Practical information about commercial pet foods and what goes into them.
A basic principle of toxicology says “the dose makes the poison.” This adage applies to many common food items, which may contain natural chemicals that can be toxic when consumed in sufficient quantities. The potentially harmful amount may differ among species, so what may be safe for people to eat may be dangerous for pets. When some dogs — and an occasional cat — get access to certain foods (e.g., chocolate candy, baked goods, moldy foods in the garbage), they might eat an amount that provides a dangerous dose of the potentially toxic substance or overwhelms their bodies’ ability to process it.
|Food||Potential Health Problems|
|Chocolate||Vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures|
(natural sweetener found in certain sugar-free gums, candies, baked goods, toothpastes)
|Low blood sugar (glucose), liver failure|
|Coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks||Hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, fast heart rate, rapid breathing, tremors, abnormal heart rhythm|
|Raw or cooked onions, garlic, leeks, chives (Allium spp.)*||Lower-than-normal number of red blood cells due to cell damage and breakdown, digestive upset, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate|
|Grapes, raisins, Zante currants (Vitis spp.)||Digestive upset, loss of appetite for food, sudden kidney failure|
|Macadamia nuts||Hind limb weakness, vomiting, poor balance or coordination, tremors, increased body temperature, joint stiffness|
|Alcohol (ethanol)||Depression or lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, decreased breathing rate, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low body temperature|
|Raw yeast-containing dough||Lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, decreased breathing rate, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low body temperature, bloating with possible stomach twisting, seizures, respiratory failure|
(some molds produce toxins known as mycotoxins)
|Vomiting, agitation, incoordination, tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature|
|Assistance for Veterinary Professionals and Pet Owners|
|United States and Canada||
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
Phone: (888) 426-4435
|United States, Canada and the Caribbean||
Pet Poison Helpline
Phone: (855) 764-7661
Phone: 01202 509000
Australian Animal Poisons Helpline
Australia Phone: 1300 869 738
New Zealand Phone: 0800 869 738
|Assistance provided to veterinary professionals only|
Pet Poison Helpline World
Australia Phone: 0011 800 4444 0002
New Zealand Phone: 00 800 4444 0002
"No matter how much your pet begs, there are some people foods you should avoid giving your pet and make sure they are not left out where your pet could get them. Many pet owners are aware that dogs and cats should not eat chocolate. They also should not consume onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, raw yeast dough, moldy foods, coffee, caffeine-containing energy drinks or alcoholic beverages."
Aldrich, G. (2006). Onions and garlic offer flavor in the right amounts. Petfood Industry, 48(11), 40─41.
Cortinovis, C., & Caloni, F. (2016). Household food items toxic to dogs and cats. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 3, Article 26. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2016.00026
Kovalkovičová, N., Sutiaková, I., Pistl, J., & Sutiak, V. (2009). Some food toxic for pets. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 2(3), 169─176. doi: 10.2478/v10102-009-0012-4