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Dogs and Picnic Dangers

Posted December 22, 2014 in Dog Toxins & Poisons

Dr. Justine Lee has some great tips to keep your dog safe during summer festivities. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

Ah, summer…the start of backyard BBQs and picnics outside. While I want to encourage you to spend more time outside with your pooch and your family, keep in mind that when picnicking, there are several dangerous food items that can pose a threat to your dog when accidentally ingested. More importantly, make sure your friends and family are aware of these risks to your dog, and advise them to never feed your dog any snacks without your permission.

Before you set that picnic blanket down, make sure your dog can’t get into the following dangerous or poisonous table foods:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Baked goods containing xylitol
  • Corn on the cob
  • Peach pits
  • Fatty table snacks or bones

By just being aware of these 5 picnic dangers, you can save yourself a several thousand dollar veterinary bill and an emergency trip to the veterinarian! 

GrapesCouple having a picnic with their dog and Raisins
Anything containing grapes and raisins (and even currants) are considered to be poisonous to dogs. Common picnic items like grapes, baked goods containing raisins (e.g., oatmeal raisin cookies), and trail mix all pose a threat.  While one or two grapes are unlikely to cause a problem (depending on the size of the dog), accidental ingestion of the Vitus spp. can result in the following signs:

  • vomiting,
  • abdominal pain,
  • inappetance,
  • diarrhea,
  • lethargy,
  • excessive or decreased thirst or urination, and
  • acute kidney failure

Unfortunately, clinical signs often aren’t obvious until days later, when it’s more costly – and more dangerous – to your pet. Treatment includes decontamination, aggressive intravenous (IV) fluids, anti-vomiting medication, blood pressure monitoring, urine output monitoring, and blood work monitoring (to check kidney function).  

Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that is poisonous to dogs. While safe for humans, when accidentally ingested by non-primate species, xylitol can result in an insulin spike by the body (with a secondary life-threatening drop in blood sugar). So, if you have any baked goods, candies, mints, gums, etc. that contain xylitol, keep them out of reach of your dog. Clinical signs of xylitol poisoning can be seen as early as 15-30 minutes, and include:

  • weakness,
  • vomiting,
  • collapse, and
  • lethargy (which are all signs of a low blood sugar).  

Really high doses of xylitol can result in liver failure

Related symptoms: 

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.