What is Toxic to Dogs?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a veterinarian and I have never received any formal training in veterinary or human medicine in any form. I can't assume any responsibility for any damage to persons or animals of any kind from following anything listed in this article. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to make the right decision for you and your pet.
You probably have seen lists of products, vegetables, fruits, nuts or medications that are toxic to dogs. It’s certainly good to know what is safe for your dog to eat but what is usually missing is the quantity at which consumption is truly dangerous. If a 5 lb Yorkie eats a raisin or two that is obviously a bigger risk than if a 150 lb mastiff does. One of my client’s dogs once ate an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies and was just fine. This article is about what levels of foods and medications are actually toxic to dogs and how to quickly determine the true toxicity levels. The toxicity level is provided per pound of a dog’s body weight so you can easily calculate how much of each substance is dangerous for your dog. Data sources are also provided for each. I hope you find this information helpful.
If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Alternatively, you can also call the Pet Helpline Animal Poison Control Center.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435 | web
Animal Poison Control Center: (855) 764-7661 | web
Emergency procedures for poisoning often include inducing vomiting with Hydrogen Peroxide or administering food-grade Activated Charcoal to neutralize toxins. It may be tempting to try these things yourself and in certain circumstances possibly the right decision, but I highly recommend calling a poison hotline and/or getting your dog to the closest emergency hospital as fast as possible. Ingesting toxic levels of any substance can result in the death of your pet.
Antidepressants: ZoloftCymbaltaEffexor

GARLIC
Many people believe that garlic at any quantity is bad for dogs. That is not so. Too much garlic is. Garlic has a wide range of health benefits to dogs that should not be ignored.
Toxicity Level:
Garlic is metabolized in the gastro-intestinal tract to highly reactive oxidative metabolites. Ingested garlic causes hemolysis in dogs.
• Powdered Garlic: dangerous at over 2.3 gram/lb of body weight per day
• Fresh Garlic: dangerous at over ½ clove / 15 lb of body weight per day
A 10 lb dog would need consume 23 grams of powered garlic or more than ½ clove of fresh garlic before being in danger.

Is Garlic Dangerous for Dogs?
Garlic got a bad rap in 2000, when a research paper was published that was based on garlic’s effect on dogs. Even though the dogs tested didn’t show any outward appearance of toxicity symptoms, there was an effect on the red blood cells. The researchers stated: “we believe that foods containing garlic should be avoided for use in dogs.”
Let’s take a closer look into the study itself, not just one quote. This study, which was undertaken at Hokkaido University, was conducted on four dogs, each one given 1.25 ml of garlic extract per kg of body weight for seven straight days. As an example, if the dog weighed 40 pounds, it would be given about 20 cloves of garlic – a staggering amount! Calculate how much garlic you’d be eating using that formula – it’s enough to make anyone ill. Using this amount of garlic, the study concluded that garlic had the “potential” to cause hemolytic anemia (damage to the red blood cells), and so garlic should not be fed to dogs. It’s important to note that even at these highly elevated doses, no dogs on the study developed hemolytic anemia. On top of that, the study included four dogs, so how do you consider this an appropriate sample? At the very least, it goes to the importance of looking at all the facts of any given study.
Source:
•  Pet Guide

Health Benefits of Garlic
  • Fighting Infection: Garlic has antimicrobial and antibiotic properties and, as such, is beneficial for fighting a range of bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
  • Boosting the Immune System: Garlic increases the activity of cells that seek and destroy cancer cells and invading microbes, thus stimulates immune function. As such, it can help dogs who are fighting cancer or have suppressed immune systems and dogs fighting cancer. It will also boost the immune system in healthy dogs. Garlic has proven to do wonders with dogs with suppressed immune systems and as well has those fighting cancer. It gives a boost to bloodstream cells that kill bad microbes and cancer cells. (Check out The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, who talks about the benefits of garlic to fight cancer in dogs).
  • Repelling Ticks and Fleas: It won’t kill the fleas and ticks, but those little buggers don’t like the taste of it. One sniff and they’ll be making their way off your dog.
  • Liver Boost: Garlic is known to have detoxifying effects, which can help the liver get rid of toxins from the body.
  • Fights Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal Infections: Bacteria, virus and fungi are no match for garlic! With its potent antimicrobial and antibiotic properties, it fights parasites and protozoan organisms as well.
  • Lowers Blood Cholesterol and Triglyceride: Mix the proper dose of uncooked garlic with your dog’s food and it can help lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Cardiovascular Boost: Wonderful in older and overweight dogs, garlic can prevent blood clots, and reduce cholesterol levels and fat build up in the arteries.
Source:
•  Pet Guide


