Dr. Trudie Prinsloo is a qualified veterinarian and attorney. In 2015, she started Legalvet Services to provide legal advice to the animal and veterinary industries in South Africa. This month, she’s teamed up with us to tell you about some of the treats that could be dangerous to your pets.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only. dotsure.co.za is not responsible or liable for any advice or any other information provided herein.
With a tilted head, slightly uplifted ears, and huge, adorable eyes, that face creates all the right emotions in you! Yes, your fur baby is looking at you and begging for a piece of whatever you are eating. That look makes you want to do whatever this adorable furball wants. But just wait before you give in to that look. What you are eating, and loving, may be dangerous for your beloved pet.
Although all pets are susceptible to these hazards, dogs are the most likely to be affected. This is because they are omnivorous and eat most foods. Many of them will continue eating as long as there is food available. Here is a list of ten treats that could land your pet at the vet:
Humans and dogs love chocolate. Unfortunately, it contains theobromine and caffeine; two very toxic substances for dogs. Chocolate toxicosis depends on the quantity eaten, the type of chocolate and the individual animal's sensitivity to the harmful substances. As little as 60g of milk chocolate per kg body weight can be lethal to dogs. Signs start within 12 hours after they have eaten the chocolates. The first symptoms are restlessness and drinking much water, followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. These animals have very fast and irregular heartbeats with rapid breathing. Dogs may also develop incoordination and can experience a seizure.
- Grapes and raisins
The sweet taste of grapes and raisins makes them attractive to dogs. Yet this is another human treat with potentially lethal consequences for our pets. Although dogs are usually affected, grape toxicosis is prevalent in cats. The exact toxic substance is still unknown, but it causes kidney failure. Ingesting as little as 30g grapes or 10g raisins per kg body weight can cause symptoms and death in dogs.
This treat is not as dangerous to dogs as it is to many other species. Avocado tree leaves are the most poisonous, but the stems, fruit, and seeds can cause toxicity in susceptible animals. It is especially dangerous for exotic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and fish. Horses, goats, and sheep are also susceptible. It affects the heart muscle and mammary glands.
- Garlic, onions, chives, and leeks
These vegetables are not really treats, but they are used in the flavouring of food and sometimes are given to pets as part of "left-over" treats. These plants have oxidants that cause the breakdown of red blood cells and can lead to life-threatening anaemia. Cats are more sensitive to this than dogs, and the sensitivity of individual animals also differs. Garlic is more toxic than onions, and dehydrated concentrated flakes and soups are the most dangerous products.
- Macadamia Nuts
Nuts are high in fats, and this makes them delectable treats. Macadamia nut toxicosis has been reported in dogs. They can become ill within 12 hours after eating macadamia nuts. Typical symptoms include muscle weakness, vomiting, depression, and increased body temperature. Fortunately, this is usually a self-limiting condition, with dogs recovering within two days.
- Chicken wings
If dogs could vote, this would probably be one of their favourite treats. Unfortunately, there are hidden dangers in this treat. They are often flavoured with onion and garlic, which, as we have seen, can be very dangerous to dogs and cats. Cooked chicken bones also tend to break into smaller pieces that are not fully digested and can ultimately lead to severe constipation that requires veterinary intervention. This is very unpleasant for the poor dog!
No self-respecting dog will refuse a bone from his owner’s plate. But as with chicken wings, bones can cause serious problems. One of the biggest problems is dogs swallowing the entire bone, or large pieces of bone. Bones can get stuck anywhere from the throat to the rectum. This can lead to expensive surgery and even to the death of these animals. Please resist the temptation to give this treat to your dog.
- Biscuits and treats containing xylitol
Xylitol has become one of the most prominent sugar substitutes in the human diet industry and is used in many products. It causes toxicosis in dogs through two different mechanisms. The most common effect is a decrease in the blood sugar level that can be fatal. It can also cause liver failure in dogs, although it is unclear how that occurs. Please keep xylitol and any products containing xylitol far away from your pets.
- Raw bread dough
Children love to eat a bit of bread dough, and since our pets are part of the family, it is tempting to let them participate in the fun. But raw bread dough can cause serious complications in dogs. The yeasts in the dough seem to thrive in dog stomachs, causing the dough to expand rapidly. This can compromise the blood supply to the stomach and may cause breathing difficulties for the dog. And as unlikely as this may sound, it could potentially cause death.
- Wheat and maize products
Most South African households are filled with foods that have wheat and maize as their basis. This includes bread and biscuits. Just like humans, dogs also like the taste of these treats. Although these treats are not deadly, many dogs develop allergies to wheat- and maize-based products. This can cause skin conditions and gastrointestinal problems that require veterinary intervention.
Please think before you give any human food treats to your beloved pets. If your pet has accidentally eaten any of the substances listed here as dangerous, be sure to contact your veterinarian for advice immediately! Some of these accidental exposures can be deadly. The sooner your pet receives the appropriate treatment, the more likely a positive outcome will be.