Foods Pets Should Avoid

Posted by Dr. Roth on

Foods Pets Should Avoid

Certain foods are toxic to pets and can make them sick — or worse. Here's what pet parents should look out for when feeding their pets.

Most pets love human foods, but they can be toxic or otherwise hazardous for them. Although it may be tempting to slip pets a tasty treat from the family table, doing so can have serious consequences for the pet's health. It's also important not to leave foods and beverages that are toxic to pets within easy reach of the animal. Here's a list of foods pet parents should be particularly careful about. 



Chocolate contains caffeine and a compound known as theobromine. Both of these substances are toxic to dogs. Levels of toxicity is based on quantity, type of chocolate, and weight of the pet. A chocolate toxicity calculator is helpful for providing an individual assessment. However it is recommended to contact a veterinarian at any level of ingestion. Chocolate poisoning is especially lethal for cats because of their smaller size. Symptoms include accelerated heart rate, excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination. It is important to note that it can take up to eight hours to see signs of toxicity. 

Raisins and Grapes

Although pet parents typically think of raisins and grapes as healthy foods, these can be toxic to dogs and cats. The exact source of this toxicity is unknown, but ingesting can result in kidney failure, which is why all cases should be considered potentially serious. Pet parents are advised to avoid giving their pets both grape juice and wine. Symptoms include vomiting (within two hours of ingesting), diarrhea (within five to six hours of ingesting), lethargy, and lack of appetite.


Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions in fresh and powder forms are frequently included in hamburgers, pizza, steak, roast poultry, and other types of foods that pet parents may be tempted to slip to their pets as a treat. However, garlic and onions contain the oxide N-propyl disulfide, which attaches to the oxygen molecules of red blood cells in dogs and cats, which leads to oxygen deprivation. Symptoms include accelerated heart rate, weakness, and excessive panting as the animal tries to catch their breath.



Pets that ingest caffeine experience elevated blood pressure, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Even small amounts can be lethal to small pets. Symptoms include tremors, seizures, restlessness, vomiting, and hyperactivity. 



Alcohol is a depressant that causes drops in blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and body temperature. Alcoholic drinks, such as cocktails, beer, and wine, are common culprits. Pet parents need to be mindful of yeasted bread dough because it contains alcohol as it ferments. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of coordination, drooling, weakness, and lethargy.


Macadamia Nuts

Veterinary science has yet to pinpoint the specific toxin in macadamia nuts that poses a potentially fatal hazard to dogs and cats, but the nut's high-fat content is suspected to play a role. Commonly found in trail mix, cookies, and muffins, macadamia nuts affect the animal's central nervous system. Symptoms include shaking, vomiting, weakness, fever, and difficulty or inability to walk.


Milk and Dairy

Many pet parents consider milk and dairy products to be harmless treats for their pets, but most adult dogs and cats are lactose intolerant. Although fatalities are rare, when provided as part of a regular diet, milk and dairy products can lead to ongoing health problems for pets, including persistent diarrhea, dehydration, and intestinal cramps. Symptoms include flatulence, bloating, loss of appetite, and vomiting.



Xylitol is a sugar substitute used in a variety of foods and beverages meant for human consumption. Xylitol stimulates the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, and even small amounts can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar and liver failure in pets. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting followed by shaking, loss of coordination, weakness, seizures, and collapse. 


Cooked Bones

Cooked bones are brittle and can easily break off into splintered pieces when pets chew on them, resulting in a range of dangerous conditions. The pet could choke, or a sharp bit of bone could puncture the inside of the animal's mouth or throat. Bone shards can also do major damage to a pet's intestinal tract.


Raw Meat 

Various types of bacteria in raw meat pose a significant health risk for domestic pets. Salmonella and listeria monocytogenes are the major foodborne illnesses found in raw meat. Symptoms of a foodborne bacterial disease include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, respiratory problems, and lethargy. The intensity of the symptoms depends on the amount of bacteria ingested. 

Pet parents who feed their pets a raw meat diet should be aware that this diet lacks important nutrients required to maintain optimal pet health. 


Contact Fuzzy for More Information

Pet parents can get more information about the foods their pets should avoid by reaching out to Fuzzy to initiate a live chat with a qualified veterinary professional about any aspect of pet health. The Fuzzy vet team is available 24/7.

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