Pet Food Safety

In this article:

  • Food picture table;
  • Preventing Pets from Eating Dangerous Foods;
  • Don’t Forget About Treats.

It’s always tempting to give in to those puppy-dog eyes and allow your pet pooch a treat off your plate or to add an extra scoop of food to their bowl.

However, feeding your pet the correct diet is crucial to helping them lead a long and healthy life.

When it comes to food, it is very well know that dogs and cats are curious by nature!

They ace begging for a taste of whatever we may be eating or cooking. However, certain foods that are good for humans can be dangerous, toxic and even deadly to their health.

  • Use the food list below as a guide to prevent your paws from accidental toxic exposure:

As we get to know our pets, it becomes easier to judge how they’re reacting to their environment and diet. We all know that our pets are clever little creatures but we need to take care of them for their well being.

Below you have a few examples of what can happen if you give your loved one the wrong food:

1. Alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol, especially in small dogs and cats, can be deadly!

For example, dogs may tend to be more attracted to fruit-based drinks (cocktails, punches, ciders, seltzers) and foods.

We are talking here about the ones that have alcohol as a key ingredient.

Clinical signs:

• Vomiting, diarrhea;

• Hypothermia (low body temperature);

• Hypotension (low blood pressure);

• Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar);

• Decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors;

• Breathing difficulties;

• Abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

2. Chocolate

We’ve all heard that chocolate can be fatal to dogs, but it’s just as poisonous for cats as well!

Most poisonings from methylxanthines occur as a result of chocolate ingestion.

Clinical signs:

In 6-12h: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dyspnoe, thirst, and increased urination.

More than 12h: dehydration, restlessness, hyperactivity, cardiac arrhythmias, internal bleeding, heart attacks, tachypnea, ataxia, tremors, seizures, weakness, coma, cyanosis, hypertension, hyperthermia, and eventually death.

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are most toxic! As chocolate is generally high in fat content, it may trigger pancreatitis in susceptible animals.

A toxic dose will vary depending on factors like whether the pet ate the chocolate on an empty stomach or not; if your pet is particularly sensitive to chocolate, for example, dark chocolate is more toxic, while milk chocolate is less.

White chocolate is the least toxic of them, but can still cause a serious problem if consumed in extremely large quantities.


• Stabilization (thermoregulation, correcting acid/base and electrolyte abnormalities), decontamination (activated charcoal). In animals that have been sedated due to seizures, gastric lavage may be considered.

• Control vomiting;

• Artificial respiration is applied if needed;

• Monitoring cardiac status via electrocardiography;

• Release seizures;

• Fluid diuresis may assist in stabilizing cardiovascular function and hasten urinary excretion of methylxanthines.

3. Grapes and Raisins

Any dose should be considered a problem because these fruits can cause kidney failure.

Clinical signs:

• Vomiting (in almost all cases);

• Diarrhoea within 6–12 h of ingestion;

• Anorexia, abdominal pain, weakness, dehydration, tremors and lethargy.

• Polydipsia;

• Decreased urination and abdominal pain.Urinalysis may reveal proteinuria, glucosuria, microscopic haematuria and, rarely, crystalluria.

Urine and blood tests will provide definitive evidence for it.

Transient peaks in serum glucose, calcium, phosphorus, liver and pancreatic enzymes may be seen in a GHP wellness profile.

4. Milk

Even though your pet may enjoy drinking milk (even my cat does), it isn’t necessarily good for them!

  • Some pets have trouble digesting the lactose in milk, which can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.

  • Some pets can be lactose intolerant and this may be a problem if they eat cheese or drink milk.

  • Most pets are only exposed to lactose from their mother’s milk when they are kittens and puppies.

Do not give them cow milk while they are kittens and puppies because it is different than their mother’s, as it has different nutrients.

So, while some pets have no trouble tolerating milk, they are not recommended to drink anything but their mother’s milk while young, due to the possibility of digestive issues.

Also, for kittens and puppies, there are some special milk formulas that can substitute the mother’s milk.

5. Onions, Garlic and Chives

Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is ingested!

Consumption can cause gastrointestinal irritation (could lead to red blood cell damage and anemia).

Clinical signs:

Gastro-enteritis: vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, depression and dehydration.

General signs: lethargy, weakness, reduced appetite, pale gums, jaundice, rapid respiratory rate, difficulty to breath and orange to dark red urine (after a few days).

Heinz-body anaemia and methaemoglobinaemia.

6. Raw Meat, Eggs and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems!

Pets are not wild animals:

Might choke with bones;

Sustain a grave injury: the bones can splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Some pets come to the vet emergency room and then are transferred straight away to the surgery room because they have bones in their stomach/ intestines that may perforate the lining!

This is life-threatening! Pet parents must understand why they must not give small bones, especially to small pets. The only bones that can be given are the large ones (bovine bones) because they cannot splinter and pets can only chew on and play with them.

7. Salt

In most cases, if your pet consumes too much salt, it will normally drink water to combat the effects and no damage will be done.

Clinical signs:

• Excessive thirst and urination;

• Vomiting, diarrhea;

• Elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

• Depression, tremors;

• High fever;

• Increased heart rate (tachycardia);

• Lack of energy;

• Loss of appetite;

• Muscle spasms;

• Nausea;

• Respiratory distress;

• Seizures;

• Stomach pains;

• Tongue swelling Too much salt in the blood (hypernatremia) can cause muscles to lose moisture, shrivel, and become stiff, which will create shaking and jerking.

The most serious symptoms of salt poisoning are neurological!

Urgent Care At Home

If you are aware that your pet ingested any toxic food, do the following before you take him to your vet:

  • Stay calm! We need you to be able to provide the information that will be vital to providing the appropriate medical care for your pet.
  • Keep your pet confined in a safe environment for close monitoring.
  • Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 01202 509 000 or Animal Poison Control .
  • Inform your vet about what kind and amount of food was ingested.

The most important thing to do is identifying the plant:

  • What did your pet consume?
  • When did it happen?
  • Has your pet vomited?

Preventing Pets from Eating Dangerous Foods

Depending on the type of food that your pets eat, their lifestyle and health can drastically change. If you want to help your pet stay safe, you must keep poisonous and hazardous foods out of their reach.

Here are some easy tips for preventing your cat from eating dangerous and toxic foods:

  • A balanced diet that covers every nutritional need will keep your pet in good health.

  • Store your food out of your pets’ reach. You can also install pet-proof locks.

  • Do not let your pets on the counter while you’re cooking or eating.

  • Do not feed your pets table scraps. If they beg for food and attention, you can give them pet treats instead (or healthy human food, but check the above table).

Nutrition is important to your pets’ health. It’s important because this can affect the longevity and quality of your pets’ life.

It is important to learn what your pet needs to stay healthy, happy and active. What your pet wants is not always the best way to ensure these needs.

Be more mindful during the holidays. There is likely more tempting human food around, much of which can upset your pet’s tummy or even harm them! Take good care of them!

Don’t Forget About Treats

  • Dogs and cats love treats just as much as we do! Treats can definitely be part of a healthy diet for your pet. You just have to make sure you pay enough attention to what they are eating.

  • Make sure treats don’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake.

  • Instead of buying snacks at the supermarket, try treating your pet with fresh vegetables or fruit snacks such as green beans or banana slices. Bigger snacks like baby carrots, watermelon or apples are also healthy for your dogs.

  • Speak to your vet about the best feeding option! In general the choice of food is down to the pet parents’ and their pets’ preferences.

  • ONLY IF they need a specific food depending on their health condition(s), you need to contact your vet and switch to a veterinary diet formula.

♡ Keep you loved ones healthy! ♡

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