By Kayla McDonell
Certain foods that are safe for humans can be harmful to dogs.
Because dogs have a different metabolism than people, feeding human foods to dogs can be very dangerous for their health and may even be fatal in some cases.
This article reviews seven food items that have been proven toxic to dogs—so if you have a dog, it's important to keep these foods out of their reach.
It is found in avocado fruit, pits, leaves and bark, so you should avoid giving any part of the plant to your dog.
If a dog eats these, fluid may accumulate in the dog's lungs and chest.
This can make it difficult for him or her to breathe, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and even death (1).
Fluid can also accumulate in the heart, pancreas and abdomen, which can lead to other fatal complications (2).
Avocado pits can also be accidentally swallowed, which can cause choking or a blockage in the digestive tract.
Summary: Eating any part of the avocado plant can cause severe health problems in dogs that may result in death.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is often used to sweeten candy, chewing gum, toothpaste and baked goods.
While deemed safe for human consumption, it can be deadly for dogs.
Initial symptoms often show up within 30 minutes of consumption and include vomiting, weakness, depression, difficulty moving, coma and seizures (1).
Eventually, xylitol can lead to liver damage and death (7).
Summary: Eating foods that contain xylitol can cause a dog's blood sugar to drop drastically. This can cause health problems, liver failure and death.
Coffee, Tea and Other Caffeine
Caffeine is naturally found in coffee, tea, cocoa and guarana, a South American plant.
It is also often added to soft drinks and medications.
Caffeine can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs.
Within two to four hours of consuming caffeine, dogs may experience restlessness, excessive thirst, a lack of bladder control, vomiting and diarrhea.
The minimum dose of caffeine at which death was reported was less than 2.2 mg per pound (1 mg per kg) of body weight (9).
The average cup of coffee or tea contains between 40 and 150 mg caffeine, so even just a few sips could be deadly for a dog.
Summary: Consuming caffeine can cause abnormal heart rhythm or lung failure in dogs, which can ultimately lead to death. Coffee, tea and other sources of caffeine should be kept away from dogs.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs.
They can cause rapid kidney failure, which can ultimately be fatal (12).
The toxic compounds in grapes are still unknown, but even small amounts can make your dog sick.
Toxic levels vary from dog to dog, but one study reviewing 180 reports found that some dogs died after eating just a handful of raisins (13).
Therefore, ingestion of any quantity should be taken very seriously.
It is important to note that poisoning can happen from eating raw grapes and raisins or from eating them as ingredients in baked goods like cookies, cakes and snack bars. Watch for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and depression (8).
These may be followed by signs of kidney failure, such as excessive thirst and very little urine production (12).
Summary: Grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs. Even very small amounts can lead to kidney failure, which can be fatal.
Alcohol and Yeast Dough
Alcohol is found in a variety of products including alcoholic beverages, perfumes, mouthwash, paint, varnish and various cleaning products.
While occasional alcohol consumption is safe for humans, dogs cannot tolerate it, even in small amounts.
Symptoms usually develop within an hour after consumption and include tiredness, depression, lack of muscle coordination, low body temperature, poor breathing, vomiting and diarrhea.
If a dog consumes too much alcohol, it can result in lung failure, seizures, coma and even death.
The toxic dose of 100 percent (or 200 proof) alcohol in dogs has recently been reported to be about 0.59 ounces per pound of body weight (8 ml per kg), with death occurring 12 to 24 hours after ingestion (14).
However, in one case, a dog died of alcohol poisoning after eating a large amount of rotten apples (18).
It's also a concern if a dog eats raw dough that contains yeast. As the yeast cells ferment, they actually produce alcohol, which causes a dog's blood alcohol level to rise and can ultimately cause alcohol poisoning and death (19, 20).
What's more, the dough will expand in a dog's stomach and can cause severe bloating. This puts pressure on the surrounding organs and can make it very difficult for the dog to breathe.
It is important to never feed raw yeast dough or alcohol to your dog. Alcoholic beverages should not be left unattended and raw dough should be kept well out of reach.
Summary: If a dog consumes alcohol, it can lead to serious health problems and even death. This can also happen if a dog eats raw dough.
Chocolate contains the stimulant chemicals theobromine and caffeine, both of which are very difficult for dogs to metabolize.
If a dog eats chocolate, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.
These symptoms can also progress to more serious problems like heart attacks, internal bleeding, muscle tremors, seizures and death (21).
