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What Foods are Bad for Pets?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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There are plenty of foods that are bad for pets, though certain foods may be bad for dogs and not for cats or vice versa. Some foods that are bad for both animals. It’s important for pet owners to take note of these because they are often common foods in many homes.

Foods that cats and dogs should not eat includes any types of raisins or grapes, which may cause kidney damage. Tomatoes may also be problematic, creating violent illness in both animals. Onions and garlic are also bad and may result in anemia if consumed regularly. This risk is higher for cats, but it still can occur in dogs.

Chocolate is equally a problem, and so are foods and drinks with alcohol. Neither dogs nor cats should eat uncooked yeast dough because it can expand in their stomachs. Another food that both cats and dogs can’t digest and may have problems with is raw potatoes of any kind.

For dogs, foods that should be avoided also include raw eggs, most nuts, large amounts of liver, cut fats off of meats, pits from fruit, persimmons, and — surprisingly — cat food. Cat food can create problems for dogs because it is high in fat and does not have the right nutritional balance for dogs. People who own dogs should feed them dog food, although if a dog ate cat food once in awhile, it would be unlikely to harm the animal.

Another food that may be bad for pets is milk. Some dogs and cats appear to digest milk fine, but others have significant intestinal upset from it. Most dairy products may bother the stomachs of pets, though they occasionally enjoy cheese and digest it well. Pet owners should choose lower fat cheeses for them, since this should be a treat instead of an every day type of food.

Sometimes, the food itself isn't bad, but the way the owner prepares it can be. If dogs or cats are given meat or fish, it should be free of small bones that can block the digestive system or cause cuts in the intestines.

People who have other types of pets should also be careful about what they feed them:

  • Rabbits — avoid lettuce, potato tops, leaves from tomato plants, and parsnips.
  • Most rats and mice — avoid blue cheese, raw potatoes, raw carrots and carbonated drinks.
  • Hamsters — avoid garlic, onions, frozen foods, chocolate, and citrus fruits.

When in doubt, a pet owner should check with a veterinarian about the best diet for his or her pet. People should remember that just about anything humans consider junk food is also bad for pets. When a person wants to give snacks to a pet, he or she should be sure that such treats that will not harm the animal.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By healthy4life — On Nov 19, 2012

@seag47 – How horrible! I've known about grapes being bad for animals for awhile now, and that is the reason I never planted a grapevine.

My neighbor has cats, and I have dogs, so a grapevine would be bad for both of them. I have to say that animals often eat things that they find on their own that are listed as bad for them, but they don't seem to suffer any ill effects.

My dogs love pecans. I have four pecan trees in my yard, and they will sniff the nuts out, shell them at least partially, and eat the meat.

I wouldn't voluntarily feed them nuts, though. I think they eat them more out of boredom than anything else.

Also, my dog sometimes goes next door and eats cat food. However, he doesn't eat it regularly, because I feed him plenty of dog food, so he isn't actually hungry.

By feasting — On Nov 19, 2012

It's kind of weird that blue cheese is bad for mice. They are notorious cheese eaters! Of course, most people put cheese on mouse traps, so in that case, all kinds of cheese are bad for them!

By seag47 — On Nov 18, 2012

My husband's ex-wife had a Yorkie as a pet, and he had no idea that grapes were bad for dogs. He once sat down with a full bag of grapes and shared it with the little dog.

The dog developed horrible kidney problems that resulted in surgery and the permanent placement of a tube to help him urinate. My husband was clueless to the fact that the grapes caused this, and he never thought to mention it.

However, after we got together and I told him that grapes were bad for dogs, he suddenly came to the realization that he had caused the Yorkie's problems. He felt terrible about it.

By JackWhack — On Nov 17, 2012

The weight of the animal factors into how it reacts to certain foods, too. If you have a chihuahua as a pet, he will be much more vulnerable to the effects of several pieces of chocolate than a Doberman would.

Also, I've heard that dark chocolate is worse, because it contains more of the ingredient that harms dogs. So, your dog would fare better if he got into a bar of milk chocolate than a bar of bittersweet chocolate.

Still, all chocolate is bad for any dog, and you should never give it to them, no matter how much they beg. You should keep all of your chocolate stored up high in a cabinet where the pet can't possibly reach it. Also, don't throw it in the outside trash bin, because they can get pretty crafty when they want to reach food.

By serenesurface — On Feb 20, 2011

It's true that different pets are allowed to eat different kinds of foods. But these can be further limited if your pet has suffered from a disease, health issue or has undergone surgery.

I have a British Shorthair who is about 9 months now. We recently had her spayed and now she has dietary restrictions because of the surgery. Since she doesn't have hormones anymore, the veterinarian said that if she is not very active, she is likely to gain weight which can result in cardiovascular problems in the long term. We have started feeding her light cat food which has less fat content.

Even before surgery, my cat had some sensitivities to food. I generally feed her with small amounts of dry cat food in the morning and at night. At lunch time, I boil some chicken for her which is her favorite food. She is unable to tolerate ground beef or fish for some reason, so I cannot give her any canned cat foods either because they always have fish in them. I know that cats cannot have milk because they do not have the enzymes to digest it, so I give her plain yogurt instead as a snack.

Basically if I feed her something knew, I have to look at her sandbox and see if she tolerated it well. Whether you have a sensitive pet like I do or not, I suggest you do the same so that if there is a problem you can catch it early.

By candyquilt — On Feb 20, 2011

I've had different pets all my life. When I was a child, I grew up with a Maltese, who as pets are an excellent choice because they are such friendly and calm dogs. At that time, there weren't so many choices of dog foods and snacks and it was normal to feed your pet food that was cooked at home that day. My dog ate home cooked meals with meat and chicken everyday. She also loved milk and never showed any adverse reactions to it. Although I never gave her any sweets or alcohol, I'm sure I fed some things that I shouldn't have, now I know better.

By anon73767 — On Mar 29, 2010

Do not feed your pregnant female raw meat without freezing it first or rubbing it with eatable hydrogen peroxide. It may contain neospora caninum which will pass through the placenta and kill the puppy. By about eight weeks the puppy will have died.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia...
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