Take the pet safety food test II

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By Randall W. Haveman, DVM, MS
Sunnyside Veterinary Hospital

Some foods are acceptable as treats and some are harmful to your dog or cat.  Guess which of these six foods are safe for your pet:

1.)    Peas
2.)    Onions
3.)    Bread Dough
4.)    Squash
5.)    Rum Cake
6.)    Butter

1.) Onions, Garlic, Chives, and Leeks:  Small amounts of garlic are often found in dog treats and aren’t harmful.  However, if dogs or carts ingest a pan of sautéed onions, garlic, or leeks, poisoning may result.  Small amounts of onion over a long period of time or large amounts of onion or garlic powders may also cause poisoning.  Garlic as a home flea treatment is ineffective and may be dangerous.  Onions are more toxic than garlic or leeks.

At toxic levels, these vegetables cause destruction of red blood cells and anemia. A thirty pound dog eating one feeding of 2 ½ ounces of onion may be at risk.  Cats and Japanese breeds of dogs are even more sensitive.

Pale gums, weakness, rapid heart rate, vomiting, and reduced appetite are common signs.

Treatment is aimed at inducing vomiting early after eating onions or garlic and using multiple doses of activated charcoal.  If the anemia is severe, transfusions may be necessary.  Cessation of feeding any of these products is essential.  Prognosis is excellent if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.

2.) Yeast Containing Bread Dough: Uncooked or homemade bread dough that contains yeast may rise in the stomach or bowel and may act as an obstruction or may over fill the gut and cause bloat.  As the yeast ferments in the gut, it produces alcohol, which may cause alcohol toxicity, too.

Signs may be unproductive vomiting and retching, weakness, elevated heart rate, collapse, and shock if disease is from bloat.  Alcohol poisoning causes alcohol smell on the breath, neurologic depression, hypothermia, low blood pressure, seizures, and respiratory failure.

Treatment is to induce vomiting if the dough was just ingested, cold water flushes to slow rising of the bread, IV fluids, surgery if obstructed, warming, and treatment for shock.  Prognosis is good if treated early and poor if alcohol toxicity or bloat have resulted.

3.) Alcohol: Alcohol may be ingested from alcoholic drinks drunk by the dog or from malicious, forced ingestion or from some cakes, candies, and dressings that contain alcohol.  Yeasty bread dough can produce alcohol with fermentation, too.

Small amounts of alcohol when ingested by small pets can cause life threatening toxicity.

Signs are alcohol smell to the breath, depression, low body temperature, low blood pressure, seizures, and respiratory failure.
Treatment involves vomiting early after ingestion and IV fluids with dextrose, warming, and monitoring later in the course of the toxicity.  Prognosis is excellent with appropriate and timely care.

4.) Fatty foods: Accidental ingestion of butter, oils, meat drippings, grease, chocolate that is low in theobromine, and meat scraps.  The sudden increase in fats may cause gastroenteritis or even pancreatitis.
Vomiting and diarrhea may be delayed a few days and abdominal pain, inappetance, and lethargy are common signs.
Treatment involves anti-vomiting drugs, antibiotics, easily digested food, IV or subcutaneous fluids, lab work, and hospitalization may be necessary.  Prognosis is excellent if treated early and uncertain if severe pancreatitis develops.

Pet Safe Foods: Most green or yellow vegetables or fruits are fine for sharing.  High sugars, fats, salt, or in some instances fiber may be contraindicated in some pets.  Strawberries and tomatoes are histamine releasers, so pets with allergies may worsen.

Pet Poison Helpline is a service available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary team members who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet and can provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals, and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $35 per incident includes follow-up consultation for the duration of the poisoning case. It is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at petpoisonhelpline.com.