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September 01, 2005

Table Scrap Woes

By: Emily Refermat

Puppy eyes are famous for melting the heart and softening the resolve to feed your dog only dog food. Other than slight weight gain, whatís really the harm? Unfortunately, the wrong food can leave your dog violently ill, and ultimately be lethal.

Food Doníts
Most people know that chocolate is bad for their dog. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, chocolate contains the chemical theobromine, which causes much of the adverse reaction dogs have, but it also contains caffeine, which can cause increased heart rate, shaking, seizures and hyperactivity. Anything with caffeine is therefore a ďno-no,Ē when deciding to share your leftovers.

Many pet friends abide by the chocolate rule and even avoid feeding fatty foods, which are just as unhealthy for dogs as they are for humans, but they indulge in sneaking fruits and vegetables to fido under the table. And if you donít like broccoli (and fido does) it sure beats eating it.

Those foods are mostly safe for your dog, but there are some you have to watch out for. Fruits such as grapes, raisins, and avocados (whether considered a fruit or vegetable) are associated with some very unpleasant side effects. Onions too are poisonous, dried or raw. And onions are common to almost every kitchen as an additive to soups, meatloaf or even the end of that sandwich you might be tempted to offer. Another surprising food that causes hind leg weakness is the macadamia nut. But Iím sure not using those as a dog treat isnít bad news, since they are expensive.

What about all those wonderful foods lurking in the garbage you forgot to put away? Did you find Spot guiltily chewing on a foil box that contained last weekís dinner? Besides the fact foil is not an ideal chew toy, the mold on spoiled food can contain toxins and do serious injury to your pet. If this situation occurs, watch your dog carefully to see if he or she shows signs of becoming sick.

What To Do
In all cases where your normally bouncy and happy canine is lethargic, vomiting, shaking uncontrollably, has diarrhea, etc. look for evidence he ate something he shouldnít have. It sounds gross, but donít forget to examine whatís coming out as well. If you see something, take it in a baggy with you to the veterinarian for identification. If you know Fido ate something call your vet. He or she may tell you to induce vomiting (which isnít good in all situations so itís better to check). In case vomiting is whatís called for, make sure you have hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet, which is the preferred method for canine regurgitation.

If itís after hours, most vet clinics have an on-call doctor to answer questions. You can also call the ASPCA at 888-426-4435, but be aware a $50 consultation fee may apply for the service.

If you find yourself staring into hungry eyes with an alert set of ears, stay tough. You know whatís best for your dog, and keep those table scraps on the table to keep your furry friend from feeling under the weather.

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