The severity of the side effects depends on how large the dog is and how much and what type of chocolate it has consumed.
The darker and less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it will be to your dog. Unsweetened baker's chocolate and cocoa powder are among the most dangerous varieties (22).
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs may show symptoms after ingesting as little as 44 mg per pound (20 mg per kg) of body weight.
In other words, about 1 ounce (28 grams) of a baker's chocolate bar would be enough to cause toxic symptoms in a 44-pound (20-kg) dog.
It is most common for dogs to experience chocolate poisoning on holidays like Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas—presumably because these are times when people often have chocolate on hand.
No matter the occasion, it is important to always keep chocolate out of reach.
Summary: Eating chocolate can cause a whole slew of health problems in dogs and can even kill them. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.
Eating too much salt could lead to a condition known as salt poisoning or water deprivation in dogs.
This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, fever and seizures. It may even be fatal in severe cases (23).
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the toxic dose for dogs is around 2.2 teaspoons of salt per pound (4 grams per kg) of body weight.
Because of this, it is not a good idea to give your dog salted foods like pretzels, popcorn or chips.
It is also important to make sure your dog always has access to fresh drinking water.
Summary: Eating too much salt can cause water deprivation in dogs, which can be deadly. You should avoid feeding salted foods to your dog and make sure fresh drinking water is always available.
Other Foods That May Be Harmful to Your Dog
The following foods have not been proven deadly to dogs, but they can still be harmful.
To be safe, you may want to avoid feeding the following foods to your dog.
- Onions, garlic and chives: These can damage a dog's red blood cells and cause anemia. In severe cases, your dog could require a blood transfusion (24, 25).
- Milk and dairy products: Like humans, dogs can become intolerant to lactose over time. Consuming milk and dairy products may lead to vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive problems in dogs.
- Macadamia nuts: These contain an unknown toxin that can cause weakness, muscle tremors and vomiting in dogs. Because of their high fat content, macadamia nuts can also lead to pancreatitis or an inflamed pancreas (26, 27).
- Apples, apricots, cherries, peaches and plums: Their seeds or pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous. Eating them can lead to some pretty serious side effects, including digestive problems (28).
Summary: Onions, garlic, chives, dairy products, macadamia nuts and fruits with pits may also be harmful to your dog.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats a Harmful Food
The best way to ensure your dog doesn't eat anything harmful is to keep these foods out of reach.
To minimize the risk, make sure that you don't leave these foods on countertops or tables, in purses or other places where your dog could access them.
If you know your dog has ingested something toxic, consult your veterinarian immediately or call the pet poison hotline.
Treatment will vary depending upon your dog's symptoms and the type of food he or she was exposed to.
You should never treat or medicate a dog unless a licensed veterinarian advises you to do so.
Summary: If your dog has consumed something toxic, consult your veterinarian or call the pet poison hotline.
The Bottom Line
Certain foods that are safe for humans can be very harmful to dogs, such as the seven listed here.
The best way to avoid food poisoning in dogs is to only feed them dog food and keep human foods out of reach.
If your dog has eaten something it should not have, contact your vet or call the pet poison hotline immediately.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation to ban some of the most toxic pesticides currently in use in the U.S. D-Keine / E+ / Getty Images
By Jake Johnson
Democrats in the House and Senate on Tuesday introduced sweeping legislation that would ban some of the most toxic pesticides currently in use in the U.S. and institute stronger protections for farmworkers and communities that have been exposed to damaging chemicals by the agriculture industry.
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BP, the energy giant that grew from oil and gas production, is taking its business in a new direction, announcing Tuesday that it will slash its oil and gas production by 40 percent and increase its annual investment in low-carbon technology to $5 billion, a ten-fold increase over its current level, according to CNN.
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By Alex Thornton
The Australian government has announced a A$190 million (US$130 million) investment in the nation's first Recycling Modernization Fund, with the aim of transforming the country's waste and recycling industry. The hope is that as many as 10,000 jobs can be created in what is being called a "once in a generation" opportunity to remodel the way Australia deals with its waste.
