms. The animal may go into a coma and develop a dangerously slow breathing rate. In the study, they reported only one dog had died after ingesting a massive amount of rotten apples, but the authors note that liver damage not caused by this incident may have contributed to the dog's death.
This one may be common knowledge, but since it's on the Animal Poison Control's list of the 10 most common causes of pet poisoning, we thought it's worth a mention anyway. Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, which can affect both the central nervous system and heart muscles. It only takes about two to four hours for symptoms to appear. These symptoms can range from upset stomach to seizures and even death. Unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder have the most theobromine; white chocolate has the least. The good news is that it really depends on how much your dog ate and how much your dog weighs. A Mastiff eating one Hershey Kiss isn't likely to suffer, but a Chihuahua consuming a brownie might. Regardless, it's best to keep Fido out of the candy altogether.