The commonest one is when your dog takes in medicines intended for humans. Drugs that might be beneficial or even lifesaving for people can have the opposite effect in dogs. And it doesn’t always take a large dose to do major damage. One of the most dangerous human drugs for dogs is the pain killing drug, Ibuprofen, found in many over-the-counter preparations. We are used to taking this drug for our aches and pains but dogs are really sensitive to the drug and can rapidly develop ulcers in the stomach, which may prove fatal! Never give your dog human medicines.
We are all fond of chocolate but it is not good for your dog. Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which contains substances that can be toxic to dogs especially caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these two ingredients can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems or even fits.
- Milk Chocolate is the least dangerous although mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity will occur when two ounces per pound of body weight is eaten (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
- Dark chocolate is more likely to cause problems especially when it contains over 80% chocolate. Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight is ingested. Severe toxicity occurs when one ounce per pound of body weight is eaten (or as little as six ounces of dark chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
- Baking Chocolate and cocoa powder are the most dangerous although these are usually taken in as a result of scavenging rather than being offered to the dog. As little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.1 ounce per pound of body weight).
Other common foods that are surprisingly toxic to dogs are grapes and raisins. Although the exact substance that causes a toxic reaction is not known, dogs should not eat grapes and raisins because even small amounts can be fatally toxic for a dog. Dogs of any age, breed, or gender may be affected as the toxin causes acute (sudden onset) kidney failure. Kidney failure is not seen in all dogs after ingestion of grapes or raisins, and the reason why some dogs are affected while others are not is still being studied. The initial clinical signs are vomiting and/or diarrhoea, often within a few hours. Around 24 hours after ingestion, vomit and faecal contents may contain pieces of grapes or raisin.
Apart from grapes, a surprising number of human foods can cause problems including avocados. They contain a substance called persin that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Even macadamia nuts can be toxic. Xylitol is a sweetener found in many “sugar free” products that can cause problems in dogs including a rapid drop in blood sugar or even seizures.
Antifreeze is another common form of poisoning in dogs. Dog will readily lick the antifreeze dripping from a car’s radiator or from spillage when changing the radiator coolant fluid. It is the toxin, ethylene glycol that makes antifreeze lethal. Dogs will consume significant quantities of ethylene glycol before being repulsed by its aftertaste. By then, it is too late. It doesn’t take a significant amount of ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to the system and kidney failure; less than three ounces (or 88 ml) of antifreeze is sufficient to poison a medium-sized dog. Antifreeze poisoning affects the brain, liver, and kidneys.
So beware, our environment is not as safe and cosy as we might believe!