Some things are safe for your pets and something are strictly prohibited!

It has become common knowledge that chocolate is dangerous to dogs, but did you know that grapes, onions, and even some types of sugar-free gum can be harmful as well? The following are a handful of foods that can be hazardous to your furry and feathered friends. If there is known exposure to any of these foods, or you are curious about other foods that could be harmful to your pet, it is best to contact the ASPCA’s Poison Control hotline, visit the ASPCA’s website, www.aspca.org, or speak with your primary veterinarian for further information.

Everyone seems to know not to give Oreos to their dog…but do you know why? The reason is three-part. Aside from the milk and sugar that may give your pooch an upset stomach, depending on the type of chocolate, there may be large quantities of caffeine and theobromine, substances that are both dangerous to dogs. These ingredients can cause an increased heart rate, hyperactivity, and tremors; interestingly the type of chocolate also matters. Unsweetened, or Baker’s chocolate is more toxic than dark chocolate, which is more toxic than milk chocolate. White chocolate barely contains any caffeine or theobromine, and while ingestion may result in vomiting or diarrhea from exposure to milk and sugar, it is generally considered non-toxic to dogs and cats.

Grapes and raisins can be highly dangerous to dogs and cats if ingested. The science behind the toxicity is not completely known at this time, but we do know that ingestion can result in acute kidney failure. The dose is patient dependent, and therefore aggressive treatment is usually recommended for all known grape or raisin ingestion regardless of the amount eaten. As with any kidney failure, vomiting, decreased appetite, and weakness can also occur. Treatment typically requires IV fluids for a period of 2-3 days with serial monitoring of kidney values.

As tasty as guacamole can be, avocados are unfortunately toxic to our feathered friends. The main culprit in avocados is a substance called persin, but other parts of the fruit (leaves and stem) are also reported to be dangerous. If your bird ingests an avocado, it can result in respiratory distress and buildup of fluid in the lungs and body. Clinical signs may take at least 12 hours to develop, but often become fatal. Therefore, if your bird has known exposure to avocados, they should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis.

A lesser known danger to dogs and cats is garlic and onions; both can cause damage to red blood cells and result in hemolytic anemia. Therefore, they are generally not recommended in your pet’s diet. Signs that an owner may notice at home include your pet acting weak, exhibiting pale gums, having dark urine, or episodes of vomiting. If these symptoms are observed, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute commonly found in chewing gum and candy, can actually be quite dangerous to your furry companions. If ingested, it can cause a surge of insulin to be released into the body, which may result in dangerously low blood sugar. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can be a life threatening event and result in weakness, collapse, seizures, and death. Additionally, xylitol can cause damage to the cells of the liver to the point of causing organ failure. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, even one piece of gum may be dangerous to a small dog. Therefore, regardless of the amount of ingestion, it is recommended that your pet see a veterinarian on an emergency basis if they ingest food containing xylitol.

Uncooked dough (containing yeast) is a lesser-known dangerous food to pets. The reason is two-part. The dough itself can rise within your dog’s stomach, causing bloating and possible obstruction. Additionally, alcohol is produced during the rising process and can cause depression and neurologic signs. Your pet should be seen by a veterinarian if there is a known ingestion of uncooked dough containing yeast. If the dough was eaten recently the veterinarian may induce vomiting. Additional treatments can involve surgery to remove the dough (if an obstruction is present) and monitoring of your pet’s blood pH.

While most nuts are generally safe for dogs and cats, Macadamia nuts have been reported to be a dangerous food for dogs. The science behind the toxicity is not currently understood. Neurologic signs (weakness, depression, ataxia, tremors) as well as vomiting and fever have been seen generally within the first 12 hours. The toxic amount varies, and clinical signs generally resolve within a couple of days, but it is best to contact your primary veterinarian for further information if a known ingestion occurs.

If you are concerned your dog has ingested a potentially dangerous food or substance, please contact the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline (1-800-426-4435, there is a charge for their assistance) or your primary veterinarian for further medical advice. Additionally, be prepared by having the location and phone number of your closest veterinary emergency clinic which is open 24/7 on hand in the event an emergency arises when your veterinarian’s practice is closed. The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.  Lucy Hanus; Dangerous Foods;http://www.gsvs.org/articles/article.asp?id=77