What Human Food Is Bad For My Pet?

Jocelyn Bishop
February 5, 2016

Pet Nutrition, Pet Safety

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We’ve all been there. You’re cooking in the kitchen and out of nowhere come *dundundun* THE PUPPY DOG EYES. You’re looking at that bit of food in your hand, that is clearly human food, and start to wonder “Can my dog eat people foods? What human food “Can my dog eat people foods? What human food is toxic for my dog?”

We also got tired of having this dilemma every night (plus, the cat was starting to do it too!) and so we have compiled this list to answer the constant question: “What are the poisonous human foods for pets?” This list does not include every single food out there that can cause a pet harm but covers some of the more common concerns when it comes to human food and pets*.

1. Alcohol

This includes any form of alcohol: beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks, etc. Ethanol depresses the central nervous system and can cause a variety of alarming symptoms like drowsiness, slowed heart rate, and damage to body cells (via PetMD). When it comes to celebrating, it may seem tempting to have your pets join in on the fun, but instead of alcohol try a Redbarn Dog Treat or Redbarn Cat Treat instead.

2. Caffeine/Coffee/Tea

Whether ingested through coffee, energy drinks, soda, coffee grounds, diet pills, tea bags, or any other vessels, caffeine is still toxic for pets. Caffeine ingestion in pets can lead to vomiting, hypertension, tremors, seizures and more (via PetPoisonHelpline). Which means that it’s best and safest to keep caffeine as a treat just for humans.

3. Chocolate

It’s known that chocolate is bad for dogs and cats, but it’s not often explained why. Chocolate poisoning is due to the methylxanthine theobromine. Similar to caffeine (which is also bad for pets), theobromine can cause diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, agitation, hyperactivity in low doses and worse symptoms at even slightly higher doses (via

Similar to caffeine (which is also bad for pets), theobromine can cause diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, agitation, hyperactivity in low doses and worse symptoms at even slightly higher doses (via VCA Hospitals). It’s true that the level of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate, but it’s still never a good idea.

4. Grapes and Raisins

Associated with renal failure, grapes and raisins can also cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and more (via Banfield). While grapes may be a healthy snack for us humans, try something else for your pet (like carrots!).

5. Macadamia Nuts

It’s a tasty treat for you, but not good for your pet! Among other symptoms, these nuts can cause tremors, weakness, and vomiting (via Merck Veterinary Manual) for dogs. One should also keep macadamia nuts away from cats.

6. Mushrooms

This isn’t a “one size fits all” situation, there are actually four categories that toxic mushrooms are classified into and then broken down even further into seven groups based on what toxin they contain (via PetMD).

Due to the variety of effects a mushroom can have on a dog, from gastrointestinal issues from mushrooms in category D to cells being broken down from mushrooms in category A, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep mushrooms categorized as solely human food.

If your dog or cat manages to eat one, whether they swiped it from the counter or they found it outdoors, it’s advised to bring a sample of the mushroom when you go to the vet to help identify the severity of the case.

7. Xylitol

Often used as a sugar substitute and found in candies, sugar-free gum, baked goods, and more, xylitol is safe for humans to ingest but is very toxic for dogs (via VCA Hospitals). Associated with the ingestion of xylitol in dogs is the risk of liver failure, tremors, vomiting, weakness, and more symptoms.

8. Raw Yeast Dough

Raw bread dough that contains yeast can be dangerous for pets to ingest. In the stomach, the yeast has the perfect environment to expand and can cause a distended stomach and possibly lead to other complications, especially if the yeast fermentation includes ethanol (via Merck Veterinary Manual). While you’re working with raw dough, be sure to keep it away from dogs and cats.


Do you have any other “people-foods” that you’d like us to research? Email us at social@redbarninc.com.

*All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.

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