After the last issue of Ask The Vet about dental care, I received this question from a reader:

Question: My dog is an extreme chewer and I occasionally giver her
marrow bones to work on. After reading the article I’m concerned
they’re too hard for her teeth. What are your thoughts? Thank you.

Thanks for reading and reaching out! While some dogs safely chew on bones, many can break their teeth from aggressive chewing. You may want to take the marrow bones away from your girl and give your vet a call to get their opinion as they know her best and may want to assess her teeth to see how they currently look.


A reader wrote in and wanted to know what foods are toxic to dogs and cats:

Holiday food left-overs have many of us happily bloated for days. Being Italian and Lebanese, I maintain the view that food is life. Wondering if you can share in the holiday cheer with your furry family members? Here’s a quick refresher on common food toxicities and foods to avoid in dogs and cats.

  1. Chocolate: What’s the deal with chocolate? Theobromine is the toxic component. The darker the chocolate, the greater the toxicity. (I.e. milk chocolate isn’t as bad as baking chocolate. White chocolate actually doesn’t have any theobromine.) Small amounts of chocolate consumed may cause vomiting/diarrhea, however larger quantities can be fatal. Here’s a tool for helping determine toxicity (in addition to ASPCA Animal Poison Control and calling your veterinarian!): Chocolate Wheel
  2. Xylitol: This pesky artificial sweetener shows up in many common products (think gum, flavored drinks and liquid medications, even peanut butter sometimes). Dogs can’t process this sweetener as people can. It can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and potentially fatal liver failure. If your dog has ingested xylitol, it always warrants a call to ASPCA Animal Poison Control and/or your veterinarian.
  3. Onions: Onions and other vegetables in this family such as leeks, chives, and, arguably, garlic (the latter is sometimes debated) can result in anemia. Remember to look for hidden sources of onions such as onion powder (think crackers and other processed foods).
  4. Grapes/raisins: This is a frustrating one! We still do not know exactly what causes toxicity. We do know that some dogs are fine eating grapes or raisins, while some dogs can develop potentially fatal kidney failure. Unfortunately, we do not know yet which dogs will have a problem and which will not. What is more, it doesn’t seem to matter how many grapes or raisins have been consumed. Until we learn more, consider any grape or raisin consumption to warrant an emergent call. (Note: Grape seed extract is found in some veterinary supplements and nutraceuticals and is considered safe.)

P.S. – Despite the name, Bethel Grapevine swag can (and should!) still be safely kept around our furry friends!

  1. Macadamia nuts: Not a terribly common toxicity or one that usually causes much serious consequence, but worth mentioning that macadamia nuts should be avoided.
  2. Avocados: This is similarly not as large a concern for dogs and cats, but can be particularly dangerous for birds. Generally, wise to reach for another snack to share—more for guacamole for us!
  3. Alcohol: Sorry, no New Year’s champagne for our furry friends! (Here’s a fun fact! Alcohol CAN be used, if needed, to treat antifreeze toxicity, as the alcohol competitively binds with sites in the body where the antifreeze causes ill-effects. Given alcohol does cause ill-effects, it is not the preferred treatment, but can be used in a pinch as antifreeze is EXTREMELY toxic and fatal in even very small quantities!)
  4. Fatty foods: Foods high in fats (looking at you, turkey skin and holiday ham fat!) can cause vomiting/diarrhea or a more dangerous complication such as pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas which can be serious and even life-threatening. Feed high-fat foods in very small quantities, or not at all.
  5. Food sensitivities/aversions/allergies: Like with people, some dogs and cats may have specific food sensitivities that can result in vomiting/diarrhea or itchy skin. Until you know how your furry family members handle specific foods, it’s best to introduce one at a time in small amounts.
  6. Moldy foods and compost: Cheers to all of the old and new composting efforts going on! My chickens, for one, love the veggie scraps that are spared from the garbage and given to them. Some animals (looking at you, hungry Labradors!), however, don’t seem to care if food is a little “past its prime” or even half decomposed. Compost and moldy foods can cause gastrointestinal distress, and merits close watching and a call to the vet if ingested.

Got a specific food you are wondering about? Reach out with more questions here or ask your veterinarian!

Happy (safe) eating!

Dr. Emily

Want more information? Check out the following resources:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control

ASPCA Toxic Foods

ASPCA Poison Control App

Disclaimer: The content of The Bethel Grapevine’s Ask the Vet blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. If you have a medical question about your pet, call or visit your veterinarian or a veterinary hospital.

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