The delicious food on our plate may be healthy and nutritious for us, but we need to be extremely cautious when we want to share with our dog or cat. There are foods your dogs and cats can’t eat, because some foods can actually be lethal to our beloved pets. As a pet groomer, you may already know that, but a refresher doesn’t hurt!
We are their guardians, and even though they often hover around the table as we eat, hoping for a nibble off our plate, or even a drink from our glass, let’s rather be cautious first. As responsible pet owners we need know to what they can and cannot eat.
As PETA insists on informing pet owners, we each have a responsibility toward our pets. This includes that they get proper exercise, regular checkups, nutritious food and lots of love, but we also need to know which foods can potentially harm them.
What foods CAN a dog eat?
Dogs are mainly carnivores, but can eat some plants and grains. The best way to ensure that they have a completely balanced diet, something which is difficult to ensure with home-cooked food, is to feed them high-quality, completely balanced commercial food according to the needs of their age.
Veterinarians are the most qualified to give advice to those of us who are unsure which brand and type of food to choose, especially if there is an underlying medical condition or the dog is geriatric. Dogs can eat fish but only once in a while.
What foods NOT to give a dog
This list is important because dog owners are often tempted to feed their dogs scraps:
- Cooked bones (because they can splinter causing gastrointestinal damage)
- Onions, onion powder and garlic
- Coffee or caffeine products
- Spoiled or moldy food
- Bread dough and anything with yeast
- Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants
- All types of nuts
- Fruit stones, pits and seeds
- Corn cobs
- Unripe tomatoes
- Fatty trimmings or foods
- Xylitol (found in sugar free foods and drinks)
For those dog owners that want to bring their dog up on a raw food diet, it is essential that they do their research and get advice from their veterinarian on the best foods to include.
What foods CAN a cat eat?
As true carnivores, cats need proteins to survive. That is why when we do offer them vegetables they usually don’t take them. Like dogs, cats need completely balanced products, especially if they have any underlying conditions. Cats are also very susceptible to a deficiency of an important vitamin called Taurine, so we cannot give our cats food meant for dogs, because it does not have this important supplement. Contrary to what many believe, cats should not eat fish constantly either.
Cats can have raw meat and bones once or twice a week, but it must always be of the best quality and completely fresh so that it doesn’t contain any harmful preservatives. Sausage meat and deli meats are not suitable for cats because they contain sulfate preservatives.
Cats can eat canned tuna once in a while only because it’s not a complete food. When giving our cats raw bones we have to be careful that they are big enough, so that it cannot fit the whole bone into its mouth, otherwise they might be swallowed whole. Large marrow bones, knuckle bones and sawn bones should not be given to cats because they may crack their teeth on them.
What foods NOT to give a cat
Cats are naturally curious animals and they love to explore every nook and cranny of our home. It is up to us to be careful with what we leave around our home. The ASPCA recommends that those who like to have cut flowers in vases should avoid lilies as they are toxic to cats. Medications, string, yarn and dental floss can also be dangerous if ingested. We should always be careful with the string wrappings around roasts and the absorbent pads found under raw meats in trays.
Cats should never eat
- Cooked bones or small pieces of raw bone
- Onions, onion powder and garlic
- Coffee and caffeine products
- Spoiled or moldy foods
- Bread dough and other yeast products
- Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants
- Fruit stones and seeds
- Corn cobs
- Fatty trimmings and foods
Why these 7 foods should NEVER be given to dogs or cats
Giving a pet alcohol can cause intoxication, lack of coordination, poor breathing and abnormal acidity even in small amounts. In severe cases of alcohol intake a pet may fall into a coma or die because alcohol leads to a drop in blood sugar and body temperature; vomiting, seizures and respiratory failure.
- Bread dough
Bread dough contains live yeast and when ingested it expands in the tummies of dogs and cats causing bloating and discomfort and presenting the danger of a ruptured stomach and intestines, which can be fatal. Another danger associated with yeast is that as it ferments and rises, it creates alcohol and this can lead to alcohol poisoning in pets.
As tasty as chocolate is, it is definitely not good for our pets. Firstly, it contains Theobromine and caffeine which speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system. Your pet may have bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased urination, tremors, elevated heart rate and seizures which may even result in death. The outcome will depend on the amount of chocolate ingested for the size of the animal and all types of chocolate is dangerous, including cocoa powder.
- Grapes and raisins
It is still unclear what the toxic substance within grapes and its by-products is, but it is known that their consumption causes kidney failure. Other terrible side effects experienced by dogs and cats include vomiting and diarrhea.
- Macadamia Nuts
Keep anything, including biscuits with macadamia nuts away from your pets. These nuts can cause many neurological symptoms, including weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hypothermia. The signs may appear a few hours after ingestion and can last for up to 2 days.
- Onions and Garlic
Foods in the Allium family are damaging to the red blood cells of our pets and also cause gastrointestinal irritation. The symptoms associated with their ingestion are bloody urine, severe anemia and gastroenteritis. Even though all dog breeds and cats are sensitive to these foods, the Japanese breeds are more susceptible. Toxicity can be diagnosed through history, clinical signs or a confirmation after microscopic sampling and the confirmation by the lab of Heinz bodies.
In dogs, large amounts of Xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood-sugar levels because of insulin release and then lead to liver failure, both of which can even lead to death. Even in the small amounts found in all sugar-free products, baked goods, candy, gum and even toothpaste, Xylitol can be harmful. The initial signs that your pet has ingested toxic levels include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination and often these can lead to seizures. The signs of liver failure or elevated enzymes can only be seen after a few days.
Where and when to call for help in the event of food poisoning?
Even though our dogs and cats are less prone to food poisoning than us, due to evolution they can stomach raw meat and carrion, it doesn’t mean that they don’t get it. We only ever give them fresh food that is not spoiled!
It is absolutely necessary to seek a veterinarian’s attention if we notice any strange behavior and signs of weakness, lack of coordination, vomiting and diarrhea in our pets. We should never wait to see if the signs will pass, because if they don’t receive immediate medical attention they may not survive.
If in an emergency a veterinarian cannot be reached, then the ASPCA should be called on their Animal Poison Control Center number: (888) 424-4435.
The ASPCA has a dedicated animal poison control center (APPC) and is the best place to get 24 hour , 365 days a year advice on any animal poison-related emergency. Their website has lots of practical information on other poisons that we should all be wary of, found in our homes and gardens.
The veterinarian or animal poison hotline may try to induce vomiting in order for the pet to regurgitate the ingested food. There may be the possibility that vomiting may cause further damage and a binder may be given to neutralize the substance, Surgery may also be recommended if a bone or string is causing a blockage.
The responsibility is on us to ensure that we take care not to leave any harmful foods where our pets can reach them. We should also not be tempted to give them food to eat that has not been specially formulated for their dietary needs as nature intended.
Prevention is definitely better than cure and its best that we all take care of our precious pets.