Friday, February 25, 2011

What dogs SHOULDN'T eat.

The subject of What To Feed A Dog is a lot like religion.

There's more than 1 point of view. A few believe they're absolutely right. Everyone else hopes they're right. There are fanatics, and there are sheep. It can be very divisive.

How many people blogged about food this week? So far, from my short reading list -

HERE at Rescued Insanity.

HERE at Daley's Dog Years.

More specific to arthritis, HERE at Dawg Business.

More specific to skin issues, the comments section HERE at No Dog About It. [Which by the way, is a very interesting post for anyone who has a dog with skin problems.]

A review of a nutritional supplement, HERE at Trixie, Lily and Sammy-Joe.

And let's not forget our very own liver treat recipes, HERE!

There's a lot of interesting information in those links for anyone who's keen. Be prepared for a lively discussion and many points of view, both in the posts, the links in those posts, and in the comments.

I'm still learning what to feed Rufus and Georgia. Their menu is an evolving one. It often changes to suit their health scare of the moment. I have absolutely no idea what they might be eating 6 months from now. As happy as I am with their current diet, Rufus is already showing signs of boredom. He's a picky eater.

Georgia, however, will eat anything and everything, which leads me to the most important part of this post for me - what dogs SHOULDN'T be eating.

Would anyone out there have any idea what this is, and if it's toxic to dogs?
Georgia's been eating a lot of them every morning. She often runs off in the park to do her own thing and to scrounge for food. We only found out what she was eating because she brought one back to The Other Half and dropped it at his feet.

We think [but we're not sure] that it comes from these palm trees.
If we had a name, I could google for more information.

The seeds come out whole in her stools. This morning, she also vomited this fine number.
I was horrified to see how many there were and can't imagine what her gut looks like. I'm waiting for a call back from the vet as I type this.

Georgia isn't the only dog who enjoys them. See those blurry waggy tails?
I would be grateful for any information! Thank you :)

Update 5pm  I'm sorry the pictures weren't very clear. I've been asked for more information via email.

*The skin is smooth, shiny, thin and somewhat leathery.
*The orange "flesh" part is fibrous but not dry.
*It's about the colour of a kumquat, and the size of a large grape - maybe about 1 inch long.
*It has no smell that I can remember. I didn't taste it [but I will the next time I get one].
*It has one large seed that is more oval/egg-shaped than round.

Update Saturday, 10.45 am, 26th February  I spent quite a while googling for answers yesterday, and found many dogowners out there asking the very same question I did. It appears dogs everywhere love this fruit, and will rush over for a feed whenever they see them, much to the concern of the people who have this plant in their garden!

I've decided to update this post with the information I've gathered, in case someone else needs it one day.

Based on your comments and emails [thank you!], a chat with the vet yesterday evening, a chat with a Callan Park gardener and another dogowner with a similar experience this morning, and of course, googling! we've come to this conclusion:

The fruit is indeed from a palm tree - the Cocos or Queen Palm.

I found this interesting comment on some forum, that was a reply to another worried dogowner.  He seems to know what he's talking about, so I've copied and pasted it here -

RE: Cocos Palm information needed
Posted by CoralCoast_Tropicals z11 Qld, Aust (My Page) on Sun, Feb 13, 05 at 19:55

Actually the name has changed a few times, it was once known as Cocos plumosa and as such was placed in the same genus as the true 'Cocos', Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Palm which is completely different.

It was then given the name Arecastrum romanzoffianum for a number of years before finally being placed with the Syagrus genus and given the name Syagrus romanzoffianum.

As Len stated the correct common name is 'Queen Palm' and here in Queensland it was known as that until the likes of Don Burke and others came on the scene and started calling it 'Cocos'. This causes a fair bit of confusion here in Queensland with the Coconut palm which unlike the Queen Palm is not an environmental weed that pops up everywhere.

As for the toxicity of the flesh or seeds, I remember as a child eating them and am now still here! My neighbour has 2 German Shepherds and a number of Queen Palms in her yard. I see the dogs chewing on them all the time and they are still alive as well. They only seem to be chewing the ripe fruit as the green fruit is still on the tree.


Thanks for that, Andrew, whoever you are :)

Here are some pictures of the tree and fruit that were taken this morning at Callan Park, under a slightly brighter sky.
 Back home, I scraped open the fruit and this is what it looks like.
The pulp is very slimy. It didn't taste particularly good to me [being slimy] but it is sweetish. Maybe that's why so many dogs like eating them. The seed, as you can see, is black [I was asked this question yesterday, via email, and didn't have an answer then]. It's also smooth, without any scoring.

The picture wasn't posed. Georgia tried to grab the fruit out of my hand as it was being taken. Having tasted the fruit for myself, I really do wonder what dogs see in it.

I'll have to continue with my findings later. Off for some exercise now and it looks like I'm already late for my bus!

Update Saturday, 5.10pm, 26th February  It's quite certain now that this palm fruit is not toxic to dogs. The seeds pass out of the system.

