Six deadly foods for dogs

Published: Feb. 15, 2011 at 3:07 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2011 at 4:16 AM EST
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By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One Chesterfield woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods your dog can eat.

Chocolate is probably the most well known. But grapes are just as dangerous. Angela Poates sat down with me to talk about the nightmare she went through with her dog, Rio.

You don't often see Poates without Rio by her side. It's safe to say, the husky-border collie mix is her best friend.

"I've always been like if I've got Rio I'm good," said Poates.

So when a sudden illness hit Rio back in October, it was a devastating blow to Angela. She helplessly watched as her energetic, playful dog started slipping away.

"The people at the vet were like, we love him. He's so sweet. He's so quiet, that's not Rio," said Poates.

The culprit, something you may not expect.

"I heard grapes were bad for dogs but I've also heard chocolate is bad for dogs, and I've known a ton of dogs that have eaten chocolate; maybe an upset stomach and they're fine," said Poates.

Rio went counter surfing and snacked on the seemingly harmless fruit drying in her kitchen sink.

"They were sitting exactly right here, he ate probably number wise, 20," said Poates.

Angela says Rio first had an upset stomach, the next day he wouldn't eat. She took him to the Veterinary Emergency Center in Carytown.

"Right then as soon as they took the blood work they found out he was in acute kidney failure," said Poates.

Dr. Nathan Lippo, didn't treat Rio, but said any amount of grapes can be toxic to a dog.

"The toxin in the fruit is unknown but we do know it's in the flesh of the grape not the seeds, not the skin. It's a water soluble toxin so it effects them pretty badly," said Dr. Lippo.

Dr. Lippo said there have been a number of cases reported since it was first documented in 1999.

Chocolate tops the list for toxicity in dogs said Dr. Lippo, followed by grapes and raisins, onions, garlic and macademia nuts. Damage to a dog can vary with each food.

Dr. Lippo said while chocolate can cause cardiac problems. Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure.

"In onions and garlic, it's called a super-radical so it destroys red blood cells and for macademia nuts we don't know what the toxin is in that," said Dr. Lippo.

You won't notice your dog is sick the moment it eats toxic foods.

"Unfortunately it takes about 12 to 24 hours for signs to appear but at that point the damage is already done," said Dr. Lippo.

If your dog receives treatment right away, Dr. Lippo said the prognosis is good. Symptoms include acting lethargic, not eating and vomiting. Flushing the system and soaking up the toxin begins the recovery process.

It was touch and go for Rio.

"Say our prayers, good boy," said Poates to Rio.

He spent six nights at the emergency vet. When Angela couldn't afford the 24 hour vet care anymore, she started treating Rio at home. Four months later, Rio is how Rio should be, for the most part. He's not 100%.

"They think there's probably permanent kidney damage," said Poates.

While treatment was a huge expense, to Angela, the cost didn't matter. Angela spent more than $5,000 on vet visits.

She's had to change Rio's diet to accommodate for the kidney damage. Dr. Lippo said the majority of people food is safe for dogs, including green beans and carrots, but such treats should be given in moderation.

If you think your dog has eaten a toxic food, take it to the vet as soon as possible.

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