Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pet

(Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM) Is your pet begging you to give it some of your food? We know it is quite difficult to resist it, but sometimes it is necessary. There are several foods that are not suitable for pets and can even harm them.
Pets bring joy to our lives every day, and for this reason, we want to reward them with the best and most delicious foods. However, when we feed or reward them with something delicious, we must see it as a responsibility.

Many of us are unaware or forget that some foods are contraindicated for pets because they are potentially toxic and can cause severe adverse reactions and even death.

We can eat a wide variety of foods. Although they are safe for us, some can pose a serious threat to our pet’s health. If you want your pet to live a long and healthy life, you need to know which foods are toxic or contraindicated for your fluff ball.

Here are the most common foods vets recommend to keep away from pets:

  • Coffee and energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Milk
  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onion and garlic
  • Avocado
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Raw eggs, meat, and fish
  • Bones
  • Yeast dough
  • Candy and gum
  • Lemons and limes
  • Green tomatoes and potatoes

Coffee and Energy Drinks

Caffeine in coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks is harmful to a wide variety of pets, such as dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rats, etc. That is why it is recommended to keep all these drinks away from the curious whiskers of your pet.

Caffeine contains methylxanthines, alkaloid substances that have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system.

In large doses, caffeine can become a problem for dogs and cats. Very small animals, such as birds and rats, need small amounts of caffeine to cause adverse reactions.

Among the most common symptoms of caffeine intoxication are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat

Large doses can lead to convulsions and death.


Ethanol, the alcohol from which alcoholic beverages, paints, medicines, and oral hygiene products are made, is toxic to pets. It leads to the destruction of the nervous system in all species.

In cats, even a spoonful of alcohol can lead to severe adverse effects. Clinical signs of alcohol poisoning in pets include:

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Disorientation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Hypothermia
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Coma
  • Incoordination
  • Death


Very few animals can digest the milk of other species, and cats are one of them. Kittens are not born lactose intolerant, but as they get older, they become intolerant.

Lactose intolerance is manifested through gastrointestinal disorders, such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence, which lead to dehydration.
If your cat can drink milk without problems, that is not the norm!

Chocolate and Cacao

What makes chocolate toxic to pets is the cacao it contains. Theobromine is a toxic compound found in cocoa beans. The toxicity of this substance is related to the dose, and the symptoms of intoxication will be directly proportional to the type, size, and amount of chocolate or cacao a pet consumes.

As a result, dark chocolate is more harmful than milk or white chocolate because it has a higher concentration of cacaoa, and baker’s chocolate has the highest cacao content.

Theobromine effects most organs in the body: lungs, heart, kidneys, and nervous system.

Actions of theobromine in the body:

  • Diuretic
  • Cardiac stimulant
  • Nervous system stimulant
Side effects of chocolate and cocoa consumption in pets include:
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Death

Moreover, cats don’t have sweet taste buds. So, don’t waste your precious chocolate on pets and keep them safe!

Macadamia Nuts

This delicacy for humans is toxic for pets, especially dogs. Symptoms appear about 12 hours after consumption and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Hypothermia
  • Joint pain

Consuming macadamia nuts is not fatal, but it is recommended to avoid giving them to dogs.

It is not recommended to give these delicacies to cats either, even if they aren't as toxic as they are for dogs.

Their toxicity mechanism is unknown.

Onion and Garlic

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are plants that are toxic to pets. They are part of the Allium genus and contain organosulfoxides, which, when chewed, turn into organosulfur compounds. These compounds do not disappear or halve through cooking, drying, or processing.

The onset of symptoms of poisoning with these foods is closely related to the amount consumed. Symptoms may appear one or more days after ingestion. Cats and Akita-Inu and Shiba-Inu dog breeds are more sensitive.

Common clinical signs of onion, garlic, chive, and leek poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells if consumed regularly


This fruit causes problems in horses, birds, and rabbits. It contains a toxic substance called persin, which has effects on the heart muscle. The leaves, skin, bark, and pit have a higher concentration of persin than the flesh.

The toxic dose of persin is unknown in pets, but the amount of this toxic substance in the flesh is low enough not to cause problems in dogs.

Consumption in large quantities can lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Myocardial destruction

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and cats, and their toxicity mechanism is unknown. Cats suffering from kidney diseases have a higher risk of getting poisoned with grapes and raisins.

In some cases, after 4-5 grapes, some dogs showed the following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Long-term consumption of grapes and raisins can lead to kidney damage and death.

Raw Eggs, Meat, and Fish

Raw eggs and meat present a higher risk of being contaminated with Salmonella and E. coli, two bacteria that can lead to digestive problems.

Raw fish is toxic to cats because it contains a compound, thiaminase, which reduces the body's ability to absorb vitamin B. This vitamin B1 deficiency leads to hair loss and skin problems.

Meat that contains unhealthy fat can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The thermal preparation of the products kills the bacteria, making them safe for pets' consumption.


Cooked bones pose a greater risk to pets than raw bones. Chicken and turkey are particularly dangerous. Their bones are much more fragile and can break into sharp shards when our pets chew on them.

The bone fragments can cause gastrointestinal obstruction or lacerations :

  • At the level of the mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Small intestine
  • Colon

They can cause such severe damage to pets' bodies that they can lead to death.

Raw fish bones are safer to consume due to their elasticity.

Yeast Dough

Even if it seems your pet is interested in your fresh dough, it is recommended not to give it to them. Yeast dough increases its volume in your pet's stomach and can cause gastrointestinal disorders:

  • Stomach ache
  • Bloating
  • Gas

In addition, the yeast will ferment in your pet's stomach, producing alcohol. The alcohol is quickly absorbed into your pet's bloodstream, leading to alcohol poisoning.

Candy and Gum

Gum and candy have something in common: xylitol, an artificial sweetener toxic to pets. A 10-pound dog can become intoxicated if it consumes 0.22-1.0 grams of xylitol. If xylitol is ingested it can lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Liver failure

Candies containing milk can cause gastrointestinal disorders (stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea) if consumed in excess.

Lemons and Limes

These citrus fruits contain a substance called psoralen, which, if ingested, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea when combined with stomach acidity.

Green Tomatoes and Potatoes

Tomatoes and potatoes are part of the same family, Solanaceae. Green tomatoes, green potatoes, and the green parts of these plants contain solanine, a substance toxic to pets.

Symptoms of solanine poisoning include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and paralysis.

Tomatoes must be ripe and potatoes cooked to make them safe for pets' consumption.

Bottom Line

Foods that are forbidden to pets should never be neglected by their owners. Not all contraindicated foods cause the death of our pets, but it is good to avoid giving them such foods in order to keep them safe and healthy.

For your pet’s overall dietary needs, it is best to opt for natural foods we know are safe and to consult with your veterinarian. For example, there are select vegetables or fruits that make for safe, healthy treats for your furry friend. Click here for veggies, recipes, and healthy treats for pets.

If you notice your pet has eaten any of the above foods, do not hesitate to contact the vet. They are the ones who can tell you what steps to follow and what measures to take.


Dr. Iuliana Mihai, DVM, Masters In Small Animals And Equines Pathology

Iuliana graduated from the University of Agronomical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in 2012, Romania. She has a Master’s degree in Small Animal and Equines Pathology and a strong affinity for Veterinary Parasitology and Laboratory. In 2013 she started her Ph.D. in epithelial cancer in dogs and cats. She volunteered at the faculty’s clinic in her 3rd year of study, and continued her career in small animal pathology and laboratory. She has one cat and eleven rats. Her interests outside of work include traveling, writing, and crafting.


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