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Can Just One Bite Really Be Dangerous?

I know it often seems impossible to say “no” to those adorable begging puppy dog eyes. You ask yourself, “Can just one bite really be dangerous?” Well, that depends on what it is and what is in it. Not only can eating human foods increase your pet’s risk for obesity which has been linked to a decrease in pet life expectancy by up to 2 years. But even more worrisome is the fact that many of the foods that we eat every day can be a serious health threat to your dog or cat. Some of these common foods may surprise you. Below is a list of some of the common household foods that can cause your furry friends a problem. If you are concerned that your pet may have ingested a toxic food please immediately contact The Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt for further instructions. If a possible toxicity occurs after hours either contact a local emergency clinic or the ASPCA pet poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Often, early medical treatment (such as inducing vomiting) can significantly decrease the risk for toxicity. Additional information on common toxic foods can be found at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.

1. Alcohol: can cause GI upset, coordination problems, breathing problems, coma and even death. It only takes a small amount of alcohol to cause a problem in your pet. The smaller your pet, the worse it can be.

2. Avocado: can cause GI upset. Also, if ingested, the avocado pit could cause an obstruction in the GI tract requiring emergency surgery.

3. Caffeine, chocolate and coffee: These products all contain substances called methylxanthines which can cause GI upset, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death (when ingested in large quantities).

4. Citrus Fruits: The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid which can cause irritation in the mouth and throat as well as GI upset. When ingested in very large amounts citric acid can even cause central nervous system depression.

5. Fatty foods such as bacon, fried chicken, grease drippings, etc.: can lead to GI upset and in severe cases pancreatitis (a severe form of GI upset). Pancreatitis can cause profuse vomiting and/or diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia and other problems. Pancreatitis often results in hospitalization for IV fluids and medications.

6. Grapes/Raisins: can cause acute kidney failure. Even a single raisin can potentially cause problems for your pet.

7. Onions/Garlic/Chives: can destroy your pet’s red blood cells leading to anemia. Even things such as commercial baby food can contain onion powder, which in large quantities can be toxic to your pet.

8. Macadamia nuts: can cause incoordination and neurologic signs. As few as 6 macadamia nuts could potentially make your furry friend sick (the smaller the dog, the higher the risk).

9. Xylitol (artificial sweetener) commonly found in sugar free gum, candies, baked goods and other sugar free products. Can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), neurologic signs (even seizures) and liver failure.

10. Uncooked yeast dough: When ingested uncooked yeast dough will rise in stomach leading to a large amount of gas accumulation within the GI tract. This gas accumulation is very painful and in some patients can cause the stomach to bloat and twist becoming a life-threatening emergency. Furthermore, the bread dough yeast produce ethanol (a by-product of yeast fermentation) in the stomach which can lead to alcohol toxicity (see alcohol above).

If you have any concerns about a potential human food exposure/toxicity please immediately call the Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt at 336-643-2229 or contact ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

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  • "I have been taking my 16 year old lab, Oscar, to this vet since he came to me in 2004, and I wouldn't take any of my dogs anywhere else! They are so wonderful with both pets and people. I would recommend any of the doctors and staff to anyone."
    Erin H
  • "We have been going to another vet for years. We wanted to have our year old Wheaten Terrier, Rylee spayed by laparoscopy so she would have less pain and be back to her usual activity in 2-3 days instead of 10-14 days. Our vet does the traditional spay. We had a consult meet and greet with Dr. Courtney Pierce. She answered all our questions and so friendly and professional. They have a state of the art OR suite. Rylee did great. On post op day three she spotted a squirrel and did an all out chase with no ill effects! All the staff were great."
    Linda A
  • "I love Dr. Jernigan at AHLB and would never take my dog anywhere else! The staff is excellent with animals and always professional, courteous and respectful to owners. I have trusted this animal hospital for all of my dog's care, including check ups, surgeries (she's had three!) and for boarding when we have to go out of town. Every experience I have had here has been wonderful and I highly recommend their services to anyone looking for a veterinary office for their furry children!."
    Avery C