Common Summer Food Hazards

July 26, 2016
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In the midst of summer BBQs, weekend picnics, and outdoor activities, it is important that pet owners be aware of common food hazards for their pets. It can be difficult to resist our pets’ tempting eyes as they beg for “human food.” Pet owners may know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but there are other common foods that are delicious for humans can be toxic or harmful for our pets.

barbecuetime600Below are 5 food hazards to avoid to ensure our pet’s safety during summer BBQs:

  • Bones, chicken wings, corn on the cob - Avoid feeding your dog bones or other foods that can cause GI obstruction. Bones or bone fragments can become lodged in your pet’s esophagus, windpipe or stomach. Bones can also cause broken teeth or mouth injuries.
  • Grapes, raisins - Grapes in fruit salad and raisin-containing products like trail mix are toxic to your dog. Even a small amount of grapes or raisins can cause anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea and severe acute kidney failure.
  • Avocado in guacamole - Guacamole is common pairing with chips, but the avocado in it contains a toxin called persin. Pet birds should not be fed avocado because it can cause moderate to severe toxicity. Common signs of toxicity in birds include: inability to perch, difficulty breathing, organ failure, and even death. Avocado can also cause mild toxicity in dogs and cats; signs include vomiting, diarrhea and lack of stool production.
  • Xylitol toxicity - Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is being used in an increasing number of products and foods. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, sugar-free gum is the most common source of xylitol poisoning. More recently, some brands of peanut butter also contain xylitol. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, muscle weakness, difficulty walking and tremors — and they usually begin within 15-30 minutes of consumption. Other products that contain xylitol include: candies, breath mints, baked goods and pudding snacks.
  • Onions, garlic, chives, leeks - These common condiments are all poisonous to both dogs and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning causes damage to red blood cells and anemia. Clinical signs include nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten any amount of a toxin or food hazard, please contact your local veterinarian immediately! Another resource is the Pet Poison Helpline: 800-213-6680.

By Stephanie Lo, Pinole Pet Hospital SWEP Student