Thursday, 20 December 2012

Foods to avoid

The foods which all veterinarians and animal nutritionists tell us to avoid giving our cats and dogs are:
1.   Chocolate, which includes all chocolate flavoured ice creams, cakes, deserts cookies.
2.    Cooked Bones
3.    Onions
These foods appear to be the most life threatening to our pets, especially when given in large quantities. 

Chocolate contains a chemical called ‘theobromine’ which is similar in its chemical structure to caffeine (Schenck 2010).  In dogs, theobromine remains in the body three times longer than it does in the human body over stimulating nerve cells.  It can be fatal and as there is no specific antidote available, vomiting needs to be induced to eliminate as much of the chemical as possible.  The symptoms of chocolate intake are vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremours, incontinence.  The sugar in chocolate is also damaging to the pancreas. (Schultze 1998)

Cooked bones should never be given to our cats and dogs.  Once bones are cooked they become brittle and easily splinter into very sharp pieces.  Splintered bones can cut open the digestive tract and cause internal bleeding.  They can also become lodged in the gut causing an intestinal blockage. (Arora 2006)

Onions should be avoided which includes all foods containing onion powder. Onion powder is found in many common table scraps such as gravy, sausages, seasoned and spiced foods.  (Coscia 2005)  Onions and garlic can damage the lipid membranes of red blood cells.  This leads to irreversible denaturing of heamoglobin, which causes anemia. (Schenk 2010)

Besides chocolate, cooked bones and onions, there are many other foods that humans eat in large quantities that can be dangerous for our pets.  *However the views and opinions between animal nutritionists are varied. 
For example, some nutritionists strongly oppose milk produce and garlic for cats and dogs, whilst others are strong supporters of it:

Food type

Reasons why it should not be fed to cats or dogs
Excessive fat
Too much fat over stimulates the pancreas. (Olson 2010) It can also lead to obesity and an addiction to unhealthy food.  Fats can also be rancid and carcinogenic especially in stale or re-heated foods.
Excessive carbohydrates (sugars)
Once carbohydrates such as grains and pasta have been broken down into simple sugars they stress the pancreas which can lead to pancreatis, obesity and diabetes (Schultze 1998) Too much sugar can also lead to Candida yeast overgrowth.  It is also worth noting that cancer cells thrive on sugar in acidic environments.
Raisins and Grapes
Dogs have been known to present all the symptoms of renal failure within 48hours of consuming raisins or grapes.  The cause is unknown (ASPCA website)
Macadamia Nuts
They contain unknown toxins which cause vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, lethargy, lameness, hyperthermia (ASPCA website)
Avocados contain ‘persin’ a chemical poison to cats and dogs.  Persin causes vomiting and diarrhea (ASPCA website)
Garlic contains sulfoxides, disulfides that (like onions) damage red blood cells.  In opposition of this, garlic in controlled amounts can eliminate intestinal worms and the accumulation of excessive mucous in the intestine. (Goldstein et al  2005)  There is however agreement between veterinarians, that in large amounts, garlic does cause anemia.
*Milk and milk produce
“Milk is a hormonal growth fluid produced by a mother animal to nourish a youngster of her own species.”  Milk and milk produce is an unnatural food source for cats and dogs (Schultze 1998)

Another seemingly harmless treat to feed our pets (in particular dogs) are leftovers and table scraps.  Unfortunately there is a general consensus in most homes that food scraps (leftovers) should not be wasted.  When there are so many families with pet cats and dogs, table scraps can seem like a good idea as a source of pet food.  However, if there is any doubt a food may not be a healthy component in our pet’s diet it should most definitely be thrown out. 

Pets should never be used in place of a dustbin.  Table scraps are far better off thrown away than running the risk of them causing damage to our pet’s health.

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