Is it OK for Garfield to eat lasagna?
My answer is “No,” but not for the reason you might expect.
You might think I’d say no because lasagna is a high-fat, high-carbohydrate food containing dairy products that’s nowhere near the nutrient profile of a cat’s natural diet. However, my answer is actually “No,” because the lasagna sauce contains onions and garlic.
What’s so bad about onions and garlic? Well, if you don’t know already, read on to learn about 13 human foods you should never feed to your cat or dog.
#1: Onions and Garlic
All members of the onion family – including spring onions, chives, leeks, garlic, and shallots – contain substances called sulphides and disulphides. In the dog and cat, these can damage red blood cells, causing them to burst and result in anemia. The pet can start to be ill as soon as half a day after eating onions and, and although the risk of death is low, cats are more sensitive than dogs to the toxic effects.
There is a compelling argument not to feed chocolate to pets (and not just because you want it all for yourself). Chocolate contains theobromine, a caffeine-like stimulant which accelerates the heart rate and can cause seizures in dogs and cats.
Chocolate can also cause sickness and diarrhea because it’s so rich. And once it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, the theobromine can cause hyperactivity, seizures, a racing heart and death. So be alert for that opportunistic snacker, the Labrador, and never leave chocolate under a Christmas tree or anywhere accessible to pets.
What the heck is xylitol?
This is an artificial sweetener commonly used to replace sugar in chewing gum, cookies and candies. The alarming thing is that it is a potent stimulant of insulin release in cats and dogs. After eating lower-sugar cookies containing xylitol, that potent push of insulin sends the pet’s blood sugar into his boots with potentially fatal consequences.
#4: Grapes and Raisins
If you think vine fruits are healthy for our pets, then think again. There is something about grapes and their dried derivatives that send dogs into kidney failure. They affect cats, too, but there is less evidence (probably because most cats prefer mice to grapes). There is no cure, and kidney failure can occur within 24 hours of eating the fruit.
This is another food that you might think is healthy, but can actually cause a nasty sickness and diarrhea in our pets. This is because the fruit, seeds and stems of avocado contain an irritant called persin.
#6: Macadamia Nuts
Another food that is fine for people but causes gastric distress in animals are macadamia nuts. These nuts contain an unidentified toxin which causes sickness, diarrhea and muscle weakness in dogs. Signs have been seen from eating as little as 2.4 g of nuts for every 2 pounds of body weight of the dog.
#7: Dairy Products
Milk products contain lactose, and our pets often lack the milk enzyme lactase, which is necessary to digest milk. This leads to milk fermenting in the bowel and causing nasty diarrhea in some cases.
#8: Salt or Salty Snacks
Whilst you may find potato chips a tasty snack, the high salt content is less of a treat for your four-legged friends who are less able to process it. This can contribute to high blood pressure and cause damage to the kidneys and heart.
#9: Corn on The Cob
What could be nicer than buttery corn on the cob? While pet mice and rats may eat it just fine, dogs aren’t as well-matched for the treat. The trouble is dogs tend to wolf it down whole, which leads to a dangerous blockage in the bowel. Signs include repeated vomiting, leading to dehydration and depression. Urgent surgery is essential or the consequences can be dire.
#10: Fruit Pits, Pips or Stones
Whilst it’s true that fruit pits contain minute traces of cyanide, the real worry are the larger fruit stones. Fruits such as peaches and nectarines have pits that are large enough to cause a bowel obstruction if swallowed, and even life-threatening consequences if not treated promptly.
#11: Raw Eggs
The risk with raw eggs is that they contain salmonella, resulting in serious tummy upsets and risks to human health. If the thought of salmonella doesn’t leave your feeling queasy, then also know that raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which interferes with the absorption of a vitamin called biotin. In the long term, this will cause a dull, brittle, poor-quality coat.
Bones splinter when chewed and, when swallowed, act like coarse sandpaper damaging the lining of the gut. The bones can also tangle up together in the bowel and cause an blockage which makes the dog toxic and distinctly unwell.
#13: Spoiled Food
And finally, Garfield or not, never feed your pet food that’s past its expiration date or prime. Abide by the rule of thumb that if it’s not good enough for you to eat, then it’s not safe for your pet. This rule can help you avoid avoid some unpleasant (and costly) upsets.