Expert Author Peter Demmon

Dogs are known scavengers. They will eat or taste just about everything that they find. If a family dog eats the wrong thing, this can be potentially heartbreaking and expensive for the dog owner. Not only should a dog owner make a point of not feeding specific foods to their dog, but they should also make sure that the dog will have absolutely no access to certain foods. If you do a cursory search on the Internet for a comprehensive list of foods that your pet dog should not eat, the main culprits make themselves immediately obvious. Most of the foods that are not good for dogs will not kill your pet outright with a limited dose, but they can be fatal if abused. In part one of this series, I am going to tackle the two main culprits: macadamia nuts and chocolate.

What is amusing about all of the cloned, semi-plagiarized, and half-written articles that are online concerning foods that are bad for dogs is that they all cite macadamia nuts. It is almost humorous, because macadamia nuts aren't exactly a common household item. The warning still needs to be out about them anyway. Perhaps during the Christmas season, macadamia nuts could be more of an issue. But in general, it is safe to say that most households have a dearth of macadamia nuts versus a glut. Whatever the case may be, macadamia nuts and their ill-effects on dogs are at the top of the list.

It seems that it should be a rather simple task to keep macadamia nuts from your dog. If your dog does in fact consume some macadamia nuts, it is good to recognize how potentially serious this could be. For example, one of the extreme symptoms of macadamia nut ingestion can be renal (kidney) failure. Chances are that if your dog consumes macadamia nuts he will probably deal with the general sickness associated with a poisoning such as vomiting, staggering (featuring a general loss of muscle coordination (ataxia)), an abnormally high temperature (hyperthermia), and an increased heart rate. Small amounts of macadamia nuts aren't going to kill your dog, but these are the symptoms that should be watched out for.

Most macadamia nuts are served in or near a chocolatey substance, whether it is a cookie, cake or some other dessert. Chocolate is another common offender to a dog's diet. Probably a big part of this is the fact that it is everywhere. Interestingly enough, studies are split as to whether caffeine naturally occurs in chocolate or not. Whatever the case may be, caffeine is a part of most of the chocolate that you will find in your local supermarket, or household. The subject of chocolate opens up the sub-category of caffeinated foods and beverages, which are also a big part of human daily life. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda and a host of other items are infused with caffeine in order to keep us humans up and running. However, the results of caffeine in a dog aren't comfortable for your pet at all. The standard poisoning reactions of vomiting, stomach (abdominal) pain, hyperthermia, arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), hyperactivity, and diarrhea are what your dog will experience several hours after exposure to chocolate or caffeinated comestibles.

Obviously, extreme doses of chocolate can lead to extreme reactions, such as seizures, comas and death. Dogs can handle a bit of chocolate though. Some feel that chocolate doses get more toxic when they exceed more than one ounce per body pound of the dog. Caffeine isn't the only alkaloid in chocolate that can affect your dog. Theobromine, another stimulant in chocolate also brings about its share of problems as well. The effects of theobromine are similar to those of caffeine in humans, and it is speculated that this is why so many people are convinced that caffeine is a naturally occurring ingredient in chocolate. Theobromine is a part of the cacao plant and is the primary alkaloid in chocolate. This means that straight cocoa powder is extremely toxic to a dog. This also gives way to the theory that the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it will be for your dog. In order to comprehend the prevalence of theobromine in caffeinated food and drink (specifically energy drinks and sodas) one needs to also know that this alkaloid is also found in the kola nut, coffee aribica, the guarana berry and the tea plant. It is a good thing to know that theobromine and caffeine are probably in your house somewhere, and that they are both extremely dangerous for your dog.

Dogs are potentially in a dangerous position within the average household. In theory, they can get into all sorts of foods and products that can be harmful for them. It is up to the owner to make sure that potentially toxic substances are kept out of a dog's path. Most of the foods that are not good for dogs will not kill your pet outright with a limited dose. Macadamia nuts and chocolate are two that fit into this category. Both are very dangerous for your dog, but hopefully, you won't have to worry about your dog consuming a lethal quantity of it. If you determine that your dog has eaten an unspecified amount of macadamia nuts, chocolate or a substance full of caffeine, do yourself and your dog a favor and take him to the vet immediately.

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