Toxic Foods

As people have become more health conscious, so have they been paying more attention to the health needs of the furry members of the family. To this end many animal lovers have become aware that the majority of commercial pet foods contain unhealthy ingredients and have shifted instead to sharing the refrigerator and cupboards. While natural, fresh food is far healthier than byproducts and preservatives, keep in mind that the foods listed below are known to be toxic to cats and dogs because of the different ways animals metabolize them.

Chocolate:

Although many people are aware that chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, it's something that is commonly left on a table or counter top. Dogs may tear into a box of candy when the opportunity presents itself. In large quantities, chocolate causes coma and death. In lesser quantities, it will cause gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea. The degree of toxicity depends on the weight of the animal and the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Semi-sweet and bakers chocolate, for instance, contain more theobromine than regular chocolate, making them even more toxic to animals. Dogs love chocolate, so don't let taste be a test of what is healthy. Anything containing cocoa or chocolate should be avoided.

Grapes & Raisins:

 Though it isn't clear to scientists just what makes grapes and raisins toxic to both cats and dogs, even a relatively small amount can damage the kidneys. For this reason it's unwise to feed these to your pet, even if small amounts are tolerated. Also avoid giving bits of cookie or other foods that contain raisins.

Macadamia Nuts:

 Macadamia nuts are soft, light-colored nuts often used in cookie recipes. They are considered toxic to dogs because they tend to cause gastrointestinal upsets, lethargy, vomiting and muscle tremors or stiffness.

Garlic, Onions, and Powders:

 Whether fresh, cooked or powdered, garlic and/or onions can be found among the ingredients of many prepared meals, including baby food. Garlic and onions can be toxic to cats and dogs because sulfoxides and disulfides found in them can damage red blood cells and lead to anemia. Onions are more problematic than garlic, but both should be avoided. If preparing a meal for yourself that will contain garlic or onions, consider preparing a side portion without these ingredients for your animals.

Mushrooms:

 Various species of mushrooms are toxic to dogs, and can cause shock and death. Effects will differ depending on the type ingested, but avoid feeding any type. Pluck "backyard mushrooms" that might sprout on the lawn, as these are known to be toxic to canines.

 

 

 

Tomatoes and tomato plants:

 Tomatoes of all kinds are toxic to cats, as are parts of the tomato plant. Ingesting as little as a cherry tomato can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

Chicken Bones:

 Though not toxic, chicken bones can get stuck in the roof of the mouth, throat and intestines, and should be avoided, according to many veterinarians. Splinters of chicken bones can also become lodged internally. 

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums

These five fruits aren't usually thought of as toxic foods.   However, they contain a type of cyanide compound that can poison your dog if he eats enough of the stems, seeds and leaves.  This can result in dilated pupils, breathing difficulties, hyperventilation, shock, and apprehensiveness.

Coffee Grounds and Beans

Some dogs will eat anything, especially if they're enjoying a forbidden treat from a trash can.   Coffee grounds and beans have caffeine in them, and dogs that eat them can suffer from caffeine toxicity.   The symptoms of coffee toxicity are similar to the symptoms of chocolate toxicity, and just as serious, if not more so.  Also beware of leaving out bowls or packages of chocolate-covered coffee beans.   These amount to the worst of both worlds in terms of chocolate and coffee poisoning.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a popular spice at Christmas time, especially for egg nog.   It shouldn't be popular with your dog, however.   High levels of nutmeg can result in his death.   Symptoms include seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems, and death.

Yeast Dough (Unbaked Bread)

If you bake bread, you know that the dough needs a warm, moist environment to expand.  Your dog's stomach is a nice warm, moist environment, and so, the dough can expand to many times its size when first ingested.   This distends his abdomen and can cause pain.  Another issue with raw dough is the rising process itself.   The dough rises because the yeast ferments it. The fermentation results in alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity.   Avoid these problems by always keeping unbaked dough out of your dog's reach. Leave it on the stove top, or on the counter or a high table.

Alcohol & Hops

Alcohol & Hops are poisons that happens to produce enjoyable side effects in humans, in moderation.   Short-term overindulgence can kill by poisoning you, and long-term overindulgence can kill by destroying the liver and interfering with important body functions.  Your dog is much smaller than you, and so is much more susceptible to the poisonous effects of alcohol, including death.   Some of the signs that your dog has been drinking alcohol include its odor on his breath, slow respiratory rate, increased urination, staggering or a wobbly gait, excitement, depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, hypothermia, seizures and cardiac arrest.  To protect your dog, keep all alcohol containers (liquor and wine bottles, beer cans and bottles, glasses and tumblers) out of his reach.   Train your dog not to approach any of these containers, especially if they are on a low table. Be particularly aware of plastic liquor bottles, which he could easily chew through.   There's enough alcohol in a "mickey" to kill a small dog.

