7 Potentially Fatal Things to your Dog in Your Home, Right Now!

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A dog drinking water from a hose

A dog drinking water from a hose

People tend to think that if something is safe for them to ingest or be around, it too, should be safe for their dog.

Many dogs have died due to eating human foods, or medications that they can’t metabolize.

And, it is sad every time it happens.

One of my biggest eye openers was when I was a vet tech and baking breads and bread machines were in vogue and the thing to do!

We had a dog come in with bread toxicity.

YES!

I said “bread toxicity” the dog had ingested a full pan of bread dough while it was rising.

The yeast in bread needs a warm, moist, environment to grow and expand (this is how yeast works) but the dog’s stomach was the perfect breeding ground.

It actually caused the dog to be intoxicated, just like being drunk, except his stomach was also expanding due to the gasses released by the yeast.

The dog came into our clinic disoriented and trying in vain to vomit.  He had to be hospitalized.

I have even heard of some dogs (usually smaller dogs) who eat a whole loaf of bread, that also suffer from this toxicity but usually it is not as marked as that caused by dough.

7.  Gum

There is an ingredient called “xylitol” in sugar free gum (and many other sugar free items) that dogs are unable to metabolize that is toxic and can cause seizures.

Even small amounts of xylitol (between 50 mg and 100 mg per kilogram of weight) in dogs can cause seizure, liver failure and death and is estimated to be 100 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate.   For more information on the dangers of xylitol click here.

I don’t even buy gum anymore, but if I did, I would keep it under lock and key.

Gum smells sweet and therefore is likely to be consumed by your dog.

6.  Nutmeg

I have to admit something here.  Because of my background in veterinary world and dog training, I knew that nutmeg was toxic to dogs.

And, I also admit I own nutmeg and have used nutmeg in baking “human” baked goods on occasion.  But I didn’t know even humans can overdose on nutmeg!  It is actually a scary substance, when you research its affects!

Needless to say, if it can poison people and affect their nervous system it can poison your dog in much smaller doses.  So never share a baked good with your dog if you are not sure if it contains nutmeg or not!

And, make sure that your put the bottle somewhere where animals and children cannot reach!

For more on nutmeg toxicity and your dog click here

5.  Macadamia Nutsbassett hound

I absolutely LOVE white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies!

And, we tend to think if something is healthy for us: carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, nuts then it would be healthy for our dogs, but macadamia nuts are one of those healthy things for humans that must be avoided by dogs.

Macadamia nut toxicity can happen anywhere from up to 12 hours after ingestion and signs include weakness, inability to walk, vomiting, seizures and elevated temperatures.  For more click here.

If you bring these things into your home, make sure that you put them somewhere that your dog cannot reach them and make sure everyone in the household knows (children) what is toxic and what is not.

I don’t even keep raisins or gum in the house when we have children here, it is just easier not to have it and not to worry!

4.  Bones

Bones!  Yes, bones can be toxic to your dog.

There are a few things to consider.

A lot of people will say that their dog is a predator, and in the wild he would be eating raw bones.  This is very true!  In the wild he would be eating bones.

And, I think we can all admit if the wolf got a blockage or internal bleeding from being stabbed internally with a bone, we would never know.  Odds are fairly high that wolves get blockages and suffer from salmonella too.

But, the wolf would be eating raw bones that had not been cooked.

Once we cook bones, we make them brittle.  Ever folded a chicken wing back onto itself to get to the meat; the bone fractures and splinters; and if it were to do that inside your dog’s stomach or intestines he could possibly die.

You wouldn’t risk swallowing a cooked chicken, or pork bone and getting a gastrointestinal perforation, then why would you give it to your dog?

I have less worries and issues with people feeding their dogs raw bones, because of course they would be consumed by their wild cousins, but even raw bones can cause perforations and death.  The difference is, these wild dogs, aren’t pets so we don’t notice or investigate when they die and what they died from.

Salmonella is also a concern with raw meats and bones.

Salmonella is very real and can make our pet dogs very sick.

And, again I would say that even wild dogs suffer and die from salmonella; the difference is that no one is there to investigate and when you are wild you don’t have many options!

Sometimes risk salmonella or die is an easy decision for a starving dog.

And, little dogs swallowing any bone can cause stomach or intestinal blockage.

3.  Corn Cobs

Corn on the cob is a summer staple at most homes!

Want to know how many of those cobs I have seen that have to be cut out of the intestines of the family dog?

DOZENS

Dogs aren’t great chewers.  They are more of a bite and gulp kind of species.

