ArmadilloStock/iStock via Getty Images
While it’s tempting to give your pet bites of people food every now and then, you must be very careful about what you give them because it could be deadly. If your pet happens to eat anything on this list, you should consult your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline. Also, this is not a comprehensive list of everything in your home that could be bad for your pet.
1. Macadamia nuts
It’s unclear exactly why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, but when eaten they can cause limb weakness, vomiting, pancreatitis, tremors, and lethargy. Macadamia nut poisoning is often milder than some other items on this list, but it could still require veterinary care.
While macadamia nuts aren’t a super common household food, they can be in many baked goods or trail mixes, like macadamia nut cookies. So it’s important to be careful about giving your dog a piece of a cookie or leaving them out and within reach. However, macadamia nuts do not seem to be harmful to cats, though.
2. Bread dough (yeast)
Raw bread dough (and the yeast inside it) is doubly bad for cats and dogs: The unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach, while the yeast produces alcohol. The rising dough can bloat or twist the pet’s stomach, potentially causing vomiting, retching, weakness, an abnormal heart rate, collapse, and death.
The yeast, on the other hand, can give your pet alcohol poisoning and subsequent drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. If your pet is really intoxicated, they can suffer seizures and respiratory failure. While you might like to eat bits of cookie dough, don’t let your pet eat dough.
Avocados may be beloved by millennials, but they are not beloved by pets. An avocado’s pit is enormous and evolved to be eaten by giant sloths, so it could do serious damage to a dog or cat if swallowed. Plus the avocado’s high-fat content could give your pet pancreatitis. Avocadon’t feed this to your pet!
On top of that, avocados also have a toxin called persin, which tends to be mildly poisonous for dogs and cats but can be deadly to birds, horses, cows, goats, sheep, and other animals. So, never feed a bird or hooved animal an avocado, no matter how trendy the toast.
4. Nicotine, tobacco, secondhand smoke
Unlike many of the items on this list, nicotine is bad for both humans and pets. However, you’re probably not going to find your cat smoking a cigarette on the patio. What could happen is your dog eating stray cigarette butts and unattended nicotine gum.
Often, the pet will vomit up the nicotine if it’s a small enough amount, but it is still good to contact the vet regardless. Nicotine can influence your pet’s heart rate and cause them to have tremors and weakness. On top of that, secondhand smoke and any tobacco residue left on hands, clothing, or furniture are harmful to pets.
5. Cherries, peach pits, apple seeds
While most humans have the sense to spit out a cherry pit, who’s to say your dog won’t just gobble the thing whole? It’s best to keep dogs and cats away from cherries. Their pits, stems, and leaves contain cyanide, an enzyme that prevents cells from taking in oxygen. Enough cyanide can be lethal.
A single cherry pit may not give your pet cyanide poisoning, but it could lodge itself in the animal’s digestive tract and create a blockage. If this happens, your dog might vomit, eat less food, and poop less often. In addition to cherries, peach pits and apple seeds also contain cyanide.
6. Wild mushrooms
As there are thousands of different types of mushrooms, many of them are not toxic to pets. However, some are severely toxic and can be deadly. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell different mushroom types apart if you aren’t trained to. Just like you shouldn’t be eating random mushrooms off the forest floor, neither should your pet.
So if you’re taking your dog (or cat, or ferret) for a walk in the woods, don’t let it eat any wild mushrooms. Dogs can’t tell which ones are toxic. Toxic mushrooms can affect an animal’s gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, liver, and kidneys.
While you may want to enjoy a glass of wine with your cat as a chill night in, don’t give the kitty (or dog, horse, bird, or cow) any alcohol. Animals can get alcohol poisoning much easier than humans, so even a small amount of alcohol from a rum-soaked cake could be dangerous.
Symptoms and signs of alcohol poisoning in pets include lethargy, drooling, vomiting, weakness, and collapse. On top of this, it can give your pet low blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Despite the name, “cat wine” doesn’t have any alcohol in it, but has catnip instead.
