Wanting to treat your pet to an occasional bite of your food may be fine in some cases, but there are certain human foods that can make your pet sick…or worse. Here are 10 foods you should always keep out of your pet’s reach.
Chocolate contains caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the more danger it poses, but chocolate in any form can make pets quite ill. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and restlessness. In severe cases, it can cause seizures and death.
- Grapes and Raisins
Despite being thought of as harmless treats by some responsible pet owners, grapes and raisins can be dangerous for pets. Although some pets may not show any ill effects from eating grapes, other pets can become seriously ill, potentially developing kidney failure or dying if not treated quickly.
- Onions and Garlic
Onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks are off-limits to dogs and cats. A small amount of any form (raw, cooked, powdered, minced, dehydrated) of these vegetables may destroy red blood cells, causing anemia in pets. Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, a reduced appetite, rapid heart rate, dark or pink urine, and fainting or collapse may be signs of onion toxicity.
- Bacon, Ham, and Fat Trimmings
Bacon, bacon grease, ham, skin, and fat trimmed off meat or bones contain a lot of salt and/or fat. At the very least, these can cause indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea in both dogs and cats, but they can also cause pancreatitis, a serious, potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas.
- Salty Snacks
Although a single potato chip or French fry shouldn’t cause a problem in most pets, you generally want to keep chips, fries, pretzels, and other salty foods away from your dog or cat. These popular people snacks can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures in pets. For pets with heart issues, anything with a lot of sodium is even more of a concern.
- Macadamia Nuts
It only takes a few of these popular holiday nuts to make a dog very sick. Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, weakness, and tremors. Plus, they may be covered in chocolate, so that’s another reason to keep them far out of reach of your pet. Other high-fat nuts, like walnuts and almonds, can cause stomach issues and possibly pancreatitis if consumed in large enough quantities, so it’s best to avoid feeding nuts of any kind.
- Anything with Xylitol(aka Birch Sugar, Wood Sugar, Birch Bark Extract)
Peanut butter, gum, sugar-free candies, and baked goods may all contain this sugar substitute. Peanut butter is often a special pet treat, so make sure you carefully check the product label before letting your pet have the occasional small snack. Xylitol, in even small amounts. can cause vomiting, weakness, a life-threatening drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and even seizures or liver failure.
Avocado is a popular and delicious food but this doesn’t mean we should share avocado or guacamole with our pets (and not just because of the onions or garlic). For one thing, every part of the avocado plant contains persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Secondly, avocados are high in fat, which can lead to pancreatitis. And we can’t forget the pit; given its size, it’s a true choking hazard. To be safe, keep these tasty fruits to yourself.
- Raw Dough
In the warmth of a pet’s stomach, the yeast in unbaked dough will continue to rise, potentially leading to severe stomach distention (bloat) and sometimes causing the stomach to twist over on itself (also called gastric dilatation and volvulus; GDV). Both conditions can be extremely serious and life-threatening. Raw dough can also cause alcohol poisoning (from the ethanol produced by the yeast), which can result in seizures and respiratory failure. Pets that have eaten dough may try to vomit but not be able to produce anything because the dough has already expanded too much inside their stomach.
- Alcoholic Beverages
Although alcohol isn’t a food, we think it’s important enough to earn a spot on this top 10 list. Giving a dog or cat a sip of alcohol or letting a pet lick up spilled drinks is incredibly dangerous—like letting a baby or young child take a swig of your drink. Alcohol affects pets very quickly and can cause serious medical issues, like drops in body temperature, seizures, and even respiratory failure and death.
Seek Veterinary Help Immediately!
If your pet eats anything on this list or anything else you’re not sure is safe for your pet to consume, call us right away. Don’t wait for your pet to develop symptoms, and don’t induce vomiting unless one of our veterinarians recommends it.
If your pet eats something toxic during our off-hours, don’t wait for us to get back into the office. Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 for critical advice on how to help your pet. A fee may apply, but the call may save your pet’s life.