Top 11 Common Household Items Toxic to Dogs

Have you just seen your pet wolfing down something out of the corner of your eye, but you aren’t sure what it was because they’d swallowed it by the time you managed to wrestle their mouth open? Our blog can help you know what to keep an eye out for in particular!

At Felcana, we know and understand all too well the worrying feeling dog owners like you feel when your mischievous pup has managed to get their jaws on something they shouldn’t have. Below, we have compiled a short guide on a few common household items toxic to dogs, that have been known to cause dog poisoning. You may or may not have heard about some of these! 

Our list will cover many dog poisons, from alcohol, avocados, grapes, onions, chocolate and yeast dough. We will also address dog poisoning symptoms from foods like macadamia nuts and sugar-free products, such as chewing gum or peanut butter, and the effects of bones, sweetcorn and high-fat foods on your dog’s digestive system. Other unassuming but dangerous items you might have lying around the house that will cause severe dog poisoning, such as anti-freeze and rat poison, are also on this list.

11 most toxic foods for dogs including chocolate, alcohol and avocados

 

These are just a few poisonous ingredients your pup may be exposed to, so for a more comprehensive guide on poisonous foods and toxins for dogs, and what signs you should look out for, you can check out Pet Poison Helpline.

 

1. Chocolate, Coffee and Tea

Chocolate, coffee and tea all contain high levels of chemicals called methylxanthines, such as caffeine and theobromine. But is caffeine poisonous to dogs? In short, yes it is - we delve into why and how in our article about tea for dogs. When dogs get into your chocolate stash, the chemicals in it can have detrimental effects.

Symptoms to look out for which could indicate coffee or chocolate poisoning in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Seizures or other neurological signs

Chocolate ingestion in dogs may also be fatal in some cases. The highest levels of theobromine are found in baking chocolate and dark chocolate, whereas white chocolate has the lowest level. However, this does not mean white chocolate is safe for your dog, as any amount of theobromine is dangerous. Additionally, white chocolate tends to be high in fat content and may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). 

 

2. Xylitol

Xylitol is used to replace sugar in many human products, such as in sugar-free gum, toothpaste and diet foods. As a chemical, xylitol is very similar in its molecular structure to sugar, so it triggers the same release of insulin in dogs as sugar does. Insulin encourages the storage of the sugar, glucose. The release of insulin triggered by xylitol ingestion can lead to dangerously low levels of glucose in the blood. Both dogs and humans are sensitive to rapid changes in blood glucose levels, but dogs are more sensitive to xylitol than most animals.

Signs of poisoning in dogs to look out for:

  • Sudden collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Xylitol has also been shown to cause acute liver disease, which can lead to problems with blood clotting in dogs, and can be fatal.

Amount of xylitol that is toxic to dogs according to bodyweight 

Here is a video explaining in more detail how xylitol affects dogs.

 

3. Grapes and Raisins

Whilst the exact toxic chemical in grapes remain unknown, their toxic effects on dogs are well documented. You might wonder, if grapes are dangerous, are raisins toxic to dogs too? Both grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs, and cause kidney damage, and even kidney failure. Dogs already suffering from underlying health problems are more greatly affected than those without. As both grapes and raisins are toxic, there is no minimal dose for ingestion that won’t have toxic effects on your dog.

Dog poisoning symptoms you should look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Decreased urine production

 

4. Onions, Chives and Garlic

Onions, chives and garlic contain the toxic chemical, thiosulphate, that causes oxidative damage to your dog’s red blood cells. This damage to the red blood cells results in haemolytic anaemia, which can present as pale gums and discoloured urine. Signs of onion and/or garlic toxicity can present over the course of several days, so watch out for these key signs in the days following ingestion.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain 

 

5. Anti-Freeze Poisoning

Anti-freeze is one of the most common household items toxic to dogs. The active ingredient in anti-freeze products, ethylene glycol, is extremely potent and causes severe dog poisoning. As little as one tablespoon of this sweet-tasting, odourless chemical can be potentially fatal to your dog. Ethylene glycol is broken down by the liver into the toxic by-products that severely damages your dog’s kidneys. Ethylene glycol poisoning symptoms show within 30 minutes to 12 hours.

Signs of poisoning to look out for between 8-12 hours following ingestion:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Decreased co-ordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive drinking and urination

If you think your dog has ingested anti-freeze, it is important to get them to treated immediately as the antidote, fomepizole, is only effective if given within 8-12 hours after the ingestion of ethylene glycol.

 Signs of ethylene glycol poisoning 36-72 hours after ingestion:

  • Painful kidneys
  • Decreased urination
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Inappetance
  • Progressive depression
  • Sudden death

This is because the toxic by-products of ethylene glycol will have had time to accumulate in your dog’s blood and cause severe kidney failure.

