Some common food items that are considered completely safe for humans can be toxic – and even lethal – to pets. While it is hard to resist slipping something from your dinner plate under the table to your furry companions, it’s wise to think twice about whether your dinner is going to unintentionally harm your animal. Unless certain food items are specifically recommended by a professional, play it safe and stick to pet-friendly snacks and food.
While not a full list, the following food items are considered toxic to pets. If you plan on providing your pet with “people food”, consider discussing safe options with your veterinarian first.
This one should probably go without saying, but pets should never be given any type of alcoholic beverage or food item. Alcohol can induce vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, depression of the central nervous system, coma, and, in the worst-case scenario, death in pets. Keep adult beverages out of the reach of your pets at all times.
Avocados are a staple in many health-conscious households, but parts of this fruit can actually be toxic to all other mammals. The skin and leaves contain persin, which can cause congestion, fluid build-up around the heart, and difficulty breathing. Dogs and cats are less susceptible to persin poisoning than birds and horses, for example, but it is still smart to play it safe. The actual avocado is harmless to pets, if you take special precautions to remove the skin and leaves thoroughly.
Caffeine and Chocolate
Both caffeine and chocolate contain methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death in pets. Overall, dark chocolate is more toxic than light chocolate. Baking chocolate is the most poisonous to pets, while white chocolate is the least.
This one often surprises pet owners, since cheese is commonly used as a special training treat. However, pets lack a substantial amount of lactase, the enzyme needed to break down milk and other dairy products. Because of this, those small bites of cheese can actually cause diarrhea and other digestive issues. Just like with people, dairy seems to affect certain pets worse than others.
Grapes and Raisins
It is unclear why grapes and raisins are highly poisonous to dogs, but they are known to cause kidney failure and death in certain canines. Ingesting grapes and raisins doesn’t seem to affect every dog, but in this scenario, it’s better to play it safe and save the grapes for yourself.
Macadamia nuts can cause depression, vomiting, tremors, ataxia, and weakness in dogs. Symptoms usually show up within 12 hours of ingestion and can last up to 48 hours. While most dogs recover on their own without specific treatment, it’s still best to keep these nuts stored in a safe place.
Onions and Garlic
Whether raw, cooked, dried, or powdered, onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs and cats. They can damage your pet’s red-blood cells, which decreases the flow of oxygen throughout the body. This can lead to anemia, which can then lead to long-term organ damage.
Xylitol is a sweetener found in many products, including sugar-free gum, candy, peanut butter, and even toothpaste. In dogs, the consumption of xylitol can be fatal. It is known to cause hypoglycemia and liver failure. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures. Liver failure can occur within days. Check the food label on all of your sugar-free items, and keep those with xylitol well out of the reach of your pets.
While this is not an exhaustive list of harmful people foods to pets, it does include some of the most fatal and most common toxic foods found in many households. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the aforementioned foods, contact your veterinarian immediately.