It may be tempting to let your pet finish off your leftovers. However, many seemingly innocuous foods can actually be toxic to your pet and cause it serious harm. The nutrition experts at the ASPCA have compiled a list of foods you shouldn't let your pet eat, no matter how much those sad, guilt-tripping eyes may tug at your heartstrings.
Please note: if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Onions, garlic and chives
While aromatic and used in many recipes, 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.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste, and can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia. The initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination, which can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days. It is best to avoid feeding foods to your pets that you suspect may contain xylitol for these reasons. /ao
Chocolate, coffee & caffeine
We're sure you've heard this one a thousand times but it bears repeating: no chocolate for your pets! The same mantra goes for any food that contains coffee or caffeine. These all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. Methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death when ingested by pets.
Milk and dairy
Dogs and cats may love milk and cheese -- but that doesn't mean you should give these to them as treats. Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk) so milk and other dairy-based products can cause them diarrhea or other digestive problems.
Salt and salty snack foods
Keep your pets away from salt-heavy snacks such as potato chips, pretzels and salted popcorn. Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in animals and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.
Raw or 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 and humans. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin, which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding a domestic pet raw bones is dangerous because it may choke on the bones or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet's digestive tract.
Almonds, pecans, and walnuts contain high amounts of oils and fats, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
Macadamia nuts are a no-no for dogs. Symptoms include weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia, which usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last for approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Although eating citrus fruits in small doses are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset, the stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in large quantities.
Grapes and raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding these foods to them.
If you own a bird, rabbit, donkey, horse, sheep or goat, do not give your faithful companion avocados. While delicious and nutritious for humans, avocados can cause cardiovascular damage and death in birds and swelling in horses, donkeys and ruminants (which includes sheep and goats).
Coconut and coconut oil
The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea, so the ASPCA encourages pet owners to use caution when offering these foods to pets. Additionally, coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to pets. Coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to do serious harm to animals when ingested in small amounts.
Even if your dog is begging while you're baking, resist the urge to sneak it a piece of dough. Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet's digestive system, which can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life-threatening emergency. Yeast produces ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk. Which brings us to...
Hopefully this goes without saying but you should never, ever, under any circumstances give alcohol to any pet or animal. The many possible effects alcohol can have on animals include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.