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Making sure our homes are 'pet safe' is something we might take a little for granted. However, figures show that every year many of our beloved dogs suffer from one form of poisoning or another. The causes of these canine poisonings are more often than not from things we have around our homes and the scary thing is they are things that are perfectly safe for us but ultra dangerous to dogs! Some of our every day foods are incredibly poisonous to dogs which is why it is important not to feed' people' food to our four legged friends. Most dog owners know they should never feed chocolate to their pets, but there are other foods that can cause dogs some serious distress too, and depending on how much a dog actually ingests, could turn out to be fatal for them.
The thing to remember is that dogs don't have the same metabolisms as we do. This means certain foods as well as drinks, which are perfectly okay for us to eat and drink, can be really dangerous to dogs, the problem is that our canine friends usually love them and will happily eat and drink them. It may look cute to see a dog begging for a chocolate biscuit but in reality, this is one of the worst 'people' foods they could be given.
Chocolate contains ingredients that are harmful to dogs. These are called methylxanthines – the scientific name for chocolate poisoning in dogs is Methylxanthine alkaloid intoxication and it can be fatal. The problem is that all dogs are quite happy to devour human chocolate if they have access to it, so it is vitally important to make sure your pet dog cannot get hold of any, even if it is by mistake. In small doses, chocolate may cause vomiting but if a dog got hold of some cooking chocolate, which contains a lot more methylxanthine, then it could prove to be fatal. If you think your dog has managed to get hold of a lot of chocolate and devoured it, you need to get them to a vet asap. There are some very typical and obvious signs of canine chocolate poisoning and this includes your dog vomiting, they may start to have tremors and they could also suffer from diarrhea. Other signs of chocolate poisoning to look out for is if your dog shows signs of being very thirsty, they might become hyperactive as well as very agitated, all of which could be put down to them having eaten chocolate. These signs can be extremely disturbing and very distressing to your dog, so you need to contact your vet as soon as you possibly can. Your vet will be able to confirm that your dog has indeed eaten chocolate and then carry out the necessary treatment on your canine friend. With Christmas coming up, there is likely to be lots of chocolate lying around homes on coffee tables and side tables, which all tend to be within easy reach of our four legged friends. Then of course, children might be tempted to give a pet some chocolate as a treat. Parents need to explain to children just how dangerous anything with chocolate can be for dogs. Naturally, parents need to explain this to children in such a way so as not to scare them, but in a way that gets the point across firmly enough to make an impact. Coffee as well as caffeine contain similar chemicals to chocolate, so you should never let dogs drink tea or coffee either or eat anything with caffeine in it.
For most of us, avocados are a healthier sort of food to eat and many people like to include them in their diet for all the right reasons. However, this may well be true for humans, but certainly not for dogs. The reason is that avocados contain a substance known as 'persin' and this is extremely poisonous to dogs. In most cases your dog will start vomiting and then suffer with diarrhea. This will happen if they eat anything with avocado in it and this includes guacamole!
For some time now, many dog trainers and owners give raisins as a reward to animals they are putting through their paces, but no more. Both grapes and raisins are now known to be toxic to dogs, and as few as seven grapes can prove to be very dangerous indeed. If you have a bowl of fruit in your home with a bunch of grapes mixed in with other fruit, then make sure the bowl is out of reach because dogs do love to eat grapes and will do so if they can reach them. In fact, most dogs will do all they can to get hold of grapes which could be a problem for anyone who grows vines in their greenhouse or sunnier spots in a garden. Although it is uncertain just what it is in raisins and grapes that's so toxic to dogs, research is being carried out to find out if it's a fungal toxin, a pesticide, heavy metals or herbicides that could be the culprit. However, for the moment it remains a mystery. However, the one thing for sure is that a very small amount raisins or grapes can cause renal (kidney) failure in dogs. If your dog does manage to eat grapes or raisins then you need to get them to a vet as quickly as you can. Signs there is a problem looming include vomiting and hyperactivity which means your dog could suddenly start to have the jitters. Your dog will also suffer from diarrhea and the chances are, there will be traces of undigested and partially digested grape seeds in their faeces. Dogs with grape or raisin poisoning also become very lethargic and often their abdomens are swollen and very painful to the touch. One real problem is that your dog will stop drinking and urinating which leads to total kidney failure and this, if left untreated, can be fatal.
One very common artificial sweetener that's used in food these days is called Xylitol. It is made out of birch, raspberries, corn and plums which sounds innocuous enough although even for people, it can have a mild laxative effect if enough of it is ingested. However, for dogs – Xylitol can be fatal. This artificial sweetener is used instead of sugar in sweets and other foods that are 'sugar-free'. It is a sugar alcohol which for some time now has been seen to be connected to low blood sugar in dogs (hypoglycemia). If you buy any foods that are 'sugar-free' then make sure you check to see if they contain Xylitol and if they do, then make absolutely certain you never feed them to your dog – the golden rule is 'never feed people food to your dog'. A dog that has ingested Xylitol should be taken to a vet immediately because it causes the rapid release of a hormone called insulin. This in turn causes a very rapid decrease in blood glucose in your dog which causes weakness, vomiting and ataxia (uncoordinated movements). Potassium levels will decrease too and your dog may fall into a coma or start to have seizures. In some instances dogs have been known to have complete liver failure after ingesting Xylitol. Chewing gum, sweets, a lot of baked products and toothpaste may contain Xylitol and as such need to be kept well out of the reach of dogs. Never use human toothpaste to clean your dogs teeth either, always buy a toothpaste that has been specifically formulated for dogs.
Again with Christmas right around the corner, it's the time of the year when people love to have all sort of edible nuts around the house. Very often these are put in bowls and left where a dog might be able to get hold of them. Macadamia nuts are very dangerous to dogs and should never be given to them, even by mistake. If your dog does manage to get hold of any, the symptoms will soon manifest themselves, in less than 12 hours in some cases! Dogs who have eaten macadamia nuts will suffer from ataxia, they will lose their balance and become depressed. They will start vomiting and show signs of muscle tremor, they will have an elevated body temperature (hyperthermia) and an rapid heart beat which is all very frightening and extremely distressing for the dog. The frightening thing is that it only takes a very small amount of these nuts to cause all the damage. By far the worst cases are when a dog eats macadamia nuts that are covered in chocolate – this can lead to total kidney failure and therefore fatal.
Dogs should never be given anything with alcohol in it. The symptoms for alcohol poisoning in dogs are the same as for humans. Your dog will start vomiting and they may fall into a coma from which they may never recover. Again with Christmas nearly upon us – there are going to be lots of goodies like mince pies and other lovely things to eat around the house which contain alcohol. None of these festive foods should be given as a treat to your dog because they are very harmful for them. What should be a merry time of the year, could turn into a disaster for you and your family dog so it is better to be extra careful around any festive time of the year.
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