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44 Poisons: Foods


This article is from the Canine Medical Information FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.

44 Poisons: Foods

Chocolate, tea, coffee, cola:

It is not chocolate itself that is poisonous to dogs, it is the
theobromine, a naturally occuring compound found in chocolate.
Theobromine causes different reactions to different dogs: dogs with
health problems, especially epilepsy, are more affected by theobromine
than healthy dogs. Theobromine can trigger epileptic seizures in dogs
prone to or at risk of epilepsy. The size of the dog will also be a
major factor: the smaller the dog, the more affected it is by the same
amount than a larger dog. Therefore, toxicity is described on a mg/Kg

Furthermore, theobromine can cause cardiac irregularity, especially if
the dog becomes excited. Cardiac arythmia can precipitate a myocardial
infarct which can kill the dog.

Theobromine also irritates the GI tract and in some dogs can cause
internal bleeding which in some cases kills them a day or so later.

Theobromine is also present in differing amounts in different kinds of
chocolate. milk chocolate has 44-66 mg/oz, dark chocolate 450 mg/oz
and baking/bitter chocolate or cocoa powder varies as much as 150-600
mg/oz. How much chocolate a dog can survive depends on its weight (and
other unknown circumstances). Under 200 mg theobromine per kg body
weight no deaths have been observed.

Theobromine will stay in the bloodstream between 14 and 20 hours. It
goes back into the bloodstream through the stomach lining and takes a
long time for the liver to filter out.

Within two hours of ingestion, try inducing vomiting unless your dog
is markedly stimulated, comatose, or has lost the gag reflex. If your
dog has eaten a considerable amount of chocolate, or displays any of
the above symptoms, take it to the vet without delay.

In the absence of major symptoms, administer activated charcoal. The
unabsorbed theobromine will chemically bond to this and be eliminated
in the feces. In pinch, burnt (as in thoroughly burnt, crumbling in
hand) toast will do.


Walnuts are poisonous to dogs and should be avoided. In particular,
there is a type of fungus common to walnuts (especially wet deadfall
walnuts) that will cause severe episodes of seizuring. Many nuts are
not good for dogs in general, their high phosporous content is said to
possibly lead to bladder stones.


Onions, especially raw onions, have been shown to trigger hemolytic
anemia in dogs. (Stephen J Ettinger, D.V.M and Edward C. Fieldman,
D.V.M. 's book: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine vol. 2 pg
1884.) Also: "Six Cases of Heinz Body Haemolytic Anaemia Induced by
Onion and/or Garlic Ingestion" - CM Edwards and CJ Belford
Aust.Vet.Prac. 26 (1) March 1996, 18-22.

Potato poisonings among people and dogs have occurred. Solanum
alkaloids can be found in in green sprouts and green potato skins,
which occurs when the tubers are exposed to sunlight during growth or
after harvest. The relatively rare occurrence of actual poisoning is
due to several factors: solanine is poorly absorbed; it is mostly
hydrolyzed into less toxic solanidinel; and the metabolites are
quickly eliminated. Note that cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for
dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible.

Turkey skin is currently thought to cause acute pancreatis in dogs.


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