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A dog at a picnic | ©  Chendongshan/Shutterstock
A dog at a picnic | © Chendongshan/Shutterstock
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Seven Foods You Absolutely Must Not Share With Your Dog or Cat

Picture of Kathryn Maier
NYC Food & Drink Editor
Updated: 29 June 2017
It’s peak picnic season in the northern hemisphere, and part of the joy of gathering outdoors with friends and food is bringing your pets along, too. But there are some foods you should be sure not to share with them.

One of summer’s great delights is throwing a picnic with friends—including furry friends as well—finding the perfect spot in a grassy park and sharing food and drink under the sun. As fun as it might be to slip some snacks to your pet as a treat, though, there are certain foods that you absolutely shouldn’t share with your cat or dog. Some common foods are extremely poisonous to pets. Spread the word to keep your animals healthy.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins, and even some varieties of currants, are extremely toxic to dogs—even a very small amount can cause acute kidney failure. Beware of bagels, trail mix or granola, or candies or cookies containing raisins. If your dog eats even just a few, bring him to the veterinarian immediately—there’s no antidote, but prompt veterinary attention can lessen the effects of the toxin.

Onions and garlic

Never offer onion or garlic—or any foods containing either—to your cat or dog. (Some dog breeds seem to be more susceptible than others, particularly Akitas and Shiba Inus.) A compound found in both damages red blood cells, causing a life-threatening type of anemia. Even just one clove of garlic can be fatal, so if your dog or cat ingests some, get them to a vet right away.

Onions and garlic
Onions and garlic | © Danielle Scott / Flickr

Chocolate

This one you’ve probably heard about—but it’s in fact a bit less dangerous than the foods named above. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats, but cats generally won’t touch it. A few chocolate chips in a cookie shouldn’t present a problem; larger quantities, however, can cause an array of symptoms, from heart arrhythmias to seizures to painful pancreatitis. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate, but you really oughtn’t offer either to your dog.

Don’t feed these to your dog!
Don’t feed these to your dog! | © ShellyS / Flickr

Milk or other dairy products

A cat drinking from a bowl of milk has become a cliche, but many cats actually become lactose intolerant by the time they reach adulthood. To prevent belly aches, vomiting, and diarrhea, keep the milk away.

Kittens can drink milk, but it may make adult cats sick
Kittens can drink milk, but it may make adult cats sick | © Beatrice Murch/Flickr

Wine (or any other alcohol)

There may be “wine for cats” available now, but you shouldn’t share your boozy human version with your kitty (or puppy). Alcohol can cause liver and brain damage in cats. A single teaspoon can cause problems; as little as a tablespoon can put a kitty in a coma, and not much more than that could be fatal.

This cat has excellent taste in wine, but she still shouldn’t drink any
This cat has excellent taste in wine, but she still shouldn’t drink any | © Kathryn Maier

Xylitol (a common sweetener)

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many sugar-free foods such as chewing gum, Jell-o, some types of pudding, and other sugar-free snacks. Don’t share any foods containing it with your pup: Small amounts can cause a life-threateningly low blood sugar levels within just a few minutes, and larger amounts can cause acute liver failure.

Don’t feed this to your pet!
Don’t feed this to your pet! | © Jane Mejdahl / flickr

Star fruit

A common and festive inclusion in fruit salads, star fruit can be deadly to dogs and cats. It contains soluble calcium oxalates, which bind with calcium in the body. If enough is eaten, it can result in a sudden drop in calcium, which can lead to acute renal failure. This can happen in humans, too, but a pet’s small size leaves them especially vulnerable to the effects.

Lilies

Okay, they aren’t food, but we thought we’d include these flowers anyhow since they’re common home and garden decorations in the spring and summer months. Every part of most varieties of lilies (including tiger, stargazer, and casablanca) is poisonous to cats, causing severe kidney failure. The plants are so toxic that if a kitty merely drinks water out of a vase containing the flowers, or brushes up against a flower and later licks the pollen off her fur, she could die. There’s no antidote, and immediate veterinary attention is the only chance of saving the cat’s life. Better to just keep them away from your kitty!

Keep these pretty flowers far away from kitties!
Keep these pretty flowers far away from kitties! | © George Lezenby / flickr