Seeing your furry friend happy is one of the best feelings in the world, and when that kind of exuberant happiness is only a french fry away, what’s the harm?
Goodies. Table scraps. Doggie bags. People food. Leftovers. Whatever slang your household uses, your pet most likely has a forbidden love with “real” food. We all do it. Whether you’re the type to serve up a plate of turkey to the cat during the holidays or sneak your peas under the table to the dog at dinner time, we can all relate to giving in to a good furry beggar every so often. But at what point could that special treat become dangerous or even life threating? Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered! This month’s blog is all about safe and healthy ways to treat your pet, while avoiding harmful, toxic foods.
Whether or not it’s a part of your training program, your pet has probably suckered you into being the official “Dinner Taste Tester” a few more times than any of us would like to admit. While some foods can be completely safe (and even quite beneficial) for cat and dog diets, others don’t measure up to the same standard. Take a look at these top toxins:
Grapes/Raisins can cause sudden kidney failure in cats and dogs. Clinical signs can occur within 24 hours of ingestion including vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Other signs of illness relate to the eventual shutdown of kidney functioning.
Alcohol beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
Chocolate and cocoa contain caffeine and a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine. The combination of theobromine and caffeine causes an increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.
Garlic attacks the red blood cells leading to hemolytic anemia and Heinz body anemia. Clinical signs of garlic ingestion can include vomiting, blood in urine, weakness, high heart rate, and panting.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener most commonly found in gum, pudding, protein powder, and some peanut butters. Xylitol ingestion can cause low blood sugar and liver injury. Clinical signs of low blood sugar include weakness, unsteadiness, shaking and seizures. Liver injury may include symptoms of a decrease in appetite, lethargy, yellowing of the skin, vomiting and diarrhea.
Now that you’re in the know, make sure to keep these dangerous foods out of reach and pick up any droppings that may have escaped your cutting board to avoid an emergency vet visit.
Some foods are not meant for pet consumption because of their harmful side-effects. Luckily, there ARE plenty of human foods that are perfect for pet snacking that mutually benefit their overall health! Check out some of the top contenders in our “furry friendly” line-up:
Carrots – This vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins. Crunching on carrots is great way trim your dog’s waistline and can be beneficial to their oral health!
Blueberries – These colorful, little berries are high in amounts of vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Sources of antioxidants, like blueberries, help strengthen your pup’s immune systems by fighting free radicals naturally.
Peas – A tiny veggie that packs a punch, peas are a great source of protein, iron, zinc, and potassium. They also contain lutein, an antioxidant that supports skin, heart, and eye health. Peas are best fresh, frozen, or thawed, but refrain from feeding canned peas as they are typically high in sodium.
Sweet Potatoes – The most nutritious option in the potato family is equally nutritious for your dog! Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, C, and B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and are a source of natural digestive support.
Peanut Butter – A well-known favorite treat for our canine friends, peanut butter is high in protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin. While usually trustworthy, make sure to check your PB’s ingredient list before feeding to your pup! Some peanut butters contain xylitol, the dangerous artificial sweetener mentioned earlier in this blog. To avoid high sodium or toxic sweeteners altogether, try making your peanut butter at home
Oats – A good source of soluble fiber, oats or oatmeal can be beneficial for some older dogs that may have trouble maintaining bowel regularity. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat, however keep in mind that any oats that are fed should be free from sugar, salt, and artificial flavors.
Salmon – When cooked, salmon is a wonderful source of vitamin B-12, B-6, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to your cat’s eye health. But, please avoid feeding canned or raw salmon! While both are tasty, canned salmon contains high amounts of sodium and raw fish can cause food poisoning-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Green Beans – A tasty, crunchy snack, green beans are rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6. They offer a light source of low-fat proteins which can help an obese cat obtain their weight loss goals.
Cantaloupe – Even though cats can’t taste sweetness, they seem to enjoy cantaloupe from time to time! This melon is high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which helps to maintain healthy feline skin and eyes. Cantaloupe is also filled with water! Feeding a few small chunks to your cat may help to keep them hydrated on hot days.
Pumpkin – This staple autumn food is a great source of fiber, which can aid in constipation in cats. Pumpkin at mealtime may even help prevent painful anal sac problems and help to reduce hairballs. In addition, pumpkin contains zinc, which can help improve a cat’s skin and coat.
Eggs – Cooked eggs, such as scrambled or hard-boiled are high in protein and make an excellent and nutritious treat for a cat. However, feeding raw eggs is highly discouraged as the risk of contracting Salmonella and E. coli is too dangerous.
Cucumber – Despite the internet sensation of cats being frightened by this veggie (if you need a laugh, take a look!), cucumbers can be quite beneficial to your feline. They contain vitamin K and molybdenum, which is crucial for a kitty metabolism.
While the above foods have been veterinarian approved and deemed “non-toxic”, you should always check with your pet’s doctor prior to introducing new treats to their diet. Just like people, dogs and cats are all very different and their gastrointestinal tracts could become upset due to unfamiliar food.
Heart of Chelsea + LES Animal Hospital