It’s Not Good: Things not to have around with a dog.

Keeping track of what’s dog safe and what isn’t has been a learning experience. There are a number of high impact items my wife and I have learned about through personal panic, so I figured I’d make a list in order of impact. Here they are in order of how much they scare us:

Xylitol: This sweetener shows up all over the place. It’s terrifying when you read about its impact on dogs. There are a few recent Twitter posts where people have lost their dogs from a pack of sugar-free gum. Start reading labels if you buy products with reduced sugar. There’s no room for error here, and it’s not something I was aware of when we first brought her home.

Places I’ve come across it:

  • Tic Tac Gum
  • Protein Bars (Carb Killa in UK, Pulsin)
  • Nut Butters
  • Toothpaste/Mouthwash

Foxtail: I’d never even heard of Foxtail grass when we got our pup. Turns out it’s all over the place. Foxtail, when it’s dry, can be extremely dangerous for dogs. The little seeds are designed to break off and attach to animals passing by. Their edges are barbed to facilitate holding on. Unfortunately this means they travel very easily forwards while being very difficult to move backwards. They can easily find their way into a dog’s ear, nose, paw, or skin. Once they are there, they will continue to push relentlessly forwards. They’ve been known to travel long distances inside the body and wreak havoc.

We were lucky in that our dog ate a still green one and threw it up. Even so, it had stuck in her throat and caused her to cough and gag spurring a holiday trip to the emergency vet and resultant panic. It easily could have been worse had we not known about it later during the fall (when they’re dry and thus sharper and harder) or had it wedged in somewhere more insidious. Now I’m constantly on the look for this grass, and in London there’s no shortage of it. It’s also found all over California (and I’m sure other nearby states), where the dry heat can make it particularly dangerous. Know what it looks like and keep your pup safe! There are even special hoods for dogs that will have to be exposed.

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