Dangerous Snacks

Toxic and Unsafe Items For Pets

A quick reference guide to keep your pets safe.

Dogs and cats have a knack for finding “treats” around the house. These common items may be found in your household, but have varying degrees of toxicity or danger to your furry family members. For safety, it is best to refrain from all of these listed items.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of the following or any other drug or substance, always contact your veterinarian to determine the best way to proceed. If you have any questions about these dangerous “snacks” or any others, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together, we can all help to spread awareness of these risky foods to keep our pets safe!

Alcohol

Watch for any changes in behaviour such as drowsiness, incoordination, slow breathing, etc. Alcohol consumption is not limited to beer or wine and may also include cleaning products or perfumes.

Caffeine

Watch for coffee, tea, energy drinks, supplements, diet pills, and even some snacks that contain caffeine. Even a small amount can cause restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, irregular blood pressure, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even collapse/death.

Chewing Gum

Due to its texture, there is a high risk of choking or intestinal obstruction. Chewing gum may also be sweetened with Xylitol (see Xylitol).

Fat Trimming or Liver

When uncooked, there is a risk of bacteria causing illness. Fatty foods are especially dangerous, even when cooked, and can quickly lead to pancreatitis.

Human Meds/Vitamins

Even common household medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen are toxic to pets. Many vitamin supplements, such as Vitamin D, K and Calcium also cannot be metabolized by dogs’ and cats’ livers. Always contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible if you suspect your pet has ingested any drug.

Milk and Dairy

Dairy products are relatively safe in small doses and can be used as an occasional high-calorie treat for most pets. However, dogs’ and cats’ abilities to digest lactose decreases with age, so consumption may lead to gastrointestinal upset.

Rat & Mouse Poison

The taste of the bait is attractive to dogs in particular, making this a very dangerous snack. Signs of illness depend on the type of poison ingested but usually leads to internal bleeding, brain swelling, or kidney failure. Avoid using these products if you have pets and seek veterinary help immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested any kind of rodent killer.

Sugar and Salt

Salty snacks lead to an increase in water consumption, which puts extra stress on your pet’s circulatory system and kidneys. Additionally, dogs may easily become addicted to sugary snacks, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and dental issues.

Antifreeze

Can be extremely dangerous in even small amounts. First signs of antifreeze poisoning are lethargy, disorientation, incoordination, and grogginess, eventually progressing to vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma, and death.

Candy

Wrappers and hard candies pose choking threats as well as the possibility of becoming stuck in the pet’s gastrointestinal tract and requiring surgical removal. In addition to causing an upset stomach, candies high in sugar also quickly add extra calories. Candies sweetened with Xylitol are also extremely toxic (see Xylitol).

Chocolate

Even small amounts can lead to an upset stomach (vomiting/diarrhea). Note that dark chocolate is more toxic than milk or white chocolate.

Fruit Pits/Seeds

Peach pits especially are highly toxic. Watch out for dilated pupils, excessive salivation, and dizziness. Additionally, pits may easily become blocked in the intestines.

Nuts

While still not recommended for cats, several kinds of nuts, such as macadamia nuts, pecans, and pistachios, are toxic and can cause fatal neurological problems for dogs. Symptoms may include lethargy, vomiting, and tremors. Many nuts also can irritate the bowel and cause obstructions, especially if in the shell.

However, some nuts, like peanuts, hazelnuts, or roasted cashews, are acceptable in moderation. Just remember that nuts are a higher-calorie snack which adds up quickly and that some nut butter may also include the toxic ingredient Xylitol (see Xylitol).

Rhubarb

All parts of the plans are toxic in varying degrees, although the leaves are most dangerous. Symptoms of rhubarb poisoning in dogs and cats may include drooling, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination.

Tobacco

When a pet ingests nicotine, its effects are fast-acting and veterinary care should be sought immediately to monitor neurological status, heart rate, and blood pressure. Note that some nicotine patches also include Xylitol (see Xylitol). Pets exposed to second or third-hand smoke will have an increased risk of cancer as well as respiratory and skin issues.

Corn Cobs

Dogs especially love to chew on this snack, but corn cobs break apart extremely easily and are a common cause for intestinal obstruction.

Avocado

Most likely mild vomiting/diarrhea in dogs and cats, but may lead to organ failure and death in birds.

Cooked Bones

Bones (cooked bones especially) are likely to splinter. This may damage the teeth, mouth, or digestive tract of your pet. Always closely supervise your pet when giving them a treat of this nature.

Grapes, Raisins, Currants

Can lead to kidney failure, even in small doses. Symptoms of kidney failure may include anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Marijuana

Pets can become intoxicated by ingesting or being exposed to second-hand marijuana. Although rarely fatal, it often causes neurological symptoms, disorientation, lethargy, and loss of bodily function. Always contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested any drug.

Mushrooms

Only a small percentage of the many species of mushrooms are toxic, however, identification can be difficult and the results can be fatal, so it is best to avoid all mushrooms. Different systems can be affected depending on the species ingested.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives

These poisonous items are dangerous to all cats and dogs, although certain breeds of dogs seem to be more affected than others. Onion and garlic poisoning results in damage to the red blood cells and may have delayed onset, up to several days.

Spoiled Food

Dogs, cats, and even wildlife can get sick from a toxin found in mold on spoiled food from the garbage or compost pile. Signs may include vomiting, agitation, walking drunk, tremors, seizures, and severe secondary hyperthermia.

Xylitol (Sweetener)

Xylitol ingestion causes low blood sugar and liver damage, especially in dogs. This sweetener may be hiding in medications, vitamins, cosmetics, dental products, candies, drinks, and condiments.

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