GRAPES AND RAISINS
Ingestion of grapes and raisins (sultanas) can cause severe acute renal failure (grape toxicity). In cases of grape or raisin toxicosis in dogs, the actual mechanism of toxaction remains unknown. The exact pathophysiology of acute renal failure following the ingestion of grapes or raisins remains undetermined. Two theories include metabolic disruption, a nephrotoxic mycotoxin, and an idiosyncratic reaction.
Toxicity Level:
• Grapes: dangerous at 0.7 oz/lb of body weight
• Raisins: dangerous at 0.7 oz/lb of body weight
A 10 lb dog would need consume 0.7 oz of grapes or raisins before being in danger.


CHOCOLATE
The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system. If your dog ingests an amount close to 20 mg/lb of toxic ingredient per pound of dog, you need to call the vet.
Toxicity Level in Chocolate:
• White Chocolate: contains 0.25 mg of toxic ingredient per ounce of chocolate
• Milk Chocolate: contains 58 mg of toxic ingredient per ounce of chocolate
• Dark Chocolate: contains 130 mg of toxic ingredient per ounce of chocolate
• Baker’s Chocolate: contains 393 mg of toxic ingredient per ounce of chocolate
Example 1: a 20 lb dog consumes 3 oz of dark chocolate
  • How much toxin was consumed: 3 oz*130 mg = 390 mg toxin
  • Calculate mg of toxin per lb of body weight: 390 mg / 20 lb = 19.5 mg/lb
  • Assessing the risk: 19.5 is very close to 20. Call the vet immediately.
Example 2: a 20 lb dog consumes 3 oz of milk chocolate
  • How much toxin was consumed: 3 oz*58 mg = 174 mg toxin
  • Calculate mg of toxin per lb of body weight: 174 mg / 20 lb = 8.7 mg/lb
  • Assessing the risk: 8.7 is not even remotely close to 20. Low risk.
Even at low risk, your dog may still get an upset stomach or diarrhea, but you won’t have to worry about bringing it to the emergency hospital.


CAFFEINE
Dogs that consume caffeine may have an increased heart rate and become hyperactive. They get jittery and restless and don’t want to lie still. They may pace or vocalize excessively. Caffeine-laden people talk a lot and their canine counterparts may bark a lot.
Caffeine also raises blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias, which can be dangerous. Dogs may also lose muscle control and have tremors or seizures. Caffeine affects the GI tract and causes vomiting, which can actually be a helpful side effect, since it removes some of the toxin from the body. They may also have diarrhea. Dogs may urinate more just like we do after drinking a couple of sodas.
Dogs with too much caffeine on board may run a fever and become weak. In severe cases, dogs may collapse or drift into a coma. And, unfortunately, some dogs die.
Toxicity Level:
• 9 mg caffeine/lb of body weight can lead to symptoms.
• 20 mg caffeine/lb of body weight can lead to severe illness.
• 75-100 mg caffeine/lb of body weight can lead to seizures and death.
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 90 mg (0.09 gram) of caffeine before being in danger.


ONIONS
Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is toxic to cats and dogs. The ingestion of onions causes a condition called hemolytic anemia, which is characterized by damage to the red blood cells. Onion toxicity can cause the red blood cells circulating through your pet's body to burst.
Onion ingestion commonly leads to liver damage, asthmatic attacks, allergic reactions, weakness, diarrhea, discolored urine, anemia, vomiting, and even dermatitis.
Toxicity Level:
• 0.5% of a dog’s body weight
A 10 lb dog would need consume 0.5 lb (8 oz) of onion before being in danger.


