Now that the weather is heating up and you’re ready to head outdoors for a cookout or dine al fresco at sidewalk cafe, you might want to bring your canine companion with you. But although it might be tempting to let Rover snap up any errant scraps you drop or feed Fido your leftover barbecue, you should make sure your pet stays away from some very common kinds of people food.
We know — many pet owners are already aware of the dangers of some of the below items, and there are definitely others out there, but where are some of the everyday things you should keep an eye out for.
1. Anything using the sweetener Xylitol
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free candy and gum, but it’s also in some nut butters (like peanut butter, your dog’s favorite). Xylitol causes a sudden release of insulin in dogs, which causes low blood sugar and could lead to seizures, brain damage, and liver failure.
2. Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
Though chocolate is undoubtedly the no-no dog owners know the best, the ASPCA says coffee, tea, and any caffeine also contain substances called methylxanthines.
When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
Note: darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, while white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines,and baking chocolate contains the highest.
3. Onions and Garlic
Anything in the onions/garlic family is bad for your pooch, in all forms: powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated. They can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage.
4. Grapes and Raisins
Watch that glob of fruit salad you dropped on the ground, and keep the oatmeal and raisin cookies from Rover. Although experts haven’t nailed down exactly what the toxic substance is residing in grapes and raisins, they say it’s best to avoid giving them to dogs, as they can cause kidney failure.
5. Leftover Bones, Raw/Undercooked Meat, and Eggs
As natural as it might seem to give your dog a bone, don’t toss one from your chicken wings feast. Dogs can easily choke on the bones, and when they’re cooked, they can splinter and wreak havoc to your pup’s insides.
Raw meat and raw eggs could contain bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs have an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems, the ASPCA notes.
6. Fatty and Fried Foods
So you dropped fried chicken on the ground. Dogs love chicken! But don’t let Fido snarf it up — foods that have high amounts of oils and fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
Macadamias are especially bad for canine companions, and can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion, the ASPCA says, and can last anywhere from 12 to 48 hours.
Nuts also count as fatty foods — so keep Fido away from almonds, pecans, and walnuts as well .
This should be a no-brainer, and yet everyone thinks it’s hilarious when your dog steals your beer. However, the AVMA says to keep booze away from your furry friends. It has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain as it does on a human’s, but it takes a lot less to do damage. Even a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death.
“Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol,” the ASPCA warns. If you think Fido got into the home brew, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
As a reminder, it’s not just human food that needs to be kept from pets. There are many common medications that, if ingested by animals, can wreak havoc. Among them: ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Xanax, and more.
For the complete list of poison pills to avoid, check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s post on the topic.