Top Ten Dangerous Foods for Your Pet

There are several common foods that are safe for people but can be hazardous for animals. From bouts of vomiting and diarrhea to more serious life-threatening conditions, the foods on this list should be avoided to prevent health problems for your pet. If your dog or cat does ingest one of these, contact your veterinarian or call a pet poison control hotline for more information on treatment recommendations.

  1. Grapes/Raisins – Ingestion of grapes or raisons can cause acute renal failure. Vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity may be seen initially followed by anorexia, lethargy, and depression and sometimes death.
  2. Nuts – Nuts can cause toxic poisoning, a gastrointestinal obstruction requiring emergency surgery, or severe gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea. The most frequent culprits necessitating a visit to the veterinarian are walnuts and macadamia nuts.
  3. Onions/Garlic – Onions and garlic can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed. Signs include breathlessness, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea and may not appear for 2-4 days after ingestion. Even small amounts can be life-threatening. Be aware that many foods are prepared with onion and garlic that may not be readily obvious.
  4. Fatty Foods – Feeding table scraps is not recommended primarily because of the risk of pancreatitis or vomiting and diarrhea that is often associated with the ingestion of fatty foods. This can be serious and even life-threatening with some pets requiring hospitalization. Frequent table scraps can also lead to obesity.
  5. Chocolate – Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which are toxic to dogs and cats. These substances act as stimulants on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Signs include hyperactivity, tremors, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.
  6. Caffeine – Pets can be exposed to caffeine in coffee and coffee grounds, tea and teabags, soda, energy drinks, and diet pills. Signs range from mild to serious and include hyper activity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, elevated body temperate, seizures, and death.
  7. Alcohol – Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can lead to toxicity. Alcohol can be found in beverages, but also pharmaceutical products such as medications, mouthwash, and perfumes. Alcohol toxicity can cause central nervous system signs (such as staggering, excitement, or decreased reflexes), behavioral changes (such as an increased need to urinate), depression, slow respiratory rate, and cardiac arrest.
  8. Unbaked dough – When ingested, the unbaked dough expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach. The gas created from fermenting yeast can result in bloat or a twisted stomach, gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). Signs include vomiting, nonproductive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Alcohol is also produced during yeast fermentation and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in alcohol poisoning.
  9. Candy and chewing gum – Xylitol is a substance commonly found in sugar-free candy and chewing gum. It can cause a dangerous surge in insulin and result in extremely low blood sugar levels in dogs. This can result in weakness, lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, liver failure, seizures, coma, and death.
  10. Pits – Pits in certain fruits and vegetables, such as peaches and avocados, can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and cause a life-threatening obstruction requiring emergency surgery.

If your pet ingests any of the foods on this list, please contact your veterinarian or animal poison control center immediately for further instructions and treatment recommendations.

Pet Poison Helpline

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center


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