Most people spend a lot of time in the kitchen: it’s where they prepare food, where they eat, and for some people, where they do a lot of their socializing with family and friends. As a result, pets often spend a lot of time in the kitchen too, because that’s where their people are. What many people don’t know, though, is that kitchens contain a host of items that are toxic to pets, even in small doses.

When a pet consumes a toxic dose of something that is bad for her, hospitalization is almost always recommended so that IV fluids can be administered. The fluids are given in an attempt to protect the kidneys while they are working to flush the toxins out of the animal’s body. If you have any doubt as to whether your pet is in danger after having eaten something suspicious, please don’t hesitate to call us. We will be able to tell you whether your pet needs to come in to the clinic or not.


What it does: It often causes spontaneous vomiting and can be fatal in high enough doses. It stays in the stomach for up to 12 hours and is absorbed slowly.

Toxic dose: The toxicity depends on the animal’s weight and on what type of chocolate the animal consumes. The darker the chocolate is, the more dangerous it will be. Here’s a quick comparison: for a 10-pound animal, serious problems can occur after ingestion of 3 ounces of hot cocoa, 2 milk chocolate candy bars, 1 dark chocolate candy bar, or 1 ounce of dark baking chocolate.

Treatment: Chocolate toxicity usually requires us to induce vomiting, and activated charcoal is sometimes given to absorb toxins that the stomach has not yet absorbed. Extreme cases sometimes call for extended periods of hospitalization.

Grapes and Raisins

What they do: Grapes and raisins cause vomiting 1 to 3 hours after ingestion, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, and eventually acute renal failure.

Toxic dose: The dose that can cause serious problems is 0.7 ounces per kilogram of grapes and 0.1 ounce per kilogram of raisins. This means that 3 grapes (or 3 raisins) could be fatal for a 2.5 pound puppy, and 12 grapes (or 12 to 15 raisins) could potentially kill a 10-pound animal. The toxic element is also present in grape stems.

Treatment: Consumption of grapes or grape-related food items usually requires us to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal, and this toxicity can require hospitalization and fluid therapy for 24 to 48 hours.


What it does: Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, respiratory failure, and gastrointestinal obstruction. Early indications of consumption include lethargy, ataxia (jerky, uncoordinated movement), and general muscle weakness.

Sources: Some sources of alcohol that people don’t often consider include rum raisin bread, unbaked bread dough with yeast, and hand sanitizers.

Treatment: Alcohol poisoning requires hospitalization with IV fluids.


What it does: Salt toxicosis causes vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, ataxia (jerky, uncoordinated movement), tremors, seizures, and coma.

Sources: Common sources include table salt, store-bought or homemade Play-Doh, baking soda, paintballs, sea water, and sodium phosphate enemas.

Toxic dose: With table salt, you can start to see signs of toxicosis at 2 to 3 grams of salt per kilogram (1Kg = 2.2 pounds), and the lethal dose is 4 grams per kilogram. Translation: less than a teaspoon of table salt is potentially fatal to a 2.5 pound puppy or kitten.

Treatment: Salt toxicity requires hospitalization and IV fluids in order to dilute the salt that was consumed.


What it does: Xylitol is capable of causing profound hypoglycemia within 10-15 minutes, which can lead to loss of coordination, depression, and seizures. Higher doses can cause liver failure.

Sources: Xylitol is most often found in sugar-free gums and candies. If it is listed as one of the ingredients in any edible product, you should keep it away from your pets.

Toxic dose: You can start to see signs of xylitol poisoning at 0.1 gram per kilogram; and 0.5 grams per kilogram causes liver failure. Not all products contain the same amount of xylitol, though. For example, Trident gum contains 0.22 grams per piece, so 9 pieces can cause hypoglycemia in a 40-pound dog, and 45 pieces can cause liver failure. Ice Breakers, on the other hand, contains 1 gram per piece, which means that hypoglycemia occurs after ingestion of just 2 pieces in a 40-pound dog, and just 10 pieces can cause liver failure.

Treatment: Consumption of xylitol often requires an extended hospital stay and IV fluids that contain sugars so that the sugar taken out of the animal’s blood stream by the xylitol can be replaced. We also induce vomiting in the majority of xylitol toxicity cases.

Macadamia Nuts

What they do: Consumption of a toxic dose of macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, vomiting, hyperthermia, or hypothermia within 3-6 hours; within 6-12 hours, you can see hind limb weakness, ataxia (jerky, uncoordinated movement), tremors, signs of abdominal pain, lameness, and joint stiffness.

Toxic dose: The toxic dose is slightly greater than 2 grams per kilogram. One nut is 2-3 grams, which means that consumption of one macadamia nut could cause problems in a 2.5 pound animal, and a small handful of nuts could cause serious harm to a 30-pound dog.

Treatment: Treatment for consumption of macadamia nuts includes the use of activated charcoal with a cathartic to move the nuts through the pet’s intestines. IV fluids and drugs are sometimes needed as well, to help control tremors and seizures.

Onions and Garlic

What they do: Onions and other close members of the onion family, such as garlic, can cause depression, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and pallor/anemia.

Toxic dose: You can start to see signs of toxicity at 5 grams per kilogram of onions in cats and 15-30 grams per kilogram in dogs. It would take a fairly significant amount of fresh onions to cause serious toxicity, especially in a dog, but smaller doses are still capable of making your pet very sick. Garlic is 5 times as potent as onions, and powdered garlic and onions are more potent than fresh.

Treatment: Onion and garlic toxicity require hospitalization and a specific injectable drug that counteracts the negative effects the onions or garlic have on the animal’s red blood cells.

Moldy Food

What it does: Mold causes hypersalivation, agitation, hypersensitivity to external stimuli, ataxia (jerky, uncoordinated movement), nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), and tremors.

Sources: Common sources of mold include out-of-date dairy products, pasta, bread, fruit, pet food, and grains. Another source that people don’t often consider is compost.

Treatment: Mold toxicity requires hospitalization with IV fluids and administration of medications to control the tremors caused by the mold’s toxins.