It is common knowledge that foods such as dark chocolate, alcohol, raw fish, mushrooms, raisins, grapes, and raw bread dough can be toxic to dogs. While cats are less likely to eat something they shouldn’t, onions, garlic, and moldy food are also toxic to cats. If your pet eats any of these, get him immediate medical attention.
Yards and gardens can also be potentially hazardous to pets. Eating poisonous plants is the number two toxin for cats, and ranks in the top five for dogs. It won’t harm dogs and cats to nibble on weeds or grass (unless it’s been chemically treated); however, it’s important to learn what grows in your yard and surrounding neighborhood to help keep your pets safe as pets don’t know which plants they should avoid. A list of plants which are toxic to cats and dogs is available at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/
Dogs and cats instinctively know eating grass will induce vomiting and ease their troubled tummy. Watch for prolonged vomiting, as this can indicate a much more serious condition, such as an obstruction—dirty socks, rocks, toys, or lingerie. If you suspect your pet has eaten any these, even before symptoms appear, consult with your vet right away.
What symptoms should I watch for?
- Heavy panting or breathing
- Appearance of gagging
- Eating grass
- Avoiding food
- Bad breath
- A tender midsection
- Difficulty defecating
Why do pets eat foreign objects?
No one really knows for sure. Some suggest the dog is just hungry or bored. Others say the object may just smell good. Some objects, like dirty socks, can be especially appealing to dogs because they smell like a family member.
Lance Weekes, DVM, Cherry Valley Veterinary Hospital, reports dogs often ingest foreign objects. He says it’s not uncommon for dogs to eat stuff toys, lingerie, or rags. Weekes says he even took twelve pacifiers out of a dog during surgery.
What can we do?
- Make sure everything in the house is picked up and out of your pet’s eating range. And since it’s impossible to second-guess what your pet might see as interesting, remove everything!
- Just in case boredom is a factor, increase your pet’s play and walk time.
- Make sure your pet is getting enough food for his weight and size. He may just be hungry.
- Introduce new toys as a distraction.
- If your cat or dog has access to your entire yard, be careful when putting anything on your lawn. Weed killers should also be used with your pet’s safety in mind. Make sure to keep cats or dogs off any lawn which has been treated. Pets can still pick up chemicals from a treated lawn on their paws which can be ingested when they clean themselves.
- If your pet does eat a toxic plant, try to identify what part of the plant they ate and how much of it. Share this knowledge with your vet.
Finally, if you suspect your pet has eaten something he shouldn’t, watch his symptoms carefully. It could mean saving your best buddy’s life.
Advice from this column is not a substitute for professional medical attention. Please contact your own veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have eaten something other than their own food. Questions for future blogs can be submitted to Dr. Melissa.
Do you have tips you’d like to share for keeping your pet safe? We’d love to hear from you