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Things That Can Poison Your Pet – Toxic Foods and Plants


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Most dog and cat parents want their pet to be as healthy as possible, and a big part of that is a balanced diet. But don’t reach for the fruit and veg drawer just yet – there are some common things that can poison your pet.

If you’ve ever Googled “can cats eat cheese” or “what can dogs not eat”, you’re not alone. Most pet parents have at some stage wondered whether what they’re about to feed Fido will make him sick. 

Sure, grapes are a healthy snack for humans, but those juicy little suckers are bad news for your pet. And it doesn’t stop there. Many common foods and house plants are things that can poison your pet, dogs and cats included. Here’s what to avoid feeding your pet.

What foods are toxic to dogs and cats?

We know it can be hard to ignore those hopeful puppy dog eyes that burrow into your soul as you eat your lunch. And curious cats can be up on the kitchen bench chowing down on your leftovers in no time.

But before you succumb to those adorable rascals, consider if what they’re about to eat might actually be poisonous to them.

Plenty of foods that are a common part of the human diet should never be fed to your dog or cat. Here’s what to avoid.

*Please note, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start.

  • Onions, garlic and chives
  • Chocolate and caffeine (all the more for us humans!)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • Yeast dough (this can rise in their belly)
  • Mouldy food (throw those old leftovers in the bin)
  • Cooked bones (these can splinter and cause internal damage)
  • Most raw bones (can cause intestinal obstructions)
  • Corn cobs (these can literally plug their digestive system)
  • Apple seeds (apple flesh is fine, but the core is not)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Avocado
  • Fruit pits (cherries, peaches, plums etc)

What foods can dogs eat?

Dogs are omnivores, so a diverse diet can be a really healthy thing. Not only does it make life more interesting, but it helps to ensure they’re getting a range of vitamins and minerals.

Here’s some common human foods that are safe to feed dogs.

  • Carrots, broccoli and cucumber
  • Raw chicken necks (only if very fresh)
  • Human-grade raw meat
  • Soft meaty bones, like lamb ribs (raw only – never feed cooked bones)
  • Canned fish (in spring water, not oil)
  • Blueberries, banana, mango and pineapple
  • Cooked pumpkin and sweet potato
  • Natural yoghurt and cheese (in small quantities to avoid diarrhea)
  • Eggs
  • Fresh fish
  • Dognuts (yes, you read that right! Check out the recipe here)

What foods are safe for cats?

Your feline friend is likely more discerning than old garbage-guts, the Labrador. Cats are carnivores and require diets comprised mostly of meat, but some vegetables can provide a healthy boost, too.

Here are some human foods that are safe to feed cats.

  • Salmon (oily fish is great for cats – you can even buy supplements!)
  • Cooked eggs
  • Minced meat (ask your butcher for mince made from entire frames of animals for a calcium boost)
  • Cooked carrot and pumpkin
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Organ meat (livers, hearts, kidneys – small amounts only)

For more on how to feed your cat naturally, check out this article.

green house plant on small table

Plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats

It’s not just food you need to worry about when it comes to things that can poison your pet, even if they never leave home base. Plants are a major culprit, too.

Curiosity can lead cats and dogs to explore the garden (or your indoor plants) with their mouths. They may ingest plants while playing with them, or even deliberately eat them.

It’s best to make sure you don’t bring these plants onto your property and take care when you’re out and about with your pet.

  • Lilies (especially those in the ‘true lily’ and ‘daylily’ families – more info here)
  • Succulents (particularly ‘sticks on fire’ or pencil cactus)
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons 
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daffodils
  • Peace lilies (a very popular indoor plant)
  • Devil’s ivy (also a hip indoor plant)
  • Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora)

Signs of poisoning in dogs and cats

No one wants to think about their beloved pet being sick, but it’s important to know the signs of poisoning. That way, you can take quick action and get them to the vet ASAP.

If your dog or cat does manage to ingest something toxic, they may show any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Lack of appetite
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Racing heart
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Collapsing
  • Excessive thirst and/or urination
Pet insurance myths are not shared by this vet who is putting a pet to sleep

If your pet shows any of these symptoms and you suspect they have eaten something poisonous, get them to the vet ASAP. Try to identify what the poison was and, if possible, take a sample to the vet. This may help them treat your pet more efficiently.

Understanding what foods are safe for dogs and cats is the best way to protect them from eating something toxic. But if the worst should happen, you’ll be thankful you’ve got adequate pet insurance to help cover the vet bill.

Do you really need pet insurance? Click here to find out. 

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