Things did not go to plan yesterday. Instead of a nice quiet evening watching a movie with my daughter, I ended up racing my golden retriever puppy, Devon to the vets as an emergency case.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with golden retrievers, let me tell you that they are always - and I mean always - hungry.
Whenever I let Poppy off the lead around the forest, the first thing she does is eat mud or horse poo.
Whenever I let Devon out into the garden, the first thing she does is raid the plants and shrubs and start munching on twigs.
Always eating. Always hungry.
The problem is watching that they don't eat something that will make them ill. They don't care, if it's there, they'll eat it. It's me that jumps around, waving my arms in the air like a loon, shouting: 'No. Leave it.'
Anyway, yesterday was probably something which was bound to happen sooner or later...
My son was preparing a fruit salad. He'd chopped the strawberries and raspberries and had just started washing the grapes. Unfortunately, he accidently dropped a few on the floor.
Now, we all know in our house that grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. I've drummed it into my kids from an early age (back then we had our beautiful border collie called WIllow. I'll tell you more about her in later blogs - she actually stars in my second book which is due out early next year). #childrensbook #middlegradefiction
We'd just returned from a lovely walk around the forest. I was shattered - which is usual for me and all to do with one of the many long term /permanent side effects of the chemo-radiation treatment #cancersucks so, after collapsing in a chair in the garden, I began to rest and enjoy the evening sun. Then, my son tells me:
'We'd best watch Devon. I think she might be sick. She's just eaten three grapes.'
Not one, not two , but three! It could have been worse. She could have eaten a whole bunch. So, trying not to panic, I told everyone in the house to watch for signs. Devon meanwhile was just as mad as ever. Tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth, eyes everywhere and at every given moment she's pouncing on poor Poppy and tries pulling at her ears and jowls.
OK, I thought, so she doesn't seem ill - yet. But I just couldn't rest. So I googled...
When I was first told that I had cancer, one of the things the Macmillan nurse #macmillian advised me against was surfing the internet for information. 'Only look up reputable sites' she said and I've aderred to that ever since.
I read the Purina #puria, Dogs Trust #Dogstrust, Kennel Club #kennelclub and RSPCA #RSPCA websites. What I read made me feel even worse - if a dog ingests grapes it can lead to stomach ulceration and kidney failure.
If in doubt, it's always best to check - so I called the vet.
The nurse informed me that some dogs can eat just one grape and be fine, whereas for others it can prove fatal - and that's just ONE grape!
I was advised to bring Devon down to the surgery straight away. My son was blaming himself which was crazy. This could have happened to any one of us. If there's food around you can guarantee Poppy and Devon are not far away. I told him this but he still felt awful and I know I'd have been the same.
As it happened, the vet, (Alison Shepherd from Shepherd's Vet Centre is amazing by the way) talked me through the process. She explained that grapes can or cannot be fatal to dogs, it varies from dog to dog. However, if she didn't do anything and - heaven forbid - Devon did fall dangerously ill, well it doesn't bear thinking about does it. So, I agreed that induced vomiting was needed.
What with us still being in lockdown because of the coronavirus, the vets are closed to the public so I had to wait outside while the vet treated Devon.
Half an hour later the little pup came wobbling outside. She was sick again and her eyes were all red. Thankfully, Alison explained everything again to me (another by-product of chemo-radiation is my awful memory and difficulty processing information). Devon needed three doses of charcoal, one when we returned home, one at bedtime and the other the following morning and by then she should be fine.
I'm so glad to say that the vet was right. Devon is now back to her usual barmy self. The minute we walked back through the door, my son was there, ready to give Devon the biggest hug.
So, all of this got me thinking...
What else is toxic to dogs?
I already knew of some things such as Anti-Freeze, Macadamia Nuts and chocolate, but what other everyday things which our dogs can come into contact with has the potential of making them ill - even fatally so.
I did some research and thought, what if other dog owners out there are unaware of these dangers? Honestly, having dogs can be like having toddlers around the house again. We need eyes in the back of our heads, especially if they'll eat whatever they find.
Here is what I discovered, although this is not an extensive list, my research is ongoing (but bear in mind that it's always best to get expert advice from your vet. If worried - call them, that's my motto):
Foods to avoid:
Peanut Butter - although fattening, it is OK but, check that it isn't sweetened with Xylitol. This sweetener can be dangerous and cause serious harm.
Blue cheese - can produce roquefortine which is toxic to dogs.
Raw bread dough - The gas created by yeast sticks in the dog's stomach. The raw dough expands in the warm, moist environment and can result in a bloated or distended stomach. Less commonly it can prove fatal.
Fruit and vegetables which are toxic to dogs:
Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants. - Can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and kidney failure (which can occur a few days after the initial effects).
Cherries. - ripe cherry flesh is OK, but the stone, tree, stem, leaves, shrub all contain cyanide which is toxic to our dogs.
Peaches - peach flesh is OK, but the stone, stem and leaves contains trace amounts of cyanide, which is toxic.
Onions, garlic, chives, leeks and shallots - these contain a substance which can damage red blood cells and lead to life threatening anaemia.
Avocados - Avocado plants contain Persin. This is in the leaves, fruit and seed. Persin can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Plants and shrubs which are toxic to our dogs:
Cherry tree (as mentioned under fruit and veg)
Daffodils - can cause vomiting and stomach upset. More serious cases include fits, changes in heart rate and blood pressure. It's also advised for dogs not to drink the water from a vase containing daffodils.
Tulips - drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Autumn crocus, - can cause stomach upset, kidney and liver problems.
Foxgloves - contains naturally-occurring poisons that affect the heart, called cardiac glycoside toxins.
Lily-of-the-Valley - all parts are toxic
Bulbs - that includes daffodils, tulips and hyacinths.
Azalea - All parts of the azalea are considered poisonous.
I hope you have found my research useful. Like I said before, this isn't an extensive list but one I have gathered after a day's research on many reputable websites, blogs and articles.
In my next blog, I'll look into what's good for our dogs to eat. My two goldies love apples, bananas and strawberries. We are careful though not to let them eat the apple pips because we now know that they are toxic!
Stay safe and well.