Summary of the three stages of anti-freeze poisoning in dogs and signs to look out for

 

 

6. Rat poison

Rat poison contains highly toxic chemicals to kill your unwanted pests. However, these chemicals are also toxic to your dog should your dog happen to scavenge some whilst out on a walk with you.

Key signs to look out for:

  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Pale gums
  • Nose bleeds
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased co-ordination
  • Depression
  • Easily bruising
  • Blood in urine or faeces

If your dog does show any of these signs, bring them to your vets straight away as they need immediate treatment and, depending on the quantity they ingested, possibly a blood transfusion.

 

7. Slug pellets

Slug pellets contain an active ingredient, metaldehyde, that is poisonous to dogs. Signs of slug pellet toxicity can rapidly develop within an hour of ingestion. If your dog is a known scavenger and may have had access to slug pellets, watch out for these key symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Excessive salivation
  • Joint stiffness
  • Decreased co-ordination
  • Tremors

Slug pellet toxicity can be fatal, and there is no antidote, so if your dog is showing some of the above symptoms, you should immediately take your dog to the vet. Your vet will initially attempt to decrease the amount of metaldehyde absorbed from your dog’s stomach by inducing vomiting in your dog, followed by administering activated charcoal. Your pet may also need a gastric lavage depending on the quantity of slug pellet ingested.

 

8. Avocado

As much as we love eating avocados for their taste and associated health benefits, avocados and dogs are not a good match. The poisonous chemical, persin, is found not just in the fruit and seed of an avocado but also in its leaves. If you have unknowingly fed your dog avocado treats, watch out for signs of vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

9. Macadamia nuts

Whilst the exact toxin in macadamia nuts is unknown, the symptoms of macadamia nut toxicity can start showing within 12 hours of ingestion.

Signs to look out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Joint stiffness
  • Weakness in your dog’s back legs

The symptoms of dog poisoning from macadamia nuts lasts from 12 to 48 hours, but the sensitivity of your dog to macadamia nuts varies from individual to individual, so you should always let your vet know the quantity of nuts your dog has ingested if possible!

 

10. Alcohol

The effects of alcohol in humans is both well known and well documented. However, the effects of alcohol in dogs is not as amusing. Alcohol is toxic to dogs, if in small quantities, and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and even death, in dogs.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Decreased co-ordination
  • Depression of central nervous system
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sudden death

 

11. Yeast Dough

Yeast dough may be harmless in itself, but once your dog has eaten raw yeast dough, the yeast will continue to rise in your dog’s stomach, and ferment and release gas. This gas will build up in your dog’s intestines, which is very painful and causes your dog to bloat. Large amounts of accumulated gas in your dog’s intestines may cause their intestines to twist, and can lead to life-threatening problems such as gastro-dilation volvulus (GDV), especially if your dog is deep-chested (e.g. Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners). Not only this, but the fermentation of yeast produces ethanol as a by-product, which can also cause your dogs to also show signs of alcohol poisoning.

 

Unsafe Foods for Your Dog

These foods, although not directly toxic to dogs, can have less than ideal implications on your dog's health and should be avoided. 

The top 3 most unsafe foods for your dog such as corn on the cob

 

 

1. Bones

Although bones may not be toxic to dogs, both raw and cooked bones can cause damage to your dog’s intestines. Cooked bones are more easily chewed into smaller pieces to be eaten by your dog, but both small and large pieces of bone can obstruct or even perforate your dog’s intestines, which could be fatal. If you are worried that your dog might have a blocked or perforated intestine, then look out for these signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Sudden collapse

 

2. Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob may be healthy and delicious, but it is not well digested in both humans and dogs. As a result, if your dog has ingested corn on the cob (partially or as a whole), it could cause a blockage in your dog’s intestines. If you are worried about your dog, you should watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhoea
  • Not producing faeces

 

3. High-fat foods

Whilst high-fat foods may not be poisonous to your dog, sudden large quantities of high fat meals can create potentially life-threatening problems for dogs, in the form of pancreatitis. The high levels of fat are thought to trigger pancreatitis, where the digestive enzymes are activated too early within the pancreas, instead of later in the small intestine. Symptoms of pancreatitis to look out for are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inappetance
  • Lethargy
  • Hunched back
  • Painful and distended abdomen

If your dog is showing these symptoms, you should take them to your vet, where they will be able to make a more accurate assessment and provide the necessary supportive treatment.

 

What should I do if I think my dog has eaten one of these items?

If you are worried that your dog has ingested any of these household items toxic to dogs, make sure to call your vet or take them to see your vet immediately. These situations may be very concerning - we've been there and completely understand! You can use Felcana’s soon to be launched mobile app to track your dog’s symptoms, or our upcoming instant online chat-based telemedicine service to help triage your dog, identify if they ingested a toxin, and what it might have been. Treatment will depend on what your dog has eaten, and quick management is essential in a lot of toxin cases.

 

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