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Toxic Foods to Dogs and Cats


Food Effects Symptoms
Chocolate Stimulation of central nervous system, cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle Restlessness, stiffness, hyperthermia, seizures and death
Caffeine and coffee Same as chocolate Same as chocolate
Grapes and Raisins Acute kidney failure Vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, failure to produce urine
Onions, Onion powder (many processed foods such as baby food, ketchup, soup, lunch meat and hot dogs) Hemolytic anemia (Japanese breeds (Akita, Shiba Inu, Tosa) at increased risk) Fever, vomiting, weakness, collapse
Garlic (in high doses) Same as onion Same as onion
Macadamia Nuts Toxic principle unknown Weakness, depression, ataxia, rear leg paralysis, abdominal pain
Black Walnuts Depression and pulmonary edema Difficulty breathing
Moldy walnuts or dairy products (mycotoxin) Poisons the nervous system Tremors, seizures, death
Licorice Muscle damage and alteration in adrenal hormones Weakness, collapse, death
Xylitol (sugar-free candy and gum) Sudden drop in blood sugar. These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion. Results in depression, loss of coordination and seizures


Food Effects
Onions, Onion powder (many processed foods such as baby food, ketchup, soup, lunch meat and hot dogs), Garlic, & Related Root Vegetables Onions contain a substance (N-propyl disulphide) which destroys red blood cells in the cat, causing a form of anemia called Heinz body anemia. Garlic contains a similar substance in a lesser amount.
Tomatoes, Green (raw) Potatoes These foods are members of the Solanaceae family of plants, which includes the Deadly Nightshade, and contain a bitter, poisonous alkaloid called Glycoalkaloid Solanine, which can cause violent lower gastrointestinal symptoms. The Feline Future web site offers a rare description of a cat which was close to death from ingesting just one cherry tomato. However, there are other experts who say itís fine to feed tomato to cats.
Chocolate It's becoming more widely known that chocolate is very toxic to both cats and dogs. Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthine alkaloids (theobromine is the specific offending substance). Janet Tobiassen Crosby, D.V.M. has an excellent article on the symptoms, effects, and treatment of chocolate toxicity. Certain types of chocolate contain higher amounts of these chemicals than others. For instance, baking chocolate contains the most and white chocolate contains the least.

Even small amounts of these toxic chemicals can cause constriction of arteries, increased heart rate and stimulation to the central nervous system, similar to that of an overdose of caffeine. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and frequent urination. Larger amounts of chocolate can, of course, mean greater toxicity. More dire symptoms include excitability, heightened heartbeat, stiffness and seizures. One pound of milk chocolate is a potentially lethal dose for a 16 pound dog.

In the event that your dog has gotten its paws on some chocolate, you should take note of the type, estimate the amount eaten and then phone your vet or emergency care facility. Educate your children on the importance of keeping chocolate out of your petís reach. If you are unaware that your dog ingested chocolate, the consequences can be dire. If chocolate ingestion is not found within four to six hours without appropriate treatment, cardiac failure, seizures, coma and death can result.

Grapes and Raisins These foods' toxicity has only recently been discovered, and although the only studies have been with dogs, it is also believed that these fruits may also affect cats adversely.

Lang Institute for Canine Health, LLC, Professional Canine Massage Certification Program Course Manual, © 2001

ASPCA Article: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

The Spruce Pets:  Human Foods That Are Toxic for Cats


We hope you never have to experience any of the above with your pet. If you do come upon a critical situation, please read Saved Lives.


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