This is not one of my usual chatty posts, but if you are a dog owner please read it – it could save your pet’s life.
“Don’t give that dog a grape!” I screamed at my son, who sat on the sofa with a three-pound bag of grapes in his lap and our chocolate lab’s head resting hopefully on his knee.
“I wasn’t going to, Mom.” he assured me in that condescending tone tweens are so well known for.
“Just make sure they don’t get hold of that bag when you’re not looking. Grapes can put dogs into renal failure – shut down their kidneys. Our dogs could die from eating grapes.”
This was something I’d only learned recently, and it gave me chills. I remember John being little and feeding the dog we had then from his highchair every time I turned my head. He’d laugh, I’d turn back, and Millie would be chewing banana slices, or cheerios, or whatever John was supposed to be eating. She loved the toddler years. I can’t imagine that at some point she didn’t get grapes or raisins, but evidently is wasn’t enough to do her any harm – she lived to a ripe old age.
The safest thing, of course, is to never give your dog table food. But sometimes they will get it without your consent, like the year I was getting ready to do some holiday baking and couldn’t find the bag of Christmas foil-wrapped Hershey kisses I thought I’d put on the counter. A few minutes later I found a very happy Millie in the middle of my bed licking her chops. She’d eaten the whole bag, foils wrappers and all. I called my vet, hysterical because I knew chocolate was toxic to dogs. Here’s lesson number one:
If your dog eats something toxic, the Ipecac in your medicine cabinet works on dogs just as on humans. Usually. My dog must have had a stomach of steel, because she didn’t vomit after the Ipecac and I ended up calling the vet back. Plan B is hydrogen peroxide. He had me give her one tablespoon, and she promptly threw up a big, colorful puddle all over the kitchen floor. Dosages may differ, so call your own vet before administering either of these, but make sure you already have them on hand.
So what foods are especially toxic to dogs? We’ve already discussed grapes and raisins (renal failure) and chocolate (the caffeine causes heart problems), but garlic and onions are also dangerous, as they can lead to life-threatening anemia. And most people have heard that one of the newer sugar substitutes, Xylitol, leads to liver failure in dogs and is found in many sugar-free gums and candies. I also found one source that claimed macadamia nuts were poisonous to dogs, even in small quantities. Poultry bones are dangerous because the bones are hollow and tend to shatter when chewed, producing splinters that can puncture and tear a dog’s esophagus and GI tract. Most people know not to give dogs chicken bones, but if your dog gets into the neighbor’s garbage and you suspect he or she has eaten chicken bones call your vet – do not induce vomiting.
Let’s move on to drugs. And since I’ve probably made you completely paranoid about what your dog’s been getting into, let’s start with the good news: there are some human over-the-counter drugs that can be used for dogs. Aspirin is great for aches and pains, especially in older, arthritic dogs. The dosage is 5mg for each pound of body weight every twelve hours. Benadryl is a God-send if your dogs is having an allergic reaction. Typical allergic reactions in dogs are chewing their paws or other body parts, creating “hot spots” that are red and irritated, and can get infected if the itching is not treated. Millie (I learned a lot from that dog) had seasonal allergies, and in the Spring and Fall I’d give her benadryl every day. She’d eat the tablets right out of the palm of my hand, bless her little heart. The dosage is 1mg per pound of body weight every twelve hours. Peptobismol can also be given to dogs for diarrhea (1 tsp per 20 pounds of body weight every 4-6 hours), and Robitussin for cough (.5mg per pound of body weight every six hours).
Now the bad news. Never give a dog Tylenol or Advil. Tylenol will cause thrombocytopenia, a blood disorder, and one dose can easily be fatal. Advil can cause kidney failure.
Cats are a completely different story, so I can’t help you out there – sorry. But the book below covers all this and more – and would probably be a great gift for any pet owner.
Priced at just $4.99, it is now available in every format your little heart could desire at Smashwords, or, if you prefer, it’s also for sale in a Kindle version at Amazon or a Nook version at Barnes and Noble!