By Deborah Burton


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If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed below or if you suspect he/she has gotten into something they shouldn't have that is poisonous, get him/her to a Vet as soon as possible (an all-night facility, if necessary). Some of these situations are life threatening.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is closely related to caffeine and causes your dog's heart to race. In small dosages, it will cause hyperactivity and possibly diarrhea. If your dog has ingested too much chocolate "...vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhea, restlessness, and agitation typically develop in six to eight hours. Kidney damage, seizures, heart rhythm irregularities, and death may result in severe cases. There is no real antidote for a theobromine overdose. Supportive care can be given, and vomiting can be induced if the case is caught early enough."*

Chocolately things like ordinary brownies, cake, cookies, and so on really do not contain all that much chocolate but should still be kept away from your dog and out of reach. Gourmet chocolate goodies, however, often contain more chocolate. Baking chocolate and chocolate used in candy-making are very concentrated and much more dangerous (as would be a box of chocolates or a candy bar, but keep in mind that the more expensive chocolates tend to contain more theobromine). Do yourself and your dog(s) a favor and keep your chocolate treats in a completely dog-proof place.
This is not good for your dog, because a dog's body cannot process excess salt. Salt can accumulate and cause kidney disease in old age. At any time in a dog's life, if salt is given in extreme excess, it could cause your dog's kidneys to react and swell. Your dog would have to be totally without water for a period of days if this happens, before the kidneys could function normally again (just think about how serious that is), if the dog survived.

If your dog gets any leftovers from your table, make absolutely certain that there is no salt in these foods. Things that have a high salt content are bullion, soups, hamburger/chicken/noodle/rice mixes that come in a box, and almost any already prepared foods (including sauces and gravies) that come in a can, bottle, box, or packet. Most cheese has a high salt content, but dogs love it! Frozen veggies with no salt added when you cook them, fresh cooked meat (i.e. beef or chicken) that has nothing added to it, rice or pasta that has nothing added to it as you cook it, etc. are relatively safe foods to feed your dog. Remember that butter has salt in it, too. Read the labels on the food products you use in your home and the dog food and treats you buy for your dog. See our links page on "Dog Food" for more information.

I occasionally give my dogs very small pieces of things that I know are safe for them to eat. We don't get carried away with table scraps at our house, and that way we minimize any potential problem.

It's my understanding that dogs in very hot climates would need more salt in their diet, but ask your Vet!
Raw onions can cause liver damage in your dog. In addition, there is also a rare form of anemia, Heinz-body hemolytic anemia, that dogs can get from eating cooked or raw onions or other members of the onion family. Because it is so rare, it can be misdiagnosed. This was thought to affect only dogs 40 lbs. and under, but in 1999, an Australian Shepherd was diagnosed with it and barely pulled through.

Make sure onion or garlic powder or any other form of the onion family are not listed as ingredients in anything you're feeding your dog or cat (this includes dog or cat food). Onion powder is very bad for cats, too. There is a good article on onion toxicity here.
"Egg white contains the protein 'avidin' which forms a stable and biologically inactive complex with biotin. The avidin in egg whites will tie up the biotin so it cannot be used by the dog."**
These should not be given to your dog because of the risk of salmonella poisoning. Dogs do not get e coli or salmonella poisoning easily, but it can happen in some rare instances. If your dog has a partial blockage in their intestines where food can be trapped, e coli or salmonella will have a breeding ground. A dog's digestive tract is very short, so under normal circumstances, these things would not be a problem, but it is something you need to be aware of.
These can splinter in your dog's intestines and puncture through the intestinal wall and possibly result in death. The beef rib bones are also way too small and could be swallowed whole by a larger dog (just ask our Sasha!). And we know you'd *never* consider giving your dog fish bones or chicken bones for the same reason. Fish bones are dangerous for people and are certainly dangerous for dogs.
Most bones just aren't safe to give your dog, and it might be a good decision to leave them alone entirely. If you have more than one dog, giving out bones could also incite some agressive behavior.

If you have a larger dog, a knuckle bone would be a better (although not perfect) idea. Cut off the excess fat and give it to your dog(s) for short periods of time completely supervised (15-20 minutes is good). Even on these bones, the cartilage can crumble and cause indigestion. In some cases, even these bones can splinter (see why we recommend supervision?). A beef shank bone that you have boiled would be even better, however. They should be available at a local market or pet store. These bones do not splinter and can be refreshed every so often by basting or boiling them in some (unsalted) meat juices that you have left over from a meal. These bones are also quite clean in the house.

If you've got a dog with a very large set of jaws, like the Clumber Spaniel, they can fairly easily bite off and swallow a piece of bone too large for them to pass, and this would be an *extremely* dangerous and possibly life threatening situation.

If you do decide to give your dog bones, make sure they are supervised completely while chewing on them, use your judgment, and be careful.

Both grapes and raisins are not good for your dog(s), especially the smaller breeds. Err on the side of caution and don't include these in your dogs' diets.

Thanks to both Norma Simpson from the ClumberSpaniel-H list and Bill Ironside who gave me most of the information in this section on bones. Bill, btw, is absolutely against giving any dogs bones--ever.

Use some common sense when it comes to feeding things to your dog(s). If it isn't good for us as human beings, it isn't going to be good for your dog(s).

Go to the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center page and read their entire How To Prevent Poisoning section which lists, by category, all of the things that can be poisonous to your dog. Some of them are, of course, common household items. Be an informed dog owner!

There is a vet on duty at this center 24 hours a day, so keep these phone numbers handy, just in case. They have an "800" phone number with a $30 charge (they take Visa, Master Card, and American Express) per call and a "900" number which you might be referred to with a $20 minimum for 5 minutes and $2.95 for each additional minute (the average call takes 4-7 minutes).

*Dr. Pamela Abney, Veterinary Consultant to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

**William Cusick, author of "Canine Nutrition - Choosing The Best Food For Your Breed" and author of the web site, "The Animal Advocate".




Deborah Burton
130 Castle Rock Road
Unit #107
Sedona, AZ 86351
Email: fuzzy@fuzzyfaces.com

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