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Human Food that's Deadly for Pets

By Linda Cole

If you want a pet to pay attention to you, make yourself something to eat. Some pet owners don't think twice about tossing their dog or cat a bite of human food, but giving them the wrong food can be deadly for them. With Christmas and New Year's comes extra food sitting around for pets to discover when no one's watching.

As responsible pet owners, I’m sure most of you know that some human food can be extremely dangerous for your pets. However, it's always worth putting out a reminder when holiday plans and family gatherings can take our attention away from our pets. This list is by no means a complete list of human food pets shouldn't eat. Keep your pet safe by making sure they don't have access to food sitting out that's meant for company, and make sure guests don't toss your begging pet a “treat.”

Grapes and raisins are healthy snacks for us, and many homes have fruit bowls set out over the holidays for family and guests. Raisins are in cookies, fresh salads and in other recipes. Grapes and raisins are not a healthy food for pets, however, and just a few can cause their kidneys to fail. It's not known why pets can't handle these foods, but what scientists do know is that grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that can cause pets to become hyperactive and vomit. These symptoms are early signs that can indicate your pet needs immediate vet care.

Candy, commercial desserts and cookies containing Xylitol, a natural sweetener used in these products, can increase a pet's insulin causing their blood sugar to drop. If left untreated, liver failure is possible within two days.

Yeast dough. Inside a pet's stomach, raw yeast dough will continue to rise because of the heat and moisture. It ferments in their gastrointestinal tract and causes their abdomen to swell. As the yeast rises, it turns into alcohol which can then cause a pet to suffer from alcohol poisoning.

Turkey skin, fat trimmings and cooked bones should be avoided completely. Fat trimmings and turkey skin should never be given to pets raw or cooked because the fat can cause pancreatitis. Bloody stools, vomit, diarrhea or dehydration are symptoms to watch out for. Cooked bones can splinter easily as pets chew on them and lacerate the digestive system or get caught in their throat or mouth.

Raw eggs can destroy an essential B vitamin called thiamine. An absence of vitamin B can cause neurological problems and skin conditions. Raw eggs can also contain salmonella and e-coli that can cause severe health concerns for pets.

Chocolate toxicity increases over the holidays. The treats and desserts that give us comfort and joy can cause an abnormal heart rate in pets. Too much chocolate can give them tremors and seizures. How much chocolate is too much? It depends on the size of your pet, their health and age, and if it's dark or white chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the deadlier it is for pets. Read Chocolate Toxicity in Pets for more information.

Nutmeg and salt. Nutmeg causes seizures and tremors, and can cause pets to hallucinate. How and why it does is still a mystery. A pet that has gotten into a bag of potato chips or pretzels can be at risk for sodium ion poisoning, and it can be fatal.

Macadamia nuts and walnuts can cause bladder stones because they are high in phosphorous. These innocent nuts can also cause muscle tremors, increased heart rate and paralysis or weakness in a pet's hindquarters.

Alcohol poisoning in pets is common and increases over the holidays with more drinks sitting around for them to find. Depending on the size of the pet, even a small amount can be deadly for them. Giving a pet a drink of any alcoholic beverage is not funny or cute. It's dangerous and can put a pet into a coma and cause death. For more information, read Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs.

People who say their pet was fine after eating chocolate or a few grapes, and continue to feed them foods that pets shouldn’t eat, are playing Russian roulette with their pet's health. So much of our food contains hidden ingredients we don't think about. Read labels carefully before sharing anything with your pet. Your best bet is to feed them their regular CANIDAE or FELIDAE food before holiday gatherings, and keep a watchful eye on them during the festivities. Also, please remember to keep pets out of the trash can. Moldy food and coffee grounds are also human foods pets shouldn't eat and once they're in the trash, we forget about them. Emergency phone numbers should include your veterinarian and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 1-888-426-4435.

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