The Top Ten Toxic Foods for Your Dog and Cat

Whenever you feed your dog or cat a food not specifically designed for their consumption there is a risk of an adverse reaction. Dogs and cats can not always tolerate the same foods we can. They also have unique food allergies, just like we do. The good news is that most of the time there is no serious harm. Nature tries to eliminate toxic foods before they can be absorbed and cause serious illness. Vomiting and diarrhea are effective tools. The bad news is that dogs and cats both have an exceptional sense of smell. They find and consume food that was never intended for them to eat.


Pet owners need to know what foods dogs and cats need to avoid.  Here is a list of foods especially unhealthy for dogs and cats.  It is by no means a complete list, but more like a list of priority foods toxic to dogs and cats. The list does not rank the different foods. If a food is on the list, it is a threat if it is ingested by your dog or cat.


1. Nuts.  The exact reason why is not fully understood.  Macadamia nuts are the most toxic.  Steer clear of all nuts, they are hard for dogs and cats to ingest and have a history of causing illness.


2. Grapes and Raisins.  A single grape is not going to hurt your pet.  Large amounts of grapes or raisins are another matter.  The dogs and cats can experience kidney failure and there are cases where animals have died.  The quicker treatment is started the better the outcome.


3.  Chocolate.  Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which are both stimulants.  They adversely affect the central nervous and cardiovascular systems in dogs and cats. Can be deadly.


4. Onions and Garlic.  Onions can destroy red blood cells in dogs and cats causing anemia.  Garlic is not as bad - but since the effects of both can build up over time  - there is an accumulative issue.


5. Cooked bones.  Raw bones are fine.  Cooked bones become brittle.  They can shatter and cause severe injury to the lining of the digestive track.  Pieces can get lodged in the intestines causing blockage, this requires surgery to correct.


6.  Alcohol.  Small breeds of dogs and cats are especially vulnerable.  Alcohol causes intoxication just like in people but it also causes liver failure, seizures, coma and even death.  Hops are toxic to dogs, so beer is a double no-no.


7.  Avocado.  The exact cause is a mystery but avocado causes significant vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats.  Dehydration is the result.


8.  Liver.  Liver is the exception to feeding organ meats to dogs or cats.  A large amount of liver can cause vitamin A toxicity.  Liver, in organ meat form, is best avoided. Liver as a flavoring or in processed/prepared dog foods is safe.


9.  Coffee and Tea.  Again caffeine is the issue here.  Caffeine poisoning causes rapid heart rates, excessive urination and irritability.


10.  Milk and Dairy Products.  It has been reported that as many as 50% of dogs and cats are lactose intolerant.  Abdominal cramps and diarrhea are the usual symptoms and maybe severe.  


Many of us show our love by sharing table scraps or a left-over meal with the members of our four-legged family. The consensus among veterinarians is that you should not feed your dog or cat any people food.  However, we now see some evolving veterinary opinion that there may be a place for lean meats, grains, vegetables, and fruits as perhaps 25% of a dog or cat’s diet - the remainder being a well-balanced commercial pet food.  But you must do your homework to avoid the dangerous foods.  You must also avoid over-feeding. Portion control is a necessity.  Obesity is rampant today in dog and cat populations.  A lot of the food we eat is not particularly good for us much less for our dogs and cats.  Let us be careful that we, two legged and four legged folks, eat safe healthy foods.

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 4/25/2018: 9:55:57 AM ET
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