Pet Picnic Poison Blog Post with NBC CT Interview

0 Comments Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011.

I love summer barbeques and picnics with friends and family, but as a veterinarian they are one of my worst nightmares. I see a lot of pets that are sick after getting into something they shouldn’t have during an outdoor feast with human food. Unfortunately, many people lose their pets to what I like to call “picnic poisons.” With Labor Day upon us, it’s important to educate yourselves on the dos and don’ts of picnicking with your pooch.

We love having our pets be a part of the outdoor fun, because after all, they are part of the family. But as we become wrapped up in the excitement of the festivities, it’s easy to lose track of what our dogs and cats are up to. Our pets are not only great at finding food, but they have had 10,000 years to perfect their begging methods as well. While picnic guests mean well when offering tasty tidbits to our cats and dogs, our pets do not know to refuse foods they shouldn’t eat. So it’s important for us as their caretakers to be well informed, and to be sure our guests are informed as well.

So let’s talk about the most harmful:

Grapes, Raisins & Currants
The consumption of these fruits causes acute kidney failure in dogs. If you discover that your pet has ingested grapes. raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian immediately: this is an emergency.

Our pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than we are. While 1 to 2 licks of coffee, tea or soda won’t likely cause harm, ingesting moderate amounts can easily cause death in a small dog or cat.

Chocolate is a pet poison. Just remember: the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. While a few M&Ms or a small drip from a s’more accident may not cause harm, a large helping of chocolate cake or a pan of brownies is toxic for your pet.

While it may seem funny and cute to give the pooch a sip of beer, even small amounts of alcohol can cause life-threatening toxicity in our pets. And it’s not just drinks, but alcohol-soaked desserts like rum cakes and others that can poison a cat or dog.

Onions, Garlic, Chives & Leeks
Many dog treats contain garlic, but it’s such a small amount that it’s negligible. However, if a cat or dog consumes a pan of sauteed onions, garlic, or leeks, there’s going to be trouble. These vegetables cause red blood cell destruction which results in anemia. Ingesting even 0.5% of his/her body weight in onions or garlic can be fatal for a dog. And cats are even more sensitive.

Fatty Table Scraps
Meat scraps, butters, oils, etc. can cause pancreatitis in pets and should be avoided.

Corn Cobs
Corn cobs are not toxic, but they cannot pass all the way through the digestive system and will get stuck in the intestines causing a potentially life threatening obstruction.

If you have discovered or suspect that your dog may have ingested any of the potentially toxic foods mentioned above, it is important to note three key components; How big is your pet? What/How much did they ingest? When did this occur? Then call your veterinarian or poison control with that information.

My best advice is to keep pets on a leash or indoors while there is food around. This will prevent them from either being fed or lapping up something that might ultimately kill them. But keep in mind that while it seems like there are an awful lot of no-no’s, there are actually many human foods that are healthy and safe for our pets.

Those include:
Green beans
Popcorn (plain, no salt or butter)
Sweet Potatoes
Zucchini and summer squash
Winter squash
Ice Chips (Freeze cubes of diluted beef or chicken broth for a real frozen treat!)

Dr. Shagensky gave an interview to NBC CT on this topic in August 2011



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