Everyday foods that can poison your pets

Did you know that there is a number of everyday human foods that can result in life-threatening situations if your pet consumes them? We have compiled a list for you to be aware of what to keep away from your furry friend and who knows, you might just save their life.

1. Bakers chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder cause a higher risk than milk chocolate. Symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures; it can even result in death.

2. Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener often used in food products. Dogs often ingest it when eating peanut butter, stealing chewing gum, mints or toothpaste. The xylitol in smaller doses can cause hypoglycaemia (a sudden severe drop in blood sugar). In larger doses, it can result in liver necrosis and liver failure. Clinical signs are lethargy, vomiting, tremors, seizures, black-tarry stool, coma, and even death.

3. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute renal failure. The animal can show anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, and kidney damage. Some animals can eat raisins without problem for years and suddenly get sick from eating just a few.

4. Onions, garlic, chives and leeks are poisonous to dogs and cats. They cause oxidative damage to red blood cells and also cause gastroenteritis. The onset of signs can take several days. Clinical signs are anaemia, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

5. Macadamia nuts affect the animal's nervous system. Symptoms can be lethargy, fever, vomiting, tremors, and joint stiffness.

6. Avocado is not toxic to dogs and cats. The seed can, however, cause severe foreign body obstruction. It is deadly to birds, such as canaries, parakeets, cockatiels, and large parrots. Birds will show difficult breading, organ failure and even death.

9. The pips of apricots, plumps, and cherries can be fatal. It can cause a foreign body obstruction like the avocado seed. The pips, leaves and stems do also contain amygdalin, a toxin that can cause kidney failure. The pips also contain a form of cyanide; this toxin decreases the efficiency of the enzymes that are essential for oxygen transport.

10. Green potato and raw potato contain toxins that inhibit the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters. This can result in heart problems, gastrointestinal irritation, tremors and decreased kidney function.


Please contact your vet as soon as possible when you suspect your pet to have consumed poisonous food. See also: petpoisonhelpline.com

Sources: Potential plant poisonings in dogs and cats in Southern Africa, 2009, Botha CJ and ML Penrith, SAVA, 80(2) 63-74

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