Bold Beasts: Food Items you Should NEVER Feed to your Pets
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Bold Beasts: Food Items you Should NEVER Feed to your Pets

If you’re anything like me, you will often find yourself tempted to give in when your pet is begging for some of your food. After all, it’s a very normal compulsion to feed those who we love. However, depending on what you’re eating, it could end in a great deal of turmoil for your pet, and even permanently damage their health.

While our diets are rich and varied, our pets don’t have as much choice when it comes to what they eat. Here is an alphabetical list of food items which you should not be feeding to your pets. Bear in mind – this list comes directly from the ASPCA. We at Bold Beasts are not veterinary professionals.


This should go without saying, but unfortunately some irresponsible owners often give their pets sips of alcoholic beverages such as lager. This is not okay, in any amount. Alcoholic beverages (and food products containing alcohol) can cause a litany of accute health concerns in animals, including vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, you should contact an emergency vet immediately.


Avocado has seen something of a boom recently, with supermarket sales going through the roof over the past few years. However, the unassuming green fruit can be very harmful to your furry friend. Avacado consumption is primarily a problem for birds, but also rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats.

The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds. Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen head and neck from eating avacado, which can potentially be life-threatening.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most humans in the developed world consume at least one of these almost every day. However, you should keep all of these away from your pets at all costs.

These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. 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 that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.


Cats famously have an aversion to citrus, and there is good reason for that. Citric acid – found in the stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants – can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating part of the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset. If unsure, consult a vet as soon as possible.

Coconut and Coconut Oil

When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.

Grapes and Raisins

This is definitely one to pay attention to. Grapes can be fatal if fed to dogs, as the fruit can lead to kidney failure. If you suspect that your dog has eaten any grapes or raisins whatsoever, seek medical attention right away. Not much is known about the toxicity of grapes to other species of pet, but it’s best to steer clear altogether.

Macadamia Nuts

Another food that has increased in popularity over recent years, macadamia nuts should be kept away from dogs at all costs. The nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

More generally speaking, nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.

Milk and Dairy

This is not as dangerous as the others, but is still worth mentioning. Although your cat may gobble down cream or milk with glee when presented the opportunity, it is not wise to make this a regular occurrence. Because they do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Your cats and dogs will likely eat raw meat if presented with it, but there are safety concerns to be aware of. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to both pets and humans.

Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet was a wild animal. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, due to the chances of choking on bones, or sustaining a serious injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods

Just as we get thirsty and dehydrated after eating salty snacks, so do your pets. Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets.

Excessive salt consumption can cause your pet to experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.


Xylitol is a name that many may not be familiar with, but for a lot of us, it is a part of our everyday lives. Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including chewing gum, sweets, and even toothpaste.

Any products containing this sweetener should be kept away from animals, as it can cause insulin release, which can lead to liver failure. Initial signs of Xylitol poisoning include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. If your pet is displaying these symptoms, rush them to a vet.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).

I hope you’ve found this list helpful. As mentioned at the top of the article, this advice comes from the ASPCA, the US equivalent of the RSPCA. Further advice is available on their websites.

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