8. Golden pothos plant (Devil’s Ivy)
The golden pothos (or Devil’s ivy) is a popular household plant, but if your cat or dog has a habit of munching on plants, you should keep this one out of reach or out of the house. It generally isn’t severely toxic, but it can irritate your pet’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract if eaten.
Very rarely, it can even cause the pet’s airway to swell and make breathing difficult. Pothos is toxic because of the calcium oxalate crystals it contains. So grab yourself one of those cute hanging planters if you’re set on keeping a golden pothos in your house.
9. Tylenol (acetaminophen)
It is very risky to give your cat or dog medicines meant for humans. What may work just fine in a human body can be severely toxic to pets. For example, acetaminophen (more commonly known as Tylenol) is great for pain relief in people but can be deadly to animals.
Animal bodies often break down (aka metabolize) drugs differently than human bodies do, causing them to have a very different reaction. For cats, any amount of acetaminophen/Tylenol is poisonous. For dogs, it depends on their weight and health, but to be safe you probably shouldn’t give them any of it.
While caffeine is a crutch for many an office-goer and class-taker, it shouldn’t be given to cats or dogs. Tea, soda, coffee, energy drinks, and caffeine supplements could cause hyperactivity, high blood pressure, vomiting, and a spiked heart rate, among other symptoms.
In some cases, caffeine poisoning can be bad enough to cause seizures and death. Let’s be honest, your pup and kitty are probably energetic enough, so keep the caffeinated foods and beverages out of sight and out of reach. But if you want to get your cat excited, offer them catnip instead. And for your dog, the word “walk” will probably suffice.
11. Essential oils
Essential oils may be all the rage, but you have to be careful when using them around cats, who have a hard time metabolizing these toxins. Cats can absorb essential oils through their skin, so you should keep all essential oils out of reach. However, the type of oil does influence how it affects your cat.
Eating or touching essential oils is dangerous for cats, but breathing them in can be, too. Watch for coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, panting, or fast breathing in your cat. If your cat looks like it’s about to cough up a hairball or vomit and nothing comes out, this could be a sign of respiratory issues.
Garlic may be delicious and smell amazing, but it’s very bad for cats and dogs. Enough garlic can damage a cat’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. On top of that, it can also mess with the animal’s gastrointestinal tract, potentially causing nausea, drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
These symptoms of garlic poisoning aren’t always immediate and can appear several days after the pet eats garlic. Tiny amounts may be safe, but large amounts are generally toxic. Dracula may be famous for his garlic aversion, but don’t count on your pet’s behavior to keep them away from this food. Don’t feed them garlic and keep a lookout for garlic powder in food labels.
Onions are dangerous for pets in the same way as garlic. The two are part of the same plant family, which also includes chives and leeks (so don’t feed those to your pet either). Garlic is the most toxic of the bunch, but you should keep your pet away from all of them.
While it’s easy enough to not feed your cat a chunk of garlic or piece of onion, powdered versions of these are in a lot of foods, like chips, so keep an eye on those ingredient lists. Also, don’t let your pet sneak a piece of onion while your eyes are filled with tears.
14. Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins may seem like benign snacks, but they can be very toxic to dogs (possibly cats and ferrets, too). It’s unknown exactly how, but grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Also, it doesn’t seem to matter how much the dog eats. No amount has yet been proven safe to eat.
Be careful what you feed your dog since raisins can be hiding in anything from trail mix to snack bars. Also, some cookies and breads have raisin paste or raisin juice. Currants and sultanas are related to grapes, as well, so don’t let your dog eat those either.
Plenty of plants are toxic to cats, but lilies are certainly one of the most dangerous. Just a leaf or a bit of pollen from a lily can be enough to kill a cat. Every part of a lily is dangerous and can cause kidney failure within one to three days. There’s no real antidote for this poison, but if you get your cat to the vet quickly, they can possibly save it.
Lilies aren’t so toxic to dogs, but they can cause gastrointestinal issues. Also, there are a few kinds of lily that don’t cause kidney failure in cats, including the peace and calla lilies, but they can still be mildly poisonous.
