Category Archives: chocolate toxicity in pets

Are Your Home and Yard Free From Poisons?

By Linda Cole

March is poison prevention month, and it’s a reminder to reflect on what you have planted in your yard, and what you have stored in the garage, basement and around the home. It’s also a good time to think before you plant dangerous garden plants in areas your pets have access to. The time you take to check for poisons in and around your home can save your pet’s life. Make sure your home and yard are free from poisons.

Poison prevention month is meant to bring awareness to the dangers of accidental poisonings, not only for pets, but for humans as well. On September 16, 1961, Congress designated the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Every year, poison control centers from across the country report more than 2 million incidents of accidental poisonings with over 90 percent happening in the home. Although the majority of victims of nonfatal poisonings are children, pets are also at risk of accidental poisonings because there are a lot of toxic products and food in our homes that pets have easy access to.

Thousands of pets are poisoned every year, with an up-tick in cases reported during the holiday season when cats and dogs have more people food available to them that can be toxic and kill them. Chocolate, alcohol, walnuts, fatty meats, grapes and raisins are on a long list of people food that can poison pets. The best way to keep your pet safe is to avoid giving people food altogether, and just stick with a high-quality pet food such as CANIDAE or FELIDAE. A pet’s begging eyes may be hard to resist, but an emergency trip to the vet after an accidental poisoning could be expensive and heartbreaking.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets. It doesn’t take much to poison a dog or cat. The dangers with antifreeze are that it has a sweet taste pets are attracted to, and it’s pretty easy for pets to find little puddles of antifreeze in driveways or on streets. If you spill antifreeze while adding it in your car’s radiator or if your radiator boils over, clean up the spill immediately to keep your pets safe as well as any neighborhood pets that may wander onto your property. Snow globes contain a small amount of antifreeze in the liquid, but it’s enough to poison pets and children if a globe is broken or cracked. For more information on antifreeze poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website.

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What’s In Your Home That Could Harm Your Pet?

By Julia Williams

As responsible pet owners, we all want to do everything we can to keep our furry best friends safe so they can live a long and healthy life. Because our pets can’t discern whether something is good or bad for them, they rely on us to keep the dangerous stuff out of the house, or at least out of their reach. Because knowledge is power, today I want to share with you some of the most common causes of pet poisoning.

A pet insurance company in California analyzed data from approximately half a million insured pets to compile a list of toxic substances that pose a danger to them. Common pet poisons found in the home (in order based on the number of claims) include medicine, chocolate/caffeine, plants, cleaning supplies, pest control products, antifreeze, walnuts and alcohol. Depending on the substance ingested, pet poisoning can occur quickly and can be fatal.

Once you know what’s in your home that could harm your pet, you can take preventative safety measures. Even so, you should be prepared in case of an accidental poisoning. Keep the number for your regular veterinarian and the closest emergency vet hospital handy, as well as a pet poison hotline.  As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Many human medications can be quite dangerous for dogs and cats even in small doses. Pets have been known to sample pills they find on the floor, so be sure to keep all prescription drugs and over-the-counter pills like painkillers, cold and allergy meds, vitamins and supplements stored in your medicine cabinet. Poisoning can also occur with pet medicines and nutritional supplements if they are misapplied or stored where your pet can get to them and subsequently consume more than they should.

Chocolate and caffeine both contain a substance called methylxanthine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures. See “Chocolate Toxicity in Pets” for more information.

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Human Food that’s Deadly for Pets

By Linda Cole

If you want a pet to pay attention to you, make yourself something to eat. Some pet owners don’t think twice about tossing their dog or cat a bite of human food, but giving them the wrong food can be deadly for them. With Christmas and New Year’s comes extra food sitting around for pets to discover when no one’s watching.

As responsible pet owners, I’m sure most of you know that some human food can be extremely dangerous for your pets. However, it’s always worth putting out a reminder when holiday plans and family gatherings can take our attention away from our pets. This list is by no means a complete list of human food pets shouldn’t eat. Keep your pet safe by making sure they don’t have access to food sitting out that’s meant for company, and make sure guests don’t toss your begging pet a “treat.”


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Foods Dogs Should Never Eat: a Holiday Reminder


By Linda Cole

The holiday season is an exciting time of year. We’re preoccupied with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations, and may not be paying close attention to what our pets are up to. However, the spilled raisins on the floor or the bowl of candy sitting on the coffee table could harm them. It never hurts to have a reminder about foods dogs should never eat, especially during the holiday season when more food is available and easy for canines to find.

Recently, CANIDAE received an email regarding a pet owner whose dog ate half a canister of raisins and became very sick. The owner didn’t know raisins were toxic to dogs, and wanted to share his story so other pet owners would be aware of it. I have written about dangerous foods for dogs here before, but with the holiday season fast approaching, now is a good time to revisit the topic.

Raisins and grapes are favorites during the holidays in cookies, salads or by the handful, yet they can be deadly for dogs. Scientists have no idea why, but raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure quickly in dogs. Both contain an unknown toxin and just a few can cause your dog to vomit and become hyperactive, which are early signs. Within 24 hours, they will become lethargic and depressed.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and death. Even though most people know never to give their pets chocolate, the holiday season sees an increase in pets that have been poisoned by chocolate every year.

Candy and gum are foods dogs should not eat, especially those containing Xylitol. This “natural” low calorie sugar substitute is made from Birch tree bark, and can also be found in sugar-free baked goods, mints, toothpaste, kids vitamins and diet foods. Many people are not aware of the dangers of Xylitol to pets, because vets have only recently discovered its toxicity in dogs. It takes very little to increase insulin in the dog’s system which leads to a drop in blood sugar and liver failure.

