The counter-surfer and surprisingly toxic foods
By: Dr. Sarah Trimble
Although we try our best to control the diets of our furry friends, it’s no secret that pets can be quite innovative when it comes to sneaking their share of human food. Whether your pet is a “counter surfer,” stealing tasty treats when you turn your head, or a “mop/vacuum,” eagerly awaiting any scraps that reach the floor, it is important to know which common foods can be toxic for our beloved companions. Since dogs are typically our primary offenders, this article will focus on our canine friends, though many of these toxins apply to cats as well.
One of the most commonly known human food toxins is chocolate, although, it’s not only desserts that can be harmful to dogs. Fruits, such as grapes, can be highly toxic as well, and some dogs can go into kidney failure after only eating one. While the reason for this is still unknown, it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid grapes and raisins all together.
Other foods that are surprisingly toxic to dogs include onions and garlic. These ingredients can damage red blood cells and result in anemia.
Artificial sweeteners can also be extremely dangerous to dogs. “Xylitol” can be found in many “sugarless” foods or baked goods. Sugar-free gum, toothpaste, cough drops, and chewable vitamins are also common offenders. A very small amount of this ingredient can result in seizures and liver failure.
Although several commonly encountered foods are noted here, this is certainly not a comprehensive list. Always research whether or not a food is harmful before trying out a new snack for your companion. It's also important to develop an “emergency plan” for your pet. Pet Poison Hotline (855-764-7661) is a great resource. Being familiar with the nearest veterinary emergency hospitals is highly recommended, as most toxicities are time-sensitive.
Ultimately, a well-balanced diet specific to your pet’s species/needs is the best option for your pet’s health. If you do choose to share a table food snack with your furry loved one, make sure to choose a safe, low calorie option, such as apple slices, carrots, blueberries, or broccoli!