Human foods-What to avoid

By Dr. Kathy Enright

Human food, harmful or poisonous? It depends on the food but yes, some of our human foods are extremely harmful to our pets and we need to be mindful of what products are safe and what ones are not.

So the obvious things like alcohol, caffeine can be very dangerous to our pets. Our pets are very sensitive to these substances, if taken neat or even for eg. alcohol in deserts. Ingestion of xylitol in sugar free gum, artificial sweeteners and sweets can cause vomiting, weakness, low blood sugars, loss of muscle control, seizures and even liver failure. These foods can cause serious respiratory & nervous stimulation in our pets. Salt, even common table salt can be fatal, homemade playdough, and excessive salt water ingestion can lead to in-coordination and even seizures.


Grapes, raisin, saltanas, never give these to dogs, just a small few can cause kidney problems and even kidney failure. Small amounts of onion & garlic, which our cats & dogs really enjoy the taste of, can cause terrible digestive upsets, whereas larger amounts may lead to anaemia, especially if small amounts are eaten over a long time frame. Macadamia nuts,  in cookies etc can cause severe inflammation of the pancreas, which can require hospitalistion to get it to settle. Fatty foods can also cause pancreatitis, and digestive upsets, especially in breeds such as Schnauzers, Yorkies and Shetland sheepdogs.


Unbaked dough can ferment and produce gas in our pets tummies leading to vomiting, diarrhoea and even gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), this is where the stomach twists on its axis. This is a true EMERGENCY. A very serious complication and in the majority of cases surgery is required to fix it and many cases do not survive the procedure, if it is not treated very early in the disease process.

GDV in a dog

                                                                                                                                                                                                       And finally ‘Chocolat’, the love of so many of our lives, a love that we want to share with our pets, please don’t! Chocolate and cocoa contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to dogs, in small amounts vomiting and diarrhoea might result but in large amounts it can cause heart arrthymias and even seizures. Don’t kill them with kindness, if you want to spoil your pets then give them an appropriate pet treat like carrots, Specific pet treats, Soopa pet treats, even a odd couple of Dreamies for our cats, or a kong or feather on a string, just please don’t give them chocolate or any of the above foods mentioned in this post. But often our pets are just as happy with your time and attention. A cuddle and often no treat is necessary at all.