Contributed by Ella Christenson-Sullins, 9 to 5 Pets
Avocados, onions, garlic, steak, and grapes are groceries most of us keep in the kitchen, especially during the summer when we’re cooking out with our friends and family. These ingredients might make a tasty dinner, but these, and many other foods, are unfortunately dangerous to our beloved pets. Here is a list of 5 common foods that you might not know are toxic to your fur babies, as well as some helpful resources both to get educated about other poisons and what to do if you suspect your pet has consumed something harmful.
Avocados: Avocados are a great source of healthy fats for humans and are common in a lot of great summertime dishes, but every part of an avocado– the skin, pit, and meat– are toxic to dogs and cats. The American Kennel Club has stated that the avocado’s harm comes from a fungicidal toxin called persin. The skin and the pit are where this toxin is most concentrated, with a smaller amount found in the meat. Consumption of this summer staple will cause an upset stomach and diarrhea in minor cases, but if your pup gets ahold of a human-sized portion, avocado could even cause myocardial damage. Always ensure to dispose of your avocado scraps safely in a dog-proof trash can or compost bin to prevent any accidental consumption.
Onions & Garlic: Every part and form of these flavorful vegetables can seriously damage your pet’s health and quickly, too. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, all members of the Allium family (onion, garlic, leeks, and chives) can destroy your pet’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia, lethargy, vomiting, and in severe cases, treatment could include charcoal ingestion, fluid therapy, or blood transfusion. Make sure a dish with any form of these foods– powdered, dried, or cooked– is out of your pet’s reach. Allium toxicity is more fatal to cats, so be extra vigilant about keeping these ingredients stored off the counter and in a pet-safe container.
Steak and other raw meat: Summertime is the grill master’s time to shine, preparing delicious burgers, chicken, steak, and other meats for their loved ones. Raw meat is not only dangerous for humans, but also for our furry friends. Steak poses a more present threat, as this entree is usually served in a still rare state, but any form of raw meat can carry E.Coli, Salmonella, and other bacterias that can cause food poisoning. In dogs, food poisoning results in gastrointestinal upset– vomiting, diarrhea (which could contain blood if severe), bloating, and lethargy. Keep both your party guests and pets safe by cooking your barbecue to the appropriate internal temperature.
Grapes & Raisins: Grapes are a healthy snack, providing lots of antioxidants and vitamins in a poppable little package. Their small size makes them easy to transport and munch on, but also makes it easier for dogs to quickly steal and snack on. Unfortunately, grapes can be highly toxic and even deadly to dogs, making them an absolute must-avoid. The Columbia Veterinary Emergency Trauma and Specialty (CVETS) provides helpful insight in understanding how detrimental grapes can be to your pup’s health. While the exact compound or toxin hasn’t been figured out yet, all parts of both seedless and peeled grapes are toxic to our pets and can cause extreme side effects within hours, including dehydration, lethargy, shock, seizures, and kidney failure which oftentimes leads to death if treatment isn’t sought immediately. Some breeds aren’t as impacted by this fruit, but because of the risk alone, it’s best to just completely avoid grapes and any grape products to prevent serious health complications and even death.
Macadamia Nuts & Nuts in general: White chocolate macadamia is a delicious flavor combination, but did you know that macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs? Similar to grapes, research has failed to identify what makes this tasty nut dangerous for our pups, but consumption can lead to depression, tremors, and even hypothermia in less than 12 hours according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Although nuts are a nutritious snack for humans, they should all be avoided in your pet’s diet since the high fat and oil content found in nuts can lead to gastrointestinal upset, pancreatic issues, and obesity.
There are other ways to protect your pets at your summer celebrations aside from ensuring these listed foods are out of their reach. Make sure your guests aren’t feeding them human food as a treat under the table or for tricks. As tempting as it may be to include your pet in the festivities and give them a scrap or two, there could be serious health repercussions for your beloved companion. Keep all of the food waste out of reach from your pets, especially dogs who are prone to trash-diving, since moldy and rotten foods pose risks as well.
So, what do you do if you suspect your pet has eaten these foods? If you suspect your pet has eaten something dangerous, the best thing to do first is monitor their symptoms and call their veterinarian. They will let you know based on your pet’s consumption and symptoms your best plan of action to ensure good health, whether that means bringing them in immediately for care or keeping an eye on your pet’s symptoms at home. The ASPCA has a 24 hour poison hotline ((888) 426-4435) where someone can answer your questions, as well. There are some helpful resources available to keep you educated, serving as good preventative measures. The American Kennel Club has compiled a list of in-depth articles that answer all of your “can dogs eat…” questions. These are informative easy reads that will help you stay on top of what foods to keep out of your pup’s reach. For an on-the-go option, the ASPCA has also created an app called “Animal Poison by ASPCA,” featuring a searchable database of all substances, which are color-coded in level of toxicity to your pet. Here’s to a happy and safe summer, for humans and pets alike!