16. Cleaning supplies and detergents
Just as you wouldn’t feed yourself (or your kid) cleaning supplies, don’t feed them to any of your pets. Or, since that’s fairly obvious, don’t keep cleaning supplies in places where a dog or cat could consume them. For example, if you’re cleaning a stain or spill, keep your curious kitty and careless dog away.
Or, if you’re cleaning the toilet bowl, don’t let your pet near it until it’s done. This also applies to laundry products, like fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These various products can give your pet ulcers and other problems, depending on the cleaning or detergent product.
Chocolate contains two compounds that are bad for dogs: theobromine and caffeine. Both can interfere with the heart rate and nervous system of the animal. However, the toxicity of the chocolate depends on the kind eaten: cocoa powder is the most toxic, while milk and white chocolate are the least.
For a small dog, one Hershey’s milk chocolate bar can be dangerous but a small crumb of a chocolate cake probably won’t be lethal. While the dangerous effects depend on the type of chocolate, amount eaten, and the dog in question, keep the pooch away from chocolate as a rule.
18. Xylitol (sweetener)
One of the more common causes of dog poisoning is xylitol, a sugar-free sweetener. It can be found in some chewing gums, candies, toothpastes, mints, sauces, supplements, and other things. So you should look carefully at sugar-free labels and keep these items away from where your dog can get them.
Enough xylitol can be deadly to dogs by dropping their blood sugar to life-threatening lows. It can also make a dog’s liver fail. The symptoms depend on how much xylitol the dog consumed and can show up in the form of weakness, vomiting, seizures, tremors, and collapse. Sugar-free isn’t always good.
19. Monstera plant
Monstera plants may have taken the internet by storm and become a favorite house plant, but just like the golden pothos, they are moderately toxic to cats and dogs. The two plants are in the same family (Araceae) so they both have the same irritating calcium oxalate crystals.
This very holey plant goes by many names, including Monstera, split-leaf philodendron, cut-leaf philodendron, and Swiss cheese plant. If your pet likes to eat plants, then this plant trend is probably not for you. Sorry, but you’ll just have to get one of those framed photos of it for your apartment, instead!
20. Tomato plants
Generally, the fleshy fruit of a ripe tomato is safe for dogs to eat, but the rest of the plant is not. The tomato plant’s stem and leaves contain solanine, which can be toxic to dogs. So if you have tomato plants in your garden, make sure your dog doesn’t eat them.
Eating the plant can lead to tremors, seizures, and muscle weakness, among other things. If you do have a tomato plant, you should consider fencing it off or supervising your dog when he or she is near the garden. Your dog has to say tomat-no to tomato plants.
21. Azaleas and rhododendrons
Azaleas and rhododendrons are very pretty, often with pink flowers, but that beauty doesn’t matter when your pet’s life is in danger. There are about 1,000 different plant species that are called by these names, which can be severely toxic to cats and dogs depending on how much the animal eats.
The grayanotoxins in these plants interfere with sodium channels in the body and can impact skeletal and cardiac muscle. Symptoms of azalea and rhododendron poisoning can show up in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and central nervous system signs. This includes everything from drooling to an abnormal heart rate to a coma.
22. Zinc (pennies)
Just like you wouldn’t want your kid eating pennies, don’t let your pet do it either. Coins, nuts, bolts, and even topical ointments can contain the element zinc, which is poisonous to dogs, cats, and birds. Some coins contain more zinc than others, like pennies for instance, so the possible toxicity depends on which coin was eaten.
When consumed, zinc is broken down and absorbed in the animal’s stomach. From there, it can destroy red blood cells, damage the liver, and induce kidney or heart failure. Weakness, pale gums, vomiting, and discolored urine are just some of the signs of zinc poisoning.
23. Sago palms
Sago palms are tropical plants that are sometimes used as Bonsai houseplants or decorations elsewhere. All parts of the plant are toxic, but especially their seeds are dangerous to cats and dogs. The compound cycasin in sago palms can cause liver failure in dogs when eaten.
