Top Human Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

Most all pet owners can agree our pets are members of our families. We become so close to our pets we sometimes forget they aren’t actually humans. The majority of the time, this is innocent – until it comes to our pets’ diets. It’s important to know a number of foods that are harmless to us humans have proven to be toxic to our pets. Thankfully, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has put together a list of the top toxic human foods to avoid feeding our pets.

Alcohol: Under no circumstance should your pet be given alcohol or food products containing alcohol! Alcohol poisoning in pets is very rare as the taste is unpleasant to them – for the most part. When it comes to toxicity, the smaller the animal, the more likely they will experience side effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to difficulty breathing and even death.   

Avocado: Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. Mildly toxic to dogs and cats, the ingestion of persin can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis. When it comes to pets such as birds and horses, the consumption of avocado is much more severe including sudden death.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine: Most all pet owners know that chocolate is poisonous for dogs and cats, but what many don’t know is why. Chocolate, coffee and caffeine all contain cacao seeds which contain substances called methylxanthines. When ingested, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and even death. Note: the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous.

Coconut and Coconut Oil: Like the majority of foods, when ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut oil are not likely to be seriously harmful to your pet. With that being said, it’s important to be aware that coconut and coconut water contain high levels of potassium – too much can cause hyperkalemia in dogs. The fresh milk and flesh of coconuts also contain oils which can cause upset stomachs and loose stools.

Grapes and Raisins: With the exact toxic substance within grapes and raisins still being unknown, it’s important to avoid giving food containing them to pets. The ingestion of grapes and raisins can cause severe abdominal pain resulting in kidney failure. Because of this, it’s best to avoid them even in small amounts. 

Milk and Dairy: While cats are often seen enjoying a small bowl of milk, it is particularly toxic to dogs. Just like us humans, dogs can be lactose intolerant. Dogs lack significant amounts of lactase – the enzyme used to break down lactose in dairy products – so, ingesting large amounts of milk and dairy can lead to diarrhea and other digestive problems. 

Nuts: Containing excessive amounts of fats and oils, nuts – including almonds, pistachios, pecans and walnuts – can cause stomach-related issues and potentially pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts specifically contain a toxin that can lead to neurological issues including tremors and hyperthermia.

Onions and Garlic: Onions contain thiosulphate – which is toxic to both dogs and cats. Whether they are raw or cooked, ingestion of onions can damage red blood cells. Garlic on the other hand is said to be about five times as toxic to pets as onions. Consumption of both onions and garlic – and even chives – can cause lethargy, abdominal pain and elevated heart rate.

Salt: Hefty amounts of salt can produce extreme thirst, urination and even sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, coma and – in extreme cases – death. This can come from salty snacks, table salt, rock-salt, deicers and seawater. If you suspect your pet has salt poisoning, call a vet or poison control immediately.


Xylitol: A sugar substitute in many products including candy, gum, baked goods and toothpaste – consumption of xylitol can be extremely toxic for dogs in particular. When ingested, insulin is quickly released– leading to low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and even death. 

Yeast: When yeast is ingested by pets, their stomachs serve as the perfect place for yeast organisms to grow. With yeast dough in particular, the dough can rise inside their stomach, pressing against respiratory organs. Not only is this painful, but it can make it hard for our pets to breathe – becoming a life-threatening emergency.

The above list contains few of many toxic human foods for our pets. Although unlikely to see side effects from small doses – it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, next time you’re considering giving your pet the remnants of your food, be sure to think twice and confirm it’s a safe treat.

If you suspect your pet has ingested poisonous food, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.


3 Irish Treats that are TOXIC for Pets

Kansas City is smack dab in the middle of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and there is no better way to celebrate a holiday than with authentic food! While you and your family are enjoying classic Irish treats, keep in mind that they are not so great for your four-legged friends. Your Irish feast could turn into a trip to the vet if you aren’t careful! Keep these three Irish classics away from your pets, and you’ll all be doing an Irish jig!


