I got my dog, Ruby, right before Christmas when she was only two months old. I still remember those days. It was like having a new baby in the house getting up in the middle of the night to let her out. Who knew having pets could be like that!
Unfortunately, though, in January, a bit of a tragedy struck.
I was cleaning one day, after everyone had gone back to school and work, and I saw her chowing down on something that looked very suspicious. It turned out to be some chocolate that she had found on the floor in my son’s room. I managed to figure out that she had eaten about a square inch of it, and that it was dark chocolate which contains a larger percentage of raw chocolate than milk chocolate, and which is the worst kind for dogs.
We whisked her off to the vet and they treated her and gave me a large syringe of charcoal to take home with me (the standard protocol for ridding a dogs body of toxins). They told me to give her the charcoal the next day, and to be careful with it, because it would stain my clothing. I ripped up a sheet and made a ghost costume-like covering for myself, and sat down in the middle of the floor to give her the syringe of charcoal, and I can honestly say that if I hadn’t ripped the sheet, I could probably have used it again, because my sweet young lady lapped up each and every drop of charcoal without any of it getting on me or the sheet!
It was quite an ordeal, and Ruby lived to … well … bark about it, but it makes me wonder what other things, that we take for granted, can make our pets sick or can actually be lethal to them.
Chocolate and Coffee – As I said above, and this is a really important one. Chocolate and coffee contain something called theobromine which is poison for dogs and cats, and lethal if they eat it in high amounts.
Grapes and Raisins – These can cause sudden kidney failure in dogs and cats, resulting in death, so this is a pretty important one too, although it is unknown what the fruit contains that causes the problem.
Garlic and Onions – These are bad choices to feed your dog or your cat, even if they are in powdered or dried form. They can cause damage to red blood cells, so that they cannot effectively carry oxygen.
Avocados – Avocados contain something called persin which larger animals such as horses and cows are very sensitive to, and in them it can be lethal. It’s not as bad in smaller animals, but avocados can still cause them gastrointestinal troubles and make them sick.
Apple Seeds – Apples themselves aren’t bad for animals, but the seeds contain a form of cyanide called amygdlin which is toxic not just for dogs and cats, but humans too.
Xylitol – This is another biggie, particularly for dogs. It is an artificial sweetener and can cause seizures and convulsions when ingested by dogs.
Lilies -Not all species are toxic, but the majority of the ones people buy domestically are. They are non-toxic to dogs, but if your cat ingests the petals or the leaves it can cause kidney failure.
Tulips – Tulips contain something called Tulipalin A & B, which is toxic to both dogs and cats. Most of it can be found in the bulb, but the leaves and petals are also toxic. If a pet ingests them, they can cause gastrointestinal troubles and depression.
Dieffenbachia – This is a common household plant with large leaves. It is toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause irritation in the mouth and throat and difficulty swallowing.
Azaleas – These beautiful plants are not so beautiful to cats and dogs. Ingesting them can cause gastrointestinal problems as well as cardiac failure.
Sago Palms – This is a severe one. They contain something called Cycasin which if ingested by dogs or cats can cause severe gastrointestinal problems and haemorrhaging as well as liver failure.
Aloe Vera – This one is surprising because these plants provide so many benefits to humans, however they are toxic to dogs and cats, and can cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested.
Well, that’s my list, and it is really only the tip of the iceberg, so I guess the bottom line is, we have to be a lot more mindful about what kinds of things our pets ingest, which is easier said than done sometimes because pets will instinctively try to ingest whatever they come across that appears to be food, especially dogs.
Here is a link to the ASPCA website which provides more complete lists of things that are toxic to pets, as well as a contact line to phone for advice in case a pet ingests something toxic: ASPCA Animal Poison Control.
photo designs by Kelly Skuse