Harmful Holiday Treats

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Holiday Treats that are Toxic to Your Pet


Most people are aware that chocolate is no good for dogs. It contains a compound called theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine acts as a stimulant and can lead to elevated heart rates, arrhythmias, and central nervous system stimulation. Some signs that you might notice in your dog are vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, seizures, and even death. The level of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate and amount ingested. You might notice signs of toxicity with 100-200mg/kg worth of theobromine and the lethal dose can vary from 200-500mg/kg. The amount of theobromine will vary in each product but on average here are the levels in the following products: white chocolate 1mg/oz, hot chocolate 12mg/oz, milk chocolate 40-60mg/oz, semi sweet chocolate 150-250mg/oz, baker’s chocolate 450mg/oz, cocoa beans or powder 800mg/oz.

Grapes and Raisins

Did you know that grapes and raisins can be harmful to your pet? They can cause acute kidney failure. Some side effects that you may notice are inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and changes in water consumption and urination. There is not a certain quantity that is known to induce renal failure so it is best just to avoid feeding these snacks. Since raisins are more concentrated than grapes they tend to be worse.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that can be found in gums, mints, and some foods. It can cause a dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously low within 10-15 minutes of ingestion because it stimulates the pancreas to oversecrete insulin. It can also have delayed effects on the liver that may not show up for a few days. Some side effects are weakness, lethargy, vomiting, dark diarrhea, tremoring, seizures, or death. A typical piece of sugar free gum contains about 0.3-0.4g of xylitol. Hypoglycemia may occur after ingesting 0.1g/kg . Therefore a small dog can get very sick from a half to whole piece of chewing gum!

Macadamia nuts

Ingestion of macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, incoordination, tremors, abdominal pain, lameness, stiffness, inability to walk, and pale mucous membranes. Signs usually develop within 12 hours and subside in about 1-2 days. The mechanism of action is unclear.

If you have further questions regarding toxicity in dogs you can contact the pet poison helpline at 800-213-6680 or www.petpoisonhelpline.com

About Shanna Ewert

Dr. Ewert was raised in Warsaw. She attended Ball State University for her undergraduate degree. She is also a 2004 graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine where she tracked small animals. Dr. Ewert practiced at a 5 doctor veterinary clinic in Deland Florida for 8 years after graduation before moving back home to Indiana. She is married, has 5 children, and 3 cats.

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