animals cats dogs

Foods and Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs and Cats

For many, their dogs and cats are a part of their family. And a part of being a pet owner means sometimes dealing with a cute face staring (and drooling) at us while we eat! While there are many foods that dogs and cats are able to share with us, there are many others that they’re not able to eat and digest. Knowing what dogs and cats can and cannot eat can be a lifesaver and keeping food/plants that they aren’t able to eat/digest out of reach can potentially save a terrifying trip to the vet or emergency room.

So here is a (incomplete) list of different plants, foods, and other household toxins that dogs and cats are not able to eat/digest:

  • Alcohol
    • Dog friendly bars and breweries are on the rise, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. There are even dog ‘beers’ but from what I can tell, these beers are more like a soupy broth made from meat and veggies.
    • But beer and other alcohols aren’t meant for dogs and they can cause all kinds of symptoms in our canine friends, like hypotension, retching/vomiting, stomach bloating, and so much more. Dogs just aren’t built to digest the ingredients found in alcoholic drinks. Grapes and hops are both really bad for them!
    • While many dogs love to taste test just about everything (including drink spills!), there are other ways in which they can ingest alcohol! Treats like rum cakes can also cause issues.
  • Avocados
    • While avocados are clearly to blame for millennials not being able to buy houses (just kidding), they can also cause serious illness in dogs! So while your dog might be giving you those cute puppy eyes while you’re munching on some avocado toast, it’s best to not share that treat!
    • Avocados are mildly toxic to cats, as it contains Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Chocolate
    • I’ve written about this before but there are a few factors that go into whether or not you should go to the vet if your dog has eaten some chocolate. While you should avoid giving your dog chocolate of any kind, your dog’s breed/size and the amount/kind of chocolate all play a role. Dark chocolate is really bad for dogs and smaller dogs of any breed are less tolerant of chocolate. However, what might be a dangerous or even fatal amount for a Jack Russell Terrier might not make any impact on a Great Dane.
    • Like dogs, cats do not do well with chocolate! The ingredient that affects both cats and dogs is theobromine.
  • Lilies (toxic to cats)
    • These beautiful flowers can be a wonderful addition to a bouquet or a focal point as just themselves. But every part of the flower can be toxic to cats! It may seem weird to include this plant here but there are some cats who just love to try and eat things! Lilies can cause kidney damage/failure in some cats.
  • Milk (unpleasant for cats)
    • While this one isn’t toxic to cats, milk can cause stomach upset, cramps, and gas, as many cats are actually lactose intolerant. A little milk (the more fat the better) on occasion is fine for cats.
  • Prescription medications (bad for both)
    • Unless your pup has medication that was prescribed by a licensed veterinarian, prescription medications meant for humans can have a negative impact on dogs. It could easily just be an accidental ingestion, as your dog might find the prescription bottle and start chewing! Even too much of the medication meant for the dog can have negative impacts on them! The best course of action is to keep medications in a safe place where dogs can’t get to them.
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat/Eggs/Bones (not great for both)
    • Bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli can be found in raw/undercooked meat and eggs. Plus, raw eggs have an enzyme that can cause skin and coat problems. Additionally, raw bones can be a choking hazard or can splinter and lodge in or puncture the digestive tract.

These are just some of the plants and foods that can be toxic to dogs and cats. Here are some resources with more information:

As a ending note, recreational and medical marijuana is legal in Washington and Oregon and there’s growing support/legislation in other parts of the country and world. While there are some pet owners/veterinarians that use different types of marijuana for their pets, there aren’t any studies on the effects of the drug on animals. However, marijuana meant for humans (i.e. edibles like pot brownies) aren’t usually meant for our pets, especially the edibles that contain sugar. Even secondhand smoke can cause problems!

Dogs and cats have shown symptoms like lethargy, breathing problems, balance problems, incontinence, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms after accidentally ingesting the drug. The best course of action about marijuana and our pets would be to avoid any accidental ingestion (secondhand smoke and edibles!) and talk to your vet about using the drug for your pet.

There are many pets that love to try and munch on different things around the house. This is great when they do it on chew toys but it’s annoying when they do it to your new pair of shoes and dangerous if they try munching on toxic food or plants. The severity of the situation depends largely on what your pet ate, how much, and how big/old they are.

The best course of action in these situations is prevention; by keeping plants and food out of reach (or even out of the house with some plants), you can avoid any accidental ingestion! However, there are times in which stuff happens and getting the proper medical care for your pet after these situations can make all the difference.

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