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Vail pets: What not to feed your pet

Stephen Sheldon
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Most of my articles are inspired by true events. This one came from someone who fed onions on a hamburger to their dog. Thankfully, no pets were harmed in the making of this article.

Unfortunately, many common foods we eat are harmful to dogs and cats. We’ll go over some of the more common ones.

Chocolate is probably the worst offender. It seems so harmless and it is yummy. Think again. There are two toxic chemicals in chocolate, theobromine and caffeine.



Both act to cause a racing heartbeat, tremors, seizures, coma and ultimately death. It would look like your dog drank a 6 pack of red bull and it is not a laughing matter.

The darker the chocolate the higher the levels of toxins. It doesn’t take a heck of a lot either to poison your dog; as little as one ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 20-pound dog.



If your dog eats chocolate, make him throw up ASAP by giving them a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Then call your veterinarian. There is no antidote but we can often control the symptoms that cause death.

Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. The scary thing is we do not really know why and we don’t think all dogs that eat grapes go into kidney failure.

But enough do that the ASPCA Poison Control Center issued a warning a few years back and went on to say that as little as 0.2 ounces per pound of body weight can poison a dog. If your dog has eaten grapes, make them vomit and call your veterinarian. Once again there is no antidote.



Onions and garlic contain disulfide compounds, which affect the red blood cells of dogs causing anemia-like symptoms. Onions are more toxic than garlic but no one really knows how much it takes to poison a dog.

My research found case studies of about half an onion poisoning a 20-pound dog. Often, the toxic effect does not show up for a few days to a week after ingestion. There is no antidote (are you beginning to see a pattern). Make your dog vomit if within 60 minutes of eating onions.

Macadamia nuts are sort of new to the toxic scene. They simply make your dog act weird, shake and tremble and walk like they are drunk. As little as 1 gram per pound has reported toxic but it usually takes more than that.

There is no antidote and there is no treatment and thankfully no deaths reported. Tincture of time heals this one. My friend Warren’s dog ate chocolate Macadamia nuts for a double whammy but was eventually fine.

Those are the most common household foods that can poison your dog. The good news is you can still toss your pooch a few chunks of boneless steak or chicken. My 20-pound cocker once ate a one pound bag of tootsie rolls and I figured that it was the same as me eating 9 pounds of tootsie rolls. I didn’t have to induce her to vomit – she did it all by herself.

Stephen Sheldon, DVM is a veterinarian at Gypsum Animal Hospital. He is a past-president of the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association and current member of the Colorado and American Veterinary Medical Associations.


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