5 Foods That Pets Should Avoid

Collie looking at human food

Cats and dogs are naturally inquisitive, especially when it comes to food. Additionally, they are excellent at pleading for a sample of whatever we are eating or making. Sharing food with your furry friends might be alluring, but we must keep in mind that some foods can be harmful, causing discomfort or even death. Here are 5 common household foods that are poisonous to pets.

Grapes and Raisins

Both cats and dogs are poisoned by grapes and raisins, which can cause severe renal failure or even death. While grapes in any form are unhealthy, it's believed that the dried varieties—which are frequently found in fruit cakes, trail mix, and snack bars—are more likely to result in serious side effects if consumed. Even a very tiny quantity of grapes or raisins can result in serious issues, even death, in dogs. It is unclear exactly whether compound or substances in grapes and raisins kill dogs.

Typically, symptoms appear six to twelve hours after your pet consumes grapes or raisins, and liver failure sets in 24 to 72 hours later. But it can take a few days for things to start working. The fruits might in extreme circumstances also result in unexpected renal failure.

Other symptoms can include

  • Diarrhea (possibly with blood present)
  • Abnormal drinking or urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

Caffeine: Coffee, Tea, and Sodas 

Caffeine can be found in a variety of everyday items, including coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and several supplements (e.g. pre-workout and weight-loss supplements). Since these items are frequently found in our homes, it's critical to understand how they may affect your pet and be familiar with the symptoms of caffeine poisoning.

Pets are affected by caffeine according to their body weight, therefore the amount and weight of the animal will determine how hazardous the substance is to them. According to research, 60 mg of caffeine for every pound of body weight might result in possibly fatal effects. For instance, depending on the brand, instant coffee has 30 to 90 mg of caffeine per teaspoon. This indicates that a 5-pound dog might die from consuming 4 tablespoons of instant coffee. Tea, cola, and energy drinks are all caffeinated liquids that are just as dangerous to your cat or dog as coffee.

A stimulant, caffeine is. Because of this, it keeps us alert. The stimulant effects of caffeine are the main cause of the majority of toxicology symptoms. Within 30 to 60 minutes after consuming caffeine, dogs and cats may display clinical symptoms of poisoning.

These symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Panting
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

Chocolate and Cocoa 

It's essential to keep in mind that dark chocolate is the most hazardous type of chocolate. Theobromine, a molecule related to caffeine, is present in greater concentrations in darker chocolate. Therefore, luxury dark chocolates, cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, and are more hazardous than milk chocolate. Pot brownies are a particularly dangerous substance since they include both marijuana and chocolate.

Theobromine, a substance found in chocolate together with caffeine, makes it poisonous. The main toxin in chocolate, theobromine is extremely similar to caffeine. Depending on the kind and quantity of chocolate consumed as well as the size of the pet, the degree of chocolate toxicity varies dramatically. It might take hours for clinical symptoms of chocolate poisoning to appear and they can linger for days.

These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures


Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute that can be lethal to dogs if consumed in even tiny doses. It is frequently present in 'low sugar' or'sugar-free' items including toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements, sugar-free chewing gum, and a few types of peanut butter.

The secretion of insulin from the pancreas regulates blood sugar levels in both humans and canines. In individuals, xylitol does not cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. Canines experience it differently, though: When dogs consume xylitol-containing foods, the xylitol enters the system more quickly and may cause a powerful release of insulin from the pancreas. This quick insulin release can harm a dog's liver and result in a dip in blood sugar that is potentially fatal. Cats and other animals are not subject to the same hazardous effects from xylitol.

Typically, each piece of chewing gum or breath mint contains 0.2 to 1.0 grams of xylitol. Therefore, a 10-pound dog would only need to consume one piece of gum to get a potentially deadly amount!

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning develop rapidly, usually within 15-30 minutes of consumption These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Staggering
  • Collapse
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Death

Onions and Garlic

Garlic and onions, as well as other plants of the Allium species (leeks, chives) in either fresh, dried, or powdered forms are toxic to both dogs and cats.

When consumed raw, garlic has a harmful ingestion rate of around 1 gram per 5 pounds compared to 1 gram per pound for onions. Compared to fresh, onion and garlic powders are more strong and can result in more significant issues. Many foods we consume, including those you would not think pose a threat to your pet, frequently include the components onions and garlic. Pizza, a few infant meals, and tomato sauce are examples of them. Although research on this use have not been done and veterinarians typically do not advise it, garlic is occasionally considered a "home cure" for flea infestations.

The main oxidant, n-propyl disulfide, found in garlic and onions is hazardous. Anemia may occur from this, notably the creation of Heinz bodies, which can destroy red blood cells. A dog may become poisonous if it consumes more than 0.5 percent of its body weight in onions or garlic. This is equivalent, for instance, to a 30 kg dog consuming around 2.5 ounces of onion or garlic.

Even more susceptible to the effects of these plants are cats and Japanese dog breeds like the Akita and Shiba Inu. The indicators of onion and garlic poisoning might appear within a day, but it can take up to a week for your pet to exhibit anemic symptoms. These consist of:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Reduced appetite
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Death

What Are Some Foods That Are Safe for Your Pets?

It's not all gloom and doom for the pets who picnic with us, here are some healthy human food treats options. As with all treats, these should be fed in moderation.

  • Apples
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Zucchini and summer squash
  • Easy Cheese
  • Peanut butter (without xylitol)
  • White rice
  • Plain, boiled chicken
  • Cucumbers

Contact your veterinarian and the Pet Poison Helpline right away if you believe your pet has ingested any of the aforementioned items. It's critical to get medical assistance as soon as you can in order to treat these toxicities. Always have the contact information for your vet's office and a nearby emergency veterinary facility handy.


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