Foods to Worry About


Joey is profoundly good at the “Martian Mind Meld.”

It’s a technique that all dogs use: the plaintive big, eyed stare, sometimes accompanied by the muzzle on the knee or the gentle scratch of a paw. It’s focus is to bring a human with food into sharing it with dog.

Joey is astoundingly good at motivating otherwise intelligent people into instant action when he fixes them with his silent stare.
I’d prefer that they not respond.  Every response makes his focus stronger and longer.  But what worries me more is the tendency some people have of sharing everything with him, no matter what it is.

Here are some examples:

  • Alcohol – is a poison that can cause coma and death
  • Bones that have been cooked – cooking makes bones brittle. Splintered bones can make holes in the digestive tract or throat.
  • Bread dough – can cause a bloated belly, disorientation and vomiting
  • Chocolate – According to Michael Richards, DVM, it takes a fair amount of milk chocolate to poison a dog or cat. An entire box of them left in reach will cause diarrhea at the least in bigger pets while it could kill smaller ones. Signs of chocolate poisoning include excitement, an increased need to urinate, muscle tremors and a rapid heart rate. The guide that Dr. Richards uses for determining dangerous levels is  1ounce / pound of body for milk chocolate; 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for semi-sweet chocolate and 1 ounce / 9 pounds of body weight for baker’s chocolate.
  • Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages: these affect a dog’s heart and nervous system and can be toxic. Caffeine is an example of a xanthine compound. Xanthines can affect the central nerovous system, the cardiovascular system and the peripheral nerves. They also have a diuretic effect. (Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a xanthine compound.
  • Citrus oil extracts – cause vomiting
  • Grapes and raisins – According to information cited by Dr. Richards, symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure began within 24 hours of dogs eating between 9 ounces and  two pounds or grapes or raisins. (This is roughly a half to a full ounce per kilogram o the dog’s weight.He added that he has routinely fed his dogs a few grapes every now and then for years without problems.
  • Ibuprofen – may smell sweet to a dog.  Too much can make holes in the dog’s stomach and slow blood flow to the kidneys
  • Macademia nuts – have unknown toxins like grapes and raisins
  • Mushrooms – can result in shock or death, depending on the type of mushroom
  • Onions and garlic – raw, cooked or powdered in large enough quantities can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. As with other dangerous foods, the amount that is dangerous depends on the dog’s size and constitution.
  • Xylitol – a sugar-alcohol sweetener found in sugar-free candy and chewing gum  It can cause liver damage, seizures, lethargy and weakness if a dog eats too much

According to the ASPCA, the top 10 pet poisons in 2009 were:

  1. Human medications
  2. Insecticides
  3. People food
  4. House plants
  5. Veterinary medications
  6. Rodent-killing poisons
  7. Household cleaners
  8. Heavy metals
  9. Garden products, and
  10. Chemical hazards such as antifreeze, paint thinner or pool and spa chemicals.

I try to keep Joey’s food very regular in amount, timing and type. Deviations from his regular diet often have messy consequences. He’s very sensitive to fatty foods like cheese or chicken skin. Spicy foods can be a problem. As for sugar, I don’t even believe that it’s good for me; I certainly don’t want Joey to have it.

National Animal Poison Control Center, 1 (888) 426-4435.  This line is answered 24 hours a day