Because Xylitol is present in so many products, we may not realize that what our dog just ate could be lethal. It’s important to read labels to determine if Xylitol is present in the cupcakes or cookies you left on the kitchen counter. Vets are anxious to get the warning out to pet owners about the dangers of Xylitol to dogs. Please pass the information along to your friends and family, and keep all products with Xylitol safely stored in cabinets and away from inquiring canine noses.

Nutmeg is a spice often included in homemade recipes for dog food and treats, but is considered a food dogs should never eat. Nutmeg is known to cause seizures and tremors in dogs. It can cause dogs who eat large amounts to hallucinate.

Salt and other spices are ingredients dogs don’t need. Too much salt can produce sodium ion poisoning and can be fatal. Salty snacks should be avoided along with most spices.

Macadamia nuts and walnuts cause muscle tremors, rapid heart rate, weakness or paralysis in the hindquarters. Nuts in chocolate candy or cookies is double trouble. Nuts can also cause bladder stones, and just a few is all it takes for some dogs.

Onions and garlic can make your dog anemic by destroying red blood cells. A small amount may not hurt them, but if they eat large amounts or daily (whether cooked, raw, dehydrated or powdered) they risk becoming anemic. Garlic is not as toxic as onion, but it can build up over time and cause a toxic reaction if eaten daily. Cats should never have garlic.

Fat trimmings and cooked bones should not be given to your dog. Fat can cause pancreatitis, and cooked bones can splinter or become stuck in the dog’s throat. Splintered bones can cause lacerations in the dog’s digestive tract.

Fruit pits and seeds, if swallowed whole, can obstruct the small intestines and cause painful inflammation for dogs. Peach, plum and cherry pits contain cyanide which is poisonous to us and dogs.

This is a small list of foods dogs should never eat. Most of these foods will be in kitchens, in fancy bowls on coffee tables or counters, and will be raw, baked or cooked this holiday season. Please make sure all guests, young and old, understand it’s alright to pet the dog, but not to feed him or allow him to steal a “treat.” It only takes one bite of the wrong food to end a holiday celebration early with an emergency trip to the vet.

Add the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888)-426-4435, to your emergency phone list alongside your vet’s. If you think your dog ate something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or the ASPCA immediately. You can also see a comprehensive list of foods dogs should never eat at peteducation.com.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Chocolate Toxicity in Pets: Symptoms & Precautions


By Linda Cole

Halloween is once again at our doorstep. Trick or treaters will begin tapping on doors to collect the goodies we have to offer. Among the caramel apples, popcorn balls and tasty treats of this spooky holiday will be chocolate candy bars, brownies or other special goodies made with chocolate. We devour tons of chocolate each year, but just a small amount can be deadly for our dogs and cats. Why is chocolate so toxic to pets?

Pets do have a sweet tooth. That’s why outside pets are attracted to spilled antifreeze on someone’s driveway and can become poisoned from licking even a small amount. Pets think they should be able to eat everything we eat. It’s hard to ignore their begging, bright eyes asking for (or demanding) a bite of whatever we are eating. When it comes to chocolate, even one bite can leave them begging for more.

Once pets, especially dogs, have tasted chocolate, they will develop a craving for it. The best thing to do is just not give your pet chocolate, period. Not only is chocolate toxic for pets, it can be fatal if they eat too much, and chocolate poisoning is more common than you may think. The ASPCA Poison Control Center and vets across the country see a spike in calls from worried pet owners during holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

It’s important for children to understand that sharing their Halloween chocolate treats with their dog or cat can make the pet extremely sick. A little chocolate won’t hurt most dogs or cats; however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Avoid any risk to your pet by not giving them any chocolate to begin with.

The amount of chocolate considered to be too much depends on the health, age, weight and size of your pet. The smaller the animal, the smaller amount of chocolate it takes to poison them. An older pet who is out of shape or has underlying illnesses could be affected by a very small amount of chocolate. It also depends on the type of chocolate; darker chocolate is more deadly. Dogs are more likely to be affected because they seem to be able to search and find chocolate better than cats, but cats can also be poisoned.

Theobromine is a natural stimulate found in the cocoa bean. This is what’s poisonous to pets. It affects the central nervous system and heart muscles, and it also increases urination. Caffeine is also present in chocolate although not in high concentrations like Theobromine.

Chocolate toxicity in pets is a serious health issue. If you suspect your pet may have eaten too much chocolate, call your vet immediately. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets will begin within 12 hours or less and include:

* Being excited, nervous, shaking, hyperactive

* Diarrhea or vomiting

* Drinking a lot of water or increased urination, which is caused by too much Theobromine in their system.

* Muscle spasms or seizures

Most of us have a variety of chocolate in the house for baking purposes or eating. Dry cocoa powder tops the list of chocolate that is most dangerous for our pets, followed by Bakers chocolate (unsweetened), cocoa bean mulch, semisweet chocolate chips, sweet dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. When evaluating chocolate toxicity in pets, it’s important to know what type of chocolate was ingested, and how much.

If your Siberian Husky or Lab eats a small chocolate candy bar, they will probably not be affected as long as they are healthy to begin with. A cat or Chihuahua grabbing a chocolate chip that fell on the floor should be fine, but when it comes to chocolate and pets, it best to just say no.

After the kids return home with their bags of Halloween goodies and everything is spread out on the table so you can survey their haul, please remember to make sure Halloween is safe for all members of your family. Chocolate is great in our tummies, but pets are better off with a healthy, chocolate-free snack made just for them.

My cats beg just as much as my dogs do, and it’s hard to deny any of them a small bite of whatever I may be eating. For me, the choice is easy when it comes to chocolate. It’s just not worth the risk. Besides, by not sharing, it leaves more for me!

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.