Gastrointestinal signs of poisoning can show up in a dog as quickly as 15 minutes after it eats part of a sago palm. Within a few hours to a few days, other signs may be visible in your pet. This is a very severely toxic plant to pets and the survival rate is about 50%.
While a small amount of spinach is probably fine, very large quantities or long-term consumption could lead to kidney issues for your dog. Spinach has a lot of oxalic acid in it, which can damage the kidney by interfering with calcium absorption in the body.
Spinach’s safety for dogs is a fairly controversial topic since the food does contain a lot of nutrients. However, your dog food should be providing all those same good nutrients. It’s best to consult a veterinarian about feeding your dog spinach before you do so, considering its possible kidney effects. Perhaps your dog should not eat his greens.
Sure popping a couple ibuprofen (aka Advil) pills is great for human pain relief, but it is definitely toxic to cats and dogs. If your dog really needs pain relief, there are anti-inflammatory drugs specifically made for them that you could consult your veterinarian on. There are none for long term use in cats currently because they are very sensitive.
When eaten, ibuprofen can cause your pet to have stomach ulcers, diarrhea, and abdominal pain (among other symptoms) in small doses. In large doses, ibuprofen can cause kidney failure, liver failure, neurological problems, and death. Luckily, the child lock on pill bottles doubles as a pet lock.
Although it is a popular misconception that it’s safe to give pets milk. Some might even think it’s what you’re supposed to do. The reality is entirely different. Rather, you might just be leading your pets to health problems!
You might not notice the effects it has on your pets right away as they won’t necessarily react right away. However, feeding your pet milk could lead to digestive problems.
One of the side effects of your pet consuming too much milk is that it can lead to diarrhea. That’s because pets have varying amounts of the lactose-breaking enzymes, lactase, in their body. If they don’t have a lot of lactase, much like people who are lactose intolerant, it won’t go down that well.
27. Raw Meat and Bones
Dogs are carnivores, right? Yes, but there is some confusions around dogs and their propensity toward meat and bones. After all, wolves and other carnivores eat meat in the wild – shouldn’t a dog be able to do the same?
Not exactly. In fact, bones are a choking hazard for many dogs because not only are they small and hard pieces, but they have a tendency to split. Your pet might choke, suffer from stomach aches, or even worse, the splinters from the raw bone might puncture its digestive tract! Furthermore, raw meat often contains bacteria and germs, prominently E. coli and Salmonella, which can harm your pet’s health.
28. Raw Eggs
Eggs are a plentiful and nutritious diet for pets, especially dogs. Although they appear as a healthy dietary option for your dogs, there is a harmful diet aspect associated with eggs. Raw/ uncooked eggs contain an enzyme, avidin. These enzymes can reduce your dog’s ability to digest and absorb a sufficient amount of biotin, a B vitamin.
Hence, your dog might suffer from vitamin deficiencies. That’s not the only concern when it comes to raw eggs. Similar to raw meat and bones, your pet might experience health problems if the eggs they ingested contained harmful microbes, like Salmonella.
29. Salty Snacks
Nothing beats lying on your couch next to a bucket of salted popcorn or pretzels while watching a movie. The only way that time could be any better is if your dog is right there with you. He’s going to want some of that popcorn and pretzels. Even though it might feel rude in the moment, it might be best to refrain from sharing this once.
Salt, when consumed excessively, can lead to poisoning in humans. Similarly, dogs and other pets can fall victim to sodium ion poisoning. Sypmtoms include vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, high-fevers, seizures, coma, and even death. If your dog does get some of these delicious salty snacks anyways, don’t forget, he’s going to be thirsty. So keep an eye out!
Cheese? Yeah, why not? Cheese is a healthy and nutritious diet of fats, as well as proteins, right? Yes, but even so, you have to consider several health concerns. But when it comes to your pets, that’s not exactly the case.
A dog doesn’t have the same tolerance for cheese. A low to moderate amount of low-fat variety cheese might be alright. Nevertheless, dogs might have low lactase which can lead to indigestion of cheese. Consequently, this can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems for your dogs.
