Can Pets Get Food Poisoning?

Sick dog laying under blanket

The Causes and Symptoms of Food Poisoning in Pets

Wondering why your pet has suddenly starting vomiting or experiencing diarrhea? Food poisoning could be the reason. Just like people, pets can be sickened by the food they eat.

What Causes Food Poisoning in Pets?

Have you caught your pet rooting through the trash for a tasty morsel? Eating spoiled or moldy food from the trash can cause food poisoning.

Eating raw food can also sicken your cat, dog, or small animal. Cooking kills salmonella and listeria, two types of bacteria that make both people and pets sick. Salmonella and listeria can be found in poultry, meat, eggs, raw vegetables, and unpasteurized dairy products. Salmonella has also been found in pig's ears, pet treats, and pet food.

You're at risk of developing a salmonella infection if you touch pet food or treats or raw food contaminated by salmonella and then touch your mouth or face. Cleaning up feces without washing your hands afterward may increase your risk.

Your pet can also be poisoned by other ingredients in commercially prepared foods. In December 2020, 28 dogs died after eating food contaminated by aflatoxin, according to Food Safety News. Aflatoxins are toxins produced when mold grows on ingredients used to make pet food. As corn and grains used to make pet food are prone to mold, aflatoxin can be a risk if there is a problem with the production or storage of pet food.

In the past, outbreaks of food poisoning have also occurred due to contamination with salmonella and melamine, a chemical that causes kidney failure in dogs and cats.

Some of the foods you eat may not be safe for your pet and can cause poisoning. Foods that aren't safe for pets include chocolate, onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, yeasty dough, tomato leaves and stems, alcohol, apple seeds, cherry pits, avocado seeds, macadamia nuts, potato leaves and stems, and candy or gum sweetened with xylitol.

What Are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Fever
  • Drooling
  • Dizziness
  • Shivering
  • Lack of energy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite

How Can I Prevent Food Poisoning?

These tips will help you protect your pet from food poisoning:

  • Take Out the Trash. Take kitchen trash to your outside trash can or dumpster often. Keep the can in a secure location if your pet enjoys foraging through the trash. Remove trash immediately after cleaning moldy or spoiled food from the refrigerator.
  • Cook Raw Food Thoroughly. Make sure any food you serve your pet is thoroughly cooked. Cooking kills salmonella, listeria, and other types of bacteria.
  • Check Out Pet Food Before Serving Your Pet. Don't buy torn or damaged bags, boxes, or cans. Throw out or return food that smells bad, has changed color, or is expired.
  • Place Food Containers in the Refrigerator. Promptly refrigerate unused portions of wet food in covered containers. Refrigerating the food prevents or slows the growth of bacteria.
  • Pay Attention to Recalls. Check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Recalls and Withdrawals website page regularly for information about pet food recalls. If you see your pet's food on the list, throw it out or return it immediately. Call your pet's veterinarian if you notice any possible signs of food poisoning.
  • Don't Offer Raw Treats. Don't give your pet pig's ears or treats made with rawhide.
  • Eliminate Temptation. Even well-behaved pets may find it hard to resist the raw chicken on your countertop or the chocolates on your coffee table. Store foods in covered containers and put them back in the cabinet or refrigerator as soon as you're done eating them.

Are you concerned that your pet may have food poisoning? Call our office if your furry friend shows any of the signs and symptoms of food poisoning or if you know that your pet has eaten food that can cause illness.

Sources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Melamine Pet Food Recall, 10/7/09

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Recalls and Withdrawals

Michigan State University Extension: Pets and Food Poisoning: It’s Not Just Humans, 7/13/14

American Kennel Club: Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?

Food Safety News: Dog Deaths Prompt Pet Food Recall for Aflatoxin Poisoning, 12/31/20

The Humane Society of the United States: Foods That Can Be Poisonous to Pets

Contact Us Today!

Contact us using the form or call us at 804-741-3200.

Monday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Tuesday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Wednesday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Thursday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Friday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Saturday:

8:00am

12:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Evans was so patient and kind with our kitty "Cookie". Very caring and so helpful and answered many questions for me concerning her health. The office staff are kind, caring, and professional. The office is immaculate. I have never been to a vet where my pets and myself were treated so well. Love it and so glad to have found them. Best vet appointment ever!"
    Dorothy M.
  • "We have used the Q for over 15 years for our cats and our dogs. Dr. Mortimer is a genius at diagnosing and treating a wide array of issues, and we have relied on his skills to help our animals live to amazing ages. The staff is incredibly caring. They do everything possible to help when we call or come in with a sick animal. They truly care for our pets, and many of the staff will come out from the back to pet our dogs
    when they come in. They are so patient with shy animals like our ferally cat Stasha who needed laser treatments, and our Bagle Topsy who is afraid of her own shadow.Yes, they are not the cheapest vet in town, but they work with us on making a treatment plan we can afford, and we feel that the value and the care are well worth it. Thank you to everyone at the Q for their dedication and loving care."
    Sally M. / December 21, 2017
  • "Met with Dr. Hiser today for the first time. Everyone at the
    clinic--from the desk staff to the vet techs to the veterinarian were warm and welcoming. My dog Iris--who is often nervous around new people--was comfortable there and (I think) made a few new friends. Looking forward to a continued relationship with the clinic as my sweet girl grows up. Thanks, thanks thanks."
    Stephanie C. / June 27, 2018
  • "My three chihuahuas have been Dr. Mortimer's patients for over nine years. The expertise, love, and care demonstrated for each pet is extraordinary. The doctors and staff go the extra mile to help their patients and the parents. They are truly an amazing group that love and care for each pet. If there was a review rated outstanding, that would have been my choice!"
    Donna C. / June 10, 2018
  • "I would highly recommended QVH. All of the staff are so kind and compassionate. They are so willing to help and never mind answering any questions you may have, even if it's 100 questions they are so patient. They genuinely care and treat your pets as if they were their own. And I cannot say enough about Dr. Hiser. She is amazing. Even on her days off she would still call and check in on my dog. I am so appreciative of this place and the staff. It's a great feeling to be completely comfortable with putting your pets care in someone's else hands and trusting them to provide the best service."
    Taylor H. / August 25, 2018
  • "I have been seeing Dr. Evans for at least 20 years. Her manner, knowledge, staff and facility are exceptional. I am a health care provider myself and hold the care of my pets to the highest standards....and I have never had a second thought about the care or recommendations of Dr. Evans. I moved out of town 6 years ago....and drive 3 hours each way to see her."
    Kimberley W. / April 2, 2018
  • "Wouldn't trust my four-legged Kids to anyone else - they have guided us with all our dogs through the years. The entire staff is kind and patient with the animals (and their parents)."
    Karen K. / November 7, 2017

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles