Guilty—you can usually find a small section of my dinner plate with some scraps I’ve saved for my dog because he's such a good boy. Even though we love our pets and it’s hard to resist their cute puppy dog eyes when they beg, we have to keep in mind that what may be healthy for us may not always be the case for our pets. That’s why we’ve come up with a short list of common but dangerous people foods for our pets.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of dangerous human foods is chocolate and for a good reason! Chocolate contains bad chemicals for animals—or if you want to get scientific, theobromine and theophylline—which can cause serious reactions to your pet’s heart and nervous systems. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and panting. Think your pup may have gotten into your secret chocolate stash? Don’t wait for the symptoms to show before contacting your vet.
#7. Coffee & Other Caffeine Products
Caffeine products can be dangerous so take your pup to the dog park instead for some good ol’ TLC if they need an energy boost! Similar to chocolate, there are powerful stimulants in caffeine products, such as coffee and tea, that are fatal to our furry friends. If you think your pet may have ingested caffeine, follow the same protocol as you would with chocolate. Your pet may experience similar symptoms in addition to heightened heart rate, increased thirst and restlessness.
#6. Sugar Substitute
Xylitol in particular is a sugar substitute that is found in a variety of household items, such as toothpaste, baking products and candy. If you thought these common objects were harmless, think again! Xylitol causes sugar levels to drop drastically in pets and can lead to liver failure. Although most peanut butter companies have removed xylitol from their ingredients, double check the label next time you buy from the human-food store.
Although getting drunk with your pet sounds great in theory, they can get really, really sick. Something to keep away from your pet to prevent them from getting drunk, besides alcohol, is yeast dough. Yeast rises and the gas that is released (ethanol) can build inside your pet and cause major damage. The ethanol released in this process may cause them to become drunk and can even lead to alcohol poisoning. Again, contact your vet immediately if you think your pet may have ingested yeast or alcohol.
#4. Fruits with Pits
The most obvious reason to keep fruits with pits away from your pets is the choking hazard. Our small friends have even smaller digestive tracks that don’t take much to get clogged! If that wasn’t bad enough, plum and peach pits contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs (and humans). Take extra caution if you have any of these trees in your backyard!
#3. Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic are toxic to pets (especially cats) in any form--whether it be a raw clove or bulb, a dash of garlic powder, or even a delicious deep-fried onion ring. These herbs can cause damage to your pet’s red blood cells which can lead to anemia or lack of oxygen to the body. Look out for weakness, vomiting and trouble breathing.
#2. Macadamia Nuts
Nuts in general should be kept away from our pets, but macadamia nuts in particular are the kingpin of bad nuts for our best friends. Ingesting even just 6 macadamia nuts can cause pets to experience weakness in hind legs, seizures, vomiting and loss of muscle control. These symptoms can last between 12 hours to a few days.
#1. Grapes & Raisins
Among the most toxic human food for our pets is the abominable grape and it’s wrinkled alter ego, the raisin. Not much is known why this mysterious fruit causes so much harm to our pets, but we do know that they can lead to kidney failure. It doesn’t take much for dogs and cats to begin experiencing lethargy, vomiting and shivers.
If you think your pet may have ingested any of these or other toxic substances, contact your vet immediately or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 to speak with a poison control specialist (fees may apply).
Got more food to add to this list? Comment your suggestion below to help other pet owners avoid a trip to the vet!