When it comes to nuts, there is a whole host of concerns when it comes to your pet’s health. Cashews require special consideration. Cashews and other nuts have high fat content that while comprised of good and healthy fats could potentially lead to overweight and fat-related issues in your dog.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ever let your dog have any – just use moderation. Cashews make great treats (but get the unsalted kind!) for dogs. If you are using them as treats for your dog, keep an eye on your dog’s weight to make sure they aren’t getting too many.
Another “nut” alert for pet owners: There are quite a few species of pets that enjoy eating nuts. However, not all of them are capable of digesting nuts properly, and specific health variables can make the ingestion of nuts significantly riskier for some than for others.
Remember, if your dog has heart problems, keep the salted almonds at bay. Almonds can create water retention problems and lead to digestive conditions in dogs. These nuts require adequate chewing to ensure that they pass down into the stomach and are easy to digest. In contrast, without properly chewing the almonds, they can block your dog’s esophagus or tear his or her windpipe!
33. Ice Cream
Similar to many other dairy products, ice cream contains milk. You might have guessed the problem by now, right? The problem lies in the inability of many pets to digest the lactose they consume, though their ability to do so varies from pet to pet.
The simple fact is that low levels of the lactase enzyme in many animals lead to digestive and stool problems. Dogs and cats are especially lactose intolerant compared to humans. Tempting thought it may be, you never know how much your dog might suffer from that ice-cream you might share on a sunny day!
Despite proactive marketing from dog food companies, dogs don’t necessarily benefit from an exclusively “high-protein” and “all-meat” diet. The concept is relatively simple to understand. Like humans, pets do best when they eat a healthy, balance, and diversified diet. Just like us, pets benefit from fresh vegetables and leafy greens in their diet.
But be careful to avoid jalapeños and hot peppers. Just as with humans, peppers trigger digestive activity – except your pet’s digestive system isn’t the same as yours. you could be doing more harm than good.
You can feed your pet milder peppers like bell peppers, which are low calories and full of vitamin C. On the other hand, do not opt without any preparation if you have not fed your pet peppers before. Make sure that you cut peppers in slices to allow easy ingestion for your dogs.
Although cinnamon is generally quite healthy for people and can really add a lot of flavor to many dishes, pets might have a different experience after ingesting cinnamon or oil made from it.
Cinnamon can irritate their mouths and leave them incredibly sick and restless.
The powder form can be much worse for a dog’s health because it can lead to coughing and other breathing difficulties. Cinnamon or its oil can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or liver diseases.
While cinnamon itself is nontoxic for pets, oftentimes cinnamon is coupled with ingredients that are, such as nutmeg and sugar.
Yes, it’s true! But before falling off the chair, hear us out on why you should refrain from giving bacon to your pets. A staple in the human diet, bacon, is not suitable for dogs because it can cause liver and pancreatic conditions. Aside from that, it can generate intense thirst due to its high salt content. Consequently, your pet might get bloated if it gets dehydrated and drinks lots of water as a result.
Bacon is very greasy in addition to its high salt content. It also contains an especially heavy protein type. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid giving your pets a diet that is high in bacon-like protein. In the case of cats, the effects are somewhat similar. Consider such treats for yourself, and ensure that your pet dog or cat stays away from bacon.
37. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a staple for many of us since childhoods. However, a there are several reasons that should compel you to think twice about giving your cat peanut butter. Firstly, peanut butter has next to zero nutritional value for cats.
Moreover, it is high in fat (trans-fatty) acids, calories, and excessive salt (which is the nemesis of pet health). Common health conditions, and even emergencies, that can be triggered in cats are weight gain, choking (thick and consistent peanut butter), allergies, poisoning (salt), and even gastrointestinal infections.
Enjoy corn on a cob? While it’s great that you enjoy it, avoid treating your pet dog or cat with it – no matter how cute their begging face is (trust us, we know it’s hard to resist.) Corn doesn’t cause any direct harm to your pets in small quantities. And by that, we mean really low.
