8 Healthy Foods Toxic to Pets

Our pets are more than just domesticated animals. They become a part of our family, our adopted children.

As family members, we want to ensure that they get the proper nutrition they need.

Many of us feed our pets scraps from the table because we want to share our nutritious treats. Although it seems harmless, we could unknowingly be killing our companions.

Not all table scraps are bad for pets, but what is optimal for us might be toxic to them. Knowing the difference could save your pet’s life. Here are eight foods you should keep far away from your pets.


Although tea is full of antioxidants and low amounts of caffeine, it can cause serious problems in pets. The quantity of caffeine found in caffeinated teas is just enough to cause heart palpitations, rapid breathing, restlessness, muscle tremors and even bleeding.

So even if the source of your caffeine fix is healthy, don’t share it with your feline or canine companion.

Dairy products

Dairy is renown for being high in calcium and protein. Some dairy products such as kefir and yogurt can even improve digestion and balance good gut bacteria.

Some pet owners stuff their dog’s medications in cheese to make it more appetizing or feed them an ice-cream cone on a hot summer’s day. However, milk and milk-based products can cause digestive problems and trigger food allergies in dogs.

Dairy products can cause dogs to have an upset stomach or diarrhea — or end up with itchy skin. Either way, it’s not worth the risk.

Although cats love milk, they do not possess adequate amounts of lactase to break down excess lactose. It may surprise you to know that most cats are actually lactose-intolerant.

As a result, dairy can cause digestive upset and diarrhea in cats as well.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins (dried grapes) are wonderful for improving digestion in humans, as well as eliminating waste. However, these healthy treats can cause serious problems in pets.

Both dogs and cats can experience toxicosis, with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy within half a day of ingestion. The continuing, progressive symptoms of toxicosis include dehydration and lethargy, refusing to eat, increased urination followed by cessation of urination.

If left untreated, this could result in death. Bring your pet to a doctor immediately upon noticing these symptoms, and before they develop problems with urination, which can indicate the development of kidney failure.

Kidney failure can occur in as few as three to four days. In those pets that survive, it can lead to long-term kidney disease.

If your dog experiences any symptoms mentioned above, bring him or her to a vet immediately to maintain good urine flow.


Avocados are packed with healthy fats and nutrients that are revered by the health community. They are high in dietary fiber, vitamins B6, C, E and K, as well as copper, folate and potassium.

Avocados also contain persin, which in large quantities can cause an allergic reaction and can be toxic to dogs and cats. Persin is found in the fruit, leaves, seed and bark of the avocado plant.

So if you grow avocados, keep your dog away. The flesh or peel of an avocado can trigger stomach upset in dogs and cats. If the pit is consumed as well, the GI tract may become obstructed.

Onions and garlic

All members of the onion family, including onions, shallots, scallions, garlic, etc., can be fatal to your dog. However, ounce-for-ounce garlic is more toxic than onions.

These foods can damage your pet’s red blood cells if eaten in moderate to high amounts. Even trace amounts of onion or garlic in sauces or seasonings can put your dog at risk of toxicosis.

If your furry companion has red blood cell damage, it will become apparent in three to five days. Symptoms can include a reluctance to move, weakness, becoming unusually tired after mild exercise, and a change in urine color to dark red or orange.

If your cat or dog experiences these symptoms, seek veterinary help immediately. In the most severe cases, a blood transfusion may be required.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are rich sources of iron, protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, antioxidants, Vitamin A and folates. They also contain moderate amounts of copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Unfortunately, dogs and cats cannot benefit from the nutrients in macadamia nuts. That’s because macadamia nuts can trigger weakness and pain in your pet’s rear legs.

Your pet can experience a low fever or tremors that will likely gradually subside over 48 hours. If symptoms progress, see a vet, who can administer IV fluid and safe pain medication.

Raw eggs

Raw eggs provide high amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals. Although dogs and cats have a high protein requirement, this particular source of protein is problematic for pets for two reasons: Mammals are susceptible to food poisoning from bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli.

Secondly, raw egg enzymes can interfere with their absorption of B vitamins. This can lead to skin problems, and problems with your pet’s coat.

Raw fish

Raw fish is a delicacy often enjoyed in Asian cuisine. Although raw fish is full of healthy, lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, it can also cause problems in animals.

As with raw eggs, consuming any raw meat can put your pet at risk of bacterial poisoning from Salmonella or E. coli. Unlike raw eggs, raw fish can contain a parasite that causes what is known as “salmon poisoning disease” or “fish disease.”

Despite its name, trout, shad or sturgeon are other types of fish that contain this deadly parasite. If not treated, the disease could become fatal in just two weeks.

Signs of fish disease include vomiting, fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Cooking your fish thoroughly will kill the parasite and eliminate any risk of disease. 

Other toxic ingredients to avoid feeding pets

Other foods that are unhealthy for our pets include sugary foods, salty foods, bread dough (containing raw, active yeast), chocolate, coffee (anything containing caffeine), alcohol, hops, cooked or uncooked fat trimmings, raw beef, bones from scraps, moldy food, and fruit pits and seeds.

Also, you should never give your pet human medicine. According to WebMD, reactions to human medicine is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs.

The only exception is over-the-counter medicine under the instruction of a veterinarian. Be aware that ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which are often found in cold and pain medicines, can be deadly to cats and dogs.

Your pets are your family. As much as you want to share the foods you love with them, sometimes it’s best to love them with affection instead.