Can My Pet Eat This? The Do’s And Don’ts Of Human Food

Ice cream, breakfast cereal, pet popcorn… can you imagine your pet eating these types of foods? In recent years the humanization of pet food has become trendy. In 2014, Berlin opened its first restaurant for dogs and cats (no, we’re not joking). Vegan snacks, dog birthday cakes, the sort of high-end, steamed and grilled meat and fish found on Michelin star menus, it’s all become part of the pet pampering movement.

However, according to the Guardian, a diet heavy in salt, sugar, oils, and fats is just as bad for our four-legged friends as it is for us. Fido won’t only pack on the pounds, but eating the wrong human scraps can lead to digestive issues and behavioral problems. While it’s tempting to scrape the leftovers from your meal into your dog or cat’s bowl, or even to feed them scraps when they’re begging at the table, you need to know which foods are safe and which can harm your pet.

What Foods are Dangerous for Dogs?

According to research conducted by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, 54 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are obese. These animals have a greater risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Dogs are man’s best friend, so it makes sense that we want to pamper them. Still, there are many foods that are dangerous for our canine pals.

Onions and Garlic. Onions and garlic cause gastrointestinal irritation in dogs. In large amounts, however, these foods can also be fatal. While the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control (APCC) says garlic or onion toxicity is rare in dogs, it does happen. Even a scrap of steak seasoned with onion or garlic powder can be dangerous. Both onions and garlic can damage and destroy a dog’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia.

Grapes and Raisins. Grapes and raisins can cause acute renal failure in dogs. Within 12-24 hours after ingesting these foods, a dog may exhibit the following signs of toxicity: diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, weakness, and decreased urination. It’s unknown why grapes and raisins have an adverse effect on dogs, but it’s best to keep these human snacks out of paw’s reach.

Dairy Products. You might be tempted to let your pooch lick the creamy leftovers in your ice cream bowl, but dogs shouldn’t have dairy products. Most dogs are lactose intolerant. Dairy can give them gas, diarrhea, and an upset stomach.

Other human foods that are dangerous for dogs include:

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated beverages

What Foods are Safe for Dogs?

Some human foods are healthy and beneficial for your dog, while others are treats. Whether you’re feeding your dog food for its canine health benefits or simply spoiling your pooch, these human foods are safe.

Eggs. If you’re cooking up eggs on Sunday morning, it’s okay to give your dog scraps from the plate. Eggs are a good source of protein, and they can also help sooth an upset stomach. Be sure the eggs are cooked all the way through.

Turkey. Come Thanksgiving Day, chances are your dog is underneath the dining room table waiting for someone to drop some scraps. It’s fine to feed your dog turkey; however, it can’t be seasoned with garlic or onion and the skin needs to be removed from the meat. And contrary to what the children’s nursery rhyme says, do not give your dog any bones. Cooked bones – especially from poultry – can splinter and damage the digestive system and other internal organs.

Fish. Fish is loaded with protein, amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. It gives your dog a beneficial health boost. Fish needs to be thoroughly cooked and cooled before feeding it to your dog.

Other human foods that are safe for dogs include:

  • Pork/ham
  • Peanut butter
  • Shrimp
  • Fruits such as apples (no seeds), orange slices, peaches, and pineapple
  • Vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower

What Foods are Dangerous for Cats?

Do you remember Garfield, the popular Jim Davis comic strip? Garfield was a slightly overweight orange feline who had a disdain for Mondays and a deep love for lasagna. You might be wondering: is it even safe for a cat to eat lasagna?

Well, if you have an older cat, then there’s a greater chance that he or she is lactose intolerant, therefore cheese or dairy is a no-no (sorry Fluffy, no lasagna). A kitten or younger cat, on the other hand, won’t have a difficult time digesting cheese or dairy. Still, it’s best to safe that saucer of milk as a special treat. No matter how much your cat purrs and rubs against your leg, don’t scrape these leftovers into the kitty bowl.

Garlic, Onions, and Chives. Your dog and cat might not be best friends, but they have some things in common. Neither can eat onions or garlic. These foods cause gastrointestinal problems with cats. In a worst case scenario, garlic, onions and chives break down a cat’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

Foods Sweetened with Xylitol. Hopefully your cat doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Foods artificially sweetened with Xylitol, which includes candy, gum, and some baked goods, can cause a cat’s blood sugar to drop. Xylitol toxicity includes vomiting, lethargy, a loss of coordination, and possible liver failure.

Raw Fish. Cats are notoriously picky eaters, but most felines love fish. Feeding your cat raw fish, however, can be dangerous. Raw fish has bacteria that can cause food poisoning in cats. It also contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine, an essential B vitamin. A lack of thiamine can cause neurological disorders.

Other human foods that are dangerous for cats include:

  • Apples
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Caffeinated beverages

What Foods are Safe for Cats?

Lean meats. Cats love meats almost as much as they love fish. And your cat will love you when you scrape some lean, thoroughly cooked, unseasoned chicken, beef or liver into the bowl.

Chicken broth. Next time you make homemade chicken soup, nothing will have your cat saying meow faster than a bowl of chicken broth. Be sure to cool down the broth before feeding it to your cat.

Lettuce. Cats can be quirky, and their quirkiness often comes out in the foods they like. Many cats are known to enjoy lettuce. Lucky for them, lettuce is safe to eat. Spinach and Swiss chard, however, are dangerous. They contain oxalic acid, which can cause kidney and bladder stones.

Other human foods that are safe for cats include:

  • Melons, berries, and cantaloupe
  • Steamed and mashed vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and squash
  • Scrambled or hardboiled eggs

Pets are a part of your family. You want to love, pamper, and shower them with treats. As difficult as it is to resist those puppy dog eyes or the cat’s constant purring and leg rubbing, be sure the leftovers you’re scraping into your pet’s bowl are safe.

If you think your pet is ill or may have ingested a toxic food or substance, contact your local veterinarian. The ASPCA APCC also has a 24-hour emergency hotline, call (888) 426-4435. Please be advised that a $65 consultation fee may apply.