Waste Mountain<p>The need for a dramatic increase in Australia's recycling capacity pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-27/where-does-all-australias-waste-go/11755424" target="_blank">Australians create approximately 67 million tons of waste a year</a>, and like in many wealthy countries, much of that was sent overseas. That all changed when China announced it was <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/china-has-banned-foreign-waste-so-whats-the-future-of-world-recycling" target="_blank">banning the import of a huge range of foreign waste</a> and recyclables. Soon <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/malaysia-flooded-with-plastic-waste-to-send-back-some-scrap-to-source" target="_blank">other countries followed suit</a>, and Australia was forced to look for alternative solutions.</p>
Biggest exporters of plastic. Statista
Waste Export Ban<p>Australia has adopted a strategy of taking responsibility for its own waste. Starting in January 2021, it is phasing in <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/waste-export-ban" target="_blank">bans on the export of different forms of waste</a>. By mid 2024, Australia's home-grown recycling industry will have to deal with an extra 650,000 tons of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires.</p><p>"As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy," federal environment minister Sussan Ley said in a <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">statement to Reuters</a>.</p>
Timeline for Australia's waste export ban. Australian Government
Trash Into Treasure<p>The benefits to the environment of boosting recycling rates are well known – less landfill, less plastic in our ocean, reduced need for virgin materials, and lower carbon emissions. The Recycling Modernization Fund initiative aims to divert more than 10 million tons of waste from landfill, part of an <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan" target="_blank">overall strategy to reduce the total waste generated per person by 10%</a>, and push <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/7381c1de-31d0-429b-912c-91a6dbc83af7/files/national-waste-report-2018.pdf" target="_blank">Australia's total resource recovery rate from 58% in 2017</a> to 80% by 2030.</p><p>But like many countries, Australia is focusing on the economic benefits of better waste management as well.</p><p>"This will mean Australia converts more waste into higher valued resources ready for reuse locally by manufacturers and brands in their packaging and products," Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">told Reuters</a>.</p>
Green Jobs<p>The great potential of the circular economy to create green jobs is being recognized across the world.</p><p>In the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Program has launched a <a href="https://wrap.org.uk/buildbackbetter" target="_blank">six-point plan which it claims could add $90 billion to the economy, and create 500,000 new jobs</a>. Investment in the circular economy forms a significant part of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan that Democratic candidate Joe Biden</a> is taking into November's US presidential election. And the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_940" target="_blank">European Union has put its Green New Deal at the heart of its plans for recovery</a> from the economic shock of COVID-19.</p><p>The World Economic Forum's <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_Future_Of_Nature_And_Business_2020.pdf" target="_blank">Future of Nature and Business</a> report identifies 15 systemic transitions with annual business opportunities worth $10 billion a year that could create 395 million jobs by 2030.</p><p>As is the case with Australia's Recycling Modernization Fund, a combination of private enterprise and government investment can offer ways to get people back to work by building a more environmentally sustainable economy.</p>
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The Great American Outdoors Act is now the law of the land.
<div id="e0008" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffc07febbf5d2d585ad06d3f43e2be56"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290667833999929344" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Breaking News: The President has just signed the bipartisan #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct. It will help: 🏗️ Restore… https://t.co/RPefKPMn7S</div> — Fix Our Parks (@Fix Our Parks)<a href="https://twitter.com/FixOurParksUS/statuses/1290667833999929344">1596554165.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Andrew J. Whelton and Caitlin R. Proctor
In recent years wildfires have entered urban areas, causing breathtaking destruction.
