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Pet Nutrition 101

Are you a first-time fur parent? Are you planning to be one soon? Or do you want to surprise your loved one with an adorable puppy or kitten? Then, it would be great for you to know about the types of food that are dangerous for pets.

Though this is certainly a favorite food for a lot of humans, chocolate is a big no-no for your fur babies. Its ingredient theobromine is poisonous and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, heart arrhythmias, and can even be fatal. The smaller the dog and the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for your dog.

Nut toxicity can cause vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and loss of muscle control. Macadamia nuts and walnuts are especially harmful to cats and dogs and trigger gastric intestinal upset. Most nuts also contain salt and are high in fat, which can cause health problems for your pets.

Fruits with pits
Avocados, apricot, cherry, and peach pits should be avoided. Avocados contain persin, which is a fungicidal toxin bad for animals. The non-pulp part of cherries contains cyanide and is poisonous to pets. 

Grapes and raisins
These can cause kidney issues for your pets. Grapes and raisins can decrease your pet’s appetite and cause lethargy. In extreme cases, grape and raisin poisoning can cause kidney failure too. 

Apple and mustard seeds
Seeds of apple and mustard contain cyanide, and the accumulation of this in your pet’s system is hazardous. Consuming large amounts of these seeds can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Moldy foods
Moldy food can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins that can make your pet ill. Though not all food with molds may contain these toxins, ingesting them may nonetheless cause temporary stomach upset. Avoid molds in your dry pet food by storing them inside airtight containers in a cool and dry place.

Garlic and onion
Both garlic and onion contain thiosulfate that causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, which may lead to anemia. They can also upset your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include nausea, drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Potato and tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
If you have a vegetable garden, it would be best to keep your pet away from your plants. Leaves and stems of potatoes and tomatoes are toxic to cats and dogs. Careful supervision is advised when bringing your pets outside.

Certain ingredients in food can also be dangerous like:

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can spike your pet’s insulin levels. It would be best to keep your pets away from candy, chewing gum, condiments, vitamins, and even mouthwashes that have this ingredient.

Salt in large amounts is bad for your pet. As a general rule, a healthy amount of sodium in pet food is between 0.25g/100g and 1.5g/100g.

Yeast dough can rise inside your pet’s digestive system. It can also cause gas and lead to a bloated stomach which is painful for your pet.

Rhubarb is harmful to your pet’s digestive organs and can cause kidney failure. Even rhubarb leaves are toxic. Make sure to check the ingredients of jellies and jams that may contain this.

Aside from food, certain beverages can be harmful too. You should avoid caffeinated drinks, alcoholic beverages, as well as milk and dairy products.

Caffeine may cause tremors, seizures, raise blood pressure, and cardiac arrhythmias. Steer clear from coffee, tea, and soda.

Alcohol, both as a drink and ingredient in syrups, bread dough, and other fermented food can be poisonous to pets. It has ethanol, which is the intoxicating agent in wine, beer, and liquor. Symptoms include vomiting, drowsiness, loss of coordination, seizures, and in extreme cases, respiratory failure and death.

Milk and other dairy products may cause diarrhea for both cats and dogs. As your pets get older, their ability to digest milk decreases and they become lactose intolerant as adults.

Not all human food is bad for pets, though. If you don’t want to limit your pet’s diet to manufactured pet food, here are some healthy human foods that are safe for them:

  • Fruits such as bananas, cantaloupes, strawberries, pears, mango, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries.
  • Vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, green beans, spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus, brussels sprouts, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.
  • Peanut butter is a popular treat for your pets, especially dogs. Just make sure that the store-bought ones do not have xylitol in them.
  • And finally, cooked boneless chicken and fish are safe for your pets, and they are good sources of protein in your fur baby’s diet.

The aforementioned foods are not exhaustive. Once you decide to give your pet food that is not specifically intended for animals, it would be best to discuss it with your local veterinarian first. Just remember – if in doubt, don’t do it. 

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