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Ask a Vet: Certain foods prove poisonous to pets
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They came from outer space. Of course, there was xenophobia to deal with, but they gradually became integrated into society and held many respectable roles, including police detectives.

This is the background plot to “Alien Nation,” one of my favorite childhood movies.

The reason I mention it here is aliens couldn’t deal with saltwater. It worked like acid and would kill them. It was poison.

But think of the humans in the film. Yes, saltwater isn’t a good drink for them either and can prove fatal if ingested.

But salt? You need that for every cell’s function — at least the ions that make it up. And water?  Well, you’re mostly water. Without either, you’re dead.

I remember “Alien Nation” every time I hear someone say “I’m not putting that poison into my body.”

Foods, medications, tap water or Justin Bieber’s music. Just what makes something “poison?”

I live with two individuals who are allergic to certain antibiotics. Exposure to the wrong one could prove uncomfortable or worse. But I am not allergic to those drugs. In my life, I’ve probably been saved by them several times. To me, they’re not a poison.

Think of a common drug used in veterinary medicine to treat intestinal parasites. Ivermectin is a poison that kills worms. At the same dosage, it doesn’t bother most mammals unless you’re a dog with a mutation in your blood-brain barrier. In that case, it can cause drunkenness, seizures or even death. If you’re not one of those dogs, is it really a poison?

At a certain dose, any compound can be considered a poison. I love grapes, but they can damage my dog’s kidneys. Macadamia nuts won’t hurt me if I chew them completely. In a dog, they can cause paralysis. It’s all relative.

Please carry a pocketful of doubt with you at all times, and when you hear people throwing around medical or nutritional hyperbole, use it. They may have a good point or they may be addicted to drama. And groundless drama is certainly a potent poison.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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