kitchen calamities

Our canine companions tend to dog our footsteps, especially when they hear the refrigerator open! But in the kitchen, if your hungry hound hoovers up scraps that fall to the floor, would you know the difference between a safe snack or a toxic treat? Indeed, it might give you paws to know that at 46%, almost half of all Petplan toxicity claims in 2013 were for foods poisonous to dogs – items you likely have in your own kitchen. Look at how other items stacked up:

How do you know how much is too much? It's all a matter of scale. If your pet gets his paws on something he shouldn't, how ill he becomes generally depends on his size and how much he ate. For instance, a 5-lb. Chihuahua that eats one ounce of Baker’s chocolate is at a greater risk of toxicity than an 80-lb. German Shepherd that eats the same amount.

However, while many dogs live to tell the “tail” after eating the odd square of chocolate, it’s not behavior you should treat lightly. Remember, you have no way of knowing how your pet will react, and it’s not worth putting a furry family member’s health at risk. It could result in only mild diarrhea or vomiting – but it could also mean a trip to the emergency room for your pet.

items to keep off your pet's plate:

  • chocolate: For your pooch, the toxic ingredients in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine – both stimulants. Small doses cause tummy upsets, excitement and a racing heart, but at higher doses the symptoms are more severe, including seizures and even death.
  • coffee: Caffeine may be a friend to night owls, but should be off-limits to canine companions – it causes increased heart rate and can lead to seizures.
  • xylitol: Found in sugar-free gum and candies, xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is anything but sweet when it comes to our pets' health. Eating sugar-free candy can lead to a dangerous fall in blood glucose levels that lead to extreme drowsiness, stupor, and possibly even coma.
  • onions + garlic: These vegetables from the allium family do damage to the red blood cells of furry friends. In the worst case scenario, the damage can be severe enough to cause life-threatening anemia.
  • grapes + raisins: Sadly, grapes and raisins cause kidney damage, and even very small amounts can be life-threatening to a small dog. Make sure children know to keep their healthy snacks very much to themselves.
  • macadamia nuts: These may be a healthy snack for people, but for pets they are a poison. Within 12 hours of ingestion, they can cause vomiting, weakness and tremors so keep these well out of reach.

terrifying tail: kitchen cat-astrophe

When Bailey’s dad Howie tossed the bag of grapes into his shopping cart, he had no idea they would come with a very hefty price tag – when his dog Bailey ate the entire bag hours later. Knowing that grapes are toxic to dogs – especially 37 of them at once! – Howie rushed Bailey to the vet, where she was given activated charcoal and fluids to counteract the toxins. After a brief hospital stay, Bailey was soon back on all four paws – and grapes were off her menu!

set-up for success

  • When unpacking the groceries, take care to put forbidden foods away first, so your pooch can’t go prowling through the bags when your back is turned.
  • Store dangerous delicacies safely out of scavenger's reach. Think big, especially if you have a large or giant-breed dog, and consider adding child locks to cupboards that prying paws could stretch to.