Household | The latest blogs, articles & guides from our best storytellers

Research indicates common human foods could be lethal for pets

5 min read
8 Oct 2020
What not to feed your pets.
  • Informative insights from have provided a detailed look into what human foods can cause serious harm to common domestic pets
  • The research investigates human foods that are harmful to animals such as cats, dogs, birds, mice and rabbits, among others
  • Many of the dangerous food items are common household items, such as bread and milk

It may come as a shock, but human foods as common as bread and butter can actually pose a lethal threat to our much-loved furry friends.

Who would have thought milk could be harmful for cats and dogs?[1] have researched the diets of domestic dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and rats to show just how dangerous some of our most common human food items can be for our beloved pets.


Have you ever considered setting out a bowl of milk for your kitten? Think again. Dogs, cats and birds are lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t break down the lactose found in cow’s milk. Individual pets can have different thresholds to milk and it can cause side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting and other tummy troubles for those with a lower tolerance.[2] This means it may be time to reconsider letting your animals have a sneaky lick of your ice cream or a bite of cheese.

Milk could be harmful to pets such as cats, dogs and birds.


It may be surprising to some, but bread is considered junk food for fish. It can cause them to consume extra calories that leave them malnourished and sick. It also leads to more regular defecation, which increases bacteria in the water for other animals sharing the same space.[3]

Of the furry variety, rabbits can get severe stomach problems and life-threatening cases of enterotoxemia (a form of blood poisoning) from consuming bread. As for cats and dogs, uncooked yeast dough can result in a build-up of gas in the digestive system, which can ultimately lead to a burst stomach. There is a lower risk of this occurring with cooked dough, but it’s still advised not to take the risk.[4]

Bread could be harmful to pets such as cats, dogs, fish and rabbits.


Sharing some of your secret chocolate stash with your pet is also a no-go. Cocoa contains a chemical called theobromine and can be toxic depending on how much your pet ingests and the size of your animal. It can be poisonous for a range of pets including dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds. Dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa powder contain higher levels of theobromine, so are potentially more dangerous to pets than milk chocolate.[5]

A dog can die from just 50g (1.7oz) of chocolate,[6] so a smaller amount may be lethal for tinier critters. Also keep this in mind for smaller breeds of dogs and cats (a square of chocolate may be deadlier to a chihuahua than a golden retriever).

Chocolate could be harmful to pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, hamsters and smaller rodents.

Alcohol and Caffeine

It’s a no-brainer that pets shouldn’t consume alcohol, but owners are advised to watch out for things such as cleaning products, mouthwash, hand sanitiser and make-up. Alcohol is a common ingredient in many of these.

Alcohol could be harmful to pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, hamsters, fish and small rodents.

As for the classic pick-me-up, caffeine can cause lethal seizures, muscle tremors and rapid breathing. This type of poisoning has no cure for cats and dogs,[7] so it’s best to seek immediate professional help if you think your pet has consumed any.

Caffeine could be harmful for cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, hamsters and guinea pigs.

Human foods that can be harmful for pets ranges from common household items to more obscure snacks, such as grapes and caffeine. It is important to understand what items can be harmful for your particular animal, as the danger differs across different breeds and sizes. Ask your vet for an extensive list that is tailored to your pet’s dietary requirements.

Visit to see the full list of human foods that can be dangerous for the most common household pets, including the research that went into developing this information.


[1] looked at pet ownership globally ( as well as finding the most popular domestic pets across the following countries: Australia (, USA (, Canada (, Singapore (, New Zealand (, Hong Kong (, and Brazil (

[2] ASPCA People foods to avoid feeding your pets:

[3] Campbelltown City Council – Why bread is bad for our wildlife:

[4] Victoria State Government – Human Foods to Avoid for Dogs:

[5] Victoria State Government – Human Foods to Avoid for Dogs:

[6] RSPCA QLD – Chocolate Warning for pets:

[7] Victoria State Government – Human Foods to Avoid for Cats:

Did you find this article interesting or helpful?
avatar of author: Hannah Norton

Written by Hannah Norton

As the Digital PR Manager, Hannah enjoys collaborating with experts from all around the business in her journey to execute Compare the Market's Digital Public Relations strategy. She leads the process in forming compelling feature articles with input from fellow SEO, content, design, and product professionals. Her qualifications to date include a Double Bachelors Degree in Business and Arts, with majors in Marketing and Public Relations, from Griffith University. When she's not in the office, you can find her relaxing in the sun while camping or playing with her three dogs Ellie, Frankie, and Maverick.

[email protected]

Read more from Hannah