Foods to Avoid Giving Your Pets


Some foods that are edible for humans, can pose hazards for animals because animals and humans have different metabolisms. Certain foods may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, even death if ingested by animals. The following common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to either cats or dogs. This list is, of course, incomplete because I cannot possibly list everything your animal should not eat.

Alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication, coma, and death.

Baby food can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to cats. (Please see onion below.) It can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts.

Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.

Canned tuna (for human consumption) can cause malnutrition if fed in large quantities since it lacks proper levels of vitamins and minerals.

Chocolate, coffee and tea contain caffeine and perhaps theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous system.

Citrus oil extracts can cause vomiting. Dog food if ingested accidentally by a cat will not cause a problem, but if fed repeatedly, may result in malnutrition and diseases affecting the heart.

Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis.

Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Large amounts of liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.

Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscles.

Marijuana can depress the nervous system and cause vomiting and changes in the heart rate.

Milk and other dairy products should never be fed to animals. Some adult cats and dogs do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for cats.

Moldy and spoiled food can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.

Mushrooms can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.

Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder) contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.

Persimmons seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves and potato and tomato stems contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock.

Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair and coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.

Raw fish can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.

Salt if eaten in large quantities may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

String can become trapped in the digestive system; called a “string foreign body.”

Sugary foods can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.

Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed to animals at all.

Tobacco contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heartbeat, collapse, coma, and death.

Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Health and Wellness Expert


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“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

Michael Torchia is an animal health and wellness expert, who writes about animal and human health and wellness.