Americans spend billions of dollars a year on food for their pets, but despite the best pet food available, some dogs would rather eat human food. Rich and fatty people-foods are favorites of most dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers, or from getting into the discarded scraps. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which includes an acute onset of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. A dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy, so it is best to avoid giving in the next time your precious pooch adorably begs for table scraps. Dogs love to get into the trash, and a medical problem arises if the trash contains bones or moldy or spoiled food. Keep your garbage in inaccessible places!

Certain foods that are good for humans can be dangerous for canines, causing varying degrees of illness, or even death. This list of forbidden people food includes some especially toxic ones:

  • CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, AND CAFFEINE can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get “caffeine” toxicity, and chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, which are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than white chocolate, but both should be kept out of paws’ reach.
  • ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES contain ethanol, which can be toxic when ingested, and pets can be highly affected by small amounts of alcohol. Not just the drinks should be avoided. Steer clear of food made with alcohol. The bad effects range from vomiting and diarrhea to death.
  • APRICOTS, CHERRIES, PEACHES AND PLUMS contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, and shock.
  • AVOCADOS contain a toxic component, persin, a fungicidal toxin, which is a fatty acid derivative. The leaves, fruit, bark, and seeds of avocados have all been reported to be toxic to animals. Do not feed your dog any component of the avocado.
  • MACADAMIA NUTS. Although the mechanism behind why these nuts are toxic is a mystery, it has been documented that as few as six nuts have caused severe toxic signs. Dogs develop weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and difficulty walking, but usually the symptoms dissipate In a couple days without causing permanent damage.
  • YEAST DOUGH. If your dog eats yeast dough before the yeast has fully risen, the dough will continue to rise in the dog’s stomach, and as it continues to rise, gas accumulates in the dog’s intestines, which can cause extreme distress or the stomach to rupture.
  • GRAPES AND RAISINS were once offered as treats but it has been determined that these fruits can cause kidney failure. Any dog that ingests more than a few grapes or raisins will need aggressive medical treatment. Without treatment, death is possible.
  • ONIONS. Dogs lack the enzyme necessary to properly digest onions and this can result in gas, vomiting, diarrhea or severe gastrointestinal distress. If large amounts of onion are ingested, the red blood cells may become fragile and break apart. Severe anemia and even death can occur if the dog ingests lots of onions.
  • GUM, CANDY, BAKED GOODS (AND TOOTHPASTE!) Many of these contain a sweetener called xylitol, a sugar-alcohol sweetener, and dogs that eat this can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, causing weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures. Ingestion of as little as .1 gram of xylitol per kilogram of body weight can be deadly for dogs, so if you suspect that your dog has ingested a food containing xylitol, seek veterinary care immediately.

Some favorite people food can certainly cause harm to our dogs, but not all is gloom and doom… there are many dog-friendly human foods to share with your furry friend. Next week’s Paw Prints will discuss some of these foods that are healthy for both two legs and four legs.