Poisonings are one of the most common at-home pet accidents for dogs. Unbeknownst to many Golden Retriever owners, lurking around the home are many substances toxic to their own dogs. Almost any room or backyard can contain some seemingly innocuous poison, so it's important to appropriately "pet proof" your Golden's home for their safety and overall heath.
Below is a list of items that all Golden Retriever owners should be aware of as being dangerous to your beloved furry family member.
Sugar-Free Candy and Gum
These snacks contain xylitol --- a sugar substitute lethal to dogs in doses as small as two pieces of gum. Xylitol is 100 times more toxic than chocolate according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Other products like chewable vitamins, mouthwash, and toothpaste may also include xylitol. Be sure to store these items in your medicine cabinet and add a childproof lock for good measure. Like with many other substances, dogs are affected differently than humans. While xylitol may have a mild laxative effect initially in humans, in dogs it lowers blood sugar to unsafe levels and can also cause liver damage. Hypoglycemia appears within 10 to 60 minutes of ingesting xylitol and the severity of effects can be deadly.
Grapes and Raisins
While the exact toxin has yet to be identified, Vets are clear that grapes and raisins can be poisonous to dogs. Symptoms in this particular case depend on how much was ingested, but kidney failure is a top concern here. Pay close attention to your Golden Retriever's urine output and frequency of urination as well --- both indicators of current kidney health. Once the toxins are absorbed into a Golden's bloodstream, the only course of treatment is to flush them out immediately.
Human Prescription Medications
According to recent statistics, over 50% of Americans are now taking at least one prescription medication. With this, a sad result has been a rise in at-home dog poisonings. The National Pet Poison Hotline reports that half of its calls involve an over-the-counter or prescription medication for humans. Golden Retrievers can easily chew through bottles to access pills or liquids in addition to opening cabinets and drawers unprotected by child locks. Antidepressants can overstimulate a dog's nervous system causing seizures, sedation, shaking, and elevated heart rate. Human medications used to treat ADD/ADHD have similar effects when ingested by dogs --- especially those containing amphetamines. Treatments for human heart conditions including ACE inhibitors and Beta blockers may lead to dangerous drops in blood pressure if consumed by your Golden. Take small steps to reduce your dog's risk of prescription medication poisoning by keeping all pills in secure containers rather than plastic baggies which can easily be torn or chewed up. If you use a weekly pill sorter, avoid leaving it on your bedside table or bathroom counter where it's accessible to curious paws.
Spring Flower Bulbs
Winter weather can erode the topsoil in flower beds exposing bulbs planted from the previous year. Golden Retrievers also love to dig them up --- although old bulbs unfortunately prove to be a not-so-tasty snack that could result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hyacinth and daffodil bulbs have an outer coating of crystals that can irritate your Golden's mouth causing excessive drooling. If certain bulbs are eaten whole or in large amounts, irregular heartbeat and breathing can arise in your dog. If this situation occurs, visit your nearest emergency vet for treatment and care instructions. To avoid this scenario in the future, never leave your Golden outdoors unsupervised. Also, consider investing in a separate dog run area or fence to protect both your spring plants and your furry family member.
The yeast in raw bread dough will continue to rise in a dog's stomach if eaten causing dangerous bloating. If there's a baker in your household, bread dough poisoning is a seemingly randomm but very real threat. Many homemade baked goods contain yeast --- a fungus responsible for the "rising" process. A rising loaf is typically left out on the counter of your kitchen which could easily be reached by curious paws. If your Golden Retriever ingests your loaf-to-be, it can continue to rise inside of the stomach. The most urgent issue here is one of space. An inflating loaf of dough quickly brings a dog's stomach to full capacity. Excessive bloating can increase a risk of stomach twisting and possible rupture --- especially in large dog breeds like Goldens.
Zinc is present in many metal U.S. currencies as well as other small objects like screws. If your Golden Retriever chomps on some spare change --- especially pennies --- zinc poisoning can result. Entering the bloodstream through the stomach, zinc destroys red blood cells and can damage the liver, heart, and kidneys. Without removal, coins can also cause intestinal obstruction in Goldens. Look for unusual symptoms like yellowed or pale gums and discolored urine which are indicators of liver and kidney damage. A penny quickly becomes very expensive requiring emergency treatment to remove endoscopically as well as fluids to support damaged kidneys. Zinc is a very corrosive metal and medications are often needed post-poisoning to "coat" and protect the dog's stomach.
As a general rule, dogs should avoid ingesting nuts. Peanuts are the one exception although their high fat and fiber content can still cause gastrointestinal upset. Other kinds of nuts including almonds, cashews, and pistachios are not necessarily toxic but may lead to pancreatitis as part of an unhealthy high-fat diet. Walnuts, hickory nuts, and pecans may be too large for a Golden Retriever's digestive system and potentially create intestinal blockages. If your backyard has nut trees, keep your Golden away from the falling pieces if at all possible.
If you suspect your Golden Retriever has ingested any type of toxin, call your local emergency vet clinic or a pet poison hotline immediately. A professional animal care provider will guide you through any necessary at-home treatments and help you determine if your dog requires additional medical care.