When my husband and I took our dog, Mojo, for his annual checkup last year, the vet chided us for having allowed the dog to put on some extra pounds. Mojo had been eating the same food at the same rate, and exercising in the same manner as always. The only difference in his daily routine was that my husband had been a little more generous in sneaking him human food. Which explains why every time I typed the word “can” into the home computer’s search bar, autofill would pop up with, “Can a dog eat ______?”IMG_8125

I’m thankful that at least my partner took the time to research the food that was making the dog chubby, because while many foods that are potentially toxic to animals are widely-known, some are a bit more obscure.

Specific to New Orleans cooking, anything containing the holy trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) should be a no-go for pets. Onions and garlic in any form, including the powder you find in spice blends, are dangerous for animals. The same goes for chives, mushrooms, and salt. Basically, it’s not the meat that can hurt a pet, it’s the flavoring that makes the meat palatable to humans. If you can’t resist slipping your dog a little bit of the meat you’re eating, try cooking a plain, un-spiced version for your buddy.

And while most humans pat themselves on the back for including fruit in a healthy diet, the same shouldn’t be said for pets. Animals should never eat the pit of any fruit, or any part of an avocado. Grapes and raisins have proven to be toxic for dogs, as well.

Check the safety of any nuts before feeding them to your animals. Covering a pill with peanut butter is a handy trick to get a dog to swallow an unwelcome pill, but make sure that the peanut butter you’re using contains no artificial sweeteners. Macadamia nuts and walnuts should never be given to pets.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general list of foods to avoid, before you find yourself facing the temptation of tossing a treat to a set of sad, puppy dog eyes. This list compiled by the ASPCA is a great place to start and there is this fun, informative infographic on HerePup.com: Can My Dog Eat That? 10 Toxic Foods, 23 Safe Ones & a Few in the Middle

Even if your pet does ingest one of the potentially toxic foods, there’s usually no reason to panic. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to get advice specific to your animal and what they’ve consumed. It doesn’t hurt to keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide around the house, either. Many vets will advise a dosage of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, with the volume based upon your pet’s size and weight. It won’t be the answer in all circumstances, but could save you some precious time in an emergency.

Written by Heather Haebe, Full-Time Pet Expert, Uptown, at Sarah’s Pet Care Revolution