I remember the time my dogs had to be rushed to the emergency vet for chocolate ingestion. It was Christmas time and, unbeknownst to me, my mom had wrapped boxes of chocolate and put them under the tree. (Is it obvious my mom doesn’t have dogs?)

We came home to find all the boxes ripped open and most of the chocolate gone. Since we couldn’t determine which dog was guilty, both had to go for a stomach full of charcoal.

Luckily, it was mostly milk chocolates with caramel. These are less toxic than dark or baker’s chocolate, but can still be deadly if enough is ingested.

I often take for granted that it’s common knowledge not to feed your pets human food. Of course, there are many exceptions. Some veggies and fruits can be perfectly safe, but only after speaking to a vet or pet nutritionist.

I’ve put together a list of 10 food items that can be toxic to pets. If you suspect that your pet has eaten anything of concern, food or otherwise, take your pet to the vet immediately.

1. Chocolate: Contains methylxanthines

2. Grapes: Can cause acute renal failure

3. Avocado: Contains persin

4. Garlic: Contains thiosulfate

5. Onions: Contain thiosulfate

6. Corn on the cob: While the corn itself isn’t toxic, the cobs don’t digest and become lodged in the stomach.

7. Gum, candy: Contain xylitol

8. Apple, cherry or other fruit seeds or pits: Can contain cyanide

9. Alcohol

10. Coffee: Contains caffeine

(This list was compiled from multiple sources)

Foods aren’t the only items of concern around the house. Pets can be poisoned by indoor plants such as lilies and poinsettia or outdoor plants like oleanders and sago palms. You can view a more complete list of toxic plants at

Make sure to keep pesticides, antifreeze and other chemicals out of reach of your pets. It takes a little as 3 oz. of some of these chemicals to kill a medium sized dog.

Not sure if something is toxic? There is a poison control hotline for pets that you can call, 855-764-7661. There is a fee of $49.

For more information on potential toxins in your household check out these lists for dogs or cats at Pet Web MD.

Kristen is owner of Little White Dog Co., a pet services company specializing in pet sitting, animal massage and dog yoga. Email her at