Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
- Alcoholic beverages
- Chocolate (all forms)
- Coffee (all forms)
- Fatty foods
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy or spoiled foods
- Onions or onion powder
- Raisins and grapes
- Yeast dough
- Products sweetened with xylitolWarm Weather Hazards
- Animal toxins—toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions
- Blue-green algae in ponds
- Citronella candles
- Cocoa mulch
- Compost piles Fertilizers
- Flea products
- Outdoor plants and plant bulbs
- Swimming-pool treatment supplies
- Fly baits containing methomyl
- Slug and snail baits containing metaldehydeMedications
Common examples of human medications that can be potentially lethal to pets, even in small doses, include:
- Pain killers
- Cold medicines
- Anti-cancer drugs
- Diet PillsCold Weather Hazards
- Liquid potpourri
- Ice melting products
- Rat and mouse baitCommon Household Hazards
- Fabric softener sheets
- Post-1982 pennies (due to high concentration of zinc)Holiday Hazards
- Christmas tree water (may contain fertilizers and bacteria, which, if ingested, can upset the stomach.
- Electrical cords
- Ribbons or tinsel (can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction—most often occurs with kittens!)
- Glass ornamentsNon-toxic Substances for Dogs and Cats
The following substances are considered to be non-toxic, although they may cause mild gastrointestinal upset in some animals:
- Water-based paints
- Toilet bowl water
- Silica gel
- Cat litter
- Glue traps
- Glow jewelry
Unsafe Herbs for Pets
The following unsafe herbs are potentially dangerous for use in animals and care should be exercised when using them:
While this herb (and its essential oil) is an effective insecticide, it is toxic to dogs and cats at high doses. In particular, it should NEVER be used in pets with existing kidney disease. The essential oil of pennyroyal is extremely concentrated and, to be on the safe side, should not be used on dogs and cats, especially if they are pregnant.
Tea Tree Oil
Undiluted tea tree essential oil is VERY toxic to cats and small dogs. (In fact, cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils and it is better not to use essential oils on cats.)
For bigger dogs, use tea tree oil with care. Always dilute the essential oil (at least 50:50) in a carrier oil (e.g. olive or almond oil). Test a small patch of skin prior to use as some pets may be sensitive to the oil.
Comfrey contains small quantities of alkaloids that can cause liver damage or cancer if taken in large quantities or prolonged period of time. Therefore, if comfrey is to be used internally, use it for short periods and in moderation. Also, do not use comfrey in pregnant or lactating pets or those with pre-existing liver disease.
Since the alkaloid concentration is ten times higher in the root than the leaves, DO NOT use comfrey root internally. Comfrey dried leaves, on the other hand, contains very little alkaloids so use the dried leaves if needed.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark contains salicylates which may be toxic to cats.
Ma Huang (Ephedra)
This Chinese herb is most commonly prescribed for pets with asthma or respiratory problems. However, it can cause heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and high blood pressure in animals, and some reports also state that it may cause idiosyncratic reactions in cats. Use with great caution in all pets.
Wormwood is a traditional deworming herb. It is however too strong on pets, because it contains strong volatile oils, tannins, and bitter principles. If used excessively, it can irritate the liver and kidneys, and may even damage the nervous system in extreme cases. The dilemma with wormwood is, if used in small amounts, it is ineffective in deworming. If used in bigger doses, it may cause problems to our pets! Since there are other safer natural remedies for deworming, it is advisable that we use wormwood with extreme caution and only under strict holistic veterinarian advice.
If used in large doses or over an extended period of time, yucca can irritate the stomach lining and intestinal mucosa, which may cause vomiting and bloating.
If used in small doses, yucca is safe. Therefore, avoid giving yucca to your pets more than 4-5 times per week, more than a month or two at a time, or during pregnancy.
Garlic in large amounts can cause Heinz body anemia in dogs and cats. It is not advisable therefore to use garlic in pets with anemia. However, if fed in small amount, garlic is good for many uses, including the treatment of parasites such as fleas and worms, microbial infections, and in the treatment of cancer. One clove of garlic per 10 pounds of body weight for dogs (and 1/2 clove per cat) can usually be fed safely each day. Visit our page on Garlic for Dogs for more information on this herb.
Possible Side-Effects of Herbs on Pets
Different animals may react differently to the same herb. For example, certain herbs may cause slight allergic reaction in some pets, while other pets are unaffected. Some possible side-effects are:
- runny eyes and nose
- diarrhea or vomiting
Interference with Conventional Medicines
Certain herbs are not unsafe herbs by themselves but, when used in conjunction with some conventional medicines, may interfere with the conventional drugs. Therefore, as a general rule, consult a holistic vet before using herbal treatments if your pet is on the following medications:
- Cardiac drugs
- Hormones (e.g. thyroxine)
- Diuretics (e.g. Furosemide, Diazide)
- Diabetic/hypoglycemic drugs (e.g. Insulin)
- Central Nervous System drugs (e.g. phenobarbital)
- Anti-inflammatories (e.g. Rimadyl)
- Chemotherapy agents