We all strive to be healthier and happier and as a dog mom, this holds true for my pets, too. But in our quest for better health, is it possible we might be feeding our pets “healthy” foods that can actually harm them? I mean, I know some people that only feed their dogs human food, from raw fish and eggs to fresh green beans and berries. They claim it’s better for the animal. But is it really?
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Your Dog
The short answer is yes—and no. Many of the foods we like to slide off our plates and share with our furry loved ones are good for them. Green beans and berries, carrots, and cucumbers are wonderful for dogs. Not only do they supply essential vitamins and minerals but crunching on carrots is good for a dog’s teeth. Cucumbers freshen their breath. Really! Plus, most dogs seem to enjoy them. Probably more than your kids.
But there are some fruits and vegetables that are not good for your dog, and it’s an important distinction for us to learn.
Foods That Shouldn’t Be Fed to Pets
While onions and spinach are commonly grown vegetables, they should not be given to your dog or cat. Onions, leeks, garlic, and chives are part of a family of plants called Allium which is poisonous to most pets, especially cats. In fact, eating onions can cause toxicity and life-threatening anemia in your pet. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea may also occur.
Dogs can eat spinach, but according to the AKC, it’s very high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. Granted, your dog would probably have to eat a very large amount of spinach to have this problem, but it might be best to go with another vegetable.
Others on the list to avoid include avocado, cherries, grapes, and mushrooms. The pit, skin and leaves of the avocado contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. While the flesh of an avocado has less of the persin, it’s still enough to cause them distress. Cherries are an obvious no-no due to the choking-hazard caused by their pits, but cherry plants also contain cyanide which is no good for any of us. Grapes are a more commonly known culprit, including raisins. They have proved to be extremely toxic for all breeds and can lead to acute kidney failure.
Mushrooms are a mixed bag of caution when it comes to your pet. Or you, for that matter. Generally speaking, the white button variety of mushrooms we find at our local supermarkets can be okay for consumption, but the more exotic species can lead to trouble. Admittedly, only 50-100 of the more than 50,000 species of mushrooms in the world have been proven to be toxic, but I find it’s better to avoid all fungi. I mean, do you really want to guess what kind of mushroom your dog is sniffing and nibbling at on those trail hikes you both adore? No way.
Cautionary Plants and Flowers for Your Pets
While we enjoy being outside in the sunshine, tending our garden and enjoying a healthy lifestyle, we should be aware of the dangers lurking within the beautiful petals and leaves of the landscape. Potato and tomato plants are members of the Solanaceae family and are among some of the most common home garden plants. However, while the fruits and roots of these plants are delicious to eat, their leaves are not. In fact, the stems and leaves can cause gastrointestinal upset in us and our pets, due to toxic substance called solanine. I doubt your pet will eat enough of the plant for it to have deadly consequences but ingesting the leaves can cause them serious distress. This warning also applies to other plants in this family, including eggplant, peppers, and petunias.
A flower to definitely watch out for is the lily. All parts of the flower are toxic, including the pollen, and can be deadly for your pets. Cats are particularly vulnerable, because consuming the slightest amount can cause kidney failure. In fact, should the pollen catch in their fur and the animal grooms itself, it could be enough to kill them. Yikes! Take heed: It’s best to “know before you grow.” A little research before you begin planting will go a long way in protecting your precious loved ones. Your pets, of course!
Award-winning author and blogger D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside and get digging.