Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Freak Week 3.5: Your Pet Will Actually Eat That.

Well, I had a wake-up call today.  My cat likes licking my dishes after I'm done eating, so I gave her my mac and cheese plate after lunch. Then, due to a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, I looked up the two ingredients that had been tossed into that mac n' cheese: Onions and tomatoes.

It turns out that onions are poisonous to cats (and, to a lesser degree, dogs). Tomatoes aren't too good, either, but not as ugly in terms of the consequences. The kitty seems fine, but I will be watching acutely for any symptoms of hemolytic anemia in her system. No more people food for you, Styx!

The tomatoes I sort of suspected (they're related to nightshade, after all), but the onions caught me by surprise. So, for all of you people out there with inbred domesticated freaks cats and dogs, here is a small list of common foods that your pets should DEFINITELY not eat:

1. CHOCOLATE. This is becoming common knowledge, but chocolate is not good for our carnivorid friends (not too sure about birds et al.). The culprit is theobromine - literally, "food of the gods." Caffeine in all forms is also toxic, so no coffee, either.  Point is, leave no chocolate out. I have had at least one cat who thought Halloween candy was great fun.

2. Grapes/Raisins. Apparently, at one point, grapes were used as dog treats. Then we got wise and figured out that grapes actually make dogs get kidney diseases. (The same seems to apply for cats, which worries me; Styx will bat anything around, including grapes.) Chocolate-covered raisins are to dogs what cigarettes are to humans: poison coated in poison. Keep all grapes out of reach.

3. Onions. Onions and garlic contain a toxin that leads to a very nasty form of hemolytic anemia in cats and dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, and general weakness. No, this poison does not go away when cooked. Several sites I read were very clear on that.

4. Alcohol. Yes, to us it seems funny when dogs drink beer, but they really shouldn't. Alcohol is a poison, even to humans. Poison tends to circulate more quickly in smaller animals. Keep your pets away from your booze; they have their own things to get high on, like toads and catnip. Dogs also have their own beer, now.

Canine wasteland...

5. Peaches, plums, and probably almonds. Remember when I did an entry on how almonds contain a certain amount of cyanide compounds? Remember how poisons can be amplified in smaller animals? Peach and plum pits have similar chemicals as almonds, so please do not let your dog eat the pits.

Remember, humans are the exception rather than the rule whenever it comes to diets in the animal kingdom. Your cats and dogs were designed to eat meat and very little else. Unlike you, they are specialized. Going too far out of that specialty will endanger their lives. We may be able to eat everything under the sun, but our pets cannot.

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