Sometimes Fido and Whiskers can be wily and get into things without their humans' permission. Other times pet parents might give their animals something without knowing it's harmful. I once had a beagle that got into absolutely everything. Once, he pulled my then-boyfriend's laptop bag off the table, opened the zipped compartment with his teeth, and ate an entire bag of chocolate-chip cookies.
You likely know that chocolate is bad for dogs, and we had to make a few calls to the emergency vet to see if our dog had eaten enough chocolate for it to be dangerous. Luckily, Cash's appetite for cookies only resulted in an upset stomach. "There are some basic human foods you may already know dogs shouldn’t eat like chocolate or caffeine, but the list of human foods (or beverages) that could potentially be lethal to man’s best friend is much longer than that," the Family Center for Recovery shared in a new study. "Fruits and vegetables like onions, garlic, and grapes can lead to blood cell damage or kidney failure. While researchers are still unsure why, even just one raisin can be severely toxic to dogs." This is why you should never give these potentially dangerous items to your pets.
1. Raisins & Other Surprising Foods Pose A Big Risk
Once when I was out of town, my best friend was watching my dog. During one of their walks, BiBi ate a raisin, which resulted in an emergency trip to the vet where they induced vomiting. While this might sound like an overreaction, just one raisin or grape can be toxic to a dog. "While the toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, it can cause kidney failure in sensitive individuals," the website Vet Now noted. "Dogs that already have underlying health problems are at greatest risk and just one raisin can be severely toxic. Experts agree that there is no 'safe' dose of grapes and raisins." Other foods you should never give your pets include onions, garlic, chives, citrus, and nuts.
2. Pets Prefer To Be Sober
Pets don't need alcohol to have a good time. A tennis ball or a string toy will do just fine. It's actually really dangerous for your furry friends to drink. "Significantly more toxic to pets than to humans, even the smallest bit of alcohol in dogs can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and even death," the Family Center for Recovery explained in the study. "Dogs aren’t alone. Many of these same foods (including alcohol) have the same effects on cats." If you really want to have a drink with your dog, a bar in London has an alcohol-free, dog-safe cocktail menu. Your dog or cat is also perfectly happy with plain old water.
3. Over-The-Counter Medications
Dogs and cats have different bodies than humans, which means their systems react differently to things that are totally fine for their pet parents to take. Before you give your pet any type of over-the-counter medication, it's important to talk to you vet because some seemingly harmless meds can be fatal to animals. According to the study, almost 22 percent of those surveyed said their pets had ingested OTC medications. If your pet takes you meds without your permission, make sure you call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline ASAP.
4. Canines & Cats Should Be Caffeine Free
OK, on two separate occasions I left a cup of coffee on a low table and my dog drank it. While she was totally fine, if your dog or cat helps itself to your coffee, tea, or soda, you'll need to monitor them closely to ensure they don't need medical attention. Usually, a small amount won't harm your pets, but if your dog or cat ingests a large amount of caffeine, and exhibits hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, or collapses, the Pet Poison Helpline advises getting them to the vet right away.
5. Dogs Are Not Down With Chocolate
That beagle I had that ate the cookies? He also helped himself to an entire bag of chocolate-covered caramels, wrappers and all. Cue the emergency vet hotline. Over the course of life with this dog, we learned that not all ingestion of chocolate causes permanent damage to dogs. If you dog gets into chocolate, the Pet Poison Helpline noted that baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder pose the biggest risks to your pooch. And, the more chocolate your dog eats, the greater the risk. "Common signs of poisoning, especially in dogs, include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, an abnormal heart rhythm, [and] seizures," the Pet Poison Helpline explained on its website. "Dogs make up 95 [percent] of all our chocolate cases, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat chocolate."
6. Avoid Giving Pets Avocados
I actually didn't know about this one. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, just because you love smashing that avocado toast doesn't mean it's OK to share it with your pet. While avocados are not necessarily poisonous to cats and dogs, they're not great for them either. Other pets can have severe reactions to avocados because they contain a substance called persin. "Pet birds should never be fed avocado, as canaries, parakeets, cockatiels, and large parrots are extremely susceptible to persin toxicity." Instead of avocado, give Polly a cracker instead.
7. Keep Flowers Away From Fido & Felines
My cat Teddy loves nothing more than snacking on a fresh bouquet of flowers, which is why I generally don't keep plants in the house. A lot of seemingly harmless plants are actually toxic to cats and dogs, and you can see the entire list on the Pet Poison Helpline's website. To be on the safe side, always keep plants and flowers on a high shelf where your pets can reach them.
8. Don't Mix Your Animals' Meds
If your kitty has fleas, and you've got some of Fido's leftover flea medication, it might seem totally fine to give it to your cat. Don't do it. Flea medication for dogs contains a chemical called pyrethrin that's actually deadly for cats. "In cats, signs of poisoning include profuse drooling, vomiting, tremoring, hyper excitability, agitation, seizures, weakness, and difficulty breathing," the Pet Poison Helpline noted. If you do give your cat your dog's flea meds by mistake, give your cat a bath right away and then take them to the vet. Untreated, this type of poisoning can be fatal. If you live in a building that's regularly treated for pests, make sure to ask about the chemicals being used so you don't accidentally poison your pets.
9. Spiders Can Spell Trouble For Pets
Obviously, you're probably not going to *feed* your dog or cat spiders. But, if your pets are like mine, they're pretty good bug busters. When my dogs or cats come upon a spider, they bat it around and try to eat it. As soon as I notice their new playmate, I confiscate it immediately. However, despite our best efforts, my roommate's dog did get bit by a spider last summer. His face swelled up something fierce, which required an emergency trip to the vet. "As most people cannot identify (nor safely do so!) spiders, it’s best to prevent pet access to them," the Pet Poison Helpline explained. "If you see your dog or cat playing with a spider, simply remove your pet from the area and monitor him or her for clinical signs. Move the spider to a new, environmentally-friendly location." I suggest the toilet.
Basically, cats and dogs are like toddlers who don't wear diapers, can run and jump, and are allowed to stay home alone, which gives them ample opportunity to get into things they shouldn't. And, like their human-baby counterparts, they count on their parents to keep them safe. Make sure you don't leave anything lying around that could be harmful to your pets. If an accident does happen, I've definitely had my share, don't panic. Nine times out of 10 your pet will be just fine. Call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline to determine the best course of action for keeping your fur bay safe and secure.