Poisons and Hazards Week 1

There are many things that are suitable for us to eat but sadly can be toxic to our animals. Over the next two weeks our centre vet Jo will highlight just some of the common ones.

This week Jo is focusing on food and drink.

Fruit cake – Anything containing raisins and sultanas which even in small quantities can make a healthy dog very unwell. Sometimes they may show signs of vomiting or diarrhoea but this can progress over 24-72 hours to kidney failure. Symptoms of kidney failure can include reduced urine output, drinking more, reduced appetite and vomiting. This is serious and can be fatal so prompt treatment must be sought with your vet.

Grapes – Like raisins and sultanas, grapes can be highly toxic and lead to kidney failure even if small quantities are ingested. If you suspect your dog has ingested any grapes seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Chocolate – Whilst it might be very appealing for your dog to devour an entire tub of chocolates, this can be really serious. Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs, cats and smaller animals too. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains, which means it is also more toxic. Not only does theobromine act as a stimulant and can raise your dog’s heart rate, it can also cause vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors and seizures.  Severe cases can be fatal.

Onions/Garlic/Leeks – These all belong to the same family and can cause damage to your pet’s red blood cells. This can this lead to anaemia (low red blood cell count) which can be life threatening. Signs may be subtle and may range from your dog having vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain to being lethargic, dull or having a quicker breathing rate. Avoid letting your dog have onion stuffing or gravy. This family is one to avoid.

Bones – Bones can get lodged in your animal’s throat or intestines and cause blockages or breathing difficulty and lead to your pet needing invasive surgery. Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage to your pets. Unfortunately we’ve seen too many cases of problems with bones causing damage to our pets so our advice is to avoid them.


Alcohol – Alcohol is toxic to our pets so should never be given. Our pets have a lower tolerance to alcohol than us so may initially show signs of drowsiness or wobbliness but this can progress to low body temperatures, low blood sugar levels and even seizures or comas.


Blue Cheese – These cheeses contain a substance produced by fungi to give them their blue veined appearance. Dogs are sensitive to this substance and tremors and seizures can be seen if ingested. These signs can last days so keep the Stilton safe away from your pets.


Macadamia Nuts – If your pet ingests these nuts they may show signs of wobbliness, pain when walking, vomiting, tremors, having a raised body temperature and lethargy. These symptoms may not show initially but can last up to 2 days.


Fatty Foods – Unfortunately whilst fatty foods can be very appealing, eating these can risk your pet developing a painful condition called pancreatitis. This can start with vomiting, diarrhoea and a reduced appetite but may progress to your pet needing to be hospitalised for intravenous fluids, pain relief and supportive care. It’s best to stick to their normal diet as some animals are more sensitive so even a small amount of rich food could cause them harm.


Mouldy Food – Leftovers might seem like a good idea to give your pet but mouldy food contains mycotoxins which can cause your pet to show signs of tremors and seizures. Be careful with composted foods and make sure your pet can’t access these.


Xylitol – This is in chewing gum but also in a number of sweetened ingredients we may have in our cupboards. Always check the packaging and avoid products containing xylitol. If it’s not meant for our pets, we’d recommend to avoid. There’s plenty of pet treats available on the market which are much safer.


Although we would like to cover all of the potential toxins or hazards, our pets can always surprise us by finding new ones. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with something that may be toxic or your pet is exhibiting abnormal behaviour, always call your vet immediately. Quick action may save your pet’s life.

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