They say that dog is a man’s best friend. Just like best friends, people tend to do daily activities together with their dogs, such as jogging, strolling in the park, and even eating the same meal with them. Little do pet owners know, the some foods that they eat can actually be harmful to the health of their canine companion. Likewise, some of the foods people eat can be harmful to cats as well.

Here is a list of the most common “people foods” that should not be fed to pet dogs or cats:

Chocolate and Cocoa. Chocolate, while delicious to people, can be deadly to cats and dogs. The culprit in chocolate is the compound theobromine. Dark chocolate generally has higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate is higher still. An alternative to chocolate that is safe for cats and dogs is carob. Some pet food companies have created treats that contain carob, which has a flavor similar to chocolate.

Caffeine. Coffee, tea, colas and other beverages that contain caffeine can increase a cat or dog’s breathing and heart rate and can even be fatal.

Xylitol. Pet owners may be unwittingly giving their dogs this ingredient when they feed them candy, gum, toothpaste or baked goods. Such foods may be sweetened with xylitol, which can cause an increase in the dog’s insulin, leading to a drastic drop in the dog’s blood sugar. Vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination are initial symptoms but eventually, the dog may have seizures and within just a few days, liver failure may occur.

Milk and other dairy. In the hot weather of the Philippines, people may be tempted to share their ice cream with their dogs or cats. However most adult pets are lactose intolerance, so milk and other dairy-based products can cause digestive upset and diarrhea.

Alcohol. Irresponsible dog owners think it is funny to see a dog intoxicated. But alcohol affects dogs and cats in the same way it affects their owners, except with more severity and at much smaller doses. It only takes 2 teaspoons of whisky to cause a coma in a 5 pound cat. One more teaspoon could be fatal. Be a responsible, humane pet owner and keep your pets away from alcohol.

Fatty and Raw or Undercooked Meat. Like humans, dogs and cats can become obese with a steady diet of fatty food. Moreover, dogs and cats can suffer pancreatitis, a painful swelling of the pancreas. Plus raw meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to people and pets. Feeding your pet bones might cause choking or injury to a pet’s digestive tract should the bone splinter.

Garlic and Onions. While these add flavor to every dish, garlic and onions in any form can cause various problems for a dog. Onions if eaten in sufficient quantities – regardless of whether it is fresh, dried, powdered or cooked –can result in anemia by causing blood cells to break down. Even in smaller quantities, garlic and onions cause gastrointestinal irritation. Since most Filipinos cook their food with these ingredients, it is important to avoid feeding table scraps and leftovers to dogs and cats.

Grapes and Raisins. Even though cats and dogs may enjoy them, grapes and raisins should not be fed to pets. It is not understood exactly how, but grapes and raisins cause potentially life threatening illness in cats and dogs, kidney failure.

There are many other foods that are safe for humans but that may not be ideal for a pet’s consumption. The Pet Food Institute (PFI), the U.S. trade association for the makers of cat and dog food, strongly advises Filipino dog lovers against feeding table scraps and other foods that people eat to dogs and cats.

“By feeding table scraps and leftovers, pet owners take a chance on their pet’s health and quality of life,” says Kurt Gallagher, Director, Communications and Export Development, Pet Food Institute. “Table scraps and leftovers deprive pets of a nutritionally-balanced diet and may endanger a pet’s health.”

Complete and balanced commercial pet food is widely available in the Philippine market, and most veterinarians agree that this is the safer option to homemade pet food or table scraps. Pet owners may think they are saving money by feeding their dog or cat leftovers, but the risk of losing a beloved pet from disease or poisoning from feeding inappropriate food is much too high a price to pay.

Pet owners today have a tremendous choice of products, including canned, dry and semi-moist to meet a wide variety of nutritional needs at competitive price points. With decades of scientific research behind every commercially produced pet food product made in the United States, pet owners can be assured of providing the proper nutrition for their pets.

Responsible pet owners should understand that their pet’s good health and happy disposition are dependent on good nourishment, exercise, grooming, and regular visits to the veterinarian. For more information on PFI and proper pet nutrition, visit www.petfoodinstitute.org.

Disclaimer: This post is an official Press Release by Pet Food Institute. The author of this blog is not responsible to any of the content above.