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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Toxic Table Scraps


Sharing "just a bite" of food off your plate with your pet is harmless, right? Wrong. Many human foods can be dangerous--even deadly--to dogs and cats.

Alcohol - Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. Products such as desserts containing alcohol or yeast-containing doughs are often the unknown culprits.

Caffeine - Coffee, tea, energy drinks, dietary pills or anything else containing caffeine should never be given to your pet, as they can affect the heart, stomach, intestines and nervous system.

Chocolate - Cocoa and chocolate contain theobromine, a chemical that is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but ingestion of larger quantities can cause seizures and affect heart rhythm.

Fatty Foods - Foods that are high in fat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in pets, especially in certain breeds like miniature schnauzers, shetland sheepdogs, and yorkshire terriers. Fight the temptation to share these kinds of table scraps and give a healthy pet treat instead.

Grapes and Raisins - Avoid the wrath of grapes--keep them away from dogs. Just a few grapes or raisins can damage your dog's kidneys or even prove deadly. Even small amounts of raisins in trial mix or snack boxes can pose a problem.

Macadamia Nuts - Popular in many cookies and candies, macadamia nuts should never be given to pets. Lethargy, vomiting, and loss of muscle control are among the effects of macadamia nut ingestion.

Onions and Garlic - Onions and garlic in any form--even powdered--can endanger your pet's health. Ingestion of small amounts can result in a mild gastrointestinal upset, while larger amounts can cause severe anemia, particularly with long-term ingestion (like sprinkling it on your pet's food).

Salt - Believe it or not, common table salt is poisonous to your pet--but it's not usually from table scraps. The source is often what surprises pet owners: pets often experience salt toxicity as a result of eating household play dough, swallowing too much ocean water, or ingesting paint balls. Salt toxicity can be very severe and results in neurologic signs such as incoordination, seizures, and brain swelling.

Sweeteners - Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a natural sweetener that is acutely toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, weakness, a life-threatening drop in blood sugar, loss of muscle control, seizures and liver failure.

Yeast Dough - Unbaked dough that contains yeast can expand in your pet's stomach or intestines. As the yeast ferments, it releases gases, resulting in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even life-threatening bloat and a twisted stomach. Some yeast dough also ferments into alcohol, which contributes to signs of lethargy and alcohol toxicity.

If your pet accidentally ingests any of these foods, or you have a question about something your pet has eaten, contact Pet Poison Helpline for immediate help at (800-213-6680).

*Have an emergency first aid kit at home in case of a poisoning emergency. Keeping these items on hand will make it easier for you to work with the Pet Poison Helpline experts.

What to include:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3% (non-expired)
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Palmolive or Dawn)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Triple antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)
  • Vitamin E oil or capsules
  • Diphenhydramine liquid or 25mg tablets (such as Benadryl), with no other combination ingredients
  • Ophthalmic saline solution or artificial tears, with no other combination ingredients
  • Can of tuna packed in water, chicken broth or some type of tasty canned pet food
  • Sweet electrolyte beverage (such as Gatorade)
  • Corn syrup