Picture: mattycoulton/Pixabay.
Picture: mattycoulton/Pixabay.

‘Hidden’ dangers around the home that pet parents should be aware of

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Apr 6, 2021

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Pet parents all know the look of a pleading pet at mealtime. Big begging eyes, head lowered and the occasional nudge and whine.

Although we try to resist the urge to offer them a few scraps as part of sticking to a strict training routine, the dangers of feeding dogs and cats your food go far beyond the fear of teaching them poor table manners.

We all know about the common foods, like chocolate for example, that aren't good for animals. But the list is longer than that. Popular human snacks like raisins, certain fruits and junk foods that are high in salt and sugar can have a devastating effect on your dog.

While you might be loving your plate of bobotie, chips or cookies, it’s best you keep every last morsel to yourself.

What foods are poisonous to dogs?

Dr Guy Fyvie, a Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s veterinary adviser, said most pet owners were aware of only the most common dangers to their animals – keeping them on a leash when walking through traffic or making sure they’re up to date on all their vaccinations.

“But what about those hidden dangers that aren’t that obvious?” he says.

Fyvie outlines some of the foods that pose a danger to our cats and dogs:

– Raisins and grapes are poisonous for dogs and cats. If ingested in large enough quantities, it can cause kidney failure. The amount needed to be eaten to result in this is variable, so it s best to completely avoid these items.

– There are several common plants in many gardens and houses in South Africa that pet parents may not know present a danger to their cats and dogs. These include lilies, azalea, oleander, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, aloe vera, begonia, English ivy, hydrangea, tomato plants and delicious monsters. Especially dangerous is the cycad, and its seeds, which can cause liver failure even in small doses.

– All medicine and household cleaning supplies should be stored in a cupboard out of your pets’ reach or secured so that they can’t access them.

– Cockroaches, crickets, and beetles can also be harmful to your pet as they may carry parasites or be toxic themselves. Cat parents should be particularly aware as cats love bringing their pet parents gifts in all shapes and forms.

– If you, as a pet owner, are unsure of what is safe for your pet to consume, do a quick Google search or call a vet. Some of the most common search results:

* Artificial sweeteners, like xylitol (found in chewing gum and sweets): even a tiny amount can result in low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure or even death.

* Garlic and onions: these foods contain thiosulfate, which causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia.

* Nuts: not all of them, but the ones most high in fat (like macadamia) can cause obesity and pancreatic issues in dogs. Others that are small and can be scarfed down in seconds are a choking hazard.

* Cinnamon: although it is not poisonous and ingestion may not have an immediate reaction, it can irritate the lining of their mouths and result in inflammation which can lead to bleeding gums. Large amounts of the spice and small amounts of the essential oil (used in aromatherapy) can lead to low blood sugar, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhoea and changes in heart rate. Inhalation of the powder can result in choking and lung irritation.

Symptoms of poisoning:

– Agitation

– Breathing difficulty

– Tremors

– Convulsions

– Excessive drooling

– Vomiting

– Seizures

– Abnormal heart rate

– Diarrhoea

If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms or they have ingested something that you know is poisonous to them (or is disagreeing with them physically), take them to a vet.

Fyvie says that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is not good for your pets. If you want to show your pets love, then spend time with them, playing games, taking them for a walk and feeding them healthy nutritious food.

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