In this day and age, new approaches to animal health are constantly being made. Old or otherwise inadequate elements in pet diets, such as animal byproducts and artificial flavorings are being replaced by more human-grade ingredients. And while it’s important to incorporate these human-grade ingredients into your pet’s diet, it’s important to remember that many things, many human things, can be incredibly toxic for animals to have.
Animals cannot distinguish between what is and what is not poisonous simply by looking into our kitchen cabinets or fridges. So, it’s very important that, as their guardians, we educate ourselves on the household products and foods that can be toxic for them.
Please take a moment to read up on a few items, commonly found in your home, that can be poisonous for your pets.
1. Lemons & Limes
Lemons and Limes are one of the lesser known foods that can be incredibly toxic for both dogs and cats to ingest.
Like many citrus fruits, these two contain psoralen compounds and aromatic oils that are extremely toxic to animal systems
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, bodily depression.
Onions are a very versatile ingredient. We, humans, use it in most everything we cook, as it gives our dishes flavor and depth. However, while we can consume onions without any repercussions, this item is extremely toxic for animals and can cause an array of complications in their bodies.
You see, onions contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates, which can cause conditions such as anemia, hemolytic anemia, and methemoglobinemia – all manifestations of damage to red blood cells.
Dr. Tina Swan, who specializes in animal emergency care, recalls diagnosing a patient with food toxicity symptoms. “I had a young dog with signs of partial paralysis and weakness of his back legs,” she says. “The clue to the problem was that the owner had fed the dog some macadamia-crusted salmon with sauteed onions the night before. It can be difficult to determine what causes a toxic reaction in pets, especially if they’ve eaten table scraps.”
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, collapse, paralysis.
Alcohol. We love it, we hate it, we celebrate it, we drink it, we eat it, we cook with it. There are so many things that we as humans do with alcohol; it’s easy to forget just how dangerous and toxic it can be for our four-legged friends.
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol are extremely toxic to animals and can even result in death. The list of symptoms are truly endless and should not be taken lightly. Under no circumstances should your pet be given alcohol. If you spill your beer on the floor, clean it up and do not allow your pet to simply lick it up.
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, and coma.
4. Nuts, Coffee, Chocolate
For some of us, this is the trifecta of foods. The rich and indulgent flavors that coffee, chocolate, and nuts can offer make them all primary foods in one’s household. However, they all contain substances called methylxanthines, which can wreak havoc on a pet’s internal system if ingested.
Note that darker chocolate, compared to milk chocolate, is even more dangerous when ingested because of the high intensity of cacao. Milk chocolate, although still dangerous, is diluted down with milk and sugar, making it less intense for an animal’s body.
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, stroke, seizures, tremors, and even death.
Ibuprofen is a commonly used drug, meant to treat pain and inflammation. But while it is relatively safe for humans to take and use for medicinal purposes, this is NOT a medication that is safe for animals to ingest – unless properly instructed and prescribed by a veterinarian.
As someone who has worked in various animal hospitals, I cannot stress this toxin enough. Many pet parents tend to dose out this medication when their pets experience arthritis, pain, or fever, not realizing just how dangerous it is – and these animals, who are already hurting from some kind of pain their parents attempted to treat at home, are brought into the hospital with their body’s literally failing on them.
You see, while ibuprofen blocks enzymes that cause inflammation, they also block enzymes that are used to control normal gastrointestinal and kidney functions. And rather than being properly digested through the body, in an animal’s case, this drug is recycled over and over again by the liver, resulting in potentially poisoning effects.
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Vomiting, incoordination, discoloration, seizures, coma, stupor or unconsciousness.
Xylitol is one of the more sneaky toxins that you, as pet parents, must look out for. It’s hidden in gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, and even things like peanut butter. While it’s perfectly safe for humans to ingest, this artificial sweetener is very toxic for animals to eat.
You see, like many sugars, Xylitol increases insulin levels when ingested. However, in an animal’s case, the rise of insulin can quickly and easily lead to liver failure or long-term liver damage.
Symptoms upon ingestion may include the following: Vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, seizures, organ failure.
7. Essential Oils
In a world where the popularity of aromatherapy and essential oils are rising, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain oils that can cause significant damage to your pet’s internal system if ingested, inhaled, or topically applied.
Some of these include citrus, peppermint, tea tree, ylang ylang, and cinnamon. Regardless of how they are used, these oils are especially dangerous to animals and can have effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression, seizures, and even organ failure.
Inhalation of oils can even lead to aspiration pneumonia.
Symptoms upon ingestion/exposure may include the following: Vomiting, seizures, lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, tremors,
8. Laundry Sheets / Fabric Softener Sheets
This one may come as a surprise to many of you. Laundry sheets are relatively small, rectangular sheets that you throw into your loads to help get rid of static and keep your clothes smelling fresh. However, as small as they are, they have properties that can be horrible for a pet’s system.
Laundry sheets and types of fabric softeners contain cationic detergents, which can potentially cause drooling, vomiting, oral or esophageal ulcers. What’s worse is that, if ingested, these thin sheets can even cause intestinal blockage.
Symptoms upon ingestion/exposure may include the following: Vomiting, lethargy, drooling, ulcers, weakness, blockage.
If, at any point, you feel your pet may have ingested or been exposed to a potentially toxic or poisonous substance, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately or APCC’s hotline at (888) 426 – 4435.