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Dogs cannot eat pesto. Pesto is toxic to dogs in all forms, whether they eat pesto chicken, pesto pasta, red pesto, or green pesto. They both contain poisonous garlic and onions, as well as large amounts of fat and salt – which, while not poisonous, can cause serious and sometimes fatal illness.
This article discusses why dogs shouldn’t eat pesto, the risks, and what to do if your dog eats pesto.
Is Pesto Poisonous to Dogs?
Pesto is toxic to dogs because it contains garlic and onions, and this goes for pasta, chicken, and anything else that has pesto in it. Both red and green pesto are poisonous.
Garlic and onions break down a dog’s red blood cells, which can lead to severe symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, pale gums, shortness of breath and collapse. Garlic and onion poisoning can result in death if your dog eats a lot of pesto and the poisoning goes untreated.
Pesto is also high in salt and fat, which can be dangerous for dogs when consumed in excess. Large amounts of salt can lead to salt poisoning, with symptoms such as dehydration, loss of appetite, lack of coordination, and an upset stomach.
High-fat foods can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of a dog’s pancreas. Pancreatitis can cause excessive vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, tiredness, and severe abdominal pain. Especially pancreatitis can be fatal if left untreated.
All in all, it’s definitely not worth the risk of feeding your dog small amounts of pesto. If your dog accidentally ingests it behind your back, I recommend calling a pet poison hotline or emergency veterinarian immediately.
Risks of Pesto to Dogs
Onion and Garlic Poisoning
Thiosulfates in garlic and onions can break down red blood cells, causing anemia in dogs. If your dog has garlic or onion poisoning, you may also notice signs of an upset stomach.
Onion is the most toxic, and only need to ingest about 15-30 grams per kilogram of body weight, and the dog will show symptoms of poisoning.
Because garlic and onions contain the same toxic compounds, foods like pesto that contain both can increase your risk of poisoning.
Also, garlic and onion powders are more effective than whole foods. This means that the onion powder in the recipe is more toxic to your dog than if your dog eats the whole garlic.
The intoxication also builds up in your dog’s system after a few days, which means that if you feed him pesto for several days in a row, he will become more intoxicated as he continues to eat it.
Of course, small dogs are most at risk because of their small size. Larger dogs can still be poisoned, but must eat large amounts of pesto before symptoms develop.
Symptoms of poisoning include:
- increased heart rate
- shortness of breath
- Excessive panting
- pale gums
- unable to exercise
Because garlic and onion poisoning is very serious, I recommend that you call your veterinarian or a pet poison hotline as soon as you discover that your dog has eaten pesto.
If your primary veterinarian is closed or unable to visit your dog, call the emergency room for assistance.
Pancreatitis is an emergency health condition in which a dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed. There can be many reasons for this, but one common reason is eating high-fat foods.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- nausea or vomiting
- stomach ache
- loss of appetite
- increased thirst or urination
- “Prayer Pose” or Downward Dog
If you notice signs of pancreatitis in your dog, call the nearest emergency veterinary clinic for help. Pancreatitis can be fatal and very painful if left untreated, so don’t wait to get your dog to the vet!
Salt poisoning can happen if your dog eats a lot of salt. How much salt your dog needs for poisoning depends on your dog’s size, how much water he drinks, and various other factors.
If your dog eats pesto, it’s a good idea to give him water. This will help prevent dehydration, which is a major symptom of salt poisoning.
Other symptoms include:
- loss of appetite
- lack of coordination
- excessive thirst or urination
- epileptic seizure
Salt poisoning can be fatal, so if you notice your dog developing symptoms after eating large amounts of pesto or other high-salt foods, be sure to contact an emergency veterinarian.
Vegan pesto contains soy, to which some dogs are allergic. It’s also worth noting that vegan pesto still contains garlic and onions, so it’s just as unsafe to eat as non-vegan pesto.
Allergic reactions can range from itchy skin to anaphylaxis. If your dog develops symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or muzzle, or excessive drooling, call an emergency veterinary clinic right away.
What to do if your dog eats pesto
If your dog has eaten pesto, we recommend calling your veterinarian or a pet poison hotline immediately. Your veterinarian can let you know if you need to see your dog based on his size, how much he’s eating, and what’s in his pesto.
Because garlic and onions are highly toxic, we do not recommend waiting for symptoms to appear, especially if your dog has eaten a large amount of food.
If you notice this quickly, your veterinarian may recommend that you bring your dog to the clinic to induce vomiting. That way, you don’t have to worry about poisoning or other risks.
Never induce vomiting at home without professional supervision. This can be dangerous and make things worse!
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