Animals are, by nature, curious creatures prone to getting into things they shouldn’t. Pretty much everyone has heard that chocolate is toxic to our pets (yes, cats, too). Although I have heard of a couple pups who have eaten chocolate with no ill effects, it’s important to steer clear of it. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are called methylxanthines. Because of their size, animals are much more sensitive to these substances than humans are. Different varieties of chocolate contain different amounts of methylxanthines. The rule is: The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the methylxanthine level.
PetMD has a handy chocolate toxicity meter that can help determine the level of danger if your pup devours some of your human treats. Be on the lookout for these symptoms and take him to your veterinarian immediately:
It’s not just chocolate!
So, we’ve established that chocolate is on the bad list, but did you know that dozens of other potential pet dangers may be lurking in your pantry? Commonplace meal ingredients such as onions and garlic are toxic to cats and, in large doses, to dogs as well.
Grapes and raisins are absolutely off-limits to dogs. While the toxin in these fruits remains unknown, they can cause kidney failure in Fido.
Back in the day, it was commonplace to see a cat lapping up a dish of milk. While she might like the taste, milk certainly doesn’t like your adult cat. Our animals don’t have a lot of lactase in their systems. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the lactose in milk. Without it, milk can cause diarrhea or stomach upset.
Nuts in general are high in fat which can cause digestive problems or even pancreatitis in pets, but macadamia nuts in particular are very dangerous to dogs. They can cause weakness, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia (high body temperature). Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion.
Artificially sweetened gums and candies, specifically those containing xylitol are also dangerous. It can cause an increase in insulin, which can lead to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels) and ultimately liver failure if enough is consumed. Initial signs of poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can result in just a few days.
How does your garden grow?
While you’re moving all of your human treats to the top shelf and out of the way of your pets, it’s also important to pay attention to the plants you have growing in and around your home. Many of them can be lethal if ingested.
For example, tomato plants are members of the same family as deadly nightshade and their green leaves and stems contain the glycoalkaloids alpha-tomatine and dehydrotomatine. These substances are actually toxic to both people and our pets. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested tomato leaves, symptoms to look out for include lethargy, drooling, stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting and changes in his behavior. Tremors or seizures can also occur.
Day lilies, while not toxic to dogs, are potentially deadly for cats. Even ingesting a small amount of leaves or pollen can result in kidney failure. Cats often vomit within a few hours of eating the leaves and stop producing urine within 72 hours. It’s critical to call your emergency vet and get your cat seen as soon as possible if she’s eaten lily plants.
Azaelas are prolific in Little Rock and practically everyone has them in their landscapes. Be sure that your pets don’t get a hold of either the flowers or the leaves, though. They contain grayanotoxins (andromedotoxins), which can cause vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest.
We Are Your Little Rock and North Little Rock Housecall Vet
If your dog or cat has ingested anything other than his food or treats, the outcome can potentially be deadly. It’s always wise to call your veterinarian and get your pet checked out. Better safe than sorry!
This blog post is intended to be informative and is not medical advice. We do not endorse or receive compensation from any products mentioned.