Toxic and Dangerous Foods for Pets
Do you know which foods and beverages might be harmful to your pets – and what to do if your pet ingests something toxic?
By Elizabeth Mason Woods for WebVet
Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, VMD
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Poison is a growing concern among pet
owners. Household poisons are not the only thing that can harm your pets. Many common household foods and drugs can also be toxic to your pets. The following are foods that can be toxic or poisonous to your pets.
. Avocados contain a toxin known as persin. Persin is found in various parts of the avocado and avocado trees (eg, leaves, rind, etc). This toxin is known mostly to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Birds and small pets seem most affected by the negative side effects of consuming avocado.
. Not just beer ... all alcohol. Depending on how much alcohol your animal ingests, it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, depression, difficulty breathing, coma, and possible death
. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine that is toxic to pets. If enough is ingested, your animal can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and possible death. Cocoa mulch contains theobromine; the ASPCA advises dog owners to avoid using this fertilizer around unsupervised dogs
, and dogs with indiscriminate eating habits since it can be toxic if ingested.
. Chocolate is the most common candy that is toxic to pets, especially to dogs, cats, and ferrets. Any candy containing the sweetener xylitol can also be toxic to pets.
. Caffeine is generally highly toxic to pets, having negative effects on both the cardiac and nervous systems. Side effects can include vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and possible death.
Grapes and raisins
. An unknown toxin in grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and ultimately lead to death. Symptoms of this poisoning can include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, and irregular heartbeat.
. An unknown toxin in nuts can have negative effects on the nervous, digestive, and muscular systems of your pet. Symptoms can include muscle tremors, weakness, an upset stomach, vomiting, depression, inactivity, and stiffness. Particularly avoid Macadamia nuts.
. Onions, along with garlic and chives, are all part of the same species of plant — the Allium species. Allium species plants contain sulfur compounds that can cause stomach irritation and possibly result in damage to red blood cells causing anemia. This is referred to as Allium poisoning.
Some human medicines
. While some human medications are prescribed for pets by veterinarians
, others can be highly toxic and fatal. Acetaminophen, which is contained in Tylenol and other similar products, for example, can be fatal to cats. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving human medication to a pet.
Xylitol (artificial sugar)
. Xylitol is a sweetener used in many products including mouthwash, chewing gum, toothpaste, and various foods. Because it is toxic to pets, products containing xylitol should not be given to your dog or cat.
. All portions of the lily plant are poisonous to cats when ingested. Just a nibble of the leaf, petal, or stem can cause irreversible kidney failure despite extensive medical treatment.
Other foods that can be toxic to your pet:
Toxic Household Items
- Apple Seeds
- Chives (see "onions," above)
- Fruit pits, especially those of apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries
- Garlic (see "onions" above)
- Moldy foods
- Mustard seeds
- Potato leaves and stems
- Rhubarb leaves
- Tomato leaves and stems
- Liquid potpourri
- Polyurethane glue
- Pine-oil cleaners
A study by the pet health insurance company VPI found that these were the top 10 foods and plants involved in pet poisoning claims:
- Lily flowers
- Sago Palm
- Macadamia nuts
- Azalea flowers
- Hydrangea flowers