Health WarningsThis page is dedicated to pertinent information that you may or may not know but that may be pressing or seasonally sensitive that would allow a quick reference for you.
Often old foods left in trash cans and even some left in the refrigerator too long can grow many types of molds. Many of these molds release what are called "tremorgenic mycotoxins" which can cause seizures, some of which may be fatal if severe enough.
Chocolate toxicity severity varies with the size of the animal and the concentration and amount of the chocolate. The main symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, excessive drinking and/or urination, hyperexcitabiliy, lethargy, racing heart rate, seizures and even death. Usually the darker the chocolate (especially baking chocolate), the larger the amount eaten, and the smaller the dog, the more severe the problem. Early intervention greatly increases the prognosis for recovery.
Here is a very cursory Rule of Thumb for Chocolate Toxicity. This should not replace consultation with your veterinarian in the event of known or suspected exposure, and not all dogs will follow this rule exactly, but it can give some general guidelines to follow.
Rule of Thumb for Chocolate Toxicity
Chocolate contains theobromine that is toxic to dogs in sufficient
quantities. This is a xanthine compound in the same family of caffeine, and
It takes, on average, a fairly large amount of theobromine (100-150 mg/kg) to
cause a toxic reaction. There are variables to consider like the individual
sensitivity, animal size and chocolate concentration.
Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per oz.
Semisweet chocolate contains 150mg/oz.
Baker's chocolate 390mg/oz.
Using a dose of 100 mg/kg as the
toxic dose it comes out roughly as:
1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.
So, for example, 2 oz. of Baker's chocolate can cause great risk to a 15
lb. dog; yet, 2 oz. of milk chocolate usually will only cause digestive
Xanthines affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system and peripheral
nerves. It has a diuretic effect as well. Clinical signs:
Increased heart rate
There is no specific antidote for this poisoning. And the half life of the
toxin is 17.5 hours in dogs. Induce vomiting in the first 1-2 hours if the
quantity is unknown. Administering activated charcoal may inhibit absorption of
the toxin. An anticonvulsant might be indicated if neurological signs are
present and needs to be controlled. Oxygen therapy, intravenous medications,
and fluids might be needed to protect the heart.
Milk chocolate will often cause diarrhea 12-24 hours after ingestion. This
should be treated symptomatically (fluids, etc..) to prevent dehydration.Alcohol
Some pets like some humans have an affinity for alcohol and alcoholic drinks. These can rapidly develop into alcohol poisoning, coma and death.
Plants in the onion family have chemicals in them that can cause damage to red blood cells resulting in anemia, which limits the ability of the red blood cells to bring oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. Onion powder is often used as a preservative in human baby food, so this is another potential source pf toxicity for pets.
Macadamia nuts have been shown to cause problems in dogs who injest them. These signs have not been seen in other pets. Clinical signs commonly reported in dogs ingesting macadamia nuts include weakness, depression, vomiting, incoordination, tremors, and hyperthermia (excessive rise in body temperature...not a true fever). The actual cause of this toxicity is unknown at this writing. This can occur with as few as 6 shelled nuts.
Rising Bread Dough
Ingestion of rising bread dough can be life-threatening to dogs. The dog's body heat will cause the dough to rise in the stomach. The rising process produces ethanol; and, the dough may expand several times its original size. Signs seen with bread dough ingestion are associated with ethanol toxicoses (alcohol poisoning) and obstruction from the increasing mass of dough. These signs can include severe abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, incoordination, and depression.
Grapes and Raisins
Although it is not completely understood how it happens, there is enough evidence to support the claim that grapes and raisins can cause kidney damage in some animals (especially dogs). For that reason we recommend that you not give any of these to your pets. We do not know if it happens slowly over a long period of time, or if it takes a large amount all at once, or if either scenario is equally toxic.
Many newer sugar free candies and gums have a sweetener in them called Xylitol. Although this is a very efficient sweetener and is safe for humans, this chemical can cause a severe, life threatening drop in an animal's blood sugar that can take days to correct with IV fluid therapy. If the blood sugar drops too low, the animal could go into repetitive, uncontrolled seizures.
The pit can cause a blockage easily (we have had to surgically remove a few of these). The meat of the avocado contains a chemical called persin which can damage heart, lung and other
tissue in many animals. They are also higher in fat which means they can stimulate gastroenteritis or pancreatitis in susceptible pets.
Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Pears, Plums
The main culprit here is the seeds which have cyanogenic products which can result in cyanide poisoning in dogs. The meat of the fruit is fine, the seeds are the issue.
These cause very substantial blockages that require surgical intervention (we've seen these too).
Cooked eggs are high in protein and healthy as a periodic snack, but the raw eggs have a substance called avidin that depletes the biotin, an essential B vitamin, in your dog. Also raw eggs are often contaminated with bacterial like Salmonella, which can effect your pets.
In general these are not good due to the high levels of phosphorus in them, which can lead to bladder stones.
Has been known to cause tremors, seizures and even death when eaten in large enough quantities.
Tomatoes and Tomato Plants
These contain some levels of atropine which can dilate the pupils, cause tremors and an irregular heart beat. The concentration is highest in the leaves and stems, next highest in green unripe tomatoes, and then in lowest amounts in the ripe red tomato.
Tobacco ProductsSago Palm Toxicity
Tobacco contains nicotine which can be very toxic to animals. The butt of a cigarette often contains 25% of the total nicotine in the cigarette. After ingestion of a toxic dose, the animal usually shows signs fairly rapidly (within 15-45 minutes). These signs may include excitation, rapid breathing, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Muscle weakness, twitching, depression, rapid heart rate, shallow respiration, collapse, coma, and cardiac arrest can follow the period of excitation. Death occurs secondary to respiratory paralysis. Once they have reached the excited stage, vomiting should not be induced as a treatment because it may trigger a seizure.
Although they are very attractive plants that do fairly well in our climate, many people do not realize just how deadly the sago Palm can be. During the summer months of 2009 we lost 2 patients to Sago Palm toxicity despite early aggressive medical care that included treatment at a specialty center. We at PPHC wanted to make people aware just how toxic and deadly these plants are for animals. The entire plant is toxic: seeds, leaves, bark, meat, etc. The seeds seem to be a bit more toxic than the rest but the difference is insignificant to most animals. The plant causes a sudden aggressive inflammation and failure of the liver. Even if the owner catches their pet in the act of eating the plant, induces vomiting, gets treated with activated charcoal and IV fluids, the chances of survival are still very poor. Both patients we saw that had succumbed to this plant appeared to get better initially and then there was almost a "second wave" of liver failure that led to their demise. If you have Sagos, and you want to keep them, please try moving them to a section of the yard where your pets never go, or provide barriers for your pets that they cannot get past.