Irish setter with bone in it's mouth

Toxic foods and your dog

It's tempting while enjoying a snack to throw your dog a bite of your treat. Doing so, however, can be harmful to your pet, especially if the treat is one of these five things pets should never be fed.

Table scraps... All dogs love them. But did you know some can actually harm your pet — even critically injure or cause death? Here are five common household foods and drinks pets should never be given.

1

Methylxanthines

Chocolate, coffee, caffeine — all these products contain substances called methylxanthines. When given to dogs, they can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, shaking, tremors, seizures and even death, says Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian and pet show host.

"Dark and baking chocolates contain the most methylxanthines, while white chocolate is the least toxic," she said.

2

Grapes and raisins

Although grapes and raisins are good for our health, they can be toxic to dogs.

"While the toxic properties of grapes and raisins have yet to be determined, ingestion of these fruits can send pets into kidney failure, especially in pets with pre-existing conditions," Nelson said.

3

Artificial sweeteners

Any form of sweetener can cause a dangerous blood-sugar spike and drop, and artificial sweeteners that are based on chemicals are even worse, says Nicole Goudey-Rigger, founder and owner of Pets a Go Go.

"If Fido has a bit of a sweet tooth, stick to the natural stuff," she said.

4

Alcohol

Some may find it funny to give their pets a sip of their favorite alcoholic beverage to see them stumble about, but experts say giving alcohol is anything but funny.

"Alcohol can lead to severe symptoms in pets such as vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, coma and even death," Nelson said.

Adds Goudey-Rigger, "While it may seem funny to share your cold beer with your dog on a hot day, alcohol in any quantity can be harmful to fur babies' livers."

5

Meat and fat scraps

"Although it seems like the perfect add on to that boring old dry food, meat and fat scraps can cause pancreatitis in older dogs," Goudey-Rigger said. "The bones can splinter as well when a dog tries to break them."

Avoid raw or spoiled meats as well, Nelson says.

"These products can become contaminated with E. coli or salmonella and can cause serious illnesses in pets," she said. "While some think it is the natural way of feeding pets, domesticated animals' GI tracts are not suited to digesting these products, especially bones, which may scrape, puncture or even pierce the delicate lining of the GI tract."

Instead, opt for minimally processed meat and vegetable sources like FreshPet, Nelson suggested.

More articles about food and dogs

Which human foods can you feed your dog?
What not to feed your pet
How to pet-proof your home

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