Dangerous dog treats, what you need to know before you treat your pup

Bella loves to be treated to a special doggy delicacy every now and then and I love indulging her with such pleasures. Anyone who has ever owned a dog has a pretty good idea what their favorite pooch likes to snack on. Now days we have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to treating members of our pet family. Treats come in all different flavors, shapes, sizes, colors, and consistencies. But we need to keep in mind, for every great dog treat currently on the market; there are also those that are not so good. If you’re one of those pet owners who love to spoil your special canine friend, you’ll want to be aware of some treats that can be potentially harmful to your pet.

Rawhide Chews: What dog doesn’t love to chew on a good rawhide? Rawhides do a terrific job of keeping your pet occupied and keeping their teeth sparkling white and clean. However, rawhides can be a potentially dangerous treat. Rawhides that originate outside of the United States may be preserved with arsenic-based chemicals that can be ingested by your pet. Use caution when shopping for rawhide chews and make certain any rawhide you purchase has been processed in the United States where this preservative is prohibited. If you are unable to determine where a treat originated– do not buy it! In addition, you want to make sure the rawhides you purchase are the appropriate size for your pet. A smaller breed dog requires a smaller sized treat and a larger breed dog should start with a chew appropriate for its size, as well. Always remember that your pet requires supervision while consuming rawhides to help prevent accidental choking. Bones: Bones are fragile, splinter easily and do not disintegrate well in a dog’s digestive track. This means your pet may have to pass them through his stool. Undigested bones can lead to a serious impaction and/or constipation requiring a trip to the veterinarian. Bones can also be a choking hazard and can cause possible intestinal bleeding. If a bone shard breaks off; it can pierce the intestinal wall and pass through the abdominal cavity causing hemorrhaging of the intestinal wall and peritonitis (an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity). Symptoms of possible damage to the intestinal tract include vomiting, rectal bleeding, discharge from the rectum, diarrhea, straining to defecate, and extreme sensitivity to palpation of the abdomen. If your dog has ingested bones recently and shows any of the above symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Xylitol sweetened treats: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many products, including sugar-free gum and mints, nicotine gum, chewable vitamins, oral-care products, and baked goods. It can be purchased in a granulated form for baking or as a sweetener for cereals and beverages. The ASPCA APCC has had reports of some dogs developing elevated liver enzyme activity within 12 to 24 hours after Xylitol ingestion. Several of these dogs developed acute liver failure subsequent to Xylitol exposure. As few as a couple breath mints containing Xylitol is enough to kill a small dog. I read a story awhile back about a pug that ingested a couple breath mints out of their owner’s purse. The poor little thing ended up in acute liver distress. Be very cautious about keeping any products that may can this sweetener out of the range of your curious pet.

Greenies: Greenies are advertised as a tasty treat to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. However, you need to be aware that “greenies” can cause serious health issues in your pet. At the 2005 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACIVM) meeting, there was discussion among internal medicine specialists about Greenies® causing esophageal obstructions that were difficult to relieve. Complications reported include small intestinal obstructions; stricture, ulceration and perforation. Greenies are also associated with tooth fractures in dogs. Young puppies or dogs who “scarf” their food should not be given this treat since consuming the item quickly may cause large chunks to lodge in the throat. If your dog eats these treats, be aware of potential vomiting, lethargy, trouble swallowing, and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms after your dog has eaten this treat, seek medical attention immediately.

Chocolate: Although chocolate is a favorite threat for most humans, it is not an advisable treat to share with your pooch. Chocolate contains a substance known as theobromine, and this substance is toxic to dogs. Theobrimine is part of the xanthnine compound, which is the same family that contains caffeine. A toxic dose will vary from dog to dog, depending on a number of factors such as the weight of the dog and his or her metabolism level. The good news is that it generally takes quite a substantial amount of chocolate to do the dog any harm. In general, the toxic level of theobromine is between 100 and 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. It is important, of course, to keep in mind that dogs will vary in their sensitivity to the compound, so it is still important to keep any and all chocolate in the house out of Fido’s reach. Pet owners concerned that their dog has swallowed a toxic amount of chocolate should be on the lookout for the clinical signs of chocolate toxicity. This signs include excitability, irritability, increased heart rate, diarrhea, increased urination, muscle tremors and vomiting. Thankfully, there are lots of healthy and delicious dog treats readily available for pet owners. Some safe and handy alternatives to pet store treats include fresh carrots, apples, canned pumpkin or plain popcorn and these items can be conveniently picked up on your next trip to the market. To satisfy your pup’s need to chew; consider a synthetic bone like a Nylabone. Nylabones are a good alternative to meat bones or rawhides because they are easily digestible and come in many terrific flavors. Remember to read the ingredient and warning labels on any treat you feed your dog and supervise them while they are eating. By following this simple advice you’re beloved pooch should lead a life full of safe, tasty treats (and terrific belly rubs)!