Most people don’t realize that a stick of sugar-free gum can kill their dog. It’s safe to say that most people have no idea that many foods we eat and enjoy are good for humans, but could literally kill our pets. It’s not just dogs; certain foods can also have adverse reactions in cats.
Many of us tend to think that dogs and cats can eat what humans eat. We often don’t think twice about giving them a bite of our cookie or worry too much when they scavenge for food. But dogs and cats don’t metabolize foods the same way we do, and many of the foods we eat without problems can hurt, and even kill, them. Here are eight of the most harmful foods to keep away from your pets.
1. Xylitol – One of the more popular sweeteners found in sugar-free products, xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in the fibers of many fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. It’s typically extracted from hardwoods and corn cobs for commercial use and found in sugarless gum, toothpaste and many low-calorie baked goods.
While xylitol has no known toxicity in humans, just a few sticks of sugar-free gum scavenged by a 20-pound dog can cause its insulin levels to spike and send it into hypoglycemia. Ingesting higher amounts of xylitol can create serious liver problems including acute hepatic necrosis, leading to death.
Cats are also susceptible to xylitol poisoning.
Sometimes vomiting occurs soon after ingestion, followed by hypoglycemia within the next hour. At this point, the animal may act lethargic and lose coordination as a result of lowered sugar levels. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few short days.
If caught within the first few hours and taken to a veterinary clinic, many pets can be nursed back to health by inducing vomiting and perhaps the administration of dextrose.
2. Chocolate – Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is said to have many health benefits for humans, from lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease to reversing age-related memory loss.
However, one chocolate bar can be deadly to a dog or a cat.
Chocolate, along with coffee and some soda drinks, contains compounds known as methylxanthines. When pets ingest foods with these compounds, they may display signs of hyperactivity, discomfort or excessive thirst. Often, these symptoms give way to abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and even death. Baking chocolate and dark chocolates, which contain more of these compounds, are far more dangerous than milk chocolate or white chocolate.