In Georgia's case, there was both diarrhea and vomiting. So it's possible that the fruit did irritate her digestive system. It could also be because she didn't just have 1 or 2. No, Ms Pea had at least 15. That was the number that passed out of her system yesterday. That we were able to count.

I was worried about blockage. The vet said it would probably not be a problem because of Georgia's size. I'm not sure how that would work with littledogs.

Under vet's orders, it's back to small meals of easily digestible pap until her system clears. And, lucky girl, she gets to walk on the leash for the whole of next week just to be sure she doesn't pick up any more rubbish to eat. She's not going to be happy.

An important note - not all palm fruit is benign.

In my googling, I came across some palm trees that are listed as being toxic to animals. These include the Australian Cardboard Palm, Coontie Palm, Fern Palm, Foxtail Palm, Grass Palm, Ivy Palm, and the Sago Palm. I'm not familiar with most of them, but list them here in case you should be interested in finding out more.

Like Alice falling into the rabbit-hole, my search led eventually to this - a [long, yet not definitive] list of plants that are poisonous to dogs, cats and horses. You'll be amazed at some of the plants listed. You might have them in your garden. I know there are some in mine.

or here

An excerpt from the 2nd link -

"Sago Palm - While the seeds and nuts of this plant are most poisonous, the entire plant is toxic. Animals ingesting parts of this plant may suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, depression, seizures and liver failure."

I'm pretty glad Georgia didn't have any sago palm fuit.

ThaNks again! to everyone who commented and wrote in to share information and their experiences. I hope this post will one day be as helpful to someone else in the same situation :)


houndstooth said...

I have no idea what it is, but hopefully if it hasn't hurt her by now, it won't. Why do they always find the craziest stuff to eat?

georgia little pea said...

She IS looking a bit down, and her tum has gone off again :( I suppose I'd be down too if my gut was full of undigested big seeds. AARRRGGGGH!!

The Ladies of Beaglebratz Manor said...

I wish I could help you identify this but I can't. What I will do sometimes if I find Shiloh or Shasta eating something that I can't identify - I will do everything in my power to stop it. That may be a little fanatical - I have contacted my vet a few times (maybe too many) and that is as far as I can afford.
Mom Beaglebratz

Jean said...

Isn't that a persimmon?

georgia little pea said...

@ Team B - we're trying to take G on a different route through the park. But apart from being opinionated, she's frightfully persistent. And she has a bottomless Pit for a tummy!

@Jean- no for sure. Too small. I should have shot it against my hand for a bit of perspective. Too late, I've thrown it away. It's maybe about 1 and 1/2 inches in length.

Thanks everyone :)

Anonymous said...

We have those too! Daisy sometimes wants to pick them up. I've never known them to hurt a dog although I suppose it could cause a blockage if too many were consumed.

Any dog I know who ate them had them come out looking much the same on the other end.

Anonymous said...

Persimmons are seasonal, soft/crunchy, red, sweet and yummy for most humans. And did'nt nature create indigestible seeds which birds and animals help to disperse? Perhaps there's a missing nutrient in that "food" which your dogs (in the pix) hanker for? Sorry cant help to identify. Sister without dogs.

georgia little pea said...

@ royalcoonhounds - hello, thanks for dropping by and leaving that bit of info :) it's a relief to know other dogs have survived eating them! blockage...that's the word i was looking for :p

@ anonymous sister - yes, must be some missing nutrients. possum poop is another favourite park treat. no, they're not persimmons. too small.

ceekay said...

check this out: although the trees are different.

georgia little pea said...

interesting! palm tree on the link is completely different, but we don't know for sure if the trees in our pic are the right ones!

fruit looks similar. the description is right. either way, the person who answered suggested keeping dogs and horses away :(

sonia a. mascaro said...

Dear Georgia,
I am sorry, but I could not help you identify this fruit...
Poor Georgia, I hope you will be well soon!

I suggest that you pick this fruit and take it to the Veterinary and ask to him. I think that he can identify it and prescribes some medicine to Georgia if she needs to take one.
(((Many hugs)))

Allison said...

I live in Florida and they are seeds to those palm trees. I'm pretty sure it's ok if the dogs eat them, they are not persimmons. I would discourage your pup from eating them if he is vomiting them, and I'm sure you are trying! I know it's hard when they are young, I have the same problem with my dog because he likes to put everything in his mouth. He actually ate a razor blade this month, no joke. He is fine thank god, but that was quite a scare and he wasn't even the least bit fazed. If your dog doesn't seem fazed it's probably ok. I take my cues from him when he's eaten something and I was too late to get it out of his mouth!

chandra said...

Thanks for the shout out! I'm looking forward to reading the other blogs you mentioned.

Sorry to hear GLP is scarfing mysterio fruits. Hope she's feeling okay for now. What's she's eating looks like an unhappy apricot. I poked around for photos of similar fruits - could it possibly be a nutmeg fruit?

