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A friend of mine recently had to take his little daschund to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped. The reason? He’d gotten into an Advil bottle in the middle of the night.

As it turns out, and as I quickly advised another dog-owning friend, Advil is toxic to dogs, and can cause acute kidney disease if taken in the wrong amounts. My friend’s response? “Oh I had no idea! I give my dog Advil whenever he’s in pain.”

Dog owners, please do not give your dog any over-the-counter medication that is not specifically approved by your vet. While aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are safe for humans, they can have devastating effects on a dog’s physiology. Aspirin can cause metabolic acidosis, a condition which can lead to coma and death. Acetaminophen can cause liver disease, and naproxen can result in serious stomach ulcers.

Certain foods that we normally think of as healthy can also pose threats to your dog’s health. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs; when consumed in sufficient amounts it’s been known to cause hallucinations, seizures, diarrhea, internal bleeding, increased heart rate, heart attacks, and even death because it contains theobromine, a chemical that dogs can’t metabolize. One half ounce of chocolate per pound of your dog’s weight is enough to be poisonous.

Other foods that have adverse effects on dogs, but are not so well known, include grapes and raisins, which can cause acute kidney failure; onions and garlic, which cause a type of anemia; macademia nuts, which cause tremors, stiffness and abdominal pain; the hops in beer, which can cause serious circulatory problems; and the artificial sweetener xylitol, which may cause liver damage in dogs.

In general, it is a good idea to avoid feeding your dog from the table, since the foods we eat are likely to contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Vet-approved, American-made and preferably holistic pet foods are your safest option.

If you ever suspect that your dog has been exposed to a poison or allergen, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible.

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