Keeping a pet comes with its own set of responsibilities. While regular grooming and occasional health-check-ups are important, ensuring that your pet is given a proper diet is also essential. While there are many dog specific or cat specific meals and treats available to choose from, many times – either for the sake of saving money or for adding variety – we try out other things in our pet’s diet as well. Usually, these do not cause much harm, the most that you can end up with is a pet with an upset stomach. Nevertheless, there are certain pet food items that should never be fed to a cat or dog. Causing serious complications, these things can cause untold misery in the long run.
Foods that should never be fed to a cat or dog include:
A naturally occurring substance, Xylitol is an alcohol that is found in plant material as well as in vegetables and fruits. Xylitol is extracted from the wood of birch trees in order to make medicine.
Xylitol, along with Sorbitol, are the most widely used sugar substitutes in the ‘sugar-free’ variety of candies, mints and chewing gum. Xylitol is added to chewing gums and other dental products as it is believed to prevent dry mouth and tooth decay.
Pet parents of dogs and cats should never let their pets have any product containing Xylitol. Especially in dogs, intake of Xylitol – even in small traces – can cause a sudden drop in the blood sugar levels, liver failure and even death. If your pet has ingested anything that contains Xylitol, take him to the veterinarian at once. Any delay can prove to be fatal for your pet.
Pet parents many times unknowingly cause stomach problems in their pets by feeding them bread. We generally tend to assume that our pet shall thank us for the treat, while, in truth, your dog might be writhing in pain soon after. Many times, a dog might even have an allergic reaction to the wheat in the bread.
Always keep in mind that bread, when fed to a cat or dog, causes the stomach to expand. If not treated promptly, this expansion of the stomach can cause death. When it comes to your pet, bread is not as harmless as it seems.
Macadamia nuts are considered by many to be the world’s most delicious nuts. Full of flavor, these crispy nuts with a buttery taste, are a top favorite when it comes to nuts. Macadamia nuts are cultivated in Australia and Hawaii. A rich source of protein and minerals, Macadamia nuts have found their way into many recipes for roasts, casseroles, salads, cakes, confectionary and ice creams.
Dogs and cats should not be fed Macadamia nuts. In dogs, the intake of these nuts has been reported to cause neurological symptoms which can lead to weakness in the legs as well as tremors.
Garlic, or allium sativum, a herb usually used for adding flavor to food, has also found its place of distinction in the medicinal world as well. Proven to cure many conditions and diseases, Garlic is used both in cooking as well as for its healing properties.
While full of benefits for humans, garlic, when ingested, can cause serious complications in dogs and cats.
For a dog or cat, garlic can be damaging to the red blood cells in the blood. The damage caused can then lead to a stomach upset, severe anemia and even bloody urine.
When it comes to our house pets, the havoc wrecked by chocolate is owing to an alkaloid called Theobromine. Usually found in cocoa beans, Theobromine is also found in cola nuts and tea. Levels of Theobromine are comparatively higher in dark chocolates as compared to milk chocolates.
Theobromine works as a stimulant. With diuretic and relaxing effects, Theobromine lowers the blood pressure as it leads to dilation of the blood vessels.
While safe for humans, Theobromine – if taken in large quantities – can prove fatal for cats and dogs. Reason being that while the humans can metabolize Theobromine in a small amount of time, the bodies of dogs and cats take much longer to break it down. This leads to a toxic build-up in their system. Over a period of time, this can even prove to be fatal. But, for chocolate to be fatal, your dog or cat will have to ingest fairly large quantities of it. No harm in treating your pet to the occasional piece of chocolate.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can be quite toxic for a dog. As raisins are more concentrated, the ingestion of even a small number of raisins can cause the same damage as brought about by a larger number of grapes. Researchers have not conclusively pin-pointed as to what exactly leads to the toxicity in animals, but all do concur that dogs and cats should not be fed grapes or raisins, even in small amounts.
Grape toxicity in dogs and cats leads to:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing problems
- Renal failure
Grapes and raisins can lead to acute kidney failure in pets. Always, store grapes as well as raisins far out of the reach of your pet. Also, ensure that the treats that you give your pet do not contain raisins. Even small traces can be highly toxic for a dog.
Alcohol can be extremely dangerous for a dog. While a simple sip generally does not do too much harm, lapping it out of your glass or cleaning up a spill on the floor, can prove to be fatal. Many pet parents mistakenly assume that beer does no harm, as it contains a mere 3-5 per cent of alcohol. While beer might have lesser alcohol, it is nonetheless toxic enough for a dog.
When you try to visualize the effect that alcohol has on a dog, think of a drunk man. The effects are quite the same. Outwardly, alcohol consumption in a dog leads to slower reflexes, drunken gait and drowsiness. Internally, however, the effects are more intense; causing the blood sugar as well as blood pressure levels to plummet along with a sharp decline in the body temperature, vomiting, seizures and respiratory failure. This can lead to coma and eventually even cause death, if left untreated. If you know your dog has gotten hold of alcohol somehow and appears to be ‘drunk’, so to speak, rush him to the veterinarian without any further delay.
For a pet parent of a cat or dog, being vigilant is the key. Many times, seemingly harmless food items can cause great havoc in a cat or dog. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Many times, it might be too late to cure. Be watchful. Be prompt. Be safe.