Survivors left everything to flee the Camp Fire's path. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Wildfires and Water<p>Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were common. The Camp Fire inferno spread at a speed of one football field per second, chasing everyone – including water system operators – out of town.</p><p>After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials</a>.</p>
Pipes, water meters and meter covers after wildfires destroyed them. Caitlin Proctor, Amisha Shah, David Yu, and Andrew Whelton/Purdue University
Dangerous Contamination Levels<p>Benzene was found at concentrations of 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water after the Tubbs Fire and at more than 2,217 ppb after the Camp Fire. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, children exposed to benzene for a single day can suffer <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Benzene-Levels-in-Water.pdf" target="_blank">harm at levels as low as 26 ppb</a>.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting children's short-term acute exposure to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-03/documents/dwtable2018.pdf" target="_blank">200 ppb</a>, and long-term exposure to less than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations" target="_blank">5 ppb</a>. The EPA regulatory level for what constitutes a hazardous waste is <a href="https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/tclp.pdf" target="_blank">500 ppb</a>.</p><p>In early 2019, California conducted contaminated water testing on humans by taking contaminated water from the Paradise Irrigation District and asking persons to smell it. The state found that even when people smelled contaminated water that had less than 200 ppb benzene, <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Dissipatiion-of-Burn-Related-VOC-From-Water.pdf" target="_blank">at least one person reported nausea and throat irritation</a>. The test also showed that water contained a variety of other benzene-like compounds that first responders had not sampled for.</p><p>The officials who carried out this small-scale test did not appear to realize the significance of what they had done, until we asked whether they had had their action approved in advance by an institutional review board. In response, they asserted that such a review was not needed.</p><p>In our view, this episode is telling for two reasons. First, one subject reported an adverse health effect after being exposed to water that contained benzene at a level below the EPA's recommended one-day limit for children. Second, doing this kind of test without proper oversight suggests that officials greatly underestimated the potential for serious contamination of local water supplies and public harm. After the Camp Fire, together with the EPA, we estimated that some plastic pipes needed <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/opinions/Final-HDPE-Service-Line-Decontamination-2019-03-18.pdf" target="_blank">more than 280 days</a> of flushing to make them safe again.</p>
Plastic pipes can be damaged by heat and fire contact. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Building Codes Could Make Areas Disaster-Ready<p>Our research underscores that community building codes are inadequate to prevent wildfire-caused pollution of drinking water and homes.</p><p>Installing one-way valves, called backflow prevention devices, at each water meter can prevent contamination rushing out of the damaged building from flowing into the larger buried pipe network.</p><p>Adopting codes that required builders to install fire-resistant meter boxes and place them farther from vegetation would help prevent infrastructure from burning so readily in wildfires. Concrete meter boxes and water meters with minimal plastic components would be less likely to ignite. Some plastics may be practically impossible to make safe again, since all types are susceptible to fire and heat.</p><p>Water main shutoff valves and water sampling taps should exist at every water meter box. Sample taps can help responders quickly determine water safety.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9540d7e271306ed417112042a3efc9a4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GnlrzI1wdAI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Smell Test Doesn’t Work<p>Under no circumstance should people be told to <a href="https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2018/pr122418_voc.pdf" target="_blank">smell the water</a> to determine its safety, as was recommended for months after the Camp Fire. Many chemicals have no odor when they are harmful. Only testing can determine safety.</p><p>Ordering people to boil their water will not make it safe if it contains toxic chemicals that enter the air. Boiling just transmits those substances into the air faster. "Do not use" orders can keep people safe until agencies can test the water. Before such advisories are lifted or modified, regulators should be required to carry out a full chemical screen of the water systems. Yet, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">disaster</a> after <a href="https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/ew/c5ew00294j" target="_blank">disaster</a>, government agencies have failed to take this step.</p><p>Buildings should be tested to find contamination. <a href="https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q1/study-your-homes-water-quality-could-vary-by-the-room-and-the-season.html" target="_blank">Home drinking water quality can differ from room to room</a>, so reliable testing should sample both cold and hot water at many locations within each building.</p><p>While infrastructure is being repaired, survivors need a safe water supply. Water treatment devices sold for home use, such as refrigerator and faucet water filters, are not approved for extremely contaminated water, although product sales representatives and government officials may <a href="https://undark.org/2019/09/19/camp-fire-california-drinking-water-carcinogens/" target="_blank">mistakenly think</a> the devices can be used for that purpose.</p><p>To avoid this kind of confusion, external technical experts should be called in assist local public health departments, which can quickly become overwhelmed after disasters.</p>
<div id="71cf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e059d199e8368d282a31601e372e4dda"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1204068265980547075" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-re… https://t.co/fP8Z8mUq7R</div> — IntlCodeCouncil (@IntlCodeCouncil)<a href="https://twitter.com/IntlCodeCouncil/statuses/1204068265980547075">1575907219.0</a></blockquote></div>
Preparing for Future Fires<p>The damage that the Tubbs and Camp fires caused to local water systems was preventable. We believe that urban and rural communities, as well as state legislatures, should establish codes and lists of authorized construction materials for high-risk areas. They also should establish rapid methods to assess health, prepare for water testing and decontamination, and set aside emergency water supplies.</p><p>Wildfires are coming to urban areas. Protecting drinking water systems, buried underground or in buildings, is one thing communities can do to prepare for that reality.</p>
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By Zulfikar Abbany
"We don't have a definition of life," says Kevin Peter Hand, one early California morning when we speak via video. "We don't actually know what life is."