Nonetheless, the risk of choking is always high if you give your pet corn on a cob. It can result in further severe injuries and conditions such as intestinal blockages. Besides that, if you think that your dog is just hungry for it, check again. Corncobs are hard, and they can cause damage to your pet dog or cat’s intestinal track.
Lethargy, dehydration, diarrhea, appetite loss, and excessive vomiting are a few signs that suggest that your pet cat (or dog) reached the level of “no-no” to corn.
39. Soy Sauces
Do you enjoy Chinese food? While we may think Chinese food is fantastic, it’s not the healthiest cuisine for pets. For starters, a single tablespoon of soy sauce contains around 800 to 900 mg of salt. Salt isn’t great for humans in large quantities either, but pets are adversely effected with much smaller quantities.
Salt was once commonly used by pet owners and veterinarians to induce vomiting, but due to the delicacy of pets’ digestive systems, don’t even use it for that purpose any more. Needless to say…soy sauce, which is pretty much fermented salt juice, can induce vomiting and other serious, life-threatening health conditions for your pet.
Just as humans have to think about their fish consumption due to rising mercury levels, cats too can be adversely impacted from the consumption of mercury. For that reason, you should be mindful about how much tuna you are giving to your cat, who’s system would come under distress at much lower levels of mercury.
Another reason to not feed your cat a lot of tuna is because on its own, tuna won’t meet your cat’s nutritional needs, and it can become malnourished over time.
41. Energy Drinks
The level of caffeine and artificial ingredients in energy drinks makes them a question choice for human consumption. However, that’s small potatoes compared to the extensive health risks of your cat consuming energy drinks. Cats can experience lethargy, elevated heart rates, abnormal blood pressures, and a number of other negative effects.
Some pets can have acute reaction to caffeine, which can induce symptoms of caffeine poisoning within 30 minutes of consumption and include vomiting, hypertension, and even hypothermia. Because the response is different from pet to pet, keep a close eye on your pet if you know they’ve consumed caffeine for the first time.
42. Vitamin Supplements
It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to recommend vitamin supplements for for cats with poor health conditions and a worsening immune system. But it’s important that your cat gets the right one – and doesn’t get any of yours.
This is especially true if your cat ever gets into prenatal vitamins, which bring many cats into the vet’s office with severe symptoms. Prenatal vitamins contain high iron levels, which is toxic to cats in small doses. Vitamins D supplements can also cause permanent damage to major organs such as the kidney and hert.
Despite the cannabis market selling dog treats and other treats for pets, when pets consume a large amount of cannabis, they can die. The most common of these cases relate to a pet’s consumption of brownies or butter that contains the cannabinoids. (Since dogs are sensitive to chocolate, the other ingredients in these products can exacerbate these problems.
Cats can have similarly severe symptoms. Cats are also more likely than dogs to consume cannabis in its plant form, since they eat other fragrant plants (with the obvious front runner being catnip).
Coconuts is high in fat content, which can lead to a handful of health conditions in your pet cat. Coconuts contain MCT (medium-chain triglycerides), which can cause bloating in dogs. Make sure to avoid giving your cat processed coconut as it has been associated with an increased risk of kidney or liver diseases.
You should avoid giving cats the flesh or milk from a coconut, as it can cause loose stools and diarrhea. Excessive fat can build up in your cats’ liver, which leads to a condition known as hepatic lipidosis. Dogs, on the other hand, can eat a small amount as a treat.
45. Dog Food (for your cat)
Whether you are out of cat food or you found your cat smuggling food from your dog’s dish, you might wonder if that’s bad for your cat. Cats have different nutritional needs than dogs, so they will certainly become malnourished if they are eating too much dog food.
Your cat requires a diet with protein as the main ingredient. While dog food contains protein, it also has a large amount of grains and vegetables. Although there are no serious repercussions to your cat’s health in eating dog’s food in the short term, it should not be a long-term situation in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Conclusively, before making any changes to your pet’s diet, consider consulting with your veterinarians. However, if you have caught your pet eating or drinking something harmful, the best course of action is to seek immediate medical care.