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Toxic Foods and Plants for Dogs

Chocolate contains theobromine and theophylline, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic.

After their dog has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, many dog owners assume their pet is unaffected. However, the signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours. A dog that has ingested a large quantity of chocolate will exhibit symptoms that include staggering, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, heart rate increase, arrhythmia, seizures, coma or death.

Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms of chocolate to a dog. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell.

Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

Coffee - Similar to chocolate, a couple of sips of coffee might not harm your pooch, but ingesting coffee grounds, tea bags or energy drinks with high caffeine content can be deadly for them.

Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger. Dogs affected by onion toxicity will develop hemolytic anemia, where the pet's red blood cells burst while circulating in its body. Symptoms include Hemolytic Anemia, labored breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, and discolored urine.

The poisoning in dogs occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to puppies, can cause illness.

While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness in dogs.

As few as a handful of raisins or grapes can make a dog ill; however, of the 10 cases reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), each dog ingested between 9 ounces and 2 pounds of grapes or raisins. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. If ingested, it can cause liver damage or kidney failure in dogs.

Macadamia nuts are another concern, along with most other kinds of nuts. Their high phosphorus content is said to possibly lead to bladder stones. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated.

Other Common Foods that you should avoid feeding your Dog:

1) Mushroom toxicity does occur in dogs and it can be fatal if certain species of mushrooms are eaten. Amanita phalloides is the most commonly reported severely toxic species of mushroom in the US but other Amanita species are toxic. Symptoms include abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting diarrhea, convulsions, coma, and death.

2) Bones from Fish or Chicken can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system. If they get lodged in the intestines, they would need to be surgically removed.

3) Fat Trimmings - Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked can cause pancreatitis in dogs. It is also not healthy for them as it promotes weight gain.

4) Raw Eggs or Meat - Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs and meat may also contain Salmonella which can result in food poisioning.

5) Milk & Dairy Food - Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.

6) Baby Foods - Some baby foods contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs. Although most baby food without onion or garlic in it is fine, it is actually low in nutritional value for dogs. If fed as food, it might result in nutritional deficiencies.

7) Raw Fish - Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.

8) Cat food - Although not toxic, the two kinds of foods are designed to be different nutritionally. Cat foods are generally high in protein and fats and not suitable for a dog's diet.

As we let our dogs roam freely in and out of the house, we need to be aware of what we are exposing our pets to. There are various plants that are poisonous to dogs both inside and outside of our homes. Below is a chart of some of the more common plants our dogs may come in contact with. For more on Toxic Plants, Click here.

Poinsettias - One of the most popular holiday plants, it is easily recognizable by their large red, white, pink or mottled leaves. These plants also contain a thick, milky irritant sap. In general, it would take ingestion of a large amount of this plant to see possible clinical signs in your pet. Signs can include vomiting, anorexia and depression. The symptoms are generally self-limiting and treatment is rarely needed. Your Vet may recommend limiting food and water intake for 1 or 2 hours if you pet is suspected of ingesting poinsettias.

Jimson Weed is not only toxic to dogs, but at some level toxic to humans as well. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause rapid breathing, pulse, dilated pupils, twitching and diarrhea among dogs. It can also lead to convulsions, coma or death.

Lantana - lantana is a common perennial flowering plant found in most gardens. The leaves are berries of this plant are poisonous to most dogs. It can cause sluggishness, weakness, bloody diarrhea and in some severe cases even death within 2-4 days if not treated properly.

Other poisonous plants include: English Ivy, Foxglove, Hemlock, Johnsongrass, Nightshade, Pigweed, Pokeweed or Inkberry, Rhubarb and even leaves and stems of tomato plant.

Toxic Foods and Plants for Dogs