MACADAMIA NUTS
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, pancreatitis and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours. Symptoms can include ataxia (walking in a wobbly fashion), lethargy, vomiting, muscle tremors, a raised body temperature, weakness, and an elevated heart rate and more.
Toxicity Level:
• 2.4 gram/lb of body weight
A 10 lb dog would need consume 24 grams of macadamia nuts before being in danger.


OTHER NUTS
Generally, walnuts (Black, English and Japanese), almonds, pecans, peanuts, hickory nuts, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts are generally not poisonous to dogs, if they are fresh. They are however not easily digested, can give your dog an upset stomach and create gastric intestinal distress. In addition, pistachios can lead to pancreatitis if fed repeatedly.
Problems arise with older, moist or moldy nuts. Moldy nuts contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms. No amount of moldy nuts or moldy foods is safe for dogs to eat.
In summary, if your dog accidentally eats some fresh nuts (except macadamia nuts, see above) it will most likely get an upset stomach but otherwise be ok. If your dog eats moldy nuts, call your veterinarian.


ALCOHOL
Alcohol toxicosis results in metabolic acidosis, hypothermia, and CNS depression. CNS depression refers to physiological depression of the central nervous system that can result in decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness possibly leading to coma or death.
Toxicity Level:
• 2-4 ml/lb of body weight
Example: a 10 lb dog consumes 2 fl oz of beer with 4.2% alcohol (i.e. Budweiser)
  • The dog consumed 2 (fl oz) * 29.5735 = 59.15 ml of beer.
  • That amount of beer has 59.15 ml * 4.2% = 2.48 ml of alcohol.
  • A 10 lb dog would be at risk at 2ml * 10 lb = 20 ml of alcohol consumption.
  • Assessing the risk: 2.48 ml is way below 20 ml. Minimal to no risk.
A 10 lb dog would need consume 20 to 40 ml of alcohol before being in danger.


XYLITOL
(in many sugar-free gums and candy)
Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute. Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol, and in nature it is found in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and some other hardwood trees and fruits.
Commercially, most xylitol is extracted from corn fiber, birch trees, hardwood trees and other vegetable material. Although it has been used as a sugar substitute for decades, its popularity has increased dramatically in the last few years.
However, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. Xylitol is estimated to be 100 times as toxic as chocolate to dogs. The most common source of xylitol poisoning that Pet Poison Helpline gets called about comes from sugar-free gum. With certain brands of gum, only 9 pieces of gum can result in severe hypoglycemia in a 45 pound dog, while 45 pieces would need to be ingested to result in liver failure. With other common brands of gum (which contain 1 g/piece of gum), only 2 pieces would result in severe hypoglycemia, while 10 pieces can result in liver failure. As there is a large range of xylitol in each different brand and flavor of gum, it is important to identify whether a toxic amount has been ingested.
More recently, veterinarians started warning pet owners of peanut butter; some brands now use xylitol as sweeteners. Make sure to check the label if you buy peanut butter.
Toxicity Level:
• 50 mg/lb of body weight can lead to hypoglycemia
• 225mg/lb of body weight can lead to liver failure
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 500 mg (0.5 gram) of xylitol before being in danger.


NEVER SAFE
No amount of the following is safe for your dog to consume and you should call your veterinarian immediately should your dog ingest any of these:
• Unbaked bread dough
• Compost
• Human medications
• Household cleaners


ACTUALLY HARMLESS
Despite popular belief the following are harmless to your dog and the worst you’ll see is an upset stomach for a day or two:
• Tomato (ripe)
• Avocado


IBUPROFEN
(Advil and Motrin)
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin.
Toxicity Level: (1 lb = 0.453592 kg)
• 25-125 mg/kg leads to vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, anorexia
• > 175 mg/kg leads to all the above plus hematemesis, melena, polyuria or polydipsia, oliguria, uremia, acute renal failure
• > 400 mg/kg leads to all the above plus seizures, ataxia, coma, shock
• > 600 mg/kg leads to death
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 10 lb * 0.453592 kg * 25 mg = 113 mg (0.11 gram or 0.0038 oz) to be in danger.
Induce vomiting if possible. Seek veterinary attention immediately. The emergency response your veterinarian will most likely take is administering activate charcoal every six to eight hours for 24 hours or pump out the stomach if not too much time has passed.


