5 Things Your Pet Should Never Eat

fotyma/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
fotyma/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dogs are like garbage disposals. They chew whatever they find and are willing to eat just about anything. It only takes about 15 seconds for a dog to crush and swallow most anything. Plus, dogs and cats tend to be counter surfers, looking for some tasty treat.

A listener to our podcast shared a scary story about Goldie, her golden retriever. Over the holiday season, she returned home to find Goldie asleep under the Christmas tree. When she looked closer, she noticed that Goldie’s mouth and paws were bright red. After some further investigating, she realized that Goldie had eaten several red lacquered Styrofoam apple ornaments off the tree. Fortunately, Goldie survived.

Other than Christmas ornaments, what are the things you should be worried about your pets eating? We asked veterinarian and board-certified toxicologist Dr. Steven Hansen how to keep pets safe from household foods, plants and medications.


You know those seven-day pill reminders that are often left on the counter or nightstand? Say your kitty knocks it on the floor, plays hockey with the pills and then eats them. Or your dog eats the whole container and the drugs inside? Depending on the drugs, this could be fatal.

Raisins and Grapes

These can be potentially deadly for dogs as consuming fairly large amounts can cause kidney failure.

Macadamia Nuts

If a dog eats a bunch of these nuts, it will start vomiting, followed by severe weakness of the hind legs. It mimics a spinal cord injury, but it is actually caused by the nuts.


During the Christmas, Easter and Halloween holiday seasons, consumption of chocolate is the No. 1 reason for calls to vets. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it’s typically not fatal, particularly if your dog ate milk chocolate which has lower cocoa content. But dark or baking chocolate can make pets sick with upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors or worse, so check in with your vet if any is consumed. Before you call, keep in mind your pet’s weight or size and what type and how much chocolate was consumed.


Unlike what you’ve heard, poinsettias are not poisonous, but they can cause an upset stomach. However, Easter lilies do pose a threat, particularly for cats, as they cause kidney failure.

How do you know if your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have? Look for these four symptoms:

  1. Upset stomach
  2. Vomiting: As disgusting as this may sound, look to see if food or pills are in the vomit so you have a better idea of what is going on and can tell your vet.
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Tremors

For added protection, keep the phone number for your veterinarian posted for easy access. If you live in an area with an emergency vet clinic, keep that number handy as well. The ASPCA.org has a poison control number staffed 24 hours a day at 1-888-426-4435. A charge may apply.

Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND on Twitter
Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND
Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND, and Regina Ragone MS, RDN, share the food you love, how to stay fit for life and be fabulous everyday through their Breaking Down Nutrition podcasts, videos, social media and websites Food Fit Fabulous and BreakingDownNutrition.com. Connect with them here and on Twitter.