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Toxic Foods for Dogs Series: Consumption and Choking Hazards

In this blog series on toxic foods for dogs, we have chronicled actual toxic foods for dogs, and foods that are not so much toxic based upon the definition of toxic. This final blog details foods that often end up on toxic foods for dogs lists, but could cause other health problems due to consumption or pose choking hazards.

With all foods detailed throughout the series, we encourage everyone to know where your local emergency veterinary clinic is and to have the number programmed into your phone.

Consumption

These foods are not necessarily toxic for dogs, but are often listed on toxic food lists. As well, a dog may have an intolerance to the food, so it should be avoided.

Pancreatitis from Consumption of Certain Foods

Fat: Ingesting excessive fat – or for some companion dogs even small amounts of fat from meat or other fatty foods – can cause pancreatitis, which can lead to death. Pancreatitis is treatable if caught early.

White Bread: The sugar and oil in white bread can also cause pancreatitis, if eaten in excess.

Signs of pancreatitis:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort (mild to severe especially after eating)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss (more common in cats)

Milk and Dairy

Dogs can have small amounts of milk and cheese, so long as they do not have an intolerance to it. The main concern is that a dog might develop a food sensitivity or lactose intolerance to dairy fairly quickly.

Due to the sugar content in ice cream, it should not be given to dogs. The one exception to this is with dogs who may experience seizures. As soon as your companion dog can safely swallow, a SMALL amount of preservative-free, all-natural vanilla ice cream helps to raise the blood sugar level, and the cold can possibly stop or slow the pacing of the seizure. The reason for using ice cream is that the fat holds the sugar in suspension so that the sugar doesn’t hit the system all at once and cause a rebound reaction.

Signs of dairy intolerance due to excessive consumption or intolerance:

  • Diarrhea
  • Other digestive upset
  • Vomiting

Choking Hazard

Cooked Bones

Cooked bones can splinter because they are brittle, can tear the windpipe or other part of the digestive system, block the esophagus or intestinal tract, and cause inflammation around the stomach tissue.

You can buy safe bones for your companion dogs at local pet supply stores.

Almonds

One veterinarian explained that almonds may block the esophagus or tear the windpipe if they are not chewed completely. We see this logic.

However, almonds can be a good alternative treat for dogs that can tolerate them.

We suggest that you proceed with caution because they can be difficult for dogs to digest. Therefore, they may cause gastrointestinal distress and an upset stomach. So, it’s a good idea to proceed cautiously before feeding whole almonds. For instance, you can purchase a bag of unsalted almond shavings or pieces, or crush them.

Avocado

Oh, the much debated avocado for dogs! We notice that many veterinarians are concerned about persin, which is toxic to some humans. According to the Pet Poison Helpline:

“Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but only certain species of animals are poisoned by persin. While dogs and cats are rarely affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cows, goats, sheep). The bigger risk to dogs and cats is a foreign body obstruction in the esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract if part or all of a large avocado seed is swallowed. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is also possible due to the high fat content in avocados.”

Remember, it is not so much the persin, but the choking hazard the nut may pose.

Other Foods Causing Obstruction

  • Corn Cobs
  • Peach Pits and Plum Pits – These are also toxic due to the cyanide in the pit, but companion dogs can eat the flesh of the fruit in small amounts.

References

Avocado. Pet Poison Helpline, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/avocado.

Dodds, W. Jean. “Bones.” Pet Health Resources Blog, Hemopet, 31 Mar. 2015, https://www.hemopet.org/dodds-dog-bones.

Dodds, W. Jean. “Immune-Mediated Encephalitis and Meningitis in Dogs.” Pet Health Resources Blog, Hemopet, 30 Oct. 2016, https://www.hemopet.org/meningitis-encephalitis-dogs.

Dodds, W. Jean. “Pancreatitis in Dogs & Cats.” Pet Health Resources Blog, Hemopet, 9 Mar. 2015, https://www.hemopet.org/pancreatitis-dog-cat.

Dodds, W. Jean. “Thinking Outside the Box of Treats.” Pet Health Resources Blog, Hemopet, 28 Apr. 2019, https://www.hemopet.org/thinking-outside-box-dog-treats.

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