Toxic Foods for Dogs and Cats (an A – Z guide)

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min | Last Updated: May 25th, 2022

Any pet parent knows the struggle of saying no when our pets beg for food while we are trying to eat. While resisting giving our fur babies treats from our dinner plates is hard it is the right thing to do. Not only do our pets have different nutritional needs from us, but many human foods are toxic to them. We’ve put together a short list of toxic foods for dogs and cats, as well as the signs and symptoms if they are ingested.

A-Z of toxic foods for dogs and cats

Below is an overview of toxic foods for dogs and cats. This isn’t a full list, and it’s always best to avoid feeding your furry friend human foods. If your pet does eat something and you are unsure of whether it could be harmful, call your vet immediately.

A

Alcohol

Different types of alcohol in glassesIf ingested in large enough amounts, alcohol can be toxic to our pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, difficulties breathing, tremors.

Avocado

AvocardosThe skin and leaves of the avocado contain persin which can be toxic to animals, particularly birds. While cats and dogs aren’t as susceptible as other animals it is still something to be aware of. Avocados are also high in fat and can contribute to pancreatitis in dogs.

C

Caffeine

Coffee and tea on table, a toxic food for our petsDogs especially are more sensitive to caffeine than us humans. While a lap or two of your coffee is unlikely to do them any harm, if ingested in large enough amounts can be fatal. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include, vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, tremors, rapid breathing, heart palpitations.

Citrus

Different types of citrus fruitsAll parts of citrus fruits (the fruit, peel, seeds, leaves and stems) contain citric acid which can be harmful to our pets. If only a small amount is ingested your pet should only experience mild symptoms like an upset stomach. However, if a large amount is ingested it can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Citrus to avoid include lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits.

Chocolate

Chocolate truffles and other chocolate are a highly toxic food for dogsIt is well known chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs but it is still something we see all too often in our hospitals. Chocolate contains the toxins caffeine and theobromine which cause vomiting and diarrhoea on the mild end of the toxicity range, and seizures and heart arrhythmias on the severe end.

G

Garlic and Chives

Bulbs of garlic and a bunch of chives, highly toxic foods for dogs

While garlic and chives ingested in small amounts shouldn’t cause any problems. If ingested in large quantities they can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage.

Grapes, Raisins, Sultanas and Currants

Grapes, raisins and sultanas are toxic foods for dogsGrapes, raisins, sultanas and currants contain a toxin that can cause severe liver damage and kidney failure. It doesn’t take many for dogs to become critically ill. Symptoms include, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive thirst, excessive urination, lethargy, abdominal pain, tremors and seizures. By the time clinical signs begin, the pet is already experiencing kidney failure.

M

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts in a bowlMacadamias are toxic to dogs. It is unknown which part of the macadamia causes poisoning. Symptoms include, lethargy, vomiting, tremors, abdominal pain, joint stiffness and pale gums.

Milk and Milk-based Products

A range of dairy productsDid you know cats and dogs are lactose intolerant? Avoid giving your furry friends cow’s milk, as drinking it can cause diarrhoea, craps and digestive upset.

O

Onion

Whole and chopped onions are a toxic food for dogsDid you know onions can be lethal? Onions contain thiosulphate which is toxic to both cats and dogs. Ingestion of this food causes a condition known as haemolytic anaemia which is where red blood cells throughout the body burst. This condition can be fatal, so keep a watchful eye on your furry family members.

S

Salt

Salt shaker tipped overJust like us humans, when our pets ingest too much salt they can suffer from excessive thirst and urination, and potentially sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms from consuming a large amount include, depression, diarrhoea, elevated body temperature, seizures, tremors and vomiting.

Stone Fruit

A range of stone fruitsThe stone in stone fruits is toxic and can cause obstructions if ingested.

X

Xylitol

A range of chewing gum and lollies containing xylitol which is toxic for dogsXylitol is a sweetener found in an alarming amount of foods, including sweets and treats, chewing gum and peanut butter. It is toxic to our pets and can cause liver failure and seizures. So, if you are planning on treating your pet with a delicious snack, check the label to ensure products don’t contain xylitol.

Y

Yeast Dough

Kneading raw yeast doughShould our pets eat raw yeast dough it can continue to rise and cause gas to accumulate in their digestive system. Not only will this be painful for them it can also cause their stomach to bloat and potentially twist. Yeast also produces ethanol (a type of alcohol) which is also toxic to our pets.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, contact your closest Animal Emergency Service hospital or your local vet.

For more information about what is toxic to pets, visit our Pets and Poisons Guide.

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