Foods that Are Bad for Your Pet’s Health

Few can resist sharing dinner table scraps when faced with pleading puppy dog eyes. “But, certain foods that are “good” for people can be dangerous or even toxic to our pets,” says Dr. Michael Sanwald, chief veterinary officer at Fetch My Vet, a new South Florida-based concierge medical service that allows owners to schedule at-home exams for their pets. Here, he shares guidelines for protecting against foods that could cause health problems for our furry friends.


The obvious, right? When posed with the question, “What foods are dangerous for dogs?” most would name chocolate as public enemy No. 1. And rightfully so. When a pooch breaks into an emergency stash it can lead to chocolate toxicity, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, and seizures.  If consumed in sufficient quantities, it can even be fatal. This is due to an ingredient called theobromine. The darker the chocolate and the smaller the dog, the greater the danger. Should you discover that your dog has indulged, be on the lookout for signs of toxicity, and be ready to follow up with your veterinarian immediately thereafter.

Fatty Foods + Bones

We all know that Americans struggle counting calories. So, it’s not surprising that our pets are also battling the bulge. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has concluded that over 57% of tabbies are tubby, and 52% of hounds are husky. The reason lies in part by our willingness to share cheeseburgers, bacon, fried, and other fatty foods with our pets. In addition to causing weight issues, these foods can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and gas, and can result in pancreatitis and gastrointestinal issues.  But don’t just refrain from feeding your pets these fatty foods, also avoid offering them the leftover bones from your chicken or steak dinner—cooked bones are more likely to splinter, and the sharp pieces of bone can tear digestive organs and cause internal bleeding.

Onions and Garlic

Unfortunately, our pets need to worry about much more than bad breath from consuming onions and garlic. These foods can be lethal because of an ingredient called thiosulphate, which can damage a dog’s or cat’s red blood cells and cause anemia. Thiosulphate is found in onions, shallots, chives and onion powder. It’s especially potent in garlic.


Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats. The bigger risk to dogs is a foreign body obstruction, which can occur if the entire avocado seed is swallowed whole. Due to size alone, this seed can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract of dogs.

Grapes, Raisins and Cherries

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney issues in our pups and kitties. Even small amounts can have adverse side effects, and in the most extreme cases, poisoning can cause kidney failure, which often leads to death. Unfortunately, as delicious as cherries are, they are no better than grapes and raisins for our pets. Cherry pits, stems, and leaves contain cyanide, which is poisonous and potentially lethal if consumed in high enough quantities.

*By Dr. Michael Sanwald

Be strong when looking at those big brown eyes and your dog’s cute little grin, and know that just because your “fur baby” might want it, it isn’t healthy for them and could be downright toxic or fatal. Don’t let these foods surprise you in the future, and reach for a healthy alternative instead.


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