Dangerous Consumption Levels

We’re not talking about overspending here; this is about saving your pet’s life!  Probably most of us have been guilty of feeding the wrong things to our favorite furry beasts.  We think we are giving them a treat, but we are likely giving them a tummy ache, at the very least.  Some items’ damage, such as onions, are cumulative.  So, a little in last night’s table scraps might not be such a big deal, right?  Wrong.  Because they may have had a little more in the form of onion powder, or raw scraps while onions were being chopped, etc.

Miles reminds us that keeping our pets safe and healthy is one of the most important ways we show we love them!  They show us love ALL the time.  He keeps reminding us of that in his book.

I’ve seen many lists, but with lots of differences from list to list.  I am one who’d rather be safe than sorry.  So, here is an accumulated listing, gathered from my knowledge gained over decades of pet care, information from my trusted veterinary staff at the Bedford Animal Hospital, and the following websites:




and the Pet Education site from www.DrsFosterSmith.com

There are many more sites, but I thought it might be helpful to compare lists.  I learned a lot.  For example, I’ve always had a great deal of confusion over which herbs, spices, and flavorings would be important to avoid for our pets.  I had heard that cinnamon was bad, but it turns out that in small amounts it is just fine, along with other more traditional things like sage and mint.  Nutmeg, on the other hand, is considered very bad in any amounts.  That makes it extra important not to give a dog a cookie or other sweet that could very well contain some ill-advised flavoring.

Most of us know that table scraps are a BIG no-no.  We are NOT doing our pets a favor, nor are we “spoiling” them with such things as the extra fat we cut off the meat we ate or a bite of buttery biscuit that we passed coyly under the table to their gleefully awaiting mouths.  Healthy pets need healthy diets.  Unhealthy is the only way to describe diets with too much fat, or sugar, or salt.  One bite may be no big deal to a human, but to a dog, especially a small dog, or a cat, that one bite is the size of a meal.  It probably should be called “supersized.”

WebMD reported 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States of America last year.  The ASPCA details a full 25% of emergency calls they received last year alone were because a pet had just gobbled up some human medication, frequently ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  No matter what the medicine is… human or pet… keep them safely out of reach of your pet’s access.

Some items our animals may consume will cause varying symptoms and degrees of risk.  These depend a lot on the quantity consumed, the size or the animal, and the animal’s personal constitution and sensitivity.  Regardless, no one who loves their animals wants them to suffer indigestion, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, weakness, or vomiting, never mind kidney or liver damage, coma, or death.

So, let’s look at a basic list.  This certainly does not contain every single item.  It does give you a strong starting point.

Human and Pet Medications

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Anti-depressants
  • Prescriptions of any sort
  • Pet Medicines for Flea & Tick (be SURE to apply only as directed; they are poisonous if ingested)

Chemical Poisons

  • Rat or Mouse poison — Pets don’t have to eat the poison itself; they just have to take a bite of the mouse that did!
  • Heavy metals — This includes such things as lead paint, linoleum (as in tiles), batteries, and zinc (in pennies).
  • Household cleaners — Be sure to clean up any spilled bleach or ammonia right away.  Also keep such items as drain or pine cleaners, laundry detergent, and glue away from pets.
  • Personal Care items — Don’t let pets get into nail polish or remover.
  • Garage or other stored items — Keep lawn & garden fertilizers, turpentine paint thinner, putty, and pool chemicals out of reach.  Be sure motor oil, antifreeze, battery acid, and kerosene is stored safely.  Read labels on insecticides to be certain they are specifically safe for pets.  Remember, our furry friends wash their feet and will consume all the chemicals they walked on during each outing.



I’d heard about this decades ago with regard to cats and some dangerous house plants such as Philodendron, but the list of items that are bad is quite lengthy and includes some common varieties:

  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Apple seeds, stems & leaves
  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daffodils
  • Daisies
  • English Ivy
  • Fox Glove
  • Hosta
  • Hyacinth
  • Iris
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Marijuana / Hashish
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Rhododendrons
  • Tobacco
  • Tulips


Human Foods

  • Alcohol — No, it’s not funny to get them drunk.  Their systems are much smaller than ours and react very badly to alcohol poisoning.
  • Caffeine – keep your critters away from coffee, cocoa, tea, soft drinks, and caffeine pills
  • Chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the more deadly to your pets
  • Fruit pits – such as cherry, peach, plum, and apple seeds
  • Garlic – including garlic powder
  • Mushrooms (some varieties, including those common in backyards)
  • Onion – including onion powder
  • Tomatoes (especially for cats)
  • Yeast dough

Difficult to digest, though not poisonous:

  • Bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Dairy products
  • Fats (including fat trimmings from meat, cooked or raw)
  • High amounts of fish (for dogs)
  • Hops – as in beer
  • Raw eggs
  • Salt
  • Sugars and sugary foods


There are several emergency numbers you may want to keep handy:

Poison Control Center                    888-426-4435

Animal Poison Hotline                      888-232-8870

Pet Poison Hotline                          800-213-6680

None of these lines provides a free services.  Their fees range from $35-60 per call.  However, in an emergency, that may seem like a pretty small price to pay.  You should also find out where the 24-hour veterinary service providers are in your local area.  Keep those numbers on the same list.

If you learn of other categories or items we have omitted, please do share your sources and the vital information.

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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16 Responses to Dangerous Consumption Levels

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    Thanks… I do love critters, as most of us do, I imagine. I think we all need tips and reminders now and then as to just how vulnerable our furry little friends really are. Sometimes we can think we are just being loving and spoiling our pets, but we might be literally killing them with “kindness.” If you have more info to add, please do. It will help us all.

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