What Human Foods Are Harmful to Pets?

Chocolate, onions, grapes and other common foods cats and dogs can’t eat.

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Toxic Foods

Know What Not to Feed Dogs & Cats
When your cat or dog is sitting by your side, eyeing up the food you’re eating, it’s tempting to give in and let them have a taste. Positive reinforcement of their begging behavior aside, it’s fine to share in moderation... as long as you know what dogs and cats can safely eat.

Knowing which people foods are pet friendly and more important, which aren’t, is especially important around the holidays. You understandably want to let your best friends be part of your celebrations, but while the holidays are often a time of indulgence, they should always be a time for extra caution. With spreads of food sitting out on tables, candy dishes on display, guests who don’t necessarily know what’s bad for pets, and unfinished food and drinks left behind, there are plenty of opportunities for your pets to get into trouble.

To help you navigate, here are some foods that are harmful to dogs and cats,

Most people know chocolate is bad for dogs, but it’s usually in such abundance during the holidays that the dangers bear repeating. Chocolate is bad for cats too. In fact, all kinds of chocolate are dangerous, with dark chocolate and baking chocolate topping the list and white chocolate at the bottom, but still far from safe. The type and amount ingested make a difference, as does the pet’s weight and metabolism. The only way to ensure safety is to avoid it altogether.

Speaking of sweets, foods like candy and some baked goods containing the artificial sweetener xylitol are also dangerous. It can cause blood sugar balance issues and even liver failure.

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to serving alcohol to pets. A small sip can have a more profound effect than you may think. Depending on the amount poured for your pet and their size, which is typically much smaller than a human, the damage can range from discomfort and vomiting to coma or worse. Watch your pets during parties. Unfinished drinks on low tables or floors are all too common.

At best onions can give your cats and dogs digestive problems. At worst, they can actually damage red blood cells and cause anemia, leading to weight loss, listlessness and many other serious issues.

Another allium like onions, garlic can also cause anemia. If your pet gets ahold of it in any form be on the lookout for symptoms like weakness and vomiting.

Grapes and Raisins
All it may take is one grape for your dog or cat to have a bad reaction. And even small amounts can lead to kidney failure or other severe complications. Since grapes and raisins can easily roll off of cheeseboards or party platters or be dropped unknowingly, be vigilant about making sure your pets don’t get into them. Raisins are also often found in cookies and other holiday treats, too, so be aware of every way your pet could possibly get its paws on them.

This so-called superfood for humans is anything but for cats and dogs. Avocados contain something called persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Small amounts might be tolerable, but why take a chance?

Coffee, tea and other drinks with caffeine included, as well as dry forms of caffeine like coffee grounds and tea bags should all be kept away from pets. Caffeine raises blood pressure, can cause gastrointestinal issues, and can have a dangerous effect on their hearts.

It’s a common misconception that cats like to lap milk. If given the chance they might drink it, although they’re lactose intolerant. Dairy products like milk and cheese are not good for dogs either. They too can cause digestive problems and also allergic reactions. If you want to give your pup a cool treat, however, try these doggie ice creams.

This one also feels counterintuitive. After all, don’t dogs like to chew on bones? They do, of course, but the bones you find in the pet store are not the same as the natural bones in your food. Cooked bones in your table scraps can more easily splinter and cut your dog’s mouth or cause potentially bigger problems in the digestive process.

Raw Meat
They’re animals, they would be eating raw meat in the wild, right? That might be true but it isn’t necessarily the best advice to follow. Raw meat can contain bacteria and your attempt at a primal treat can leave them feeling much less than at their prime.

Oranges and Other Citrus
Citrus fruits like clementines and lemons can be problematic for cats—stems, seeds, leaves, and all. They might not cause a noticeable effect in small amounts, but they can lead to an upset stomach among other issues.

Further illustrating that it’s a smart idea to limit the amount of people food you feed your pets is salt. It’s found in most foods, and in the right amount, can be harmful to pets. So if you’re wondering if your cat can eat ham during the holidays or share your salty snack, err on the side of caution. A tiny treat may be fine, but too much salt can be toxic.

What To Do If Your Pet Eats Something Harmful
The symptoms you’ll see if your pet eats any of the above foods are fairly similar. In the event that your pet gets into something they shouldn’t have, contact your regular veterinarian or an emergency vet immediately. You can also contact the ASPCA’s poison control center at 888-426-4435.

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