How often have you felt sorry for Fido or Fluffy and their (seemingly) boring diet of pellets or canned food? Truth be told, these foods are scientifically designed to meet all their nutritional needs. In fact, some human food can be dangerous for our pets.
Here’s an (almost) A-Z of what your pets shouldn’t eat or drink:
Alcohol: A seemingly obvious one, and like its effect on humans, alcohol makes pets dizzy and disorientated.
Avocado: If you have a bird, avo is a big no-no. It contains a toxic substance called persin, which causes cardiac problems in your feathered friend.
Bones: Crunching a chicken bone can be seriously bad for your dog or cat. The bones tend to splinter and shards can puncture the larynx, oesophagus or stomach.
Caffeine and chocolate: Anything containing caffeine is no good for any pet. This includes coffee, chocolate and even fizzy drinks. There’s a substance called methylxanthine found in cacao beans, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, a racing heart, panting, excessive thirst and urination, and hyperactivity.
Citrus: The rich oil found in the skin, pips and flesh of citrus fruit has pretty much the same effect on your pet’s tummy as the fats and oils in raw meat and nuts (see below).
Dairy: Animals don’t produce enough lactase (which breaks down lactose), so milk and other dairy-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive trouble.
Eggs: The enzyme, avidin, in raw eggs decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
Lettuce: Surprisingly lettuce, especially light-coloured ones like iceberg, is not good for rabbits. It contains a chemical called lactucarium, which acts as an opiate drug, and makes them… well, high. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, carrots aren’t that great for bunnies either – too much sugar.
Nuts: High in oils and fats, almonds, pecans, and walnuts aren’t easily tolerated by our four-legged companions, and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and pancreatitis in pets.
Onions, chives and garlic: Besides giving your pet bad breath, these pungent herbs and vegetables cause gastrointestinal irritation and, more seriously, anaemia (decreased red blood cells) in cats and dogs.
Raw meat: It makes sense that raw meat would be good for cats or dogs, because that’s what they would eat if they had to fend for themselves in the wild. However, raw meat can carry bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, which are dangerous for the pets and their human family.
Salty snacks: Avoid feeding pets snacks like crisps and popcorn. Too much salt can lead to extreme thirst and urination, and lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.
Xylitol: This sweetener, found in many products, including chewing gum, sweets and even toothpaste, releases too much insulin in most animals, which can result in hypoglycaemia – or low blood sugar – that can escalate to liver failure. Early signs of poisoning include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure follow within a few days.
Yeast dough: This can start fermenting in your pet’s gut, and causes painful bloating of the stomach. Ethanol (alcohol) is a by-product of the fermentation process, and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can get drunk.
And finally, keep bad foods out of the way. Even domesticated animals scavenge, and that’s when they’re most likely to eat something that will make them sick. So, make sure they can’t get into bins or compost heaps. Also, don’t leave sweets or other illegal treats within easy reach.
If you think that your pet is having a bad reaction to something they’ve eaten, take them to the vet immediately.
By Nicci Botha