What is a Never Food?
Never Foods For Dogs
Here at MaxxNaturals we are all about feeding our pups real food. In fact, that’s all we believe they should be eating. But there are a few items on the human menu, that are strictly taboo for our 4-legged friends. We like to call these Never Foods. For the most part, they’re all easy to avoid. What’s most important is education, awareness and a plan should something unexpected occur. The Pet Poison Helpline has come to my aid on several occasions. Although it’s not a free service, the $59 fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind on one end of the spectrum, or a rapid plan of attack should things be more serious. I keep their phone number in a handy place and in my mobile phone contacts so I will always know where to find it. While the information in this post is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary care, or a call to the poison helpline, we hope it will help to educate pet parents about the most common foods that our dogs should never be allowed to eat. So lets dig into it and learn about NEVER FOODS!
Photograph by Pixabay
Photograph by Pexels
It’s easier than you think for pets to gain access to alcohol. I’ve seen many thirsty tongues dip into whatever cold beverage happened to be nearby and available, alcohol included. But, the real surprise is the number of ways alcohol can show up where you least expect it. Unbaked yeast dough is one example. If you dog ingests yeast dough, it can expand in the stomach and result in the twisted stomach syndrome, also called gastric-dilation volvulus. This is a potentially deadly condition that requires immediate attention. As the dough ferments, it releases carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and can lead to alcohol poisoning.
A less obvious example of alcohol ingestion comes in the form of products formulated specifically for pets. Frequently, herbal tinctures, some homeopathic remedies and most oral care products contain up to 25% ethanol as a stabilizing agent. Periodic use of such products is not likely to cause concern. But just like people, some pets are less tolerant of alcohol in even small doses. Some pet owners report vomiting, diarrhea which subsides when these products are discontinued. Bottom line, consumption of alcohol can affect blood pressure, body temperature, blood sugar levels. And according to Pet Poison Helpline, intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
Pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. Remember that chocolate contains theobromine (a cousin of caffeine) which has the same effect on dogs.
Like many other “stone” fruits (those with large stone-like seeds in the middle), the seeds, leaves, and stems of the apricot tree contain cyanide. According to Pet Poison Helpline cyanide “inhibits cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport, preventing appropriate oxygen uptake by cells”. Symptoms of toxic ingestion include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock, which can lead to death.
Cherry trees including the Choke cherry, Black cherry and cherry laurel also contain cyanide. With exception of the ripe cherry pulp, all other parts of the plant is considered toxic. According to Pet Poison Helpline cyanide “inhibits cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport, preventing appropriate oxygen uptake by cells”. Symptoms of toxic ingestion include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock, which can lead to death.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, the Macadamia tree is a member of the Protaceae family. Depending on the amount ingested, clinical signs of severe lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and inability to walk (commonly hind limb) may be seen. The toxic mechanism is unknown but can effect nerve function (specifically, the motor macadamia Nuts neurons, neuromuscular junctions, muscle fibers or neurotransmitters).
contains theobromine, that acts like a stimulant. Dogs, don’t have the enzyme needed to break it down. Too much theobromine can overstimulate the central nervous and cardiovascular systems leading to increased blood pressure, vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pains, seizures, and even death. The better the chocolate (dark chocolate and bakers chocolate) the more dangerous it is to your dog. Remember dogs love the taste of chocolate just like humans and are a frequent reason for calls to the Pet Poison Helpline.
Grapes, Raisins and Currants
Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure. All types of grape, or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this.
Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is toxic to cats and dogs. The ingestion of onions causes a condition called hemolytic anemia, which is characterized by damage to the red blood cells. Onion toxicity can cause red blood cells throughout the dog’s body to burst.
Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods, oral rinses, toothpastes, and OTC supplements. Trust me from personal experience, the xylitol content of these products varies widely. Even a small ingestion can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes. Larger ingestions can result in acute liver necrosis and liver failure.
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