Danger often lurks in the shadows, especially if your goofy, good-natured dog likes sniffing where he shouldn’t. For example, many products in your home may be perfectly safe for you, but toxic to dogs. Here’s what to watch out for:
The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains and the more dangerous the substance is for your four-legged friend as theobromine is toxic to dogs. If ingested, the symptoms are: panting, restlessness, fever, muscle tremors, and irregular heartbeat. It doesn't often end well.
Alcohol isn’t great for human health. But it’s even worse for dogs: they can develop (life) threatening symptoms from much smaller amounts. Even a little alcohol can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, poor coordination, breathing difficulties and coma.
While avocado might be all the rage at the moment, it’s in fact poisonous to many animals, including dogs. One gram can be dangerous for a dog of twenty kilos! Symptoms include respiratory distress, fluid buildup in the lungs and heart and, because of the fat content in avocados, inflammation of the pancreas.
Grapes and raisins
Why these are toxic to dogs is unknown. But what is known is that (dried) grapes attack your pet’s kidneys. After 6 to 24 hours, general lethargy and digestive problems occur. Two grapes can be fatal for a small dog. So while it might be tempting to give your four-legged friend pieces of cake with raisins in them, don’t succumb to those puppy dog eyes.
Like cats, many dogs are lactose intolerant. The consequences are usually not dramatic, but lactose does cause diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal pain. In extreme cases, pancreatitis can occur. This is especially true if your dog consumes fatty dairy such as cream or ice cream.
Toothpaste intended for humans contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Swallowing xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, liver failure, coma and death. So don't use regular toothpaste to keep your dog's teeth healthy. There are varieties on the market that aren’t toxic to dogs. Xylitol can also be found in some mints and chewing gum so make sure it doesn’t get into those either.
Nuts are high in phosphorus, which can cause kidney and bladder stones. Macadamia nuts can lead to muscle and neurological problems, such as muscle weakness, vomiting, pale mucous membranes and fever. Your pet’s health will likely improve after 24 hours or so.
Caffeine is particularly toxic to dogs. Increased heart rate, convulsions, bleeding and even cardiac arrest can result. There is no cure for a caffeine overdose. So be extra alert and clear away used tea bags immediately, so that your pet doesn’t run off with them.
Dogs don't excrete salt as well as humans, so it can build up in the bloodstream. Symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, constipation, muscle weakness, and disorientation. Salt poisoning can be fatal. So don't give your dog salty, human-made snacks.
Does your dog seem to be showing signs of poisoning? Then contact your vet immediately.