9 min read

8 Human Foods That Are Toxic To Your Pet

Sometimes it's a gentle paw to your knee. Other times, it's big, well, puppy-dog eyes pleading at you from underneath the table. Our pets know just which heartstrings to pull to win a taste of our meals - but there are some foods that you absolutely should never feed your pet. Their lives might depend on it.

1. Alcohol/Coffee/Milk/Anything Liquid Other Than Water

(Flickr/nikoretro)

The truth is that most humans shouldn't be drinking half of the liquids that we put in our bodies, so our pets definitely should not be consuming them either. Coffee? It contains cocoa and caffeine, which are some of the most dangerous things for a dog's health and can lead to death. Like with humans, alcohol causes intoxication, poor breathing, acidity and a lack of coordination - and for your pet, can cause comas and death.

The caffeine and sugars found in sodas and drinks like Gatorade are harmful because they lead to symptoms like hypertension, seizures and abnormal hearth rhythms. Most shocking of all, perhaps, is the fact that cats should not be fed milk once they're grown. That's because cats are actually often lactose intolerant, as they begin producing less of the enzyme lactase and milk can end up causing serious digestive problems.

2. Avocado

(Flickr/Mindy Hertzon)

Fresh avocados might make for some great guacamole now that football season has started - but keep that consumption for humans only. Avocados contain something called persin, a toxin that when ingested can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lead to heart congestion in small animals. It's fatal to many small birds, though only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. However, they are extremely susceptible to choking if they swallow an avocado pit.

3. Onions/Garlic

(Flickr/** RCB **)

Most spices and additives used to flavor food should not be fed to your pets, but onions and garlic should be especially avoided at all costs. Moderate doses of either contain compounds can lead to anemia and damage red blood cells - especially in cats. Garlic is a large cause of gastrointestinal irritations, though small doses can often be found in food sold at pet stores. While low doses should not pose long-term damage to your pet, it's best to avoid them if possible.

4. Grapes

(Flickr/defaulterror)

Most people rightfully believe that fruits are part of a healthy diet - but that only applies to humans. Grapes are small enough to seem like a viable treat or snack, because they're packed with flavor and low in calories, but they pose a real threat to dogs.

Grapes contain a toxin that leads to liver damage and kidney failure in canines, and for some it only takes a handful of grapes to do them in. Symptoms to watch for include excessive thirst and urinations along with vomiting and diarrhea. The actual toxic agent in grapes has yet to be identified, but researchers believe a mycotoxin might be to blame.

5. Macadamia Nuts

(Flickr/Daniel Panev)

Macadamia nuts are rarely fatal, but they can have long-lasting effects on your pet's health. They've been known to affect the muscular systems of dogs, causing swollen limbs, weakness, panting and tremors. Macadamia nuts have also been known to damage nervous and digestive systems. So far, dogs are the only animals in which macadamia nuts have been shown to be an issue, but they remain a choking hazard for any small animal.

6. Cooked Bones and Fat

(Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)

Dogs and bones go together like cats and milk - and we saw above how well that works out. In fact, you may be surprised by the damage they can do. The fat trimmings left on a bone that isn't properly cleaned has been shown to cause pancreatitis in canines. And while some owners might cook bones to help them kill leftover bacteria, this can create other problems for your dog: cooking the bone makes it brittle, causing it to splinter or break in your dog's mouth.

Splintered bones that are swallowed can obstruct your dog's breathing or cause lacerations on his digestive system. If you simply can't resist, it's best to give the bone a thorough cleaning without cooking it before you give it to your dog.

7. Corn on the Cob(Flickr/jengledow)

The danger of corn on the cob isn't necessarily the corn itself; it's the cob that's the problem. The cob is difficult to digest, meaning it will get lodged in your pet's small intestine and cause intestinal obstruction - which is potentially fatal without surgery. Also, while the corn itself isn't toxic, too much of it can cause problem in the digestive tract which can lead to pain, vomiting and lethargy.

8. Chocolate (Flickr/John Loo)

This one probably goes without saying, but never ever, ever, ever feed your dog chocolate! Though the caffeine is certainly detrimental to a dog's health, chocolate also contains toxins known as theobromine which cause vomiting, diarrhea and fatal damage to your dog's heart and nervous system. The darker the chocolate, the more likely it is to cause severe, if not fatal, issues. Just don't do it!

The information in this article was vetted by Dr. Robert L. Proietto, VMD, MS.