Food dangers for pets

As the largest and busiest not-for-profit animal hospital in Australia, treating around 25,000 clients every year, Lort Smith sees the distressing impact of eating the wrong foods on our pets.

Dr Leanne Pinfold, Head Veterinarian – Emergency and Critical Care at Lort Smith said, “As we are coming into the cooler months where we might be eating soups and hearty meals, we need to remember that feeding your dog or cat our cooked bones is extremely dangerous.

“We ask that you don’t give you dog or cat cooked bones of any kind. As the bones splinter into shards it can cause choking and serious damage to the dog or cat’s mouth, throat, or intestines. Cooking can also remove nutrients from the bone,” she said.

Some of the cases Lort Smith sees are as a result of people being new to caring for a pet after adopting or buying a dog during the COVID-19 lockdown and inadvertently feeding them dangerous foods or simply not realising how lethal some foods are for our pets.

“The other very dangerous time for our dogs is soon – with Easter just around the corner – and if the chocolate leftover from the Easter egg hunt is found by your dog instead of your children!” said Dr Pinfold.

Chocolate is an extremely toxic food for dogs, containing caffeine and the stimulant chemical theobromine. Both substances are difficult for dogs to metabolize and may lead to a build-up of theobromine in the body. The severity of the side effects for your dog will depend on the size of the dog, how much and what type of chocolate has been ingested.

Dr Pinfold said, “The darker the chocolate is, the more dangerous it will be for your dog. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder are some of the most toxic food varieties for dogs while white chocolate is the least toxic.

“We find dogs most commonly experience food poisoning from chocolate on holidays; specifically, Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

“If chocolate is eaten by your dog it can cause vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pains, severe agitation, and an elevated body temperature. These symptoms can also progress to more serious problems, like heart attacks, internal bleeding, muscle tremors, seizures and tragically, death,” she said.

In general, party or celebration foods can be dangerous for our pets. Recently Lort Smith treated a dog that had eaten an entire packet of chewing gum, which is extremely dangerous and can be lethal for dogs. Remember to keep a close watch on your pets this Easter holiday season.