7 Potentially Fatal Things to your Dog in Your Home, Right Now!
A dog drinking water from a hose
People tend to think that if something is safe for them to ingest or be around, it too, should be safe for their dog.
Many dogs have died due to eating human foods, or medications that they can’t metabolize.
And, it is sad every time it happens.
One of my biggest eye openers was when I was a vet tech and baking breads and bread machines were in vogue and the thing to do!
We had a dog come in with bread toxicity.
I said “bread toxicity” the dog had ingested a full pan of bread dough while it was rising.
The yeast in bread needs a warm, moist, environment to grow and expand (this is how yeast works) but the dog’s stomach was the perfect breeding ground.
It actually caused the dog to be intoxicated, just like being drunk, except his stomach was also expanding due to the gasses released by the yeast.
The dog came into our clinic disoriented and trying in vain to vomit. He had to be hospitalized.
I have even heard of some dogs (usually smaller dogs) who eat a whole loaf of bread, that also suffer from this toxicity but usually it is not as marked as that caused by dough.
There is an ingredient called “xylitol” in sugar free gum (and many other sugar free items) that dogs are unable to metabolize that is toxic and can cause seizures.
Even small amounts of xylitol (between 50 mg and 100 mg per kilogram of weight) in dogs can cause seizure, liver failure and death and is estimated to be 100 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate. For more information on the dangers of xylitol click here.
I don’t even buy gum anymore, but if I did, I would keep it under lock and key.
Gum smells sweet and therefore is likely to be consumed by your dog.
I have to admit something here. Because of my background in veterinary world and dog training, I knew that nutmeg was toxic to dogs.
And, I also admit I own nutmeg and have used nutmeg in baking “human” baked goods on occasion. But I didn’t know even humans can overdose on nutmeg! It is actually a scary substance, when you research its affects!
Needless to say, if it can poison people and affect their nervous system it can poison your dog in much smaller doses. So never share a baked good with your dog if you are not sure if it contains nutmeg or not!
And, make sure that your put the bottle somewhere where animals and children cannot reach!
For more on nutmeg toxicity and your dog click here
5. Macadamia Nuts
I absolutely LOVE white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies!
And, we tend to think if something is healthy for us: carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, nuts then it would be healthy for our dogs, but macadamia nuts are one of those healthy things for humans that must be avoided by dogs.
Macadamia nut toxicity can happen anywhere from up to 12 hours after ingestion and signs include weakness, inability to walk, vomiting, seizures and elevated temperatures. For more click here.
If you bring these things into your home, make sure that you put them somewhere that your dog cannot reach them and make sure everyone in the household knows (children) what is toxic and what is not.
I don’t even keep raisins or gum in the house when we have children here, it is just easier not to have it and not to worry!
Bones! Yes, bones can be toxic to your dog.
There are a few things to consider.
A lot of people will say that their dog is a predator, and in the wild he would be eating raw bones. This is very true! In the wild he would be eating bones.
And, I think we can all admit if the wolf got a blockage or internal bleeding from being stabbed internally with a bone, we would never know. Odds are fairly high that wolves get blockages and suffer from salmonella too.
But, the wolf would be eating raw bones that had not been cooked.
Once we cook bones, we make them brittle. Ever folded a chicken wing back onto itself to get to the meat; the bone fractures and splinters; and if it were to do that inside your dog’s stomach or intestines he could possibly die.
You wouldn’t risk swallowing a cooked chicken, or pork bone and getting a gastrointestinal perforation, then why would you give it to your dog?
I have less worries and issues with people feeding their dogs raw bones, because of course they would be consumed by their wild cousins, but even raw bones can cause perforations and death. The difference is, these wild dogs, aren’t pets so we don’t notice or investigate when they die and what they died from.
Salmonella is also a concern with raw meats and bones.
Salmonella is very real and can make our pet dogs very sick.
And, again I would say that even wild dogs suffer and die from salmonella; the difference is that no one is there to investigate and when you are wild you don’t have many options!
Sometimes risk salmonella or die is an easy decision for a starving dog.
