Don’t give in to puppy eyes! Prevent pet poisoning this 4th of July

  prevent pet poisoning

Summer picnics and barbecues are filled with all kinds of wonderful dishes that our pets would just love to sample, and so out come the food-begging, heart-melting puppy and kitten eyes. 

Be strong and don’t give in to the cuteness! With so many human foods being toxic to pets, even a small indulgent bite might lead to a trip to the emergency room.

The most common and serious toxic foods for pets include:


  • Chocolate, coffee and caffeine. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate are the most toxic, and even small doses of these can be fatal.
  • Alcohol. It’s probably not surprising that pets will act drunk if they lap up an alcoholic beverage, but our pets are lightweights who will go from stumbling and vomiting to severe symptoms, like coma and even death, on fairly little alcohol.
  • Grapes and raisins. Even one grape or raisin can cause kidney failure in dogs. That includes baked goods with raisins in them, like carrot cake. 
  • Onions and garlic. These flavor boosters damage the red blood cells of pets, especially cats. This is true for the raw vegetables as well as their powdered forms.
  • Sugarless gums and candies that contain xylitol. This sweetener causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. If you keep gum and mints in your purse, don't forget to store it out of reach.
  • Macadamia nuts. Although most nuts are very fatty and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, macadamia nuts specifically will lead to weakness, tremors and hyperthermia.
  • Yeast dough. This will keep rising in your pet’s stomach, leading to bloat and ethanol production, which causes the same toxicity as alcohol.


Although not truly toxic, a few more foods that can lead to trouble are:

  • Fatty foods. Any food that has a high fat content, such as bacon or butter, can lead to severe stomach upset and pancreatitis.
  • Indigestible parts of foods: Our pets don’t always know to stop eating when they reach the indigestible parts of food. Bones, corncobs, peach pits and watermelon rinds are all common foods that cause obstruction. 
  • Milk. Believe it or not, some pets are lactose intolerant—even cats! Avoid giving your pet milk and dairy products to prevent diarrhea and an upset stomach.


If you believe your pet has eaten something toxic, call the Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 immediately! 

Another useful resource is unlimited Live Chat through the myVCA app, where our licensed veterinary professionals are ready to answer your questions and give advice 24/7. 

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