Almost every pet owner knows this look. You're eating a nice meal, glance down, and see your pet pleading - imploring - for just one little bite. It's hard to resist the temptation to share your table scraps. PAWS Atlanta Medical Director and veterinarian A. Olly Neal has been there. Dr. Neal says, "When they're looking at us with those pitiful eyes... I've been guilty of it, my wife is a veterinarian. We've both been guilty of it."
But Dr. Neal says be careful, because lots of people food isn't safe for pets. Foods like coffee - and chocolate - high in caffeine and substances known as methylxanthines that can trigger vomiting, diarrhea and more serious side effects. He says, "What happens is that it causes and increase in the heart rate, increase in the respiratory rate. And the rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is."
Alcohol is also toxic to pets. Neal says, "The problem is dogs weigh less than we do. What you'll notice, sometimes. is vomiting, central nervous symptoms, where they're kind of stumbling and ataxic."
Raw foods like meat and eggs can expose pets to harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. And, Neal says, avoid giving your dog molded foods, macadamia nuts, and certain vegetables, like onions and garlic. Dr .Neal explains, "they can do some damage to the dogs red blood cells and cause a problem. So, you want to stay away from those as well."
And there's a fruit you may have in the fridge that can be dangerous: grapes. Neal says, "People don't know this but grapes can actually be very toxic to dogs, There was a study where one grape caused fullblown kidney failure in a dog. Now, there are other dogs that can ingest grapes and never have a problem."
Err on the side of caution. If you don't know for certain a food is safe, don't give it to your pet.
If you are worried your pet has eaten something dangerous, Neal says, "You want to contact your veterinarian immediately. They'll kind of talk you through it. Sometimes the vet will give you a drug to actually make them vomit., and throw that product up. The sooner, the better."
For a list of the most common foods that can be dangerous for pets, visit the Humane Society of the United States: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/foods_poisonous_to_pets.html