Community Animal Hospital Blog

Your Pet Ate What?!

1 Comment Posted by CommunityAHAdmin in Uncategorized on Monday, November 16th, 2015.


Sometimes our pets get into and eat things that they weren’t supposed to.  Sometimes  pet owners unknowingly give something harmful to a pet that was intended to be a treat or medications to help them feel better.  These situations are sometimes safe and do not cause any issues; however, sometimes certain foods and medications can be very toxic to pets!  The Animal Poison Control, directed by the ASPCA,  offers support and information for owners and veterinarians in cases of pets being exposed to toxins (for a fee).  They also compile data on what are the most common toxins ingested by pets.  Consistently, foods that are safe for human consumption but not animal consumption are among the top toxicity cases reported to the ASPCA.  Let’s review some human foods that should be avoided in pets:

Chocolate:  I had a chocolate donut with my morning coffee and it was delicious.  My body is able to digest chocolate and break it down safely through different metabolic pathways.  Dogs’ and cats’ metabolisms are not set up this way.  Chocolate is broken down into toxic chemicals in pets’ bodies which can cause a wide range from medical conditions, from diarrhea to heart arrhythmias and seizures. The more concentrated (higher cocoa percentage) the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for pets.  An 80 lbs. Labrador eating a few M&M candy pieces will not cause any problems but this might not be the case for a 3 lbs. Teacup Yorkie!  The effect that chocolate, like other toxins, has on the body depends on the amount of toxin ingested and the weight of the animal.  If your pet ever consumers chocolate, the safest thing to do is to call your veterinarian and follow their advice.

Xylitol:  This is a sugar-substitute found commonly in sugar free gums and candies.  This compound can cause liver problems and severe drops in blood sugar in pets, both of which may be life-threatening.  Surprisingly, even less than a whole stick of sugar free gum can cause serious problems in a medium-sized dog.  If your pet consumes even a small piece of xylitol-containing candy, call us ASAP!

Grapes & Raisins:  These fruits can cause severe kidney damage in dogs and cats.  Unlike xylitol, a large amount of fruit has to be ingested to cause kidney damage.  Again for toxins, the harm we see depends on how much toxin is consumed and the size of an animal.  If an 80 lbs. Golden Retriever eats 3 grapes, he or she will likely not feel a thing.  I once worked with an owner who was fermenting his own muscadine grapes to make wine.  They called me immediately when their Lab got into and ate an entire “bucket full of grapes”.  This vino lab was treated quickly with emergency care because I was very concerned about kidney damage.  Fortunately, he made a full recovery and I think a lot of that has to do with the owner’s fast response!  Veterinarians and researchers are still not sure what compound in this fruit is the culprit for the kidney damage, so its best to avoid feeding them at all to pets.

Raw and Under Cooked Eggs/Meat:  I love sushi and I even enjoy the raw fish rolls (especially a spicy tuna roll) that some people don’t like.  The sushi chef purchases special “sushi grade” fish that has been specially cared for to avoid bacterial contamination.  The same cannot be said for the hamburger I buy at our grocery store.  Salmonella and various other harmful bacteria can live on the surface of steaks, egg shells, chicken breasts and even deep inside cubed or “burger” meat!  These bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach and when left untreated, may be life-threatening.  So why are some companies marketing raw food specifically for pets?  This is a controversial subject and some veterinarians have different opinions.  When I meet owners who feed their pets raw food diets (purchased from a pet food company), I discuss the potential risks and pass along information about raw food diets.  Check out our upcoming blog on myths about pet nutrition!


These are just some of the human foods that your pets should not ingest.  For a full list check the ASPCA’s webpage here.  Along with human foods, human prescription and over the counter medications are also consistently a top 5 most common toxin ingested by pets.  You should always check with your veterinarian before using a human medication for a pet.  Even something that seems safe like Tylenol is actually proven to be severely harmful to pets, especially cats!

Michael C. Owen, DVM Associate Veterinarian Community Animal Hospital

Michael C. Owen, DVM
Associate Veterinarian
Community Animal Hospital

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1 Comment for Your Pet Ate What?!

Rena | January 16, 2016 at 1:08 am

I felt so hopeless looking for answers to my qutstions…until now.

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