Foods that could be poisonous

Chocolate poisoning

ChocolateChocolate contains theobromine, a cardiac stimulant and diuretic. A dog can become excited and hyperactive after ingesting chocolate.

Due to the diuretic effect of chocolate, it may cause large amounts of urine to pass through the dog and become extremely thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common. The effect of theobromine on the heart is the most dangerous effect.

Theobromine may increase the dog’s heart rate or to cause it to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially with exercise. Many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected after eating the chocolate because the dog doesn't appear to have any immediate symptoms. The signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death occurring within twenty-four hours.

Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 20 pound dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of an 8 ounce packet of cocoa powder or half of an 8 ounce block of cooking chocolate. These chocolates contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms of chocolate, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than 8 ounces of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are also dangerous food ingredients that can cause sickness in dogs. Onions and garlic contain thiosulphate, also a toxic ingredient for dogs.

Onions are more of a danger. Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anemia. Haemolytic anemia results when the pet’s red blood cells burst. Pets affected by onion poisoning at first show signs of gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhea. They show no interest in food and will be dull and weak.

The red pigment from the burst blood cells often will appear in the dog's urine. The dog will become breathless. The breathlessness occurs because of the reduced number of oxygen carrying red blood cells.

Poisoning occurs a few days after the pet ate 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.

Onion poisoning can occur with a single ingestion of large quantities or with repeated meals containing small amounts of onion. A single meal of 20 to 30 ounces of raw onion can be dangerous. The condition improves once the dog is prevented from eating any further onion.

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.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nutsThe toxic compound found in macadamia nuts is unknown but the affect of macadamia nuts is to cause locomotion difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis in 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.

Dogs have been affected by eating as few as six macadamia kernels (nuts without the shell) while others had eaten approximately forty kernels. Some dogs had also been given macadamia butter. Luckily, the muscle weakness, while painful, seems to be of short duration and all dogs recovered from the toxicity.

Pets owners should not assume that human food is always safe for pets. For a healthier pet, never give your pet food scraps.

When it comes to chocolate, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts, such foods should not be given to your dog. Be sure that your dog can’t get into your stash of chocolates, that food scraps are disposed of carefully to prevent onion and garlic toxicity and that your dog is prevented from picking up macadamia nuts if you have a tree in your garden.