Women’s History Month 2019: Women in Medicine
Introduction to Financial Wellness 2019

"You ate what?": Healthy and Unhealthy Foods for Your Pet


Adopting a pet can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person’s life. When properly cared for, pets are often regarded among the most loyal and loving of friends to their pet parents. However, just as with raising human children, keeping beloved pets healthy can be a source of stress- particularly when it comes to making sure they eat healthy and nutritious foods (or at least don’t eat unhealthy foods or even inedible objects). This is particularly true for the proud pet parents of dogs or cats, both of which are known for getting into things they should not.

While there is a wide array of foods that you and your pet can both enjoy, there are many surprising ones that may be healthy for you but not necessarily for your pet. Below is a list of examples, provided by the American Kennel Club (AKC) 1, of five unhealthy foods for your pet:

  1. Cinnamon. While not toxic, cinnamon can cause irritation in your pets’ mouth causing them to be ill or uncomfortable. Additionally, it can lower a dog’s blood sugar levels, leading to a host of other complications.2
  2. Onions/Garlic. Both foods can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage.5
  3. Figs. Figs contain proteolytic enzyme (ficin) and psoralen (ficusin) which can cause gastrointestinal and dermal irritation, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).6
  4. Avocados. These are more so a problem for pets such as birds, rabbits, horses, etc.5 Avocados can cause cardiovascular damage/death in birds and swelling in animals like horses and sheep.
  5.  Chocolate.2 With Easter just around the corner, the heightened risk of your pet getting into your chocolate stash is one worth taking precautions against. Chocolate contains the substances called methylxanthines- stimulants with the power stop a dog’s metabolic process.2 No amount of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is safe for your pets to consume.

But, not all human food is unhealthy to share with your pets. Below is a list of five common people-foods that are also healthy for your furry friend, as per the AKC2:

  1. Coconut. Coconut can help to strengthen your pet’s immune system and fight off viruses in addition to many other benefits, such as helping with skin conditions.2
  2. Yogurt. Plain yogurt is fine for dogs and may even help strengthen their digestive system. Be weary though as many dogs are lactose intolerant and may have trouble digesting this snack.2
  3. Peanut butter. This is a heart-healthy snack rich in vitamins and protein for your pet.2
  4. Honey. Honey contains many vitamins and can even help improve your dogs’ allergies.2
  5. Fish. Fish is healthy for your pets and contains many nutrients for them. Limit intake to twice a week, be sure to only serve cooked fish and ensure that there are no small bones that may harm your pet.2

Please note that these are not complete lists and any questions regarding other food items not listed should be directed to a pet health professional. If your pet does consume a questionable substance, look for any abnormal behavior and refer to a professional as soon as possible, particularly if your pet exhibits symptoms of illness. According to the non-profit organization American Humane, the signs and symptoms of pet poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhea/upset stomach, seizures, lethargy, excessive thirst/urination, loss of appetite, drooling, abnormal behavior and/or weakness.4

Pet owners do the very best that they can to care for their pets, but even the most diligent pet parent cannot prevent  accidents from happening. Consider protecting your furry friend with pet insurance options offered through your membership with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Vet care can be costly for pet owners, even impacting life-saving decisions around your pet’s health. Through the American Academy of Pediatrics Insurance Program, you can have peace of mind knowing that your pet is covered in case of emergencies without breaking the bank. For more information about this pet insurance offering, visit the AAP Insurance Program site here.


  1. American Kennel Club. n.d. Retrieved 29 September 2017 from http://www.akc.org/
  2. Human Foods Dogs Can and Can’t Eat. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2017 from http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/human-foods-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/
  3. Burke, Anna. "Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon?." 24 March 2017. American Kennel Club. Retrieved 29 September 2017 from, http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-dogs-eat-cinnamon/
  4. "The 4 Surprising Pet Poisons Lurking in Your Home." 22 Mar. 2017.American Humane. Retrieved 06 Apr. 2017 from, http://www.americanhumane.org/blog/the-4-surprising-pet-poisons-lurking-in-your-home/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=google_grant&utm_content=blog_pet_safety&gclid=CIv07KD-j9MCFQaBswodlqYPVg
  5. “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets”. n.d. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved 06 Apr. 2017 from,https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
  6. “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Fig.” n.d.American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved 06 Apr. 2017 from, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/fig


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