7 Foods Pets Should Never Eat

Small dog eating from a plate of "people" food


When I was growing up in New Hampshire, our dog doubled as our garbage disposal. She was my conspirator in my ongoing scheme to rid myself of unsavory dinnertime vegetables and would eat whatever I offered when my dad’s attention was diverted. Another favorite pet was Jerry, the cat who loved watermelon, apples and bananas. A lot of people have similar stories of pets hungry for "people food," which I guess shouldn't come as a surprise considering their normal fare. (I mean, how would you like to eat dry kibble for every meal, every day?)

While it's OK to give some foods to pets, there are others that should be avoided at all costs. Some foods can sicken or kill dogs, cats and birds, so please give the following list a good read.


If you ever suspect that your pet may have ingested something poisonous, call your local vet or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

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el patojo/Flickr.

Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid that's chemically similar to caffeine. The chemically pure analog of theobromine is used in medicine as a diuretic and heart stimulant. Most people have no problem digesting the naturally occurring theobromine found in chocolate, but it's an entirely different story for dogs. They metabolize theobromine more slowly and can get sick and die from eating too much chocolate. How much is too much? It depends on the type of chocolate — baking chocolate has as much as 10 times as much theobromine as milk chocolate and thousands times more than white chocolate. To be safe it's best to avoid giving dogs the sweet stuff entirely.

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According to the ASPCA, garlic is a no-no when it comes to our feline friends. While it seems that animals can digest small amounts of garlic powder, larger amounts can make them anemic and cause gastrointestinal problems. In the case of garlic, the culprit is the chemical compound thiosulfate, which is naturally occurring and difficult for dogs and cats to process. As bad as garlic is, though, it's nothing when compared to the amount of thiosulfate found in the next item on our list, onions.

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Close up of a sliced onion

Onions can easily kill your pets. The levels of thiosulfate found in onions means that even small amounts can hurt and quickly kill your dog, cat and other pets. Onions also contain allyl propyl disulfide, which causes permanent damage to red blood cells, causing anemia and oxygen deprivation. Animals that eat onions can suffer from liver damage, discolored urine, difficulty breathing, dermatitis and anemia.

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sean dreilinger/Flickr.

Avocados made the ASPCA's 2009 list of foods to avoid giving to animals, thanks to a substance called persin that's extremely toxic to animals. It's not only the edible flesh of the avocado that's worrisome when it comes to your pets; the entire avocado plant — the seed, bark and leaves — contains persin and can sicken and kill any animals that partake of it. If you keep avocados in the house make sure to keep them well out of the reach of your animals.

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Dogs and bones go together like chocolate and milk and peanut butter and jelly. Ask a child to draw a dog and it's a good bet she'll add a bone to the picture. Good dogs get big bones — that's just how it is. But as it turns out, bones can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system. The FDA advised owners to skip the bones when it comes to rewarding their dogs and wrote a great list of 10 reasons why it's a bad idea to give your dog a bone. How does broken teeth, mouth injuries, bones stuck in the stomach, and severe bleeding from the rectum sound? bOW wow!

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Dried, uncooked beans


Dried beans are a tasty, nutritious snack for any bird; they just need to be soaked in water and cooked first. Some dried, uncooked beans contain enzyme inhibitors that can block the body's ability to handle certain kinds of nutrients and can also have hemagglutinin, a substance that can have toxic effects by causing red blood cells to clump together. Cooking destroys the enzyme inhibitors and breaks down the hemagglutinin, making them safe for our feathered friends.

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Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

This one should probably go without saying, but you shouldn't get wasted with your pets. It might be drunkenly funny to feed your dog or cat a bowl of beer while kicking back brews watching “Jeopardy” with your buddies, but it doesn't take much for your pet to get too much. They have much smaller bodies and faster metabolisms than ours and don't process alcohol as well as we humans, so it hits them harder. Just say no to cats and dogs getting drunk.