14 Human Foods That Are Toxic For Your Pets

Space Coast Pet Services knows how tempting, as pet parents, it can be to give your pooch or kitty table scraps. Or how challenging it can be keeping human foods away when you have a dog like several of our clients who like to raid the trash. Hint, hint: Skyler! 😉

Some foods are harmful – even deadly – to cats and dogs and should never be ingested by them! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center experts provide the following list of the top toxic human foods to avoid for your pets.

human foods that are toxic to pets


Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Under no circumstances should your canine or feline be given any alcohol.


Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants, including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds.  Horses, donkeys, and ruminants (i.e. cattle & sheep) frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck. Canines can have avocado safely in limited amounts.

Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine

These products all contain methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds (the fruit of the plant used to make coffee) and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. Methylxanthines cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Baking chocolate contains the highest levels of methylxanthines. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, and white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. It is best to avoid all chocolate with it comes to your fur baby.


The stems, leaves, peels, fruit, and seeds of citrus plants contain citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation, and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond the minor upset stomach. Cats are super sensitive to even the smallest amount of citrus oils compared to dogs.

human foods that are toxic for your pets


When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your canine. In fact, organic coconut oil has many health benefits for dogs. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts contain oils that may cause upset stomach, loose stools, or diarrhea.

Because of this, use caution when offering your animals these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to animals to avoid heart complications.

Grapes and Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to canines.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia (when the body temperature is substantially higher than normal) in canines. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk and Dairy

Because animals do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other upset digestive issues.

toxic foods for pets

Other Nuts

Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in felines and canines.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Just say no to these spices!

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli that can be harmful to animals and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.

Feeding your canine raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your dog lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a severe injury if the bones splinter and becomes lodged in or punctures your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in dogs and cats. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. Avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pet. 

toxic foods for dogs


Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to lowered sugar levels. Initial signs of ingestion include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Symptoms can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your animal’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life-threatening emergency. The yeast produces ethanol as a by-product, and a canine ingesting raw bread dough can become intoxicated, resulting in the same effects as if they ingested alcohol.

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the foods listed (or any other toxic substance for that matter!), contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Immediate action ensures the least amount of suffering for your pet and you! When your dog or cat is in our care, rest assured because our staff are pet first aid and CPR trained and will seek emergency medical care immediately.

Be sure to save that number to your cell phone and let’s hope we never have to use it!



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