Foods Dogs Should Avoid


When I was growing up, back in the dark ages, my first dog was an outdoor dog. He lived outdoors and came in rarely, mostly when the weather was freezing. Now when I look back at those days, I marvel at how much things have changed. My dogs not only live inside with the family, they share our furniture and our beds. Whether or not sharing a bed is a good idea, that’s another blog post for another time. In my house, we treat our dogs as family members and like to share the experiences of the holidays with them. That includes feasting, right? Well, that’s something we should definitely think twice about.

Many foods that humans eat not only aren’t good for dogs, they can be quite harmful. For instance, I think we all know that chocolate, which is found in most homes this time of year, can be poisonous for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine which is similar to caffeine and can cause increased blood flow to the brain. Can it cause death in dogs? Yes, but few dogs actually consume that much. But even in smaller amounts it can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and a racing heart rate. In higher amounts, seizures, tremors or heart failure can result. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine levels. If you have a mixed household with both dogs and cats, theobromine is even more toxic to cats.

Onions, and the rest of the onion family (garlic, leeks, shallots and chives) are also on the list of items not to feed to dogs. Relatively small amounts of onion, raw or cooked, can cause big problems for dogs. For instance, a 45 pound dog, according to the American Kennel Club, would only have to consume one medium to large onion to experience dangerous toxicity levels. Onion powder and garlic powder are even more potent in N-propyl disulfide, the compound in onions and other alliums the can lead to anemia in dogs and cats. Symptoms of toxicity caused by onions include vomiting, lethargy, pale gums and fainting. If you suspect onions have been ingested by your animals, contact your veterinarian right away. Within four hours of ingestion, your veterinarian may want to induce vomiting to get rid of as much of the harmful components as possible. After four hours, it is likely already absorbed into your dog’s system and the treatment is different, changing to a supportive therapy to counteract the damage to red blood cells instead of trying to keep the damage from happening in the first place.

So what about roast turkey now that Thanksgiving is almost here? Turkey is often a main ingredient in dog food and is perfectly safe for dogs to eat, with some caveats.

* Make sure it is cooked WITHOUT other ingredients. Turkey cooked with onions, garlic and other seasonings should be avoided since those ingredients can cause stomach upset, or worse, in large quantities, as mentioned above.
* Turkey skin, even without spices and seasonings is quite fatty and dogs can develop pancreatic issues when they eat a diet high in fat.
* Be very vigilant that all the bones have been removed from the turkey you feed to your dog and that the pieces of turkey are bite sized.
* Most importantly, don’t overfeed your dog.

The holidays can be a great time of year for both the human members and the four-legged members of your family as long as you keep in mind that human foods aren’t always a safe option for your dogs and cats.


TNR: What Is It?

Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR refers to a method of attempting to control feral cat populations by humanely trapping community cats in box traps, having them spayed or neutered (and vaccinated against rabies), and then returned to their original environment once they have recovered from surgery. TNR cats are also commonly eartipped, which indicates to others that they have been neutered and vaccinated. If young or friendly (“adoptable”) cats are recovered during the TNR process, they may be transferred to a foster home or shelter to be put up for adoption. While vaccination isn’t a requirement, it is considered best practice, and you will often see the term “Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return” or TNVR instead. Regardless, the idea is that the size of the colonies will decrease over time as its inhabitants are unable to reproduce.

TNR has been gaining traction and popularity, and with good reason. Its proponents argue that it is far more effective (and humane) than the catch-and-kill approach of old. In addition to the obvious cruelty of killing homeless cats, doing so only creates a vacuum in that environment, which new cats will soon discover and fill as they look for available resources. Shelters are largely underfunded and overburdened, and simply cannot take on the additional strain of more homeless cats, many of which have had limited human interaction and are very difficult to adopt out.

There are also advantages to the TNR approach from a behavioral perspective. Once the possibility of mating is reduced or eliminated, nuisance behaviors associated with mating, such as fighting, yowling, spraying, marking territory, and even roaming in search of a mate, noticeably decrease. Some argue that the cats are healthier overall once they are fixed and vaccinated, and as an added bonus, because the cats remain in their environment, they continue to keep rodent populations in check. Finally, many TNR programs include long-term care of the cat colonies as part of their protocols.

So does it work? Best Friends Animal Sanctuary cites several case studies that make a good argument for its efficacy. Communities that report a successful outcome after implementing TNR programs include:

• San Francisco, California
⁃ An initial population of 175 cats was reduced by 99.4% over 16 years of targeted TNVR efforts.
• Louisville, Kentucky
⁃ In Jefferson County, admissions of cats to the Louisville Metro Animal Services declined by 42.8% over an eight year period and 94.1% fewer cats were killed over the same period.
• Chicago, Illinois
⁃ From 2007 to 2016, a neighborhood TNVR program reported average population reductions of 54% from initial population levels, and 82% from each group’s peak level.

You can read additional success stories at Best Friends Animal Society. While each TNR program is different and each colony/community has its own unique needs and dynamic, Alley Cat Allies is the first organization to publish standards for TNR, which are available here.

To find out more about your community’s TNR efforts, contact your local humane society. In our area, that is the Dakin Humane Society. If there are no current TNR efforts underway in your area, you may want to consider starting one. Alley Cat Allies provides helpful information on getting your community involved in a TNR effort.