Grapes, Nuts, and Your Dogs Health --
Foods that Fido should Avoid
- By Carolyn Schweitzer
"Magoo was a big, playful Labrador
retriever who often got himself into sticky
So begins a story in the latest report from the ASPCA
on foods that may be toxic to dogs. It turns out that
Magoo got into the pantry and snagged himself about a
pound of raisins. He ate the whole thing, of course.
The ASPCA never mentions Magoo's fate. But they do
tell us that as little as a handful of raisins can
impair a dogs health and has been fatal for some.
Ditto for the grape.
Growing up, I regarded our family dogs as "the
first cycle of the dishwasher". They were good
about waiting their turn for whatever we left on our
plates, and we weren't too concerned about offering
them "people food". It never crossed our
minds that our dogs health could be affected by a few
measly table scraps. What was safe for us, we
figured, was safe for our pets.
What's more, whenever I ate grapes, I liked to give
one or two to our German Shepherd
"Tiffany". The grapes always popped out of
her mouth when she tried to bite into them and
Tiffany, ever the good sport, refused to give up
until she'd squashed each one into submission. It
guaranteed at least 60 seconds of harmless fun.
Tiffany was also fond of chewing gum (she chewed it
-- wrapper and all -- but didn't swallow it!) We had
the sugarless kind, which is often sweetened these
days with xylitol.
Little did I know that I might have been poisoning
our family pet! (More on xylitol below).
Why are grapes harmful?
As far as grapes and raisins go, no one is sure why
they're harmful. It's been confirmed that even grapes
grown without fertilizers or pesticides can be toxic
to dogs. But not to every dog, and not every time.
It's also not known whether small amounts eaten over
a long time period could have a cumulative effect.
What we do know is that the end result in nearly all
reported cases of grape or raisin toxicity is acute
kidney failure. (The term "acute" means
that the condition is severe and comes on quickly.)
The dog ultimately can't produce urine, which means
they can't filter toxins out of their systems -- a
process essential to life.
During the twelve-month period in which the effects
of grapes were studied, the ASPCA Animal Poison
Control Center handled 140 cases involving one or
more dogs. Over a third of the dogs developed
symptoms ranging from vomiting to kidney failure, and
seven dogs died. The ASPCA based their study on
reported cases, so naturally there may be cases where
a dogs health is entirely unaffected by eating
grapes. But until they know all the facts, the
Society advises against feeding pets grapes or
raisins in any amount.
An ounce of prevention
So, your dog just scored himself a big box of
raisins. What's a pet owner to do?
The first line of defense, if the grapes or raisins
were eaten recently, is to induce vomiting and
administer activated charcoal (it absorbs toxins in
the GI tract). Vomiting is also the first sign that
your dog is in trouble, so skip right to the
activated charcoal if vomiting has already occurred.
(In a pinch you can make your own activated charcoal
by charring a piece of toast until it's blackened and
crumbles easily.) Then call your vet right away.
Can't reach the vet? Call ASPCA Poison
The vet will keep your dog on intravenous fluids for
at least 48 hours and monitor blood chemistry daily.
Normal blood work after 3 days usually means your dog
is in the clear.
Keeping a watchful eye out, of course, is the best
way to keep your pet out of trouble. Like children,
dogs (and other pets) have a knack for getting into
mischief when we're not looking.
It's Not Just the Grapes...
There are other foods your dog should be kept away
from, and some of them may surprise you.
Here are some other foods that can put a dogs health
in harms way:
Who can resist chocolate? Like it your not, your dog.
Chocolate is made with cocoa beans and cocoa beans
contain a chemical called Theobromine, which is toxic
to dogs. So on Valentine's Day, you're actually being
kind to your best buddy if you eat all the chocolates
Read my special report on chocolate at http://www.great-dog-gift.com/chocolate to learn more,
and see how different types of chocolate have varying
effects on dogs health.
Cocoa bean shells are a by-product of chocolate
production (which is how mulch made it into the
"foods" category) and are popular as mulch
for landscaping. Homeowners like the attractive color
and scent, and the fact that the mulch breaks down
into an organic fertilizer. However, some dogs like
to eat it and it contains Theobromine.
Fatty foods are hard for a dog to digest and can can
overtax the pancreas, leading to pancreatitis. This
can threaten your dogs health and is potentially
Macadamia nuts should be avoided. In fact most nuts
are not good for a dogs health since their high
phosporus content is said to lead to bladder stones.
Mulch isn't food, but there's one type tempting
enough for dogs to eat. Some dogs are attracted to
cocoa mulch, and will eat it in varying quantities.
The coca bean shells can contain from 0.2% to 3%
theobromine (the toxin ) as compaired to 1-4% in
Onions, especially raw onions, have been shown to
trigger hemolytic anemia in dogs. (Stephen J
Ettinger, D.V.M and Edward C. Fieldman, D.V.M. 's
book: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine vol. 2
pg 1884.) Stay away from onion powder too.
Potato poisonings among people and dogs are rare but
have occurred. The toxin, solanine, is poorly
absorbed and is only found in green sprouts (these
occur in tubers exposed to sunlight) and green potato
skins. This explains why incidents seldom occur. Note
that cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for a dogs
health, actually quite nutritious and digestible.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products,
especially sugarless gum and candies. Ingesting large
amounts of products sweetened with xylitol may cause
a sudden drop in blood sugar in dogs, resulting
depression, loss of coordination, and seizures.
According to Dr. Eric K. Dunayer, a consulting
veterinarian in clinical toxicology for the poison
control center, "These signs can develop quite
rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after
ingestion of the product" states Dr. Dunayer,
"...therefore, it is important that pet owners
seek veterinary treatment immediately."
Turkey skin is currently thought to cause acute
pancreatis in dogs, partly due to it's high fat
Other foods listed by the ASPCA as harmful:
Avocado (the only "fatty" member of the
Coffee (all forms of coffee)
Moldy or spoiled foods
The Bottom Line
Thanks to a more educated public, fewer fatalities
from foods like chocolate are being reported these
days. But it's important to keep up with what's
currently known about foods and their effects on dogs
health. Grapes and cocoa mulch, for example, were
only discovered very recently to have harmful
Check frequently with sources like the ASPCA, or sign
up for the "Cold Noses News" and we'll keep
you informed. (You'll also get a bunch of cool dog
stuff along with your free registration).
Of course, being alert and getting your pet to the
vet promptly will help assure a happy outcome if
something unfortunate should happen.
Here's to your dogs health and good nutrition!
Carolyn Schweitzer, a former family dentsit, is owner
and editor of several websites,
Visit http://www.great-dog-gift.com/foodarticle to view the
full illustrated article with links to resource
articles from the ASPCA such as "How to Poison
Proof your Home".
Sign up for the "Cold Noses News" at http://www.great-dog-gift.com/noses to have
information like this delivered to your mailbox.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Carolyn_Schweitzer
Ring Worm in Dogs
Symptoms of Pain and Illness
Dealing with Dog
The Dos and Don'ts of Dog Feeding
All images on this site © Sarah
Theophilus 1991-2007, no reproductions permitted.