Last weekend I took a trip out to the Colorado River with my family—pooch included. Blue has been making the trip with us every summer since day one, and he’s always loved chasing his ball through the sand and water. But one thing that worries me while we’re on vacation is that he just doesn’t eat his food when he’s away from home.
It’s always tempting to sneak him scraps of people food from the table, especially when he’s looking at you with those big, brown eyes. But there are so many foods that are dangerous and even deadly to our pets.
Some of the items on this list surprised me, so hopefully this compilation will be a good reference tool for all of my fellow pet parents (and a reminder that only dog and cat food should be in their dishes):
Chocolate, coffee, caffeine: These products contain substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, while white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. Baking chocolate contains the highest.
Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
Avocado: This one actually surprised me, since I’ve heard of people feeding their dogs avocado to give them a shiny coat. But the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
Macadamia nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Grapes and raisins: These fruits can cause kidney failure.
Yeast dough: Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture.
Raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones: Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as salmonella and e. coli that can be harmful to pets. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which can lead to skin and coat problems. Raw bones can pose choking hazards, and bone splinters can become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
Xylitol: Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure.
Onions, garlic, chives: These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.
Milk: I have to admit that I let my cat drink out of my cereal bowl once I was done. But pets don’t have significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), so milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Salt: Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets.