There are countless human foods that are not only tasty, but are actually good for your pet when mixed in with their regular food – the six on this list, however, are ones to be avoided.
Chocolate is probably one of the most well-known human foods that is unsafe for pets. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which humans easily metabolize, but pets process much more slowly. Since it is processed so slowly, it allows the toxic levels to build up in their body until it becomes dangerous. Unlike many of the other foods on this list, the size of the pet plays a role on the impact that chocolate can have on your pet – for example a large dog can consume much more chocolate than a small dog before showing symptoms. Different types of chocolates also have different levels of theobromine: Cacao, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest, white and milk chocolate have the lowest.
When consumed in small quantities, chocolate will likely only give your pet an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea, however in larger quantities it can lead to muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack.
Have you ever gotten a stomach ache after eating too much avocado? That’s because it contains a fungicidal toxic called persin. Humans are able to ingest it in low concentrations, but unfortunately pets are not. While dogs are more resistant to persin than other animals, it can still cause vomiting and diarrhea, or in serious cases, death. Plus, the pit of the avocado is a serious choking hazard and can cause stomach or intestinal obstruction if it is ingested.
You may never have heard of xylitol before, but you’d be surprised how many common foods it is found in. A naturally occurring substance most often used as a sugar substitute, xylitol is found in a range of baked food, some types of peanut butter, candy and gum. When consumed by your pet it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing the pancreas to release an increased amount of insulin, causing a rapid decrease in the level of blood sugar and possibly liver failure. The symptoms appear quickly – within 15 to 20 minutes – and can include weakness, staggering and vomiting, and in serious cases, loss of consciousness.
Grapes and Raisins
The dangers of grapes and raisins for pets may be well documented, but the exact toxin that causes the reaction is still unknown. If ingested, the unknown toxin causes severe kidney damage leading to sudden kidney failure with a lack of urine production. However, the sensitivity to the toxin appears to vary between pets, so an amount that causes sudden kidney failure in one pet may not cause it in another. In addition to kidney issues, other notable symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, or loss of consciousness.
While macadamia nuts may not be a staple of your pantry, they are found in a number of baked goods like cakes, cookies and muffins, as well as trail mix. Like grapes and raisins, the nut’s exact toxin is unknown but it’s generally agreed that pets need to ingest more than 2g of nuts per kilogram of body weight before symptoms appear. However, individual sensitivity to the nut varies greatly between dogs. If consumed, the most common sign is weakness of the legs – especially the back ones – as well as lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, and fever. Again, the symptoms vary between pets so the same amount of macadamia nut consumed could result in the displaying of drastically different symptoms.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten anything on this list, contact your veterinarian immediately. If they are not open, contact your local 24-hour emergency clinic or call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for advice.