Some everyday foods and household plants can be very dangerous if your dog eats them. Elaine Everest explains.
Most of us think our dogs are safe around our homes and gardens; we're confident that they won't come to any harm.
But dogs and puppies are notorious for sniffing, nibbling, and swallowing things they shouldn't. And while we may be extra careful to pick up toys and keep cupboards containing harmful chemicals locked, there are many ordinary garden and household plants and foodstuffs that can make our beloved pets very ill, or even kill them, if eaten.
In this article we've highlighted some of the more common ones. But if your dog ingests anything untoward, take him straight to the vet's, and if possible take the remains of the plant or food he's eaten with you.
Food and drink
Not only can dogs die from alcohol poisoning but it can be very frightening when they discover they can't coordinate their limbs properly. The effect alcohol has depends on the size of the dog and the amount consumed; younger dogs whose organs aren't as well formed, or older dogs whose organs aren't as effective, are more at risk. Toxicity can hit their system within 30 minutes if they have an empty stomach.
Dogs might have to wait 12 hours before recovery and it is possible for a dog to fall into a coma and die if his alcohol intake isn't spotted.
The high fatty content of avocado can cause stomach problems, vomiting, and, in severe cases, pancreatitis. Persin, which is found in avocado, is toxic to dogs and can damage the heart and lungs. The large seed found in the centre of avocados can be swallowed by your pet and become lodged in the throat or intestines.
Drinks containing caffeine can contain theobromine or theophylline, which are toxic to dogs and can cause damage to the heart and nervous system.
A chemical called theobromine, a component of chooclate, is dangerous for dogs and as little as two ounces of chocolate with a high cocoa content can be fatal. The higher the cocoa content the higher the toxicity of the product. Before a dog dies from chocolate poisoning he will experience a great deal of pain, sickness, and seizures. Seek medical attention at once should your dog ingest chocolate. When cooking with chocolate for dogs use carob or doggy choc drops. Bark chippings in your garden could possibly be cocoa bark, which is toxic to dogs. Ask at your garden centre before purchasing such a product.
Cooked bones should never be given to a dog. Cooking softens the bone and it will splinter, and can pierce internal organs. A raw meaty bone is much more beneficial.
Don't be tempted to throw a corncob to your dog after eating the sweetcorn yourself, as it can cause internal obstructions or choke him if he swallows large pieces.
Fruit pips and stones
Pips or stones from apples, cherries, peaches, plums, pears, apricots, and other similar fruit contain cyanide, which is fatal to dogs. Fruit stones can also choke dogs, or become lodged internally and cause great pain and possibly even death.
There seems to be a great debate about the toxicity of garlic and its effect on dogs. Garlic is a natural cleanser and works well in our battle against fleas, but the overuse of garlic can cause a problem. Overuse means in excess of one bulb for a dog, and you're never going to add that much to your dog's dinner.
Garlic capsules are available for dogs from some of the top pet retailers in the UK and are used by many dog owners on their pets without any ill effect.
Grapes and raisins
These can cause serious damage to a dog's kidneys, and can be fatal. It's so easy to throw a few to a begging dog so please stop and think before sharing such foods. When sharing a fruitcake with your dog remember that raisins, sultanas, and currants are dangerous to him. Why not make him his own doggy cake?
Onion can cause anaemia in dogs. Be careful when feeding ready-made meals meant for babies or adults as they can include large amounts of onion. A small quantity can be used for flavouring a meal.
There have been many conversations on internet pet forums about the dangers of dogs eating tomatoes. My dogs often have a slice of tomato from my plate or while I'm cooking. I've found no evidence that feeding the occasional tomato to a dog can kill him. Tomatoes eaten in moderation will not affect your dog's health.
Beware of the flora
Try to keep your pets away from the planted area of the garden. Not only will dogs trample and destroy valued greenery but they will snuffle around in the earth and nibble at interesting plants and flowers. Once ingested these new discoveries can cause upset tummies and worse. Bulbs can be dug up by inquisitive puppies and eaten with delight - dogs know no better! Keep an eye on your dog while he's enjoying your garden and remove any dangerous plants out of harm's way.
Below are some of the more common plants and flowers found in the garden and the home that can be dangerous to dogs.
Finally, check the sprays and powders used in the garden as they might be harmful to your dog. Slug pellets can kill, so avoid using them and perhaps try alternative methods to rid your garden of these pests. With care and attention your garden can be enjoyed by both the family and your dog.
Poisonous plants and flowers
The following can be fatal if ingested:
Garden plants: Daffodil/narcissus, Larkspur, Rhododendron, Rhubarb leaves, Yew.
House plants: Amaryllis bulbs, Mother-in-law's tongue.
Eating the following can lead to a range of side effects:
Including sickness, diarrhoea, mouth and eye irritation, and skin allergies, among other symptoms.
Garden plants: Bleeding Heart - can cause convulsions. Bluebell, Buttercup, Elderberry, Foxglove, Holly - can cause wobbliness. Hyacinth, Iris, Ivy, Laburnum, Lilies (including lily of the valley) - can cause liver and kidney failure. Lobelia, Lupin, Poppy, Primrose, Privet, Snowdrops, Sweet pea, Tiger lily, Tulip, Wisteria - can cause dehydration and collapse.
House plants: Asparagus fern, Spider plant, Swiss cheese plant.