NAPROXEN
(Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, Apranax and Naprelan)
Naproxen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is structurally and pharmacologically similar to ibuprofen and ketoprofen. Naproxen is the active ingredient in Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, Apranax, Naprelan and Apo-naproxen.
Toxicity Level: (1 lb = 0.453592 kg)
• 2-10 mg/kg of body weight may result in gastrointestinal irritation or ulceration
• > 10 mg/kg of body weight may put dogs at risk for acute renal failure
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 10 lb * 0.453592 kg * 2 mg = 9.07 mg (0.009 gram or 0.00032 oz) to be in danger.
Induce vomiting if possible. Seek veterinary attention immediately. The emergency response your veterinarian will most likely take is administering activate charcoal every six to eight hours for 24 hours or pump out the stomach if not too much time has passed.


ACETAMINOPHEN
(Tylenol, Excedrin, Allerest, Anacin-3, Comtrex, Dayquil, Nyquil, SineAid, SineOff, Vanquish)
In the body, acetaminophen is changed into glucuronic acid and sulfate. A small amount is normally oxidized to reactive metabolites. These reactive compounds are normally bound by glutathione and excreted from the body. At elevated doses, the supply of glutathione becomes exhausted allowing the reactive metabolite to bind to cells causing cell death.
Toxicity Level:
• 45 mg/lb of body weight
A 10 lb dog would only need to consume 450 mg of Acetaminophen to be in danger.
Induce vomiting if possible. Seek veterinary attention immediately. The emergency response your veterinarian will most likely take is administering activate charcoal every six to eight hours for 24 hours or pump out the stomach if not too much time has passed.


ASPIRIN
(Acetylsalicylic Acid, and Salicylate)
The toxic effects include bone marrow suppression, bleeding, inflammation of the liver, kidney disease, and stomach ulceration. Signs usually develop within 4-6 hours with an acute overdose. They include depression, lack of appetite, vomiting which may contain blood, abdominal pain, increased respiratory rate, acute kidney failure, weakness, coma, and death.
Toxicity Level:
• 22 mg/lb of body weight per day
• Chronic lower doses in dogs may still lead to stomach ulcers and perforation, toxic liver inflammation, and bone marrow suppression resulting in anemia.
A 10 lb dog would only need to consume 220 mg of Aspirin to be in danger.
Induce vomiting if possible. Seek veterinary attention immediately. The emergency response your veterinarian will most likely take is administering activate charcoal every six to eight hours for 24 hours or pump out the stomach if not too much time has passed.


ZOLOFT
(Sertraline)
Zoloft, also called Sertraline, is a commonly prescribed drug for depression in people. An overdose of Zoloft in dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increase in salivation and lethargy. If a dog eats too much Zoloft then they can get more serious symptoms such as muscle tremors, agitation, hyperactivity, more vocalizing, high or low blood pressure, seizures, coma and yes, it can be fatal as well. These more serious symptoms can be caused by something called serotonin syndrome.
Toxicity Level: (1 lb = 0.453592 kg)
• 10-20 mg/kg of body weight can lead to mydriasis
• 30-50 mg/kg of body weight can lead to muscle tremors
• 80 mg/kg of body weight can lead to death
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 10 lb * 0.453592 kg * 10 mg = 45 mg to be in danger.


CYMBALTA
(Duloxetine)
Duloxetine is prescribed as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent for people. When ingested by pets it can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
Toxicity Level: (1 lb = 0.453592 kg)
• 1.5 - 12 mg/kg of body weight
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 10 lb * 0.453592 kg * 1.5 mg = 7 mg to be in danger.


EFFEXOR
(Venlafaxine hydrochloride)
Venlafaxine is a potent inhibitor of neuronal serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake and a
weak inhibitor of dopamine reuptake. It’s well-absorbed and not highly protein-bound. The half-life in dogs is two to four hours.
Toxicity Level: (1 lb = 0.453592 kg)
• 1 mg/kg of body weight can lead to mild depression
• 10 mg/kg of body weight can lead to tremors
A 10 lb dog would only need consume 10 lb * 0.453592 kg * 1 mg = 4.5 mg to be in danger.


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