Toxic “People Food” for Dogs and Cats

Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados….these foods may sound delicious to you, but they’re actually quite dangerous for our animal companions. The nutrition experts from the Animal Poison control put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please call us immediately at the Aspen Animal Hospital at 970-925-2611 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435,

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine

These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Grapes & Raisins

Careful tossing that grape or raisin to your dog! Although the toxic substance grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause severe kidney damage.

Macadamia Nuts

While most dogs enjoy eating these delicious nuts, they can cause profound weakness and lethargy, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 1-2 days.


The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause mild gastrointestinal irritation (vomiting and diarrhea) with small ingestions. However consumption of large amounts of these herbs can cause severe red blood cell anemia. Although cats are more susceptible, most cats do not enjoy eating these herbs. Fortunately, dogs, who typically will eat anything tossed to them, experience much more mild signs than cats.

Yeast Dough

Once ingested, yeast dough can “rise” and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s stomach and intestines. Not only is this very painful but it can become life threatening to your dog, requiring emergency surgery to remove the enlarging dough. If you are baking or cooking pizzas at home, please keep your yeast dough out of reach of your dog!


Alcoholic beverages will cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, coma and even death. Please, never give alcohol to your dog.

Xylitol, Chewing Gum

Yes, chewing gum. Xylitol is used as a sweetener in products such as chewing gum, candy, and toothpaste. Ingestion of these products can cause a very low blood glucose (sugar) level which can then lead to incoordination, recumbency and seizures. Xylitol can also cause significant liver damage.


Large amounts of salt can cause excessive thirst and urination or even “salt poisoning” in dogs. Signs that your dog may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!


While not life threatening, milk and other milk-based products may give your dog or cat diarrhea. Dogs and cats do not make the same amount of “lactase” that we do (the enzyme required to break down milk).

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