People Foods That Can Be Harmful to Pets
People and pets are different in many ways. What may be safe for you to eat may be toxic to your furry friend. Sometimes the effects of food toxicity in pets aren’t always obvious, which may lead you to think that certain foods are okay or safe for your pet. In reality, they are not!
While there are many fruits and veggies that are completely safe for your pet to consume and others that may only cause mild indigestion, in this blog post, I would like to review the most common foods that are NOT safe for pets!
This is not an exhaustive list, so remember to always look up a food item before giving it to your pet to ensure that it’s safe. If you’re in doubt, better to be cautious and not share the food with your pet to protect their health and prevent accidentally poisoning!
“Do Not Eat” List
Under no circumstances should you give your pet any alcohol. Even just a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and even death. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
The skin, leaves, and pits of avocados have persin, which is toxic to dogs and can cause diarrhea and vomiting. The flesh of the fruit doesn’t have much of this toxin, but it is still a lot for your dog’s system. Avocado is even more of a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, sheep, goats, etc. Another concern is that the large seeds can become lodged in your pet’s stomach, esophagus or intestinal tract.
Bones from poultry and fish tend to be very brittle, especially after being cooked. If the bone splinters or breaks when chewed, it could get stuck in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. Raw bones can also be very dangerous for domesticated animals, as they can choke on them.
Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
These products contain methylxanthines, which are very dangerous to a pet’s health. When ingested by pets methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, may only cause minor stomach upset.
Coconut and Coconut Oil
When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.
Grapes and Raisins
Dogs shouldn’t eat grapes or raisins as they are highly toxic and can lead to acute and sudden kidney failure. Even only a few grapes can be fatal for your dog.
Milk and Dairy
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and even pancreatitis in pets. Macadamias are especially dangerous for pets. They can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia.
Onions, Garlic, Chives
In all forms (powdered, raw, cooked, etc.) these foods can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if they consume enough of any of these foods.
Raw/Undercooked Meat & Eggs
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to both pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
Salt and Salty Snack Foods
Large amounts of salt can result in excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. Avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.
Just like in humans, sugary foods can lead to dental problems, diabetes and obesity.
Potatoes and Tomatoes
Contain oxalates which can cause abnormalities in your dog’s digestive tract, kidneys and nervous system. Green tomatoes are especially harmful.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. Xylitol can cause insulin release, which can lead to liver failure, seizures and brain damage.
Yeast, a common ingredient in bread dough, is dangerous for dogs. It can expand in their stomach and cause organs to tear or twist. Symptoms of yeast consumption include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach bloating. Some yeast dough also ferments, which can lead to alcohol toxicity.
The following items are not as harmful to pets, but should be well-supervised.
Asparagus isn’t toxic but, isn’t beneficial either. It’s best not to give it to your dog to eat raw because it is too hard and tough to chew. And, when cooked, it loses most of the nutrients.
Store-bought mushrooms aren’t toxic or harmful to dogs, but they should still be avoided. 100 out of the 50,000 species of mushrooms are toxic to dogs, so just in case, it’s best to keep your dog away from all of them.
While the list of toxic foods is standard for most pets, each pet is unique and may react differently to other foods. 5Strands Affordable Testing helps identify over 200 potentially harmful foods for your pet.
Our testing checks for potential intolerances to most of the harmful foods on this list, reinforcing what not to feed your pet.
In Case of Emergency
If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the toxic foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible.
So next time your pet begs for people food, remember to make sure your leftovers or snacks are safe for your fur baby to eat!