Most aspects of raising a pet come instinctively to pet parents. We know that it's wise to take our dogs to training classes, walk them every day, and give them belly rubs when they ask for them.
When those big puppy dog eyes gaze up at us while we're enjoying a meal or snack, it may be tempting to share some deliciousness with them, too. Unfortunately, if you don't do the research, you could unintentionally end up feeding your pet something that makes them ill.
In general, you should try to avoid feeding your pets any food that is processed, and full of sugar, salt, or fat. But what specific foods should you absolutely avoid?
Ten foods you should never feed your pets:
1. Cooked bones
Lots of people like to give their dogs bones to chew on. They're good for their teeth and digestive system and help to mentally stimulate them.
Be careful to stay away from cooked bones. Not only can they splinter, and get lodged in their throats, but they can cause dental and digestive issues as well. Stick to raw bones or rawhide alternatives if you want to treat your dog instead.
If you are indulging in an adult beverage or two around your dog, make sure not to leave it unattended.
Dogs cannot get "drunk" but they should never drink alcohol. Even the smallest amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system damage, which can be permanent.
Keep the wine, beer, and spirits to yourself. Luckily, there are pet-friendly "wines" that your cat can enjoy if you're looking for a fun novelty treat!
3. Grapes and raisins
You may enjoy snacking on juicy grapes and tasty raisins, but these foods are extremely toxic for pets. So are any foods or drinks that contain either of these ingredients. Be careful with human biscuits or cookies as they sometimes contain raisins unexpectedly as well.
The Tartaric Acid found in grapes can cause liver failure and extreme liver damage in dogs, as well as digestive issues.
Dogs wouldn't eat many fruits in the wild as omnivores, so there's no need to include fruit or veggies as an essential part of their diet. Pet-safe produce is okay once in a while as a special treat.
Everyone loves chocolate and it seems that pets love it too - but don't let them get their paws on it as it is incredibly toxic.
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine which is another toxin that causes liver failure in dogs and cats.
Small dogs should avoid chocolate at all costs - even a Hershey Kiss-sized bite can make them ill!
5. Chives, Garlic, And Onions
One of the dangers of these foods is you don't see the damage they are doing straight away. Symptoms normally take a few days to appear.
Foods within the onion family, such as chives, garlic, scallions, etc - no matter how they are prepared - can cause red blood cell damage and other immune issues in pets. They may also cause diarrhea or stomach upset.
6. Artificial Sweetener - (XYLITOL)
The human body can cope with artificial sweeteners but they were not designed for a pet's digestive system.
They can cause rapid hypoglycemia in dogs - which can lead to blood clotting issues and liver failure.
XYLITOL is typically found in sugar-free products and lots of modern candies. If you are eating these items around your dog make sure they don't get ahold of any one of them.
Be particularly wary of popular foods like peanut butter or yogurt. These tasty treats may be enjoyed by pets but you'll have to check the ingredient list closely to ensure they are free of artificial sweeteners.
The flesh of an avocado is too rich for pets to be eating. It is also worth noting that both the skin and the stone of the avocado are poisonous to dogs.
They contain a chemical called Persin - humans can digest it but pets can't.
If your pet eats an avocado, they will most likely experience vomiting and diarrhea. In the event this does occur, you'll want to speak with your vet to avoid any serious damage.
8. Nutmeg or Cinnamon
Avoid letting your pet eat anything that has nutmeg in it.
In large quantities, it may make them vomit, and can cause seizures, disorientation, and hallucinations.
Cinnamon can also affect your companion's breathing if inhaled, and exposure to large amounts of it in powder or essential oil form may cause low blood pressure, vomiting, and more.
To be on the safe side, leave out these spices in your next pet recipe.
9. Ice Cream
Ice cream is the perfect summer treat, but not for your pet! There is so much sugar in ice cream that it can be very dangerous for animals to eat it. Sugar can cause weight issues and add up quickly in small animals like dogs and cats.
Ice cream can also contain artificial sweeteners and artificial flavorings that can be toxic for dogs or cats. Plus, pets don't digest dairy well and it's best to avoid it if possible.
Instead, try these pet-friendly frozen treats if you're looking for some cooling summer goodies you can share.
10. Macadamia Nuts and Almonds
While pets can eat some nuts (like cashews), almonds and macadamias are too hard and big for them to digest safely. They can shatter in the throat, block the throat, or damage their teeth.
They both also contain chemicals that dog and cat livers cannot process without damage.
Related: While not a food, many pet owners wonder if slugs are poisonous to dogs. Find out the answer here!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.