I never thought that one of my dogs would swallow something toxic because I pay close attention to what my dogs eat and do. But I had a close call when Buster somehow dug a metal tube of blue oil paint out of a box that I had thought was unreachable. He ate the whole tube. Yes, Buster loves to try new things and will eat anything. I am happy to report that he recovered—after the scrap metal and a random peach pit were surgically removed from his stomach. We were lucky: Buster survived his colorful experience (think blue everywhere), and now I am even more vigilant. But I have a friend who was not so fortunate. She is careful with her dogs, too, but often gives them “people food” and was shocked that after her dog Abe ate some chocolate, he died.
Human medications are the most common cause of poisoning in companion animals. Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs should be locked up tight and not left within reach, even if they seem to be well packaged. And we can’t assume that medications will work for our cats and dogs in the same way that they do for us—so no experimenting, please! Insecticides are the second most common source of poisoning in companion animals. By being kind to cockroaches and not poisoning them, you can make your house a safer place for all. I tossed out all the insecticides in our house long ago and have not had any problems. Full disclosure: I love jumping spiders and let them patrol the house as they wish.
But what about the not-so-obvious sources of poisoning in our animal companions? The following is a partial list of some common foods that if ingested by your canine best friend, can cause pain, suffering, organ failure, and even death, depending on the quantity consumed.
- Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
- Macadamia Nuts
- Grapes and Raisins
- Yeast Dough
- Onions, Garlic, and Chives
Xylitol? Yes, and it’s showing up everywhere. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that seems innocuous enough—it’s an ingredient in many sugar-free gums, candies, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and so on. So if your dog happens to get a hold of your tube of toothpaste, don’t assume that the toothpaste will do nothing more than clean his or her teeth!
If you suspect that your animal companion has ingested something toxic, immediately call your emergency veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.