Sharing your favorite food with your pet is not always a good idea, even though you might think that what’s safe for humans should be safe for animals too. (Some vegetarians may be tempted to apply their food choices to their dogs, but as veterinarians have more access to studies that link pet illness to food choices, more and more pet owners are also aware that certain vegetables can actually kill pets when they ingest them.)
That is not always the case, as certain foods we love tend to create different responses when ingested by our animal best friends. Here are some of the more common misconceptions about the relationship between human foods and dogs.
How can such a delicious food be a poison for your animal best friend? It turns out that cocoa, which today make up almost 70% of chocolates, can cause kidney failures, irregular heartbeats, and even death when ingested by dogs. The dosage has often something to do with the dog’s weight: The smaller the dog, the more toxic the dosage of chocolate even if ingested in small amounts. This does not mean that bigger dogs can get away with chocolates: They can be at risk as dark chocolates of today tend to have higher cocoa contents than in the past.
Surely a piece of cookie won’t hurt a dog. Apparently, it might. A sweetener derived from sugar alcohol, xylitol is present even in sugar-free cookies. Even if ingested in relatively small amounts, xylitol may cause seizures, low blood sugar, liver failure, and eventually death. The effects of xylitol can be swift – as early as 30 minutes after ingestion or up to 12 hours – so if you suspect xylitol poisoning, bring your pet to the vet right away as delaying it can be fatal.
Avocado has this healthy reputation among human consumers who are not allergic to it. For animals, however, persin – which can be found in leaves, bark, seeds and fruits – is harmful to dogs in particular in large amounts. As dogs explore with their mouths, keep an eye out for your pooch if you have avocado growing in your yard.
Unlike avocado, the red fruit appears to be safe for dog consumption, but the stems, leaves and unripe fruit are not. Dogs have to eat plenty of these plant parts for the tomato to cause upset stomach to the pooch, but if you have a veggie garden at home, you may want to stake it well to keep the dogs out.
Milk and milk products
It’s not uncommon for pet owners to feed their dogs milk and milk products like ice cream (especially on a hot day), but dogs (as well as cats) can be lactose intolerant too. The allergy will manifest as itchiness or diarrhea or other forms of digestive upset, so rein in that urge to give your dog a lick of creamy goodness.
Because of the dogs’ status in our homes, we often forget that what works well for us may not really work well for this beloved member of the family. As always, if in doubt, consult with your veterinarian especially when it comes to what you put in your dog’s mouth.