Kids LOVE to spoil pets, and for many kids, sneaking a pet an extra-special treat is a favourite activity… but did you know that your pantry may be home to hidden hazards?
Many foods that we consider healthy and human-friendly are toxic to pets. These foods can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from an upset tummy to major neurological problems and even death. Unfortunately, each year many pets are given these foods by a well-meaning child (or adult!) who want to share a special snack with Fido or Fluffy.
The good news? These incidents are preventable! Use the list below to talk with your children about what foods should never be shared.
Avocado – Avocados contain persin, which is highly toxic to some animals, like birds, rabbits and horses. Avocado is not generally considered highly toxic to cats or dogs, and is even found in some pet foods, although they may get an upset stomach if they eat a lot of it.
Candy, Gum & Chocolate – Candies and chocolate, especially candy with artificial sweeteners (like xylitol and aspartame) is toxic to pets! Keep the sweet snacks out of reach of curious paws!
Coffee & Tea – Coffee beans, coffee grounds and brewed coffee all contain caffeine, which is poisonous to pets. Chocolate covered espresso beans are especially dangerous as they are a toxic double-whammy! Caffeinated tea is also a no-go.
Dairy – While many owners report dairy as a favourite treat, you don’t want to over-do it! Dogs and cats are lactose intolerant. Milk, ice cream and cheese can cause gastric distress, diarrhea and/or “flatulence”.
Grapes & Raisins – Exposure to grapes has been found to cause kidney failure in some dogs.
Macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds & walnuts – some nuts have chemicals that can cause severe neurological symptoms in pets, while others are hard to digest and can cause gastric distress.
Mushrooms – While many types of mushrooms are toxic to both people and pets, your pet may even have reactions to the types of mushrooms that are considered safe for humans to eat.
Onions, shallots and garlic – Members of the onion family have been found to cause red blood cell damage when ingested in large quantities.
Salt – Too much salt is bad for people AND pets!
Unbaked yeast dough, moldy foods, fruit seeds/pits, rhubarb and potato leaves and hops – We know, most of these foods probably aren’t in your pantry… but all of these ingredients can be toxic to both people and pets!
Whew! That’s quite a list… but never fear! We’d never give you a “no-feed” list without giving you some great suggestions for pet-friendly foods!
Special note: Most of the foods on this list apply to a wide range of pets, but this list was built with cats and dogs in mind. If you have a more exotic pet we encourage you to research what foods could be toxic to them.
Sweet potato! This naturally sweet and bright orange vegetable is a favourite for many pets.
Pumpkin! Fill a Kong toy with canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!) and freeze solid to provide a fun treat that will keep Fido busy for hours.
Plain chicken! No sauce, no seasoning please! Broiled, baked or steamed plain chicken makes for a delicious treat.
Carrots! Many dogs love raw carrots. Cats are obligate carnivores that cannot be healthy with a vegetarian or vegan diet, but some cats LOVE a small serving of baked carrots as a treat!
Fish! Large quantities of some fish can be dangerous, but a single bite of fish once in a while can be a welcome treat. Dehydrated bonito flakes are a great choice to feed a fish craving without going overboard.
The list of toxic foods above has a lot of the most common dangerous foods, but it is not an exhaustive list! As always, we recommend that you do plenty of research and talk to your vet if you want to include some human food treats in your pet’s diet.
Do you have a suggestion for a great pet treat? Share it with us in the comments! Next week we will be sharing some fun pet-friendly recipes that you can make as a family!