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Was it something I ate?

October 28, 2014

Toxic foods for your pet!

It goes without saying that I'd make a terrible vampire, I love garlic far too much to ever be repelled by it! This delightful little fact about myself means that my beloved pooch misses out on a lot of my table scraps. Why, you may ask, well it's because garlic is one of the many substances that is toxic to our pets. There are in fact a number of different substances that are toxic to pets, ranging not only from pesticides and cleaning products, but also extending to foods and plants. This information may make you want to wrap your pet in bubble wrap and feed them through a straw for the rest of their lives, but fear not! All it means is we have to be aware that when it comes to our pets what's good for the goose, isn't necessarily good for the gander!

Below is listed some common toxic foods that can be found in almost every household, the effects they have on your pet and some of the symptoms that can appear after ingestion. With any toxicity, a phone call to your vet immediately to discuss time frames and the amount ingested is important. They will be able to assess the situation and implement the necessary treatment plan, haste is often of the essence, and quick thinking can be the difference between a bit of a sooky pet and something far more sinister.

CHOCOLATE & CAFFEINE

Your tea and chocolate biccie may only be a threat to your waist line, but to your pet they pose a far greater risk. Thanks to chemicals like Methylxanthine and Theobromine (a cousin chemical to caffeine) products containing chocolate or caffeine are toxic to your pet! Certain levels of these products can be tolerated by your pet, depending on their size and the certain type of chocolate or caffeine product, for example the darker the chocolate the greater the effect it will have on your pet. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity or restlessness, abnormal heart rhythms, an elevated heart rate, hypertension (elevated blood pressure), hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), tremors or seizures. The severity of a chocolate or caffeine toxicity can range anywhere from mild to fatal, so a prompt phone call to your vet is necessary to see if your pet is in the clear! To help give yourself a quick idea prior to seeking veterinary advice you can use the chocolate toxicity calculator below.

GARLIC & ONIONS

Garlic, onions, leeks and chives all belong to the Allium family, and are considered toxic to both cats and dogs! While all are bad for your pet garlic is thought to be about five times as potent as onions, which means your pet should never be in a position of having garlic breath! Ingestion of large amounts of these foods results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells, meaning they are more likely to rupture, as well as gastroenteritis, aka our nasty friend gastro! Particular breeds and species are known to be more sensitive to the effects of garlic and onion poisoning, but should your pet exhibit any of the following symptoms you should contact your vet. You may notice your pet drooling, vomiting or exhibiting oral irritation, nausea, diarrhoea,

pale gums, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, elevated heart rate and/or respiratory rate or collapsing

. Bear in mind that symptoms can often appear several days later after ingestion, so should you catch your pet eating garlics or onions and you are concerned with the amount your pet may have got to a quick phone call to the vet is always a good idea.

CURRANTS, GRAPES & RAISINS

These delicious fruity snacks may be very beneficial to our health, but to Fido's they could result in acute renal failure. As this toxicity is not necessarily dose dependant and even a small amount ingested can warrant symptoms and may result in kidney failure, decontamination is recommended, that can involve inducing vomiting and/or administering activated charcoal, which will sometimes be used in conjunction with aggressive supportive care and Intravenous Fluid therapy, all the while monitoring kidney function. Symptoms that can be seen after ingestion include vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetence, abnormal drinking or urinating habits, lethargy, dehydration and halitosis, it can potentially result in severe acute renal failure which develops several days later.

MUSHROOMS

While only a small percentage of mushroom types are considered toxic to our pets, it is very difficult to correctly identify the different types. Of the toxic varieties different symptoms and complications can be seen after ingestion depending on what sort of mushroom was eaten. In fact several general organ systems can be affected: hallucinogenic (visual disturbances) , gastrointestinal (vomiting, diarrhoea etc), central nervous system (ataxia, tremors, seizures etc), liver failure (vomiting, black-tarry stool etc), kidney failure (halitosis, anorexia, vomiting, abnormal thirst or urination etc) Most mushroom ingestion patients are treated as a toxicity case, given the difficulty of correct mushroom identification, so should you see you pet eat a mushroom it is advisable to contact your veterinarian. Early clinical signs that can be seen after ingestion include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, walking drunk, depression, tremors, and seizures, with liver and renal damage occurring later.

XYLITOL

Xylitol by any another name still tastes as sweet! Shakespeare aside, Xylitol does do it's bit to keep our diets going, but when it comes to our pets it is much safer to steer clear of "Sugar-Free". Xylitol is a natural, sugar free sweetener that is most commonly used in diet drinks and foods, lollies, chewing gum, toothpaste and oral rinses, the individual Xylitol content of these products can vary greatly with brands and flavours also playing a part. As a rough idea dogs that ingested >0.1gm/kg of Xylitol can become hypoglycaemic (life-threatening low blood sugar) within 10-15 minutes, while a larger ingestion can result in liver necrosis and liver failure. Should you suspect your dog has ingested a product containing Xylitol, a phone call to your vet to discuss quantities and time frames is advised, and a treatment plan can be implemented. Signs that can indicate Xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, collapsing, vomiting, tremors and seizures, jaundice, malaise and black-tarry stools.

ALCOHOL

A toast to your pets health is healthier when they don't partake. Alcohol poisoning can affect any species, including ourselves, but it takes a lot less for our pets to feel the effects of alcohol than it does for us. Ingestion of alcohol for them can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) , blood pressure (hypotension) and body temperature (hypothermia), intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. An intoxicated animal can be seen to drool excessively, retch, vomit, bloat, have an elevated heart rate or distended stomach, become weak or collapse. While you may not be the sort of person to pour some bubbly in the dogs bowl, alcohol poisoning can also be the result of ingesting unlikely products. Unbaked bread dough or yeast for example will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and ferment, which results in the production of alcohol (which is absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly) and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide production can then lead to a condition known as bloat, which appears as a bloated stomach, and can progress further into a condition most commonly known as GDV (Gastric-Dilitation Volvulus) or twisted stomach. Signs of GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate and weakness, this condition can be fatal, so unbaked bread dough is to be avoided for more than one reason!

Should you ever suspect your pet may have eaten something it shouldn't have and are unsure of just how much they may have consumed, it is always advisable to contact your veterinarian to seek guidance on what should be done. Our clinic can be contacted on (03) 5975 3811 and we are always happy and able to assist.

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