Human foods to avoid for cats and dogs

There are many human foods you should not feed to cats and dogs as they can get sick or even die.


Alcohol affects cats and dogs in the same way it affects humans. High levels of alcohol consumption can cause:

  • intoxication
  • gastrointestinal irritation
  • respiratory distress
  • coma
  • death


Avocado contains persin in all parts of the avocado. Ingestion causes:

  • gastrointestinal irritation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • respiratory distress
  • congestion
  • fluid building up around the tissues of the heart
  • death.


Chocolate contains theobromine (a methylxanthine), which is toxic to cats and dogs. Toxicity is dose-related, meaning it depends on the:

  • size of the cat or dog
  • amount eaten
  • type of chocolate.

Symptoms include:

  • restlessness
  • excitement
  • hyperactivity
  • nervousness
  • trembling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • increased drinking and urination
  • increased heart rate
  • seizures.

Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines and baking chocolate contains the highest level.

Coffee, tea and other caffeine products

In large enough doses, caffeine can be fatal for a cat or dog. There is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include:

  • restlessness
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitations
  • muscle tremors.

Cooked bones

Cooked bones can splinter and cause gastrointestinal obstruction or laceration.

Fat trimmings

Fat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause intestinal upset, with vomiting and diarrhoea. Your pet can develop pancreatitis.

Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants

The toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown but it can lead to kidney failure.

Onions, garlic and chives

These contain a substance that can:

  • cause gastrointestinal irritation
  • lead to red blood cell damage and a form of anaemia.

Garlic and chives contain the same substance but at a lesser volume.


Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning. Signs that your cat or dog may have eaten too many salty foods include:

  • depression
  • tremors
  • elevated body temperature
  • seizures.

Tomatoes and potatoes

These contain a substance that causes violent gastrointestinal problems.

Xylitol (artificial sweetener)

Xylitol (artificial sweetener) causes insulin release in cats and dogs, which can lead to liver failure. Initial signs of toxicity include:

  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • loss of coordination.

This sweetener is used in:

  • candy
  • gum
  • toothpaste
  • baked goods
  • some diet foods.

Yeast dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to build up in your cat or dog's digestive system. This can be painful and cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. The risk reduces after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen.


The information on this page was gathered from:

Page last updated: 18 Jan 2024