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Dangerous Foods: Are They Harmful to Your Dog?

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Coffee (grounds and beans). Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get "caffeine" toxicity. The symptoms are very similar to those of chocolate toxicity and can be just as or even more serious.

Fatty Foods. Rich and fatty food are favorites of dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers or from getting into the trash. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can affect any pet but miniature or toy poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers are particularly prone. Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting, sometimes diarrhea and abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is often evidenced by hunched posture or "splinting" of the abdomen when picked up. The dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy.

Dairy Products. Human dairy products are not highly dangerous but can pose problems for two reasons. One is their high fat content and like other foods with high fat content, there is a risk of pancreatitis. The second reason is that pets poorly digest dairy products since they lack the enzyme required to digest lactose. This affects some pets more than others, and can cause gas to diarrhea.


Small amounts of plain yogurt or cheese are tolerated by most dogs but it is probably safest to avoid dairy products altogether. There is a lactose free milk product available that pose no risk to dogs, such as Milk-O-Pet.

Grapes and Raisins. So far, about 10 dogs poisoned by grapes and raisins have been officially reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The amount of grapes or raisins ingested has been between 9 ounces to 2 pounds, and dogs ingesting these large amounts have developed kidney failure. Aggressive, and sometimes prolonged, treatment may be necessary to give the affected dog a chance at survival; without treatment death is possible. Despite testing, the reason for the kidney failure and the amount necessary for toxicity remains unknown. For now, any dog that ingests large amounts of grapes or raisins should be treated aggressively, so contact your veterinarian immediately if ingestion has occurred.

Macadamia Nuts. Macadamia nuts, also called the Queensland nut or Australia nut, can be toxic. The mechanism behind why these nuts are toxic is a mystery. However, it has been noted that as few as six to 40 nuts in dogs have caused severe toxic signs. Dogs develop weakness, depression, vomiting, difficulty walking, tremors, abdominal pain, lameness, stiffness and/or pale gums. The signs usually dissipate in 12 to 24 hours.

Moldy or Spoiled Food. Dogs love to get into the trash. A medical problem arises when the trash contains moldy or spoiled food. In addition to food poisoning, some pets can develop tremors related to the ingestion of certain molds.

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