Poisonous Foods for Pets

pet dog licking ice cream cone.

When sharing table scraps and snacks with our furry friends, it’s important to know which foods are safe and which are strictly off-limits. A nutritionally sound, species-specific diet is imperative for overall pet wellness, but this doesn’t mean your pet can’t sample the occasional tasty tidbit from your plate. These tips from the experts at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates can help you identify poisonous foods so you can share foods safely with your furry companion.

First: Two Simple Rules that Apply to All Food Sharing

Rule No. 1: Your cat or dog should get the nutrients they need from a quality, species-specific diet. People food should amount to no more than 5 percent of your pet’s caloric intake on a daily basis. 

Rule No. 2: If it’s bad for us, it’s probably bad for them. Too much fat or sugar can damage the pancreas and lead to pet pancreatitis. Not to mention, too much unfamiliar food can give your pet an upset tummy.

Never Give the Following Foods to Pets

The following list from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center outlines the poisonous foods and ingredients that should never be shared with pets: 

  • Alcohol: Never let pets sample food or beverages containing alcohol. Period.
  • Avocado: This food can cause cardiovascular damage and death in birds and rabbits, and edema in donkeys, horses, and ruminants. 
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine: All contain methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and even death. 
  • Citrus: Citrus in significant amounts can cause central nervous system depression. Small amounts may lead to minor stomach upset.
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil: Use caution with these foods as they could cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Do not give pets coconut water, as it is high in potassium.
  • Grapes and Raisins: These fruits can cause kidney failure.
  • Macadamia Nuts: These nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs. Other nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis.
  • Milk and Dairy: Dairy products can cause diarrhea or tummy upset. 
  • Onions, Garlic, and Chives: These can give cats gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to anemia. Dogs are at risk if they consume a large amount. 
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat: These can contain Salmonella and E. coli.
  • Raw Eggs: Uncooked eggs can cause skin and coat problems. 
  • Bones: Bones pose a choking hazard and can puncture your pet’s digestive tract. 
  • Salty Foods: Too much sodium can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. 
  • Xylitol: This sweetener that can cause liver failure. Read labels on prepared foods carefully. 
  • Yeast Dough: Dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system, which can cause the stomach to bloat and twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. 

Foods You Can Safely Share

Let your pets sample bite-sized portions of the following foods in moderation:

  • Veggies 
  • Fruit
  • Popcorn (unsalted)
  • Peanut butter (that does not contain xylitol) 
  • Cheese (small amounts only) 
  • Meats (small amounts of lean, cooked meats free of bones or seasonings) 

Sharing snacks with your pet can be a bonding experience, but it’s important to do so safely. If you have questions about poisonous foods versus snacks that are safe to share, please give us a call.