People Foods to Avoid

Part of being a loving dog or cat owner is sharing your heart, home… and sometimes food with your pet. While it may be hard to resist the big eyes and longing stare, as they beg you to share your food, before you give in, be sure to check the list of foods you should absolutely avoid giving your pet.

If in doubt, or you have any concerns, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435


  • can cause a variety of signs, including vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, depression, breathing troubles, tremors, coma and even death
  • NEVER give your pet any alcohol
  • if you suspect they have gotten alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately


Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
  • all contain a substance called methylxanthines (found in cacao seeds, the coffee plant fruit, and the nuts used in some soft-drink extracts)
  • can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
  • dark chocolate more dangerous than milk chocolate.
  • white chocolate has the lowest level
  • baking chocolate contains the highest


  • contains citric acid – can cause irritation
  • may see central nervous system depression in high doses
  • small doses (ie. eating the fruit) are not likely to cause much more than minor stomach upset


Coconut and Coconut Oil
  • small amounts, not likely to cause serious harm
  • flesh and milk can cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea – use caution
  • coconut water is high in potassium – don’t give to your pet


Grapes and Raisins
  • can cause kidney failure in dogs
  • best to avoid feeding


Macadamia Nuts
  • can see weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and elevated body temperature
  • occurs within 12 hours of ingestion – can last 12 to 48 hours


Milk and Dairy
  • pets don’t have significant amounts of lactase (enzyme needed to break down lactose in milk)
  • diarrhea or other digestive upset can occur as a result


  • e.g. almonds, pecans, and walnuts
  • contain high amounts of fats and oils
  • can cause vomiting and diarrhea
  • potentially can cause pancreatitis


Onions, Garlic, Chives
  • gastrointestinal irritation
  • can lead to red blood cell damage
  • cats are more susceptible, although dogs at risk if large enough amount eaten


Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
  • can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli – potentially harmful
  • raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin – will decrease absorption of biotin (a B vitamin); can cause skin and coat problems
  • raw bones may cause choking or serious injury should bone splinters lodge in or puncture the GI tract


Salt and Salty Snack Foods
  • large amounts of salt can lead to excessive urination and thirst
  • sodium ion poisoning is possible
  • signs include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, shaving, increased body temperature, seizures and even death
  • avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, salted popcorn


  • an artificial sweetener use in many products (gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste)
  • causes insulin release in most species, which can lead to:
    • hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels)
    • liver failure
  • signs include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, possible seizures


Yeast Dough
  • can rise and cause gas to accumulate in the GI tract
  • can be painful
  • can cause the stomach to bloat and twist, leading to a life-threatening emergency
  • yeast can produce ethanol (alcohol) – see alcohol notes above

Adapted from: