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Ingestion Emergencies: 4 Items Your Dog Should Not Eat

Jack - AndreaDogs love to eat things they shouldn’t. Tasty morsels dropped from the table, interesting rocks in the yard, a particularly smelly sock: they’re all delicacies to our canine friends. But what actually constitutes an emergency vet visit at 10pm on Christmas Eve?

Onions
Most dogs will avoid eating a pungent piece of onion, but when they do ingest it, it can cause major issues for their little bodies. Thiosulphate is the ingredient in onions that is responsible for causing a condition called “hemolytic anemia”. This type of anemia means the body begins to destroy red blood cells, causing symptoms like dyspnea (difficulty breathing), lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms won’t appear right away and can take up to four days to appear.

Unfortunately, onions in either form (raw or cooked) are toxic to dogs in very small doses. If your pet has eaten any amount of onion, take them into the veterinarian right away. Remember, too, that certain processed foods contain onions. Foods like marinara sauce, Chinese food, and baby foods all contain onions. The best way to prevent onion ingestion is if you’re cooking with onions, take them outside to your trash. Avoid leaving them in the kitchen trash can, especially if your dog is a trash digger.

Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins in any amount can be toxic to dogs, causing severe damage to their kidneys. There isn’t a set amount that is toxic to dogs; it really varies on the dog and their personal metabolism. Veterinary experts aren’t sure what it is in grapes that causes the renal failure or why small amounts affect some dogs while larger amounts don’t affect others. Veterinarians have cases of dogs eating grapes and suffering no ill effects and then come in a few months later very ill after another ingestion episode.

Because so much about grape toxicity isn’t understood, it’s best to take your dog to the vet immediately if he’s eaten grapes or raisins. Vomiting and diarrhea usually present within 12 hours of ingestion and, as time goes on, they become lethargic, dehydrated, and show a significant increase then slow decrease in urine output (meaning their kidneys are losing function). Death can occur in three to four days; if your dog is lucky enough to survive, their kidneys can have suffered severe and irreparable damage.

Moldy Foods
Also known as “garbage gut”, dogs who have feasted on trash can become very ill, especially if there was moldy food in that trash they just ate. Certain types of mold produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins that can lead to severe neurological deficits like muscle tremors, full-body tremors, and even severe seizures. If the symptoms don’t progress into seizures, the muscle and body tremors can last for weeks at a time. If your pet gets into the garbage, snacks on roadkill, or fallen fruit/nuts, call your veterinarian for further instructions.

Rat Poison
Without question, if your dog ingests ANY amount of rat or mouse poison, they need to be taken into your veterinarian. Call to let them know you’re on your way and if possible, bring the package to the veterinarian so they can determine proper treatment.

Keeping your dog out of trouble can be like keeping a toddler out of harm’s way, but knowing what’s toxic to your dog and what is considered a true ingestion emergency can go a long way towards keeping your dog safe and saving yourself thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Information credit to Central Animal Emergency Clinic, a Coquitlam animal hospital.

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