Ever give your dog a fairly big treat to just watch him swallow it?

So, then, it shouldn’t be any surprise that dogs don’t usually “chew” a corn cob into small pieces.

If they did, then the corn cob would be much more capable of passing.

But big pieces of spongey corn cob can’t be broken down by your dog’s body.

Which means that it quickly becomes a stomach/ and or intestinal blockage.

If you can’t eat or poop, you don’t live long.

So surgery must be the next step after a dog eats or swallows a corn cob.

corn2.  String

String is another killer.

At the veterinary clinic I worked at, several years ago, we used to see a Bull Terrier who was infamous for ingesting things that he shouldn’t.

He had, had many surgeries and he always presented the same way.

Regular Neo, who took several vet techs to restrain, would come in lethargic and very easily manipulated.  We always knew when he was showing good behavior at the vet that he was probably on his way for another surgery.

String was a big component for him, on several occasions.

Once, the string had been in his belly for so long that it had cut off blood flow to a decently large part of his intestines.  Having no blood flow, meant that the tissue died and became necrotic.  Thankfully it was able to be removed successfully but a person/dog only has so much intestines to spare.

String that is swallowed should immediately become a worry.  It knots and meshes together is places and can easily get stuck and kill the dog’s intestines.

Some dogs can play with string type tug toys with no problems.  Some dogs even shred these toys but don’t, then, ingest the string.

But for those dogs that ingest the string, these toys are very, very dangerous.  And, if the subtle signs (lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea) aren’t noticed these dogs can die.

1.  Water

Water toxicity is actually a real thing!

I know it sounds ridiculous but it is real, and it can be very dangerous.

The first time I have ever heard of water toxicity was when a friend that I trained Service Dogs with described how her baby/toddler nearly died.

He desired a bottle and she had given him water, which he drank.  And, then she had given him a bottle or two more of regular water.

When he became sluggish and disoriented she rushed him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with water toxicity and electrolytes were administered.

And, having done a little bit of research for this article I see that she is not the only one, and she was lucky her baby didn’t die, like some have.

You see, we all need electrolytes and sodium in our blood to keep things functioning the way that they should.

Heck I was at a dock diving competition a few weekends ago and it was so hot, and I drank so much water (instead of sugar, or drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade) that I literally made myself sick.  I spent the night on the bathroom floor sick as a dog.

Your dog can also suffer from water toxicity low sodium also called hyponatremia.  Excess swimming, water play in the hose, or even drinking too much water can cause this ailment which is relatively rare but often fatal in dogs.

It happens when more water enters the body than the body can process.  The water dilutes body fluids creating a dangerous shift in electrolyte balance.

Remember that sodium is an essential nutrient for a healthy body and maintains blood pressure and nerve and muscle function.

The excess water causes these cells (especially known in the brain and central nervous system) to swell.

Hyponatremia Symptoms Include

  • Lethargy
  • Staggering
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Glazed eyes
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • And even death.

Treatment includes IV electrolytes, diuretics, and possible administration of drugs to reduce brain swelling.

Prevention

Know the symptoms.

Watch your dog as he interacts with and in the water.

Be especially cognizant of water from the hose because it is under pressure and can build up quickly in his system..

Take frequent breaks if your dog is retrieving and swimming so that you can monitor his intake.

Give him frequent but small drinking breaks.

Don’t let him lay down and try to drink the whole bowl, it is not good for him.

I often use ice water to slow my dog’s excessive drinking because I find that it is harder to lap up water covered in ice cubes.

**Hypernatremia

Hypernatremia is the opposite of hyponatremia; it is an over load of sodium in the system and can result in much the same symptoms.

If you go to the beach, be sure to bring fresh water so that your dog is not at risk from drinking salt water!

There are 43 Comments

  1. RaD says:

    Okay, I have a question about the ice water… while it slows down excessive/quick drinking, can’t it cause issues in a dog that might be overheated or has just been really active. I read somewhere it’s better to drink room temp water because the ice water has to pass by your heart and the quick cooling of your blood can cause issues. Wouldn’t it be the same for your dog?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Sure. But we aren’t hopefully in threat of heat exhuastion all of the time.

    I rarely worry that my dogs are going to pass out because they are overheated. And, as I have written if you have a dog that has heat exhaustion you want cool water not cold water. Cold water can cause shock but most is not because it is consumed it is from people who want to put their dogs in ice cold baths.