Baking Powderand Baking Soda

Although not really foods, baking powder and baking soda are common items found in the kitchen. They are both leavening agents, used in baked goods to create a gas, which causes doughs and batters to rise.  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder combines baking soda with an acid of some kind, usually cream of tartar, sodium aluminum sulphate or calcium acid phosphate, or a combination of the three.  If your dog eats a large amount of either of these powders, he can suffer from electrolyte changes, muscle spasms and congestive heart failure.  Keep baking soda and baking powder out of your dog's reach. If you spill some on the floor, clean it up immediately.

Fatty Foods

Dogs love rich and fatty foods, just like we do. They find these foods in the trash, or receive them as treats or leftovers.  Excessive amounts of fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Miniature and toy poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers are especially prone to pancreatitis.  Pancreatitis signs include abdominal pain, acute onset of vomiting, and diarrhea. The pain can show through a hunched posture when you pick up your dog.  You can easily avoid pancreatitis by not feeding your dog oily or fatty "human" treats and leftovers, and by keeping your trash bin securely fastened.

 

Other foods to avoid include:  raw potatoes (especially those containing green spots), turkey skin and anything with caffeine, including tea.  Do not allow your pet to rummage through the trash, as moldy food contains toxins that can cause serious illness.

Since many of the signs of toxicity are similar, call your veterinarian immediately if your pet appears distressed, lethargic or in pain. Bloody stools or vomiting are also possible signs of toxic poisoning. Gastrointestinal problems can lead to gas build-up until the stomach becomes distended or bloated and hard to the touch. This is a painful condition that can cause the stomach to burst if not treated. The good news is that, in most cases, treatment for toxic poisoning can be successful if administered in time.

 

Toxic Garden Plants

What follows is a long list of toxic garden plants, ranging from bulbs to perennials to trees and shrubs.  If you like to garden, try to avoid using any from this list.  If you already have some of these poisonous garden plants, consider creating a fenced-in run to keep your dog away from your gardens.

Bulbs

If your dog loves to dig in your yard or garden, these toxic garden plants are particularly dangerous.   The bulb is the poisonous part of the plant.  Also keep your dog out of any gardening or storage sheds, or your basement, if you overwinter these bulbs.  Some of these toxic garden plants, such as daffodils, are also offered as houseplants in the spring, sometimes by charities.  Place them where your dog can't get at them.

  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, depression, tremors.
  • Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes irritation of the mouth parts, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage, bone marrow suppression.
  • Daffodil (Narcissus spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
    Causes severe gastrointestinal disorders, convulsions, shivering, dermatitis, muscular tremors, hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Elephant Ears aka Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) Family: Araceae
    Causes irritation and intense burning of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing.
  • Gladiolas (Gladiolas spp) Family: Iridaceae
    Causes abdominal pain, vomiting (occasionally bloody), diarrhea (occasionally bloody), hypersalivation, depression.
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes intense vomiting, diarrhea (occasionally bloody), depression and tremors.

  • Iris (Iris spp) Family: Iridaceae
    Causes vomiting (occasionally bloody), diarrhea (occasionally bloody), abdominal pain, hypersalivation, depression.
  • Lily of the Valley (Convalaria majalis) Family: Liliaceae
    These are particularly toxic garden plants, and can result in death.
    Causes vomiting, ataxia (loss of muscle control), cardiac arrhythmias, death.
  • Narcissus (Narcissus spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
    Causes severe gastrointestinal disorders, dermatitis, convulsions, muscular tremors, shivering, hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Tulip (Tulip spp) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes intense vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), depression.

Ferns

Some of these ferns are generally grown in hanging pots, and so should be relatively safe if you have a dog.  Watch for berries falling to the ground from these toxic garden plants, though.

  • Asparagus Fern (Asparagus sprengeri) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes allergic
    dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
  • Emerald Feather aka Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
  • Lace Fern (Asparagus setaceus) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
  • Plumosa Fern (Asparagus plumosus) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Flowering Plants

These toxic garden plants are very popular for their blooms. Cyclamens can lead to death.

  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp) Family: Primulaceae
    Causes vomiting, gastrointestinal inflammation, and death.
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) Family: Saxifragaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, increase in heart rate, hyperthermia, depression.
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp) Family: Crassulaceae
    Causes vomiting and diarrhea. The bufodienolides are cardiotoxic. These are the same type of toxin
    as found in poisonous toads.

Garden Perennials

These toxic garden plants are perennials in temperate climates; some are houseplants and/or annuals in colder climates.

  • Charming Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena) Family: Araceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.
  • Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) Family: Fanunculaceae
    Causes vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, convulsions, delirium.
  • Flamingo Plant (Anthurium spp) Family: Araceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Family: Scrophalariaceae
    Foxgloves, from which digoxin and other heart medications have been developed, are particularly toxic garden plants.

    They are very beautiful, and many gardeners use them to add height to their gardens. If you want foxgloves in your garden, consider a fenced-in run for your dog.
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac failure, death.

  • Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) Family: Cannabinaceae
    Causes prolonged central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, weakness, ataxia (loss of muscle control), sedation, sometimes hyperexcitation.
  • Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp) Family: Convolvulaceae
    The seeds may cause diarrhea, hallucinations.
  • Nightshade: there are several varieties; the most common are Deadly Nightshade, Black Nightshade, and Silverleaf Nightshade. (Solanum spp) Family: Solanaceae
    Causes diarrhea, hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, weakness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioural change.
  • Onion (Allium spp) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes gastrointestinal upset, hemolytic anemia, heinz body anemia, hemoglobinuria.
  • Tomato Plant (green parts only) (Lycopersicon spp) Family: Solanaceae
    Causes hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioural change, weakness.
  • Tropic Snow Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia amoena) Family: Araceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Lilies

Most lilies are toxic garden plants to cats only.

  • Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes irritation of the mouth parts, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, kidney and liver damage, bone marrow suppression.

 

 

 

 

Shrubs

Of all the toxic garden plants, shrubs are some of the deadliest. Try to avoid all use of the ones listed here, or use a fenced-in run for your dog.

  • Cycads (Cycas spp and Zamia spp) Family: Cycadaceae
    Causes vomiting, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, melena (black, tarry stool or vomit, mostly blood that gastric juices have acted on, likely caused by gastroenteritis), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure
    , death.
  • Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) Family: Berberidaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, pale mucous membranes, slow heart rate, respiratory congestion, respiratory failure, seizures, semi-coma, death.
  • Holly (Ilex spp) Family: Aguifoliaceae
    Causes intense vomiting and diarrhea, depression.
  • Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) Family: Solanaceae
    Causes gastrointestinal problems, including possible ulceration of the system, depression, respiratory depression, seizures, shock.
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander) Family: Apocynaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, hypothermia (decreased body temperature), cardiac abnormalities, death.
  • Precatory Bean (Abrus precatorius) Family: Leguminosae
    These beans are very toxic, especially if chewed.
    Causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), incoordination, inappetence (loss of appetite), and death.

  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp) Family: Ericaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, hypotension (low blood pressure), central nervous system depression, cardiovascular collapse, coma, death.
  • Saddle Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) Family: Araceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
  • Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta king sago) (Cycas spp and Zamia spp) Family: Cycadaceae
    Causes vomiting, melena (tarry stool or vomit), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.
  • Yucca (Yucca spp) Family: Agavaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, seizures, depression.
  • Mistletoe "American" (Phoradendron spp)
    The mistletoe is not really a shrub. It is a parasite that lives off of trees and shrubs. It can often grow to the size of a shrub.toxic garden plants
    Causes gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular collapse, dyspnea (breathing difficulties), bradycardia, erratic behaviour.

Succulents

Although not very toxic to humans (there are health drinks, as well as ointments and salves), aloe is a toxic garden plant to dogs.

  • Aloe (Aloe vera) Family: Liliaceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine colour, depression.

Trees

Like toxic garden plants, these trees are very toxic to dogs.

  • Avocado (Persea americana) Family: Lauraceae
    Causes vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, generalized congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, death.
  • Buddist Pine (Podocarpus macrophylla) Family: Araliaceae
    Causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Chinaberry Tree (Melia azedarach) Family: Meliaceae
    The berries are the most toxic of this plant. Causes vomiting, diarrhea, slow heart rate, depression, weakness, seizures, shock.
  • Japanese Yew aka Yew (Taxus spp) Family: Taxaceae
    Causes muscular tremors, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), seizures, sudden death from acute cardiac failure.
  • Lacy Tree (Philodendron selloum) Family: Araceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.
  • Macadamia Nut aka Queensland Nut, Australia Nut (Macadamia integrifolia smooth shelled, Macadamia tetraphylla rough shelled) Family: Proteaceae
    Causes vomiting, hyperthermia(overheating), weakness, muscular stiffness, tremors, increased heart rate, depression.
  • Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Family: Agavaceae
    Causes vomiting, drooling, incoordination, and weakness, inappetence (loss of appetite), depression.
  • Schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla or Brassaia actinophylla) Family: Araliaceae
    Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Vines

Like toxic garden plants, all the ivies listed here from the Araliaceae family cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, fever, polydipsia (excessive or abnormal thirst), dilated pupils, muscular weakness and incoordination, hyperactivity, coma. The foliage is much more toxic than the berries, so trim the leaves of these toxic garden plants to above your dog's reach.

  • Branching Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Glacier Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Hahn's self branching English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Needlepoint Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • European Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) Family: Solanaceae
    Causes drooling, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastric upset, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, drowsiness, lethargy, weakness.

Other Plants

  • American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) Family: Celastraceae
    Causes weakness, convulsions, gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea).

This is not a complete list of toxic garden plants. The term "spp" after a genus (for example, Amaryllis spp) indicates that all species of that genus are toxic garden plants. Other less popular, but still toxic garden plants, are not included here.