HAZARDOUS FOODS FOR PETS
Foods that may be tasty and good for humans can be dangerous or even toxic to pets and can lead to a variety of health problems. Protect your furry loved ones by keeping them away from these dangerous foods.
Note that this list is not all inclusive. For a complete list of pet toxins, visit Pet Poison Helpline.
- Alcohol – Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Severely intoxicated animals can potentially experience seizures and respiratory failure, and can be fatal.
- Avocado – Foreign body obstruction in the esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract can result from ingestion of avocado seeds. Pancreatitis is also possible due to the high fat content in avocados. Birds should never be fed avocado as they are extremely susceptible to persin, a toxin in avocados, their leaves, seed, and tree bark.
- Bread Dough (Yeast) – Before it’s baked, bread dough needs to rise, which is exactly what it will do in an animal’s stomach. As the dough expands inside, it can result in a bloated or distended stomach. Yeast sugars in the unbaked dough produce carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning.
- Caffeine – Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and anything containing caffeine should never be given to pets. While one or two licks of coffee, tea, or soda is unlikely to cause poisoning in most pets, larger ingested amounts can result in hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and in severe cases, seizures, collapse, and death are possible.
- Candy, Chewing Gum, Toothpaste & Mouthwash – These contain sugar and many brands contain xylitol, which can lead to vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure.
- Chocolate – The toxicity of chocolate varies depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested and the size of the pet. Darker and less sweet chocolate is more toxic to animals. Ingestion of toxic amounts can result in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures, and may even cause death.
- Cooked Bones –Pets love bones. However, cooked bones are more likely to splinter and the sharp pieces of bone can tear digestive organs and cause internal bleeding.
- Corn on the Cob – Unlike most vegetables, corn does not digest well in a dog’s stomach. Ingestion of large chunks of the cob can cause intestinal blockage. Clinical signs include vomiting, reduced or loss of appetite, absence of feces or diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
- Fatty Foods & Fat Trimmings – Foods high in fat can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and gas, and can result in pancreatitis and gastrointestinal issues.
- Fruit Pits & Seeds – The pits and seeds from fruits can cause intestinal obstruction and some fruits like peach and plumb pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both pets and humans.
- Garlic – Considered five times as potent as onion and leeks, toxic doses of garlic can cause damage to the red blood cells leading to anemia, which can be fatal. Clinical signs of anemia include lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, and collapse. While tiny amounts in foods may be safe, large amounts can be very toxic.
- Grapes – All types of grapes can cause toxicity. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currents can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Even foods that include grapes, raisins, and currents are a great risk. The reason for their toxicity is still unknown, however, ingestion of the unknown toxin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and acute renal (kidney) failure.
- Human Medicine – Keep all medications out of reach and never give your pet any over-the-counter medication unless instructed by your veterinarian.
- Macadamia Nuts – Ingesting even a small amount of macadamia nuts can be lethal. Symptoms include muscle shakes, vomiting, increased temperature and weak back legs. Macadamia nuts ingested with chocolate lead to more severe symptoms, and possibly death.
- Marijuana – Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Clinical signs include prolonged depression, vomiting, incoordination, sleepiness or excitation, hypersalivation, dilated pupils, low blood pressure, low body temperature, seizure, coma, death.
- Milk & Dairy Products – Milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk.
- Mushrooms – Wild mushrooms, which may be found growing in your yard, contain toxins and may cause kidney or liver failure, as well as brain damage. Some symptoms include vomiting, seizures, nervous system abnormalities and coma, and possible death.
- Onion – Onions can be lethal because of an ingredient called thiosulphate. Ingestion of onions (powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated) can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anemia. Clinical signs of anemia include lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise, collapse, and possible death. Signs of poisoning often have a delayed onset and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days.
- Raisins – Ingestion of even a small amount of raisins, grapes, or currents can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Even foods that include raisins or grapes are a great risk for toxicity. The reason for their toxicity is still unknown, however, ingestion of the unknown toxin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and acute renal (kidney) failure.
- Raw/Undercooked Eggs, Meat & Fish – Raw eggs and raw meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli that can be harmful to both pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin, which can lead to skin and coat problems. Additionally, some fish such as salmon, trout, shad, or sturgeon can contain a parasite that causes “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease.” Symptoms include vomiting, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Cooked fish is fine since the cooking process kills the parasites. Raw meat can be safe to feed dogs, but only if you know it’s uncontaminated and safe for consumption.
- Salt – Ingestion of salt, in any of its many forms, can result in salt poisoning in pets. Poisoning results in signs of vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, incoordination, excessive thirst, or excessive urination. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death are possible.
- Sugar – Just as in humans, any food containing sugar can lead to obesity, teeth problems, or diabetes.
- Xylitol – This sugar substitute is commonly found in chewing gum, mints, sauces, candies, toothpastes, mouthwash, some diet foods, and several other products. It causes insulin release, leading to potentially fatal hypoglycemia. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and coordination problems. Seizures may also occur. Liver failure can happen within just a few days after ingestion.
What to Do
If your pet has ingested any of the foods listed, note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or one of the pet poison hotlines listed below.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435 (a consultation fee may apply)
Pet Poison Hotline: 855-764-7661 ($65 incident fee)
The content of this page is not veterinary advice. This information shared here is intended for reference use only.
ASPCA – Animal Poison Control
Pet Poison Helpline