-c at ddy.

georgia little pea said...

@Sonia- no worries, thanks for trying :) finally managed to speak to the vet at the end of yesterday.

@hello Allison- thanks for dropping by with that info. Much appreciated. I'm glad your dog is well after THAT snack. A razor blade trumps a mystery orange fruit in the scary stakes, methinks!

@Chandra - interesting. Someone else mentioned nutmeg (via email). We're pretty sure now, after speaking to the vet and massive googling, that it's some kind of palm fruit. What kind exactly I don't know, and I wish I did because some are poisonous to dogs.


chandra said...

Ooh, I saw those trees filled with that fruit when my husband and I were scarfing our Zumbo's delights at the little park with the Balmain ferry stop.

Excellent sleuthing and bonus points for taste testing. I know you've said GLP's tummy's been upset off and on for a while now. Perhaps this has been the culprit all along.

-c at ddy.

Dogs in Brazil said...

Hi Geoggia,
We have that growing in our back yard. Every body here eats them. My only fear is that one chokes on one. They are tiny coconuts and the humans here also eat them.

georgia little pea said...

@Chandra - was that Illoura? There are quite a few palms in this neighbourhood. So close, you were :p

@Janeiro - tiny coconuts haha!!! Very tiny :) I think I might have read about the ones you're eating. are they jelly palm fruit?

Pamela said...

I was waiting to the end so I could see the mystery solved. I knew you'd get to the bottom of this and you did.

Hope Georgia feels better soon.

georgia little pea said...

Such faith! :p She seems a little down. It could be the fast, her pap diet or being on a leash (and not able to play). I hope she cheers up soon.

Now for the hard part, keeping her away from the fruit.

Jan said...

Good sleuthing. This is one time when I'm glad my dogs are finicky eaters. They sniff and lick and sniff some more and usually won't eat anything that doesn't smell like meat.

Lavi said...

Thanks for sharing this! I've also been planning to write a post about what dogs can and can't eat.

I've read that fruit seeds can be dangerous, but the fruit itself is ok. For example, I give Aschiuta bits of apple, without letting her eat the core.

It can be a problem if Georgia eats anything. Aschiuta does too and with all the garbage on the streets, she could eat something bad for her. People can also unknowingly try to give dogs food that's bad for them. I had grapes offered to Aschiuta and quickly ran away.

Peggy Frezon said...

I'm glad the fruit didn't turn out to be toxic. It does look yummy though. Is it edible for humans? We don't have palm trees here in NY!

georgia little pea said...

@Aschiuta- Georgia gets apple sometimes with her food. As you say, it's the core and seeds that are the problem. Same with many other fruits.

Rufus used to GUARD our grape vine and he LOVED eating grapes. I didn't know they were bad for dogs at the time, and would give him and our other dog, Jordan, a few every day when they were in season. Maybe about 5 or so each. Neither of them ever got sick, thank goodness!

You ran away? funny!

@ Peggy - according to Andrew who wrote that reply (in blue), yes they are. I found them quite horrible myself. Maybe it's an acquired taste :)

Juliette said...

Hi glad you've id'd that - like another commenter, I thought persimmon at first. All fruits are bad for dogs though, whenever I eat grapes, I always manage to drop one and then scramble to get it as my little dog goes for it but fortunately he isn't interested in eating it, just holding it to ransome for a treat!!

Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe said...

We love the picture of her nose trying to get at the fruit! We do not have any palm trees near us, so we never saw a fruit like this before. We are glad to know it is safe for dogs and that Georgia will be okay!!!

Pamela said...

I'm baaaaack.

Just long enough to let you know that I've awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award. Hop on over to Something Wagging This Way Comes to pick it up.


georgia little pea said...


Anonymous said...

Yep, they are everywhere right now,

the bats go crazy over them and we have a flock of sulphur crested cockies scoffing them down.

Hound ignores this treat....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info. Certainly food for thought. So pleased Rufus didn't eat any!! Hope tummy good now Georgia? Tara and naughty Sammy

Sam said...

I'm pretty sure that's an Areca palm. The fruit is non toxic for dogs and cats, although it will make them throw up. My labradoodle found some and vomited up four seeds the next day. The seeds and fruit look exactly like your pictures.

MaxP said...

From my research I've found that the fruit is not poisonous to dogs, but the seeds can cause a blockage if they are eating them. Several owners said that their dogs required expensive surgery.

And to clear up that comment from the guy quoted at the beginning, not everything that we eat is ok for dogs. For example onions are fine, even good for us but poisonous to dogs. So that is no basis on which to make a decision of your dog should eat anything.

Unknown said...

Cut the seed ball off the tree once it drops all the pollen off and before it seeds. Much less weight to the seed sack at this point. If you cut it off while it is still green and hasn't opened it is very heavy and will fall very fast. It is sharp and could spear your body easily. One of these fell and about killed my dad. Luckily he averted being speared. it doesn't harm the palm and you don't end up with all the seeds on the ground...