Poisonous Foods And Your Pets

Most of us are aware that certain foods we love are poisonous foods for our pets. Many of us have heard that chocolate is bad for our pets but this is only one of the many foods that are potentially harmful.

Dog owners should not assume that human food is always safe for our pets. In fact, in most cases this is just the opposite. It is important not only that we know which foods are potentially harmful to our pets but also, why these foods are harmful.

So, below we will list and describe in some detail what many common poisonous foods to our pets are and offer details as to why these foods affect your pets like they do.


Poisonous Foods For Our Pets

Macadamia Nuts

The toxic compound in macademia nuts is unknown but it is known that dogs have been affected by eating as few as six macadamia nuts, while others had eaten closer to thirty or forty. Macadamia butter has a similar effect on pets.

What happens when your pets eat macademia nuts? How is the dog affected? Affected dogs will exhibit locomotor difficulties such as muscle tremors and weakness or paralysis in the hindquarters as well as swollen limbs or pain when their limbs are manipulated. Additionally, affected dogs have problems getting up and about and pant, often heavily.

There is an up side to this problem. Dogs reported as having eaten macademia and exhibiting symptoms seem to recover from the toxicity over time. Even so, it is our best advise to visit your veterinarian if this should happen to your pet and to keep macademia nuts out of your pets reach.


Theobromine and caffeine are the active ingredients in chocolate that are dangerous to dogs and other animals. Theobromine is both a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. Due to the diuretic effect of theobromine your pet may pass large volumes of urine. Additionally your pet will be unusually thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common in cases of chocolate poisoning.

The other effect of theobromine on your pets heart is by far the most dangerous. Two things may potentially happen - it will either increase your dogs heart rate, or, it may cause your pet's heart to beat irregularly. Death is very possible, especially with exercise if either of these problems were to occur.

The signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours after chocolate has been eaten by your pet. Death may occur within twenty-four hours after ingestion has occurred. It is important to know just how little chocolate it takes to poison your dog. As little as twenty ounces of milk chocolate or only two ounces of baking chocolate can easily poison a ten pound dog.

Also along these lines of poisonous foods are cocoa powder, which along with cocoa bean mulch are also poisonous foods as far as your pets are concerned. Cooking chocolates, semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate re all included - milk chocolate being the least dangerous form. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is to your dog.

The best rule for pet owners and lovers is simple - keep all forms of chocolate away from your pets. If your pet does swallow chocolate, don't wait to see what happens. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's emergency hotline (888-426-4435) immediately.

Onion, Chives and Garlic Poisoning

Onions and garlic both contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Of the two, however, onions are the most dangerous. The chemical thiosulphate can cause potentially fatal hemolytic (or heinz factor) anemia in dogs and cats. This results in the pet’s red blood cells bursting while actually circulating throughout its body.

Onion poisoning can occur with only one single ingestion of a large quantity of onion laced foods or with repeated meals containing small amounts of onion. It seems that garlic is less toxic overall and larger amounts of garlic would need to be eaten to cause illness.

Many holistic veterinarians often recommend small amounts of garlic for pets. But more than one small clove of garlic per 20 pounds of body weight per day, or regular doses of onions in any amount per day, can cause circulating red blood cells to burst.

Any form of onion could potentially be a problem including: cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions, dehydrated onions, raw onions, and/or garlic.

Pets affected by onion poisoning show gastroenteritis (with vomiting and diarrhea). Later on they will become breathless because the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body are less in number. Again, the best thing a pet owner can do to reduce risk of poisoning from any of these poisonous foods is to keep these foods away from your pets in all forms in the first place.

Other Potential Dangers - Poisonous Foods

Raisins and grapes - can cause kidney failure in dogs no matter what amount the dog eats

Tomatoes - can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias

Yeast dough - can cause can excessive gas in the digestive system, causing pain and potentially rupture the stomach and intestines as it expands as well as alcohol poisoning

Products sweetened with xylitol (used to sweeten some sugar-free candies and gum)

Further, "Liver failure is one of our main concerns when dogs get into this," she said. "The low blood sugar we can deal with. But the liver damage, even with aggressive treatment, can make it difficult to save these animals" said veterinary toxicologist Sharon Gwaltney-Brant

Pear pits, the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, apple core pits (contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide poisoning)

Avocados - the fruit, pit and plant are all toxic to pets. They can cause fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart and difficulty breathing

Moldy/spoiled foods

Alcohol - even small amounts can be toxic

Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)

Dr. Jones Ultimate Canine Health Formula - Complete Dog Health Supplement

• Hops (used in home brewing)

• Cigarettes, tobacco, cigars

Plan Ahead for Emergencies

It is a great idea to keep your veterinarians number posted in an easy to find location in the event of a poisonous foods emergency - especially after their usual business hours. If there is an emergency veterinary service nearby, keep that number handy as well.

It is also a good idea to keep a dog first aid kit on hand for emergencies.

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I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts." - John Steinbeck