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PETS’ CORNER Some treats are toxic


Not sharing is caring

Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen

I know it is lovely to share your food with your pet, and when you see those big brown eyes looking up at you, it is hard to say no. But some treats are best kept to yourself. Let’s take a look at some foods that should never be given to pets, and why.

Most people know that chocolate is not good for dogs. Most cats are too finicky to touch it, but dogs love it. Not all chocolate is as dangerous as others. White and milk chocolate are less dangerous, as the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it becomes. Also the amount the dog eats makes a difference. A whole milk chocolate bar might only give your Labrador a tummy ache, but an ounce of dark chocolate might kill your Jack Russell Terrier.

Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are another culprit. They have a different effect on different pets, with some being sensitive and others not. Nobody knows what it is in the grapes that makes them so dangerous, but the bottom line is that they can induce kidney failure in pets, so best is not to chance it.

Caffeine, as found in coffee, tea and chocolate, can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Again it depends on the amount you give your pet, but since it is hard to know how much would prove toxic, it is best to avoid caffeine altogether.

Alcohol is toxic for us humans, so it won’t come as a surprise to find out that it is also toxic for our pets. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, breathing difficulty, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

Milk is something that a lot of pets get as a treat, and they love it! It is nice and sweet. Unfortunately, pets don’t have as much lactase in their digestive system as we do, so they can’t properly break down the milk, so it can cause gastric upset and diarrhoea.

Xylitol, used as a replacement for sugar in a lot of sugar-free products, is highly toxic for pets. Through an insulin release it can cause a low blood sugar and the initial signs of toxicosis, include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination, and these signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

You give your pets bad habits when you let them beg and give them things from your plate. It is often a better idea to keep your pet in a different part of the house when you’re eating your own meal. This can prevent any guilt you may be feeling from those puppy-dog eyes. Sharing might normally be caring, but in this cases it’s best to keep all the treats for yourself!

Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at