Veterinarians Say Even 'Harmless' Treats Can Be Dangerous

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It’s hard to resist the look in your dog’s eyes when he or she is begging for food. But while you may think feeding your dog something from the table is a treat, it could be toxic.

Vets say this habit can cause cumulative and serious health problems you may not notice until it’s too late.

Debbie Lynch showed CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson just how much she loves to spoil her Yorkie “Roxie.”

“She’s just so little,” Lynch said.

If she thinks Roxie is getting tired on a walk, she carries her. And if she begs for food…

“She likes her little treats. I give her treats a lot,” Lynch said.

Lynch is far from alone. Many dog owners find those big, pleading eyes hard to resist and give into every want, including tossing them whatever’s on the table.

“You look at that brown dog food in the dish and you say I wouldn’t want to eat the same food every day. Then they say, ‘Have a piece of cheese. Oh, have part of my steak,’” said Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of the Animal Medical Center.

But veterinarians say this is the worst thing you can do. People food won’t only cause your dog to pack on the pounds, it may also be toxic to their system.

“A high-fat meal of some sort may expose dogs to pancreatitis,” Dr. Hohenhaus said.

Fatty scraps of food like bacon, fried chicken or a greasy burger off the grill can be very dangerous, Hohenhaus said. A single fatty meal can send your pet to the hospital for weeks with an inflamed pancreas.

“‘Can I give them watermelon? Can I give them cantaloupe? Can I give them … ‘ Don’t give them any of that stuff,” veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson said.

Believe it or not Dr. Hutchinson says these foods can literally ferment inside a dog’s stomach, creating alcohol and a potentially fatal reaction.

Other foods you shouldn’t give your dog include: avocado, onions, garlic and, surprisingly, sugarless gum because it contains the chemical xylitol, which can cause liver failure.

This time of year vets say they see an increase of items like peach pits and corn cobs lodged in dogs intestines. They’re often not detectable with an x-ray.

“So it makes it very difficult for us to diagnose those cases,” Dr. Hohenhaus said.

You probably know by now not to give your four-legged friend chocolate, but grapes and raisins can also be toxic.

If you’re still having trouble saying “no,” here’s something else to keep in mind: your dog isn’t even tasting whatever you’re tossing his or her way because their not chewing it. It’s the smell that’s appealing.

But if you must feed them people food, vets say some foods are better than others, like baby carrots, rice cakes and air popped pop corn, but within reason.

“Just take a daily snack allotment and put it in a bowl on the counter and then everybody in the family knows when the bowl is empty snack time is over,” Dr. Hohenhaus said.

A new study found nearly 50 percent of dogs are considered overweight. Those extra pounds can lead to arthritis, diabetes, bladder problems and early death.

To read more on how to keep you pets healthy and happy, please click here and here.

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