Sure, we’ve all heard that chocolate is bad for dogs. But did you know that of the more than 180,000 poisoning cases handled by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the #1 culprit was human medications? Medications left out on low nightstands may look like treats to dogs or cats. There are many substances around your house that are dangerous and even toxic for dogs, so let’s take a look at some common household poisons for dogs aside from medications:
Xylitol (In Your Peanut Butter?)
Xylitol is found naturally in some fruits, vegetables, and trees, and is a widely used sugar substitute. It’s become more common over recent years to use xylitol in products, including peanut butter, but xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, or even death in some dogs. If you use peanut butter as treat for your dog, read the label to be sure that it does not contain xylitol.
Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Some researchers suspect that a mycotoxin, a toxic substance produced by a fungus or mold, may be the reason, while others suspect a chemical in the grape called salicylate may decrease blood flow to the kidneys. While you probably wouldn’t think to offer a grape or raisin to your dog, be sure to also keep him away from trail mix, cereals, or baked goods that contain raisins. If your dog begins vomiting within 24 hours of eating anything with grapes or raisins, call your vet.
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is poisonous to dogs and potentially deadly. The amount of toxicity depends on the weight and health of your dog, but the larger the dose ingested, the greater the risk of liver damage. Very high doses have been shown to damage red blood cells.
We know chocolate is bad for dogs, but why? Chocolate contains theobromine, plus caffeine. Dogs can’t metabolize theobromine and caffeine as well as people can, which makes them more sensitive to the chemicals’ effects. The darker the chocolate is, the more concentrated the theobromine is and the more toxic it is for dogs. Small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
Ethylene glycol is a sweet-tasting, odorless liquid that’s the active ingredient in many automotive antifreeze products, and dogs can be attracted to its sweet taste. If you spill antifreeze or it leaks from your car onto the driveway or floor of your garage, your dog may lap it up. But just a very small amount can result in severe poisoning. Signs of early poisoning include excessive thirst, loss of coordination and lethargy. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms improve because internal damage is already occurring that could result in acute kidney failure if left untreated.
Pyrethrin insecticides in some over-the-counter dog products
Ironically, some over-the-counter flea shampoos and topical flea and tick preventative products are toxic to dogs if they contain pyrethrin, and the same goes for some home and garden insecticides. Symptoms will usually develop within an hour if a dog has ingested pyrethrin, and may include excessive drooling, hacking, vomiting, loss of appetite, agitation, and tremors. Signs of a reaction to a topical flea or tick product include itching, trying to bite at the location or rolling on it, and restlessness.
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