It can be quite easy to poison your dog; inadvertently of course, no loving owner sets out to do this on purpose.
As a first time dog owner, I remember well how I discovered that some totally innocuous foodstuffs are extremely harmful to dogs. Freya was a few months old and we were having fun at a neighbour’s party. I’d offered her a grape, which to everyone’s amusement she was rolling around her mouth unsure of what to do with it. Then I heard someone behind me whisper: “Do you think we should tell her?”
I turned round and asked: “Me?”
“Yes”, they replied, “Did you know that grapes are highly poisonous to dogs?”
Grapes? Who’d have thought it? To me they were a healthy fruit, but it turns out the skins are highly toxic to dogs and I’d offered her poison. I’m over dramatising of course, but it led to my usual quest for knowledge on the subject.
Two and a half years later, one of Freya’s doodle friends Iggy the Poogle (beagle/poodle cross), was rushed to the vets after having snaffled chewing gum. Again, I had no idea that artificial sweeteners were so poisonous to dogs, which is why I’ve used Iggy’s story as the mainstay of this article.
Iggy’s Mum Kate posted her story on The Cheshire Doodles Club Facebook Group to help others who, like me, were not aware just how poisonous sugar-free chewing gum was (or even that a dog would eat chewing gum).
“We came home to find Iggy had broken into our bedroom, jumped from the washing basket onto the chest of drawers and found a six pack of chewing gum (with four packs remaining)”, explains Kate.
“There was foil and crumbled chewing gum all over our bed and no way to know how much Iggy had eaten. Naturally a trip to the emergency vets ensued where she was given an injection to make her sick (there was gum in her stomach).
Iggy was kept in all night to monitor her glucose and when I telephoned early the next day I was told that she was OK in herself and awaiting repeat blood tests. Sadly, Iggy’s liver showed signs of damage and had to stay in for two nights. On discharge, she was prescribed liver protection pills for a week, with another blood test at the end to ensure her liver had fully recovered.”
“This was a big wake up call for me”, Kate continued. “I thought the gum was well out of reach. From now on it will be in locked cupboards or not bought at all. I hope no-one has to go through this experience with their furbaby. Keep sugar free sweets well, well out of reach, and then maybe move them even higher.”
Artificial Sweeteners: Xylitol, Aspartame, etc
Xylitol, is one of the most common toxic foods for pets. It can be found in food products such as chewing gum, yoghurt, peanut butter, sweets, cakes, biscuits and even bread. All artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs as they stimulate the release of the hormone insulin, leading to a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in weakness and seizures.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning may develop within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion, but they also may occur up to 12 hours later. These symptoms include vomiting and signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), such as lethargy, inability to control movements, collapsing and seizures. Liver failure has also been reported in some dogs, hence the importance of the blood test during the treatment.
For a list of foodstuffs poisonous to dogs, and the reasons why, please see the Ask The Expert article here.
Tips from a Novice
- If you believe your dog has been poisoned it is important to act quickly, but calmly.
- Gather together any of the foodstuffs, medicines, etc, that remain.
- If your dog has been sick, take a sample of the vomit. Freezing vomit and stool samples is the best way of preserving them, especially as evidence if you believe your dog has been poisoned by a third party.
- Make a note of any symptoms, timespan and whereabouts of your dog; this is important as this information will enable your vet to better understand the cause.
With grateful thanks to Kate, Iggy and Brie for their contribution to this article.