    Everything in moderation. I find that after a hot day mine enjoy a little bit of ice water and it keeps them from wanting to over drink.

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  2. Lynn W. Jackson says:

    Thanks for these reminders, Chet! I didn’t know about water toxicity and found your article very informative, as always. I appreciate your sharing your wealth of knowledge, information and expertise with those of us who are “less fortunate”!

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  3. Guy Davis says:

    Thank you for the information!

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  4. Don says:

    Every time I give my dog doggy ice cream or ice cubes, or even ice cold water she vomits. She did not used to have this problem. She is a three quarter blue heeler. Two and a half years old. If I don’t give her anything cold she is fine. Don’t know what to do about this? Thanks so much.

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  5. My shitzu often tries to drink pond water rather than tap water.I try to stop him.he will sometimes accept a bottled tap water in the car.I often think he doesnt get enough water.

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  6. Teresita says:

    Thanks for the info. I live in a sub tropical climate island in the Caribbean and I have always taught that because of the heat and humidity my dog needed extra water and have always been worried that he will overheat or dehydrate caz i would constantly try to give him water. But now with this knowledge you have shared I now understand that the amount of water my dog consumes is enough as he know how much he needs in his body to kool him down. I’ll just make sure he bathes to kool down on those days when it’s too hot.

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  7. Thomas says:

    Is feeding ice to your dog bad for them

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Most anything in small amounts is fine. Ice can be hard on teeth and if a dog is having heat stroke issues it can cause shock but normally, ice is fine.

    I often poor small amounts of water over ice to help slow my dog’s water consumption down.

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  8. Roger says:

    Thanks for your very informative article it’s helpful and educational

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  9. Mary says:

    Please help us with the barking and over reacting when someone comes to the door. Thanks for the info about ice water we have always given our do cold water , not anymore

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  10. Tricia says:

    Chet, thanks so much for this article! I had no idea about water toxicity, bones, nutmeg, or macadamea nuts!!! I am going to be even more careful about what my little Stu eats now. I love your articles. They are very informative and I always end up learning something new that could help my dog. Thanks!

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  11. scott says:

    I can relate to water issues…I think about it as if I ate an ice cream fast and got a head freeze I think it’s called. Too fast intake of cold stuff workhing hot or on hot day dogs can get the same issues happening to them.

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  12. Wes Wilson says:

    I was aware of most of these dangers but I had no idea about the water! I’m very fortunate that I didn’t cause harm to my little Chihuahua, Duke, because I didn’t always know about these things. I used to give him the occasional macadamia nut and avocados which can also be harmful.

    Thank you for the info!

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  13. Phyllis says:

    I recently lost a 10 year old Border Collie, who was still at the top of her game sheep herding. She had a favorite old bone that had been given to her as a raw knuckle bone when she was teething. The bone was large and she was small, so we never worried about her finding that dear old bone from time to time and enjoyed watching her happily gnaw on it for an hour or so. One morning I came out to her kennel to find her dead, lying in a pool of blood from her mouth. A few days later I found the old knuckle bone out in the large yard under a tree where she like to go to gnaw on her favorite bone. It was broken into several larger and smaller slivers.

    I have decided if she gets raw bones during the teething of my new dog, those bones will be put in the garbage after she has finished gnawing for one day.

    I hadn’t considered salmonella, I’ll have to discus none at all raw bone concept with my vet.

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  14. Jack says:

    I nearly killed my Malinois by feeding him a perfectly grilled steak for his birthday. Apparently since he eats a diet of high quality dog food (Life’s Abundance) his system no longer has the ability to process large amounts of fat like a steak would have. It caused him to get pancreatitis, which required 4 days of IV fluids and medication to recover from. $1,200 later he’s as good as new.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Fat is not easily metabolized by some dogs. Bacon is often the culprit!

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  15. Joy says:

    I had the exact same thing happen to my beloved little girl. Some treat, right? Almost killed her – pancreatitis! Don’t give your dog steak fat! It is NOT a treat!

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  16. Mike says:

    I’m trying to get my puppy to quit using the training pads. Right now he seems to use them every time he walks by them. I moved them closer to the door, but he uses the spot I moved them from…. I’m glad he is consistly going on them, but now its time to get him to go outside

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I hate potty pads because I think they are confusing. so I don’t use them at all. Basically I teach my dogs that going potty in the house is never okay

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  17. Vincent Del Cid says:

    Thanks for yours well informative incites in our pet dogs, we really aprecciate all these FREE info, because no vary gives nothing for free, Thank you again.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    you are welcome! Feel free to share and get the word out! The more readers the better :)

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  18. Brooke says:

    One more thing to add which is perhaps more known, electrical cables. We had a rescue jack Russell, about 6. She never showed any real interest in chewing anything really, but one day my mum and brother come home to find her behind the TV. Thought she was dead… but she came good not long after that. 12 months later she suffered organ failure and a stroke and we had to put her down. Apparently it’s common with electrocution in dogs to have underlying organ damage and an uncertain future… Needless to say, we now totally block access to cables and power points.

