Toxic Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

We often find that the value of client education comes in helping pet owners realize they already know what’s best for their pet, and just need confirmation that they’re making the right choices. More often than not, by asking just a few questions during routine pet exams, clients gain the self-confidence needed to act on their instincts.

What often separates the good pet owners from the great ones has little to do with what food they choose to feed their pets or how quickly they rush into the clinic when a problem arises; instead, there are usually far fewer problems or expenses in those households where, dogs in particular, aren’t given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to staying out of trouble.

Let’s pause for a moment to help the cat owners get situated on their high horse as the following discussion is likely to include 90% of dogs and only 10% of cats (we will reserve the conversation for which is the more intelligent species for a later date) … that said, there is not a day that goes by where we don’t utter the phrase “dogs do dog things” when talking about how problematic it is to leave dogs unsupervised until they understand what appropriate behavior looks like.

Protect Your Dog From Toxic Human Foods

Although the intent of this post is to point out the dangers of common food intoxications, it is a safe bet to say that most dog owners have experienced the stress associated with their dog consuming something toxic, inanimate, or even just simply getting sick due to over-eating.

Two of the most important factors to consider with a case of dietary indiscretion in pets are:
1. What was consumed (and maybe how much)?
2. How long ago was the intoxication?

Chocolate Can Be Poisonous for Your Dog

Ingesting chocolate poses a significant risk to pets not only because it is a readily available and tasty, rather than medication kept in a safe place away from pets and children, but also because it gets absorbed quickly. Oftentimes that limits what measures are available to avert disaster.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs

First of all, you should never feel badly about calling the clinic with a question or concern about toxic foods your pet may have ingested, especially when rapid treatment offers us a huge advantage to lessening the risk of a poor outcome. If you pet ingests chocolate or other toxic foods, call us immediately with a basic description of what was consumed, the quantity, and how recently it was consumed. As a general rule of thumb, the darker and less sweet the chocolate, the worse the physiologic impact it will have on your pet. Chocolate acts as a stimulant and more than the gastro-intestinal and hyperactivity that might ensue, the severe cardiac effects of that stimulant are what make chocolate dangerous.

How Much Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs to Eat?

It is true that the dose of what was consumed matters, just as the size of the pet plays a part in whether or not we might need to induce vomiting, initiate decontamination, and provide supportive care. There are times where the intoxication is so minimal that we may tell an owner not to worry about coming in and only to remain observant for minimal gastrointestinal signs (vomiting up the chocolate or the passage of soft stool/diarrhea), but that first phone call is also helpful for us to take the opportunity to prepare an owner for what to do if things worsen as well as to talk about how to avoid future misgivings.

Prevention is Critical

As much as we love being proud parents of our pets, trusting them to behave without supervision or figuring that their brains operate in a logical fashion is typically a bad idea; dogs and cats are not great at learning from dietary mistakes. Trying to reduce the opportunity for serious intoxication starts with keeping items out of reach as well as making sure that the pets that need some confinement are treated as such. Although things can get accidentally dropped on the floor or eaten off of a surface even when we are right there to supervise, quick action with a phone call is the first step. As in all things, we would much rather an owner act out of a measure of precaution and give the medical professional the responsibility for determining the potential risks rather than crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.

Be Well,

Dr. Jablonski and the CCVC Team.

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