Common foods and plants to keep away from pets

Sometimes the foods and plants we have around our homes pose a dangerous threat to our beloved pets.

Here is a partial list of common household foods and plants that you should keep away from your cats and dogs.


Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to alcohol than humans. Even a very small amount can cause significant intoxication. It can cause vomiting, lack of coordination, disorientation, lethargy, listlessness, coma, seizures and death. Pets showing signs of alcohol intoxication should be closely monitored and if they appear unable to stand up, call our practice immediately so that we can monitor them through recovery.


Avocado fruit, seeds and bark can contain a toxin that causes stomach upset in cats and dogs. If they eat a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. Eating the pit can cause obstruction of the GI tract requiring urgent veterinary care. However, the avocado present in some pet foods is not hazardous to dogs and cats.


Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine which are toxic to dogs and cats. Generally the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous. For example, unsweetened baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder pose very high risks especially if ingested in a large quantity. Milk chocolate or foods containing smaller amounts of chocolate like chocolate chip cookies, pose less of a risk, especially in a small quantity. Signs of toxic reaction from chocolate can include vomiting, increased thirst, agitation, muscle tremors, quickened heartbeat, fever, seizures and death.

Coffee and tea

Both contain caffeine which can be bad for pets. Caffeine can cause restlessness and vomiting.

Grapes and raisins

Dogs and cats can develop kidney failure from ingesting grapes and raisins. Initial signs of a toxic reaction can include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Advanced signs may include dehydration, refusal to eat, and increased or decreased urination. Please keep in mind the toxin and dose are unknown when grapes and raisins are ingested so the potential for toxicity exists even with one grape.

Onions and garlic

Members of the onion family including shallots, green onions, chives and leeks contain a compound that can damage your pet’s red blood cells if ingested in large quantities. While just a bit of raw onion may not cause much harm, dehydrated and concentrated forms such as garlic powder or dry onion soup mix may cause toxosis. Often your pet won’t exhibit signs for three to five days. Contact our practice right away if you pet appears weak and lethargic or if their urine is orangish or red.


Most adult dogs and cats are lactose intolerant and have difficulty digesting milk. It may cause upset stomach and diarrhea.


The following is a list of plants that can be toxic to pets:

  • Azalea
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Lily
  • Marijuana
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia
  • Sago Palm
If your pet has recently been around or possibly ingested any of the plants listed above, and exhibits symptoms such as sluggishness, weakness increased heart rate, excessive drooling, lack of coordination, seizure, diarrhea, vomiting, call our practice immediately.