And, little dogs swallowing any bone can cause stomach or intestinal blockage.
3. Corn Cobs
Corn on the cob is a summer staple at most homes!
Want to know how many of those cobs I have seen that have to be cut out of the intestines of the family dog?
Dogs aren’t great chewers. They are more of a bite and gulp kind of species.
Ever give your dog a fairly big treat to just watch him swallow it?
So, then, it shouldn’t be any surprise that dogs don’t usually “chew” a corn cob into small pieces.
If they did, then the corn cob would be much more capable of passing.
But big pieces of spongey corn cob can’t be broken down by your dog’s body.
Which means that it quickly becomes a stomach/ and or intestinal blockage.
If you can’t eat or poop, you don’t live long.
So surgery must be the next step after a dog eats or swallows a corn cob.
String is another killer.
At the veterinary clinic I worked at, several years ago, we used to see a Bull Terrier who was infamous for ingesting things that he shouldn’t.
He had, had many surgeries and he always presented the same way.
Regular Neo, who took several vet techs to restrain, would come in lethargic and very easily manipulated. We always knew when he was showing good behavior at the vet that he was probably on his way for another surgery.
String was a big component for him, on several occasions.
Once, the string had been in his belly for so long that it had cut off blood flow to a decently large part of his intestines. Having no blood flow, meant that the tissue died and became necrotic. Thankfully it was able to be removed successfully but a person/dog only has so much intestines to spare.
String that is swallowed should immediately become a worry. It knots and meshes together is places and can easily get stuck and kill the dog’s intestines.
Some dogs can play with string type tug toys with no problems. Some dogs even shred these toys but don’t, then, ingest the string.
But for those dogs that ingest the string, these toys are very, very dangerous. And, if the subtle signs (lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea) aren’t noticed these dogs can die.
Water toxicity is actually a real thing!
I know it sounds ridiculous but it is real, and it can be very dangerous.
The first time I have ever heard of water toxicity was when a friend that I trained Service Dogs with described how her baby/toddler nearly died.
He desired a bottle and she had given him water, which he drank. And, then she had given him a bottle or two more of regular water.
When he became sluggish and disoriented she rushed him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with water toxicity and electrolytes were administered.
And, having done a little bit of research for this article I see that she is not the only one, and she was lucky her baby didn’t die, like some have.
You see, we all need electrolytes and sodium in our blood to keep things functioning the way that they should.
Heck I was at a dock diving competition a few weekends ago and it was so hot, and I drank so much water (instead of sugar, or drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade) that I literally made myself sick. I spent the night on the bathroom floor sick as a dog.
Your dog can also suffer from water toxicity low sodium also called hyponatremia. Excess swimming, water play in the hose, or even drinking too much water can cause this ailment which is relatively rare but often fatal in dogs.
It happens when more water enters the body than the body can process. The water dilutes body fluids creating a dangerous shift in electrolyte balance.
Remember that sodium is an essential nutrient for a healthy body and maintains blood pressure and nerve and muscle function.
The excess water causes these cells (especially known in the brain and central nervous system) to swell.
Hyponatremia Symptoms Include
- Dilated pupils
- Glazed eyes
- Pale gums
- Excessive salivation
- Loss of consciousness
- And even death.
Treatment includes IV electrolytes, diuretics, and possible administration of drugs to reduce brain swelling.
Know the symptoms.
Watch your dog as he interacts with and in the water.
Be especially cognizant of water from the hose because it is under pressure and can build up quickly in his system..
Take frequent breaks if your dog is retrieving and swimming so that you can monitor his intake.
Give him frequent but small drinking breaks.
Don’t let him lay down and try to drink the whole bowl, it is not good for him.
I often use ice water to slow my dog’s excessive drinking because I find that it is harder to lap up water covered in ice cubes.
Hypernatremia is the opposite of hyponatremia; it is an over load of sodium in the system and can result in much the same symptoms.
If you go to the beach, be sure to bring fresh water so that your dog is not at risk from drinking salt water!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.