When it comes to eating, “finicky” is not a word that is often used to describe the culinary desires of our four-legged friends. Most dogs will eat virtually anything with little prompting. It is this canine gastronomical “joie de vie” that sometimes gets our furry brethren into trouble. Consider the rather famous X-ray of a German Sheppard that managed to swallow a 19-inch long butcher knife. It’s out there, on the internet, if you care to look for it. From rocks to shish-kebab skewers, dogs have willingly gobbled. One can only imagine what went through the examining veterinarian’s mind when he viewed the X-ray of a Springer Spaniel in intestinal distress, and found…another Springer Spaniel staring at him like a canine apparition! Fortunately, Cocker #2 was a stuffed toy and not the real thing. See it for yourself here.
Generally, a prudent pet owner will stop his pet from eating things that seem dangerous, and that’s a good thing. But, an even greater danger is posed by quite a few common, though less obvious, tidbits that we may inadvertently allow our canines to eat. Unless you live in Geewillikers, Alaska, you probably know that dogs should not be fed chocolate. You may also know that raisins and grapes should never be on a canine menu, and that anti-freeze is definitely not a suitable canine beverage. All of those canine favorites can kill, and sometimes in very small quantities.
But, there are some other sneaky-dangerous things of which many pet owners simply aren’t aware. Like, for example, Cocoa Mulch. Cocoa Mulch is a commonly-used landscaping mulch that retains water and is considered to be environmentally friendly. Cocoa Mulch is made from the shells of cocoa beans (mmmm…chocolaty!). This chocolate plant remnant also contains theobromine, the same chemical component found in chocolate. The mulch even smells like the beans that make your chocolate bars. Hershey, a name synonymous with chocolate, DOES NOT manufacture or market cocoa mulch. But, because people inquire, Hershey does maintain some information on their website about cocoa mulch. It’s a little hard to find, so go here to read it.
Although one might surmise that the shells of cocoa beans would be bad for our pets, there is, as the Grinch might say, plenty of “naughty not niceness” in the botanical world. Chances are good that you have some plants around your house that will make your best friend very sick. Be especially cautious about using certain plants as barriers in or around canine play areas. For example, English Laurel is a great shrub to use to make your fence seem less fence-like. It’s a delightful, attractive, and fast growing answer for anyone with a nosy neighbor. Unfortunately, just about everything on the English Laurel Plant is poisonous. I will spare you all the chemical names but, in essence, the combination of chemicals contained in the English Laurel plant causes cyanide poisoning which can be deadly to both human and canine. To be safe, keep rover away from plants that you haven’t researched. Even plants that you might not suspect – aloe vera, for example – can be toxic to pets.
Other “organic” pet threats include, such innocuous things as peach pits. Who among us hasn’t eaten a nice ripe peach and then casually tossed the pit into the woods behind the old homestead? Remember the supposed curative power of a substance derived from peach pits called laetrile? It was once pitched as a cure for cancer. Well, peach pits — just a few of them even — can be deadly to your pet. When it comes to fruit, the seeds are often trouble, so it’s best to keep fruit and nuts off of Fido’s menu altogether.
A human remedy that can have the exact opposite effect on canines is Tylenol (acetaminophen). While your vet may recommend that you give your canine aspirin for pain, Tylenol, even in small doses, can be deadly.
Also for pet owners with dogs that spend the majority of their time outside, there will be those times when inclement weather causes a change of plans. Often, outdoor canines are kept in laundry rooms and mud rooms when Mother Nature threatens. Fabric softeners and detergents, which are sometimes stored on the floor in laundry rooms, attract pets because of their pleasant smells, but many detergents and fabric softeners are highly toxic. It’s best to treat your canines as if they were infants. Keep the danger out of reach.
There are plenty of web resources that will tell you what’s poisonous to your pet, but, since we can’t watch our pets 24/7, learn to watch for the signs that your pet may have eaten something toxic. If your pet vomits, has diarrhea, becomes disoriented, looses its balance, is listless, or seems in distress, then don’t fool around, drop what you are doing and head for the nearest vet.