As parents of both the fur and human variety know, it only takes a second for your child to put something harmful in their mouth when you turn your back for a moment. This is exactly the situation my dear friend found herself in the other day. While she was putting something in the refrigerator, her dog Kimmy (who I lovingly refer to as my “fur niece”) swiped a nearly-full pack of Trident gum from the counter and instantly inhaled the remaining 17 pieces. My friend went into full panic mode as Xylitol, a common ingredient in gum, is toxic to dogs and rushed her to the vet. Thankfully, the vet was able to induce vomiting in time and with the help of fluids, Kimmy (pictured below) made a full recovery later that day.
My friend and I were talking on the phone and I was surprised to learn just how toxic Xylitol is. As a fur dad myself, I never had to worry about this with Buster because he is unable to reach the counter and largely has no interest in food like candy or gum. This is not the case for other pet owners and dogs like Kimmy who will eat anything that remotely appear edible. As a result, I am dedicating a #FabFive to spread awareness about 5 common items that are surprisingly toxic to dogs.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute found commonly in sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, gummy vitamins, mouthwash, toothpaste, and even some peanut butters. Preventive Vet has a fantastic list of all products that contain xylitol (Link: here). While Xylitol is fine for humans to ingest, when dogs consume Xylitol it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in a potent and potentially fatal release of insulin from the pancreas. It can take as little as 15-30 minutes for Xylitol poisoning to occur in dogs and the prognosis for dogs who exhibit signs is poor. As few as 2 pieces of gum can cause hypoglycemia and 10 can result in liver failure. Therefore, time is of the essence if you think your dog has consumed any Xylitol and you should contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately (800-213-6680). Vets caution against inducing vomiting yourself unless a professional has advised it because if your dog is already hypoglycemic you can make it worse.
Fat Trimmings and Cooked Bones
Even though it might seem natural to give your dog a bone from your dinner, you should never give your dog a cooked bone. Cooked bones can splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to your dog’s mouth, throat, and stomach. Any bone has the potential once it has been chewed to break into small pieces and hurt your pet, which is why it’s best to give your dog a bone after a meal and take it away after 10-15 minutes while supervising your dog the whole time. Many vets recommend raw meat bones, but you should check with yours to make sure you are giving your dog the correct type of and size bone.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs and just a small amount can make your dog sick and larger amounts can potentially lead to death. Ingestion may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration, ulcers, tremors, seizures, and even coma. While the specific toxic agent has yet to be identified by scientists, it appears to be associated with the flesh of the fruit which means peeled or seedless grapes contain the same level of toxicity. While toxicity from grapes and raisin is not as fast acting as Xylitol and can take a few hours, it is still important to call your vet as soon as you see symptoms of toxicity.
Like onions, leeks, shallots, and chives, garlic is part of the Allium family and toxic to dogs. Ingesting garlic can lead to pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, red or brown discolored urine, and collapsing. Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you think your dog has consumed a member of the Allium family, it’s important not only to call your vet as soon as possible, but monitor your dog for a few days.
Chocolate and Caffeine
Caffeine can potentially be fatal to dogs and chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning for dogs. PetMD (Link: Here) has a great Chocolate Toxicity Meter for Dogs where you can plug in your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate, and the amount consumed and it will display the results on a toxicity meter. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the greater the danger. For example, 8 ounces of milk chocolate may sicken a 50-pound dog, whereas a dog of the same size can be poisoned by as little as 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate. Once dogs get a taste of chocolate, they become addicted to the flavor of theobromine and will actively seek out the scent. This is why it’s crucial to keep all chocolate out of dog’s reach (and smell) to decrease the likelihood of your dog ever consuming even a little bit.