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  19. Shirley says:

    What about giving your dog deer antlers? Can this harm him?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    As long as they are big enough for your dog to just chew on and not consume.

    Everything poses a problem for some dogs while others are able to chew with no issues.

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  20. Amanda says:

    Avocados are also dangerous to dogs. I have a friend who had an avocado tree her dog would jumped up and grab the Avocados from the tree or get them from the ground and eat them whole. I think she said that he almost died from arsenic in the avocado seeds.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, avocados are also on that list

    [Reply]

  21. Tano says:

    Is it okay to feed my dogs mashed (no butter) sweet potatoes?

    [Reply]

  22. Regarding your post on excessive water consumption by dogs. How much should a 25lb dog who is an indoor dog and only goes on walks three times daily.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Obviously all dogs are different and drink different amounts due to different needs.

    I stop anything that I think is EXCESSIVE like trying to suck down a whole bowl of water after a walk. Instead I give small amounts until the dog has recovered from it’s walk.

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  23. my dog also over acts when some ones comes to the door i have him back up tell.
    him to sit give him a stay signal .have the guest pet him right away.

    good boy! it is working so far. hope it helps you.

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  24. Christine malcolm says:

    My puppy is 10 month old and chews everything can he be teething at this age and how can I stop him

    [Reply]

  25. Christine malcolm says:

    My 10 month old cavachon chews everything especially with back teeth can he be teething will it stop

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  26. Lee Hunter says:

    Hi Chet, Thank you so much for sharing your world of doggy knowledge with us, very much appreciated.

    Question please. A few years ago I bred Golden Retrievers (beautiful animals) and wanted to do everything right, On one occasion the vet (a very good vet) was checking over my pregnant female, he casually mentioned to me, don’t ever give a dog milk, said dogs cant digest it, its bad for their kidneys,, I have never given any of my dogs milk since . I pass this information to my doggy friends , some listen, others don’t want to know, Please may I have your expert advise on this. Thank you so much. Lee (and my 3 doggy pals)

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Dogs are lactose intolerant, so it is hard on their system just like people who are lactose intolerant.

    [Reply]

  27. Mendy says:

    We do not give bones unless bought at Petco and I still watch her. People tell me rib bones are safe that their dogs eat them all the time.
    But we were walking outside where someone had dumped a full dinner of mac and cheese and rib bones. She knows the command drop it but since she had never had a bone she did not drop it immediately and kept panicky chewing and then spit it out. I guess she figured it was not going to go down so easy. She was fine we went home and around 11:30 I noticed she was not in bed so I jumped up to let her out thinking she had to potty. Nope she was dry heaving with foam all down her beard and kept trying to suck it back in. We rushed to ER and I asked them to go ahead and give her something because she threw up and heaved the whole way there. When they put the tube in it pushed the bone into her tummy and it was small enough to pass so we got lucky. So no not even Rib bones. Thank you for all the other info. They look so sweet when they are begging for our food but it’s just not good for them.

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  28. Lee Hunter says:

    Thank You so much. have a good day.

    [Reply]

  29. ed says:

    i have a fig tree and my dog sheila eats the figs.i watch her ,but she will manage to eat a fig or two at times are figs bad for her

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I believe in moderation fresh figs are fine… however it is best to check with your vet.

    Although I gained a lot of knowledge in my time working at vet hospitals, I didn’t go to vet school and I am not privy to the information and studies that they have access to!

    [Reply]

  30. Yori says:

    My 5 month old pug (Milo) hasn’t been eating anything for the past two days, and even when we do get him to nibble on something, he just vomits it all out.
    Whenever we go outside, Milo gobbles up all kinds of sand and dirt, might that have something to do with this?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You need to call your vet ASAP

    [Reply]

  31. Sharon says:

    My cocker spaniel loves to tear and often consume paper napkins or tissues. It doesn’t seem to bother him, but I have wondered. PS. I always make sure to give him clean tissues.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    you shouldn’t be giving him any tissues

    [Reply]

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