1. Corned BeefBrookside Barkery

Corned beef is essentially beef brisket that is soaked in a special salt and vinegar pickling brine before it’s cooked in a seasoned broth. Because of that special curing process, corned beef is extremely high in sodium. While a little bit of salt likely won’t harm Fido or Fluffy — depending on your dog’s or cat’s size and health history —eating too much salty food in one sitting can cause sodium ion poisoning in pets.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, salt toxicity can be life threatening to dogs, cats, horses, cows, and birds. Eating too much salt may result in vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst or urination, increased fluid retention, kidney damage, seizures, coma, or even death.

The broth used to cook corned beef also contains quite a bit of garlic, and many people cook the beef and cabbage with boiled onions. While those ingredients might infuse the meat with a lot of flavor, garlic and onions can be poisonous to dogs and cats.

Garlic, onions, chives, and leeks are members of the Allium plant family, which, if ingested by a dog or a cat and in a high enough amount, can cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and an elevated heart rate and respiratory rate. Cats and Japanese breeds of dogs (such as the Shiba Inu and Akita) are especially sensitive to garlic and onion toxicity.

Finally, corned beef is quite high in fat compared what your pet is likely used to eating, so sharing your St. Paddy’s Day dinner with your four-legged friend could give him some serious stomach issues. Foods high in fat can cause bacterial overgrowth in your pet’s digestive system, which often results in diarrhea and vomiting. But frequent feeding of fatty foods like corned beef can also cause a more serious condition called pancreatitis, a mild to severe swelling of the pancreas. Pets suffering from pancreatitis often require hospitalization and long-term medication and diet restrictions.

2. Soda Bread

soda breadSoda bread is a common St. Patrick’s Day treat for humans, but keep that mouthwatering loaf away from Fido and Fluffy today.

If you’re making this Irish classic make sure to keep the dough out of reach of dogs and cats. When a pet eats bread dough, the dough doesn’t just sit there in the animal’s stomach — it expands. As the ball of eaten dough gets bigger and bigger, it can result in a bloated stomach or even a life-threatening condition called gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV), where the pet’s stomach twists and cuts off blood supply to vital organs.

A loaf of soda bread also contains raisins or dried currants, which are poisonous to dogs and in some reports cats and even ferrets. Eating even a few of these varieties of dried grapes has the potential to cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, and, in the worst cases of toxicity, acute renal failure.

3. Guinness — or any alcohol, for that matter

guinnessSt. Patrick’s Day revelers are often in high-spirits — thanks at least in part to spirits of another kind. Alcohol consumption and St. Paddy’s Day go hand-in-hand for many people, but, pets and booze do not mix.

Pets who swill the same whiskey, beer, and other alcoholic beverages their owners might this St. Paddy’s Day are at risk of some serious health issues, and may even die as a result of consuming alcohol.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in pets include excessive drooling, vomiting, gagging, signs of depression, lack of coordination or stumbling, distended stomach, seizures, sudden dips in blood glucose levels, and slowed reflexes.

Hops, one of the main ingredients in beer, can prove toxic to dogs and cats alike. Ingesting enough hops can cause elevated body temperature, a racing heartbeat, vomiting, increased respiratory rate, abnormal blood clotting, and in the most severe cases, even death. While any breed of dog can fall victim to hops poisoning, breeds that are more susceptible to malignant hyperthermia — including Greyhounds, Border Collies,English Springer Spaniels, and other breeds — are especially vulnerable.

While some sources recommend feeding your dog Guinness to treat and prevent heartworm, this unconventional method should never be used unless prescribed by and monitored by a licensed veterinarian.

BearTo keep your pets happy this St. Patrick’s Day, stop by Brookside Barkery and pick up a special cookie or two from our pet friendly cookie case! Your pets will thank your for the tasty treat and you can enjoy your Irish feast knowing that your four-legged friends are happy and healthy!

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* Thank you to for the information on Irish foods your pet should avoid.