Dogs and cats are modern man’s best friends. We adopt them into our homes, love and feed them, and provide them with a safe environment….at least we think we do. The unfortunate fact is that thousands of pets every year suffer side effects ranging from mild gastroenteritis to death from common household items that most people do not even realize pose a risk to their pet. Most people are surprised to learn that seemingly innocent items such as flowers and common foods can have devastating consequences if ingested by a pet.
Flowers that are poisonous to dogs
Most people at some point will have flowers inside of their home. Whether cut from a garden or given as a gift, they brighten up a room and lift our spirits. However, one very common type of bouquet flower poses a significant risk for our feline friends. Lilies provide beautiful blooms, but if ingested by a cat they cause severe side effects. All parts of the plant, including the leaves, stems, and flowers, are toxic to cats. Symptoms of lily poisoning generally begin 30 minutes to 2 hours post-ingestion. Ingestion may result in gastroenteritis for small exposures or acute renal failure for larger exposures. Acute renal failure is an emergency and is often fatal even when treated by a veterinarian. Cats are known to love to chew on plants, so if you have a cat do not bring a lily plant inside your home. If you must have a lily plant, make sure that your cat cannot gain access to it.
Table scraps that are bag for dogs
We all know that most dogs love to be fed from the table, and many dog owners oblige by offering their canine friends a little bit of whatever happens to be on their plate. Unfortunately, some foods that are healthy and wholesome for humans can be toxic when ingested by the family dog. Onions and garlic (or foods cooked with them) should never be fed to a dog, as they can induce a condition known as Heinz body anemia. Basically, the onions cause the dog’s red blood cells (the oxygen-carrying cells of the blood) to become damaged to the point that they no longer function properly and are eliminated from the body. Without a sufficient number of normal red blood cells, an animal can become weak and disoriented with rapid breathing and heart rate. The anemia could even become so severe that the animal could die without life-saving measures such as a blood transfusion.
Common human foods that are harmful to dogs
Grapes (and raisins) are another seemingly innocent food that could cause severe consequences if ingested by the family dog. Some dogs are sensitive to grapes and raisins in such a way that ingestion can lead to acute renal failure. It is not known why certain dogs have this sensitivity while others do not, and it is thought to be hereditary. To be on the safe side, never feed grapes or raisins to a dog as it is impossible to tell whether or not a particular dog will be sensitive.
Humans love to eat chocolate and, as it turns out, so do dogs. Dogs, however, are uniquely sensitive to a chemical found in chocolate and can suffer from severe gastroenteritis and even have neurologic signs if high doses are ingested. The toxic chemical present in chocolate, theobromine, is present at the highest levels in baker’s chocolate, second highest in dark chocolate, and least in milk chocolate. Keep chocolate or foods containing chocolate out of reach of your dog. If your dog does ingest some chocolate, be sure to call your veterinarian right away for advice.
In case of emergency
As a pet owner you want to keep your pet safe and healthy, so it is important to be sure you are educated about potential risks inside your home for your pet. Don’t assume that because something is safe for you to eat that it will be safe for your pet. Be sure to keep lilies away from cats and avoid feeding onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, or chocolate to dogs. If your pet ingests any of these substances contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA poison control center.
If your dog has ingested any of these harmful household items, contact your veterinarian immediately. If it is past normal business hours, you should have a back up 24 hour emergency veterinarian or call:
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: (888) 426-4435
National Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6880