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Two Italian researchers have published a list of the most toxic everyday poisons for pets.
POISONS. “I ate all the chocolate, I emptied all the rum and coca”: if Sabine Paturel were a dog, her life expectancy would probably be reduced to a mere pudding. Cocoa and alcohol are among the seven most harmful foods for pets. After reviewing the scientific literature, two Italian researchers have drawn up a list of these seemingly harmless poisons. Their report appeared on 22 March 2016 in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

1. Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Tea
This is not a new fact, but most fatal pet poisonings are caused by the ingestion of such substances. At issue is theobromine, a molecule contained in cocoa that becomes dangerous when stored in large quantities in the liver. This molecule is degraded slowly in dogs (compared to humans), which take more than twenty hours to eliminate it. Its accumulation in the body can become toxic – with vomiting, diarrhea, tachycardia and convulsions – and even fatal. Caffeine, on the other hand, is absorbed very quickly by the animal’s body. Contained in coffee, tea and guarana preparations (energy drinks) and also in chocolate (in small doses), it causes heart problems (tachycardia, arrhythmia), hypertension, muscular rigidity in dogs and can even lead to coma or even death.

2. Products containing xylitol
A sweetener or fake sugar found in toothpastes, cough syrup, vitamins, chewing gum and other sugar-free treats. In May 2016, the U.S. health agency also issued a statement to alert dog owners to the dangers of xylitol. In contrast to the theobromine contained in chocolate, xylitol is very quickly assimilated by dogs’ bodies. In response, dogs produce large amounts of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that lowers blood sugar levels. A potentially fatal hypoglycemia then occurs – including symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, convulsions or falls. Cats, however, would remain out of danger.

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3. Garlic, onion and chives
No, don’t let your four-legged friend taste your soup. These aromatic plants, grouped in the Allium genus, are home to a formidable enemy of pets: organosulfoxides. In short, molecules based on carbon, sulphur and oxygen atoms. These substances, which are toxic for dogs and cats, are not eliminated by cooking vegetables. Once in the body, they cause oxidative stress in the animal, i.e. they generate a chemical reaction that attacks its cells. Symptoms, appearing one to several days after ingestion, include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. Poisoning can also lead to anemia, which is an insufficient amount of hemoglobin in the blood (causing intense weakness and fatigue). This protein from red blood cells is found in the animal’s urine, giving it a reddish to brown colour.

4. Alcohol
Ethanol is found not only in alcoholic beverages, but also in paints, varnish, perfume, some medicines, mouthwash, some thermometers and sometimes in antifreeze (the ethylene glycol it contains, by the way, is also toxic to dogs and cats). While alcohol ingestion in animals is most often accidental, our favourite quadrupeds sometimes intoxicate themselves by eating chard apples or raw bread (or pizza) dough, whose yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) produces alcohol by fermenting. Outcome: lethargy, hypothermia, difficulty breathing, and a distended abdomen due to excessive gas production if raw dough is ingested. An effective solution in cases of ethanol intoxication is haemodialysis. This blood filtration removes the alcohol from the animal’s body. According to a case study, the frequent  consumption of such products has damaged a dog’s liver and caused his death

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5. Le raisin

Sec ou naturel, cuit ou cru, seul ou incorporé dans une préparation, Vitis vinifera engendre des problèmes rénaux chez les chiens. Idem pour le jus de raisin : exit donc le vin sans alcool pour animaux. Cette affection est encore mal connue à l’heure actuelle : le mécanisme exact conduisant à l’intoxication reste un mystère et les symptômes sont aussi très variables selon les individus. Alors que certains chiens n’affichent aucun signe de faiblesse après avoir englouti un kilogramme de raisin, d’autres flanchent après 4 à 5 grappes : vomissements, diarrhée, léthargie, douleurs abdominales sont suivis d’une insuffisance rénale qui, dans certains cas, peut s’avérer létale à court terme.

6. Le houblon

Vous vous êtes lancés dans le brassage artisanal de bière ? Attention à garder le houblon (Humulus lupulus) hors de portée de vos animaux domestiques. Il pourrait causer une hyperthermie (fièvre) chez les chiens, et particulièrement certaines races telles que les Labradors Retriever, les Saint-Bernard, les Dobermans ou les Border Collie. En cause, plusieurs éléments constituants du houblon : des résines, des huiles essentielles, des tanins et des composés azotés. Ces substances déclenchent une réaction chimique appelée phosphorylation oxydative, qui fait s’emballer la machine énergétique des cellules. Tournant à plein régime, le corps des chiens se met à augmenter sa température et son rythme cardiaque. L’intoxication au houblon peut aussi générer une anxiété, des vomissements et des urines brun foncé. “Quatre chiens sur cinq sont morts malgré des soins intensifs“, rapportent les chercheuses.

7. Les noix de Macadamia

Leur place est dans un brownie, pas dans l’estomac de votre toutou. Les deux espèces de noix de Macadamia, Macadamia integrifolia et Macadamia tetraphylla, provoquent chez les chiens une faiblesse, des vomissements, de la fièvre, des douleurs abdominales et des muqueuses pâles. Toutefois, aucun chien ne serait mort après avoir ingéré des noix de Macadamia et la plupart des molosses se remettent de leurs émotions en 24 à 48 heures.

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