by: Penelope Graben, DVM
Our pets are creatures of habit when it comes to food and sudden diet changes can cause serious gastrointestinal upset. This is the season of overeating for humans, but it should not be for our pets. Is giving Fido his own holiday meal really worth the vomiting and diarrhea later anyway? A lot of serious (and expensive!) illnesses can be caused by giving our pets table food. Even a mild and easily treated case of gastroenteritis can be up to 5 days of vomiting and diarrhea- which is a whole lot of cleaning up and waking up in the middle of the night! Most people already know that chocolate is a no-go, but there are some other serious dietary faux-paws that need to be avoided.
No gravy, baby!
A single fatty meal (like pouring turkey drippings over kibble) can cause inflammation of the pancreas in dogs and cats. Many animals with pancreatitis need to be hospitalized and on a fluid drip for days. In some cases, an inflamed pancreas can even be fatal. We know how excited Buddy must get for gravy, but it’s not worth risking his life!
No Bones About It!
Bones are hard and sharp- neither of which are qualities appreciated by the thin and sensitive lining of stomachs and intestines. Bones can puncture the GI tract from within and cause an extremely painful and fatal condition called septic peritonitis.
Occasionally I’ll hear someone say, “But I thought bones couldn’t break if they weren’t cooked yet so they were safe to feed!”
This urban legend occasionally makes rounds, much to my confusion- if you’ve ever seen anyone wearing a cast, you know bones can be broken without cooking!
Grapes and raisins are very toxic to canine and feline kidneys! Even a few raisins can cause irreversible kidney failure in a small dog.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in many types of gum, dental hygiene products (sugar free gum, toothpaste, mouthwash), over the counter medications, deodorant, and some brands of common food products, such as bakery pastries, ketchup, and some brands of peanut butter. Be sure to read the ingredients list on anything you give your dog (or if your pup was naughty and chewed up something, look up the ingredients list before calling your veterinarian so they can properly advise you).
Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure.
Even a small amount of xylitol can be fatal to dogs- and it has a wide range of absorption time. Toxic effects of xylitol can start within 15 minutes or take up to 12 hours after ingestion- signs to look out for include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and collapse. As of now, there is no data for xylitol toxicosis in cats, so we’re not sure how or if it affects them.