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All Posts Tagged: Chocolate

Common Kitchen Items that are Toxic to Your Pets!

We just had a client come in to Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital the other night with a common case of toxicity involving a seemingly harmless snack. The owner had been feeding her dog grapes when her friend (thankfully) walked in and informed her that grapes are, in fact, toxic to dogs. We also recently had a dog come in after getting into her owner’s chewing gum stash. Both dogs had to be hospitalized, but happily both are doing just fine now. In both instances the owners asked, “Why didn’t I know that this was toxic to dogs?” The reality is that quite a number of commonly used household items and foods are dangerous if ingested by your pets. So in the interest of public awareness, here’s a list of potentially dangerous items that you may have in your own home. Some of these you might already be aware of — but some will probably surprise you.

Grapes/raisins/currants
These toxins are relatively new toxin discoveries in the veterinary literature. They can cause kidney damage and failure, although the mechanism by which the damage occurs is still unknown at this point. They affect all dogs differently, so the lowest dose for toxicity has not yet been worked out. It’s best not to give your dogs or cats any of these!

Yeast dough
Yeast dough can cause problems for your pet in two different ways. The stomach provides a warm environment for yeast to rise, and this kind of expansion in the stomach can cause a lot of discomfort. In extreme cases, the intestines can rupture. The other harmful effect of yeast is that as it ferments, it produces alcohol, which can actually cause alcohol poisoning — just as liquor would in your pet.

Onions/garlic/chives
These toxins can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in small amounts. Larger amounts can cause damage to red blood cells, causing them to rupture and resulting in anemia, which can in some cases be severe.

Xylitol
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is becoming more and more prevalent in the kitchen. Xylitol is often found in chewing gum and toothpaste and is now also showing up in some baked goods. Its toxicity is unknown in cats, but in dogs it causes low blood sugar in small doses, and liver failure in larger doses.

Macadamia nuts
Signs of macadamia nut toxicity include weakness, depression, tremors, abdominal pain and an elevated temperature. The exact mechanism of toxicity is not fully understood.

Chocolate/coffee
Many people are aware that chocolate and coffee are toxic to pets. Patients with this kind of toxicity present with a really elevated heart rate and can, in severe cases, suffer a heart attack. While many people would not feed their pets coffee, we have had pets come in to Greenbrier with coffee toxicity from getting into coffee grounds in the household compost pile. And when it comes to chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.

All of the above can cause signs ranging from mild irritation and toxicity to more severe symptoms. It’s very important, if you suspect that your pet has gotten into any of the above, that you seek advice from your veterinarian or animal hospital to determine the optimal next steps for your pet. Many times, your vet will recommend that your dog be made to vomit and/or receive supportive care and further decontamination in a veterinary hospital. But the best treatment is prevention! Spread the word!

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Spring Toxins: Cats and Lilies, Dogs and Chocolate

With spring upon us and Easter just behind us, two very common pet toxicities are out in many households: lilies, the number-one cat toxicity, and chocolate, the number-one dog toxicity.

Lily Toxicity in Cats
Lilies can be extremely toxic to cats. The leaves are the most toxic part of the plant, but the stems and flowers are also toxic. Ingestion of even a small amount of the plant can cause severe signs of poisoning. Initially, the cat may vomit, lose its appetite, and or become lethargic or depressed. Without proper veterinary care, these signs will continue to worsen, and the cat will develop kidney failure usually within 36-48 hours. Signs of kidney failure include drinking and urinating more frequently, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Many cats will not survive once they get to this stage, so acting quickly to get them treatment is crucial.

Toxicity and kidney failure have been caused by the following lilies:

• Easter Lily Lilium Longiflorum
• Tiger Lily Lilium Tigrinum
• Rubrum Lily Lilium Speciosum
• Japanese Show Lily Lilium Lancifolium
• Day Lily Hemerocallis Species

Precautions cat owners can take include:

• #1: Do not allow your cat to have access to lilies.

• #2: Should your cat ingest lilies, seek veterinary care immediately. The best results for decontamination are if emergency treatment occurs within 6-8 hours of ingestion. The likely course of action might include inducing vomiting in your cat and administering IV fluids to flush the kidneys.

Chocolate Toxicity
While chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats, most of our chocolate toxicity patients are dogs. Darker and unsweetened chocolate contains more of the toxin theobromide. Toxic doses for a 50-lb. dog would be approximately 48 oz. of milk chocolate, 16 oz. of semisweet chocolate, or 5 oz. of baker’s chocolate (these are approximate doses only — all dogs react differently to chocolate).

Clinical signs of chocolate toxicity usually occur within 1-4 hours after ingestion and include: vomiting; diarrhea; hyperactivity; muscle tremors; elevated heart rate; seizures; and, in severe cases, coma and death. Although there is no antidote to chocolate, the prognosis for survival is usually good with aggressive supportive care initiated within 8 hours of ingestion. Decontamination might include inducing vomiting in your dog/cat, giving your pet activated charcoal to absorb what is left in the GI tract, and IV fluids. So be sure to hide your chocolate from your pets and seek veterinary care as soon as possible should your animal get into your Easter stash.

Happy Spring!!!

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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