There are certain table foods that can be dangerous for your pet. Different types of pets have differing resistances and weaknesses when it comes to table food and the causes for alarm you should feel when you discover they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have should correspond to your animal’s species.
Different Pets, Different Snacks
Know Your Resources
If a member of your family were to ingest a toxic substance and was beginning to show some worrisome signs, what would you do? In addition to calling 911 for an ambulance, many may think to quickly Google search the substance’s effect or, more traditionally, call poison control. While we know things like antifreeze and chocolate are not good for pets to ingest, there are other foods that are less known; don’t feed your pet these things, and if they get into one of these things, then be sure to call the ASPCA’s 24/7 toll-free Animal Poison Control. For less severe instances, you can contact or visit your veterinarian.
Fruits & Vegetables with Seeds
As a typical rule of thumb, if it has a seed in it, your pet should probably not indulge. There are specific exceptions to this, but this generality can help to save your pet’s life. Now, it is important to note that seeds come in many shapes and sizes; typically the most dangerous foods are ones where the seed itself is eaten or found as a tough pit at the center. Examples include strawberries, coconut, avocado, grapes, raisins, pomegranates, etc. Interestingly, apples are completely safe for many animals, provided that they stick to the skin and “meat,” but not the inner core. It is worth noting that anything too high in citric acid is just unwise, as most pets are not accustomed to eating citrus in any way.
The high amount of oils and fats in nuts make them a fantastic and healthy snack for humans, but the same is not so for many animals. As many pets are predators, they are not used to digesting this highly-concentrated amount of oils and fats. The damages these cause are often less severe than some other dangerous foods, largely limited to diarrhea and nausea. Still, nuts, especially in their raw form, should be avoided whenever possible.
Not everything on the list is naturally-made, as xylitol most certainly is not. This sugar-alternative is famously found in things that are labelled “fat-free,” such as chewing gum or soda. While xylitol can be found in trace amounts in many processed foods, it is largely relegated to fat-free or sugar-free labelled products. Even in relatively small amounts, xylitol can be extremely hazardous to most pets; the exact effect it has can overcharge your pet’s insulin production and quite possibly shut down their liver in a matter of hours. Note: Peanut butter is especially common as a sometimes treat for dog owners; it is imperative that you always check for xylitol (in all forms; each usually contain “xyl” in a sequence) on the label before giving your dog any peanut butter!
Salt is a bit dicey. A little salt is a great thing for many pets, but a lot is often bad. While a horse can famously enjoy a salt lick, a small dog shouldn’t be eating many of the chip crumbs that fall on the floor. This really only becomes an issue when people choose to treat their dog or cat with chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn (unsalted is usually okay). Be careful with letting dogs lick dinner plates (or get a plate of their own), especially if the meats are overly salty. Remember: Animals aren’t used to seasoning their food at all, and are therefore not adapted to the levels of sodium we intake.
Onions & Garlic
It is unclear exactly why onions and garlic are harmful to pets, but this has been a semi-well known fact for quite some time. Common issues caused by raw garlic or onion intake include common gastrointestinal problems (nausea, diarrhea, etc), but in extreme cases can lead to damage in the circulatory system that can become life threatening. While a tiny amount of cooked onions or garlic is probably okay as a trace ingredient, raw garlic and onions should be kept well out of reach.
Soda, alcohol, and milk are common causes for trips to the veterinarian. The latter is largely due to a pet’s amplified inability to digest lactose (which is why cheese is less worrisome than milk), which causes them some very upset stomach aches; there are certain pets that can digest lactose better than others, such as many cats. The carbonation found in soda and beer are bad for pets, but mostly only cause belly aches as well. Alcohol itself can cause intensified damage to pets, especially in large doses or with repeat consumption. While it may look like an animal can become “drunk” in the way that humans can, often there are saddening side effects that can become permanent or life-threatening quickly.
Never give a pet cooked bones. While some pets can handle raw bones, cooked bones are very different and interact with your pet’s intestinal tract in different ways. Additionally, bird bones of any kind are also a bad idea, as they splinter dangerously and can lead to some costly and risky veterinary surgeries or even death. Even some store-bought pet bones can be dangerous, so they should always be given in moderation and under supervision; whenever possible do research on specific products and circumstances to know for sure.
There are a few table-safe treats that dogs, cats and other animals can enjoy. Speak to your veterinarian for specific foods that your pet may like to enjoy with you. Some examples include:
- Apple slices
- Natural peanut butter
- Unsalted popcorn
- Tuna and other de-boned fish
- Small amounts of cheese
- And many, many more
The best way to know for sure if a food is safe for your pet to have is to ask your veterinarian. Once your vet knows all about your pet’s specific health circumstances, they can recommend some fantastic treat options that allow you to spoil your pet with a little table food. In Salida, this means making an appointment with our veterinarian at Mountain Shadow Animal Hospital; whether you come into our veterinary clinic or take advantage of our mobile vet at-home service, you’ll get the best service in the area.