In the second part of Hemopet’s Blog series on toxic foods for dogs, we discuss nontoxic foods for dogs that often end up on toxic food lists. The definition of toxic is: containing material or being poisonous, especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation. These foods do not necessarily contain a chemical that is particularly toxic to companion dogs, but can cause serious health problems or potentially death.
With all foods detailed throughout the series, we encourage everyone to know where your local emergency veterinary clinic is and to have the number programmed into your phone.
Alcohol is not good for companion dogs and the effects can be significant – including death. A dog’s reaction to alcohol in general is similar to humans, but it takes a lot less to induce alcohol poisoning in dogs compared to humans. In fact, alcohol poisoning in dogs is more common than you might think.
Common signs to watch for:
- Breathing difficulty
- Depression or lethargy
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Respiratory failure
- Vomiting or retching
If you have ever made a loaf of bread, you know that sometimes you need to leave it out for it to rise.
So, if a dog eats this, the bread dough expands in the stomach similar to being baked in the oven.
Ingestion of unbaked dough can lead to alcohol poisoning because of fermentation and/or to bloat.
Signs of bloat:
- Distended stomach
- Elevated heart rate
Salmon Poisoning Disease
Salmon poisoning disease is unique to dogs that eat raw salmon; whereas bears and raccoons can eat this raw fish.
So, why didn’t we put it on the toxic list?
Because, the bacteria causing the disease can be cooked out, so dogs can eat fully cooked salmon and fish.
Salmon can have a fluke parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola. The parasite itself is not the problem. The problem is a bacterium that can infect the parasite called Neorickettsia helminthoeca. It is a part of the Rickettsia bacterial genus. Ticks can carry other types of rickettsia organisms, such as Rickettsia rickettsii, that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Ehrlichia and Anaplasma spp are also members of the Rickettsia genus of zoonotic diseases.
Salmon Poisoning Disease is a very serious poisoning. Dogs can show signs within 6 days and death can occur within 14 days. 90% of dogs that go untreated die from the disease.
Signs of salmon poisoning disease:
- Lack of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
First of all, we do not advocate feeding salty snacks to your companion dogs.
With that being said, we were unsure about including salt on the toxic list because it takes a lot to induce toxicity compared to other foods like chocolate and macadamia nuts.
Plus, Merck Veterinary Manual states, “In general, animals can tolerate high concentrations of salt or sodium in the diet if they have continuous access to fresh water.”
This is our perspective:
- The acute oral lethal dose of salt in dogs is approximately 4 g/kg.
- We looked up a popular brand of tortilla chips to figure out how many chips would need to be ingested to cause death. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central, 7 chips contained 115 milligrams of sodium.
- That’s .115 grams of sodium per serving.
- If you multiply .115 grams by 35, you get 4.025 grams. So, a dog would have to eat approximately 35 servings – or 245 chips per kilogram of his body weight – to reach the lethal dose.
- If your dog weighs 20 pounds or 9 kilograms, that’s 2,205 chips all at once.
However, salt is not only in tortilla chips, but also the main ingredient in rock salt to melt ice and other household items.
So, let’s say your dog does get into the rock salt or swallows ocean water, what are the signs? The signs can be severe.
Signs of sodium poisoning:
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive thirst or urination
Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs and Cats. Pet Poison Helpline, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/alcohol.
Bread Dough Toxicity in Dogs and Cats. Pet Poison Helpline, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/bread-dough.
Dodds, Jean. “Toxic Foods for Dogs: Are They All Truly Toxic?” Pet Health Resources Blog, Hemopet, 16 Feb. 2020, https://www.hemopet.org/toxic-foods-for-dogs-are-they-truly-toxic-part-1/.
Hoggon, Sarah. “Salmon Poisoning.” Pet Health Topics, College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/diseases/salmon-poisoning.
Thompson, Larry. “Overview of Salt Toxicity.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/salt-toxicity/overview-of-salt-toxicity.