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Artistic License – Animal Care

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This scene is cute and all, but ice cream is bad for a kitten's digestive system.

This trope is for when animals in fiction get care that would be improper if applied to animals in real life, but does not have the same negative consequences that comparable care would have in Real Life. Common versions include feeding an animal something it should never eat, keeping it in improper conditions, handling it a way that would cause it great distress or even injury, or (especially in the case of cats, dogs and other household pets in urban areas) not having it spayed or neutered.

This does not include examples of animal abuse or improper care that is depicted as being bad for animals.

A Sub-Trope of Artistic License – Biology. Automaton Horses is a species-specific subtrope for cases where a riding animal (a horse or the in-universe equivalent) is portrayed as needing far less care than it realistically would. Some Stock Animal Diets fall under this trope (carrots as a staple, consistently, or to the exclusion of other vegetables and Timothy hay, are actually very bad for rabbits, and cheese isn't good for mice, for example). Can overlap with Canine Confusion. Remember, Tropes Are Tools; this can actually be done to teach An Aesop about proper animal care. See also "Harmful to Pets" Reminder.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dinosaur Sanctuary focuses on a zoo in a world of dinosaurs that is stated to be struggling with funds. However, since the whole plot of the manga focuses on showcasing dinosaurs and the troubles that zookeepers might have to deal with when taking care of them, the zoo has a pretty diverse collection (twenty-two different species, and often multiples of each), and many of them are also large species that would not be easy for a zoo to take care of on the best of days. A Camarasaurus, for instance, weighed about as much as three bull elephants and would presumably have not-dissimilar food requirements. A struggling zoo trying to take care of such expensive creatures would probably have downsized long ago.
  • Free!: Makoto received two goldfish at a carnival years ago. He loved them, however, he kept them in a fishbowl. They died, though it's presumed the writers were going for the "goldfish have short lifespans" myth rather than "Mako mistreated his fish". Goldfish need to be kept in proper tanks with aeration, filtration, and moving water, not simple bowls of standing water.
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin: Gohei Takeda trains the protagonist, Gin, to be a bearhound by beating him with a piece of wood, feeding him only raw bear meat (which is mentioned to stink so terrible that even adult dogs cower at the smell of it) and forcing him to get pieces of aforementioned meat from the bottom of a large basin filled with water. Did we mention that this Training from Hell started when Gin was still supposed to be nursed by his mother? While he did grow up into a through-and-through badass, making a puppy go through stuff like that in real life would definitely not end half as well.
  • Goldfish Warning!: A classic anime about a deranged farm school with both animals and humans as students. The school's pet shark lives on a steady diet of potato chips. The goldfish Gyopi and the cows in the school won't eat anything but human junkfood.
  • Hamtaro: Hamtaro's cage is a standard hamster cage commonly sold in pet stores, but in reality this sort of setup is much smaller than a hamster needs. Ideally something with an area akin to a 40-gallon terrarium is much better.
    • Aside from that, the hamsters are all shown getting along and interacting with one another just fine. In reality, most species of hamsters are solitary, and don't tolerate another's presence unless they're still somewhat young or are a mating pair (and even in that case, it's best not to let them stay together after mating). Some hamster species can remain friendly with littermates, provided everyone has enough room. However, the hamsters generally gather together without their owners' knowledge, so at least the humans are off the hook for this particular instance.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, Jonathan feeds Danny, his Great Dane, a grape. Grapes are highly toxic to dogs and can prove lethal even in small amounts. Then again, considering what Dio does to Danny shortly after, it wouldn't really have mattered.
    • Iggy, a Boston Terrier in Stardust Crusaders, has a Trademark Favorite Food in the form of coffee-flavored gum, which, not withstanding the fact that coffee is toxic to dogs, also has him swallowing the gum which can potentially lead to intestinal obstruction or constipation. Then again, he is a Stand-user dog with superpowers, so perhaps this is a bit of a Justified Trope.
  • The treatment of Ton-chan, the pig-nosed turtle adopted by the girls in K-On!, is a bit of a mixed bag. They make sure its habitat is big enough with enough water for it to swim around freely, keeping it ouf of direct sunlight, and they even go out of their way to get a bigger habitat after Ton-chan has grown. Then again, pig-nosed turtles actually need some space in their enclosures to rest on, so a simple aquarium won't do, and they are notoriously prone to stress, especially caused by noise, so it may not be wise to keep one in a band's rehearsal room.
  • In Kemono Michi, despite being an animal lover, Genzo keeps all the monsters he catches for his future pet shop in tiny cages that are barely bigger than they are. He also leaves his dog, Hiroyki, tied to a stake outside the house at night. And he runs up to dangerous monsters and instantly charms them into loving him but that's probably just the superpower he got for being an isekai protagonist.
  • Nichijou: The Professor doesn't want to eat her green onions, so she tries foisting them on Sakamoto the cat. He responds "Are you trying to kill me!?" (onions and garlic contain chemicals that can destroy his red blood cells).
  • Transponder Snails in One Piece take this trope to its logical conclusion: Despite being clearly living things, at no point anywhere in the series is anyone ever seen actually taking care of one. No one ever feeds a Transponder Snail, no equipment or containment seems to exist for their maintenance, and they're just picked up and carried around as if they're portable tools. That being said, Transponder Snails also never tire, change locations of their own will, emit waste, display any emotions not connected to a user, or get sick. They seem to be perfectly content being used as appliances. The only exception so far is seen during the Dressrosa Arc, where the Dwarves of the Tontatta Tribe remove the artificial parts from the Transponder Snail and release them into the wild.
  • In Our Home's Fox Deity the anime, Kuugen eats insane amounts of chocolate cake, which should make ten humans sick, much less a fox. Then again, Kuugen is explicitly supernatural.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon are a far cry from real animals, but Ash has been shown feeding Pikachu ice cream and chocolate at least once in the anime, to say nothing of the memetic episode where Pikachu fell in love with ketchup. While none of it proves harmful, a wild Pikachu's diet consists of fruit, vegetables, and nuts, so it can't be ideal.
    • In an odd inverse, humans in more recent seasons have been shown eating things prepared with berries normally eaten by Pokémon. Though nothing really states that berries are really bad for humans apart from intense tastes.
    • All of this was actually enforced by the original series bible. Not wanting to raise ethical questions about eating Pokémon (which are obviously more sentient than the average animal, as they're capable of understanding speech and following orders) the show was officially supposed to stay away from showing any person or Pokémon eating meat of any kind and avoid implications of a food chain altogether, and thus even Pokemon obviously based on carnivores like Persian, Arbok, and Gyarados are seen eating either generic kibble styles of food, fruit (both real and made up) or just whatever the humans are having. Even then, Pokémon eating only human food is something that's frowned upon in-universe. This element is averted in the games, as many Pokédex entries make it clear that Pokémon eat each other and the games have also shown that humans eat Pokémon. The anime does occasionally mention Pokémon preying on one another— specifically Heatmor's Pokédex entry in the Black/White arc talks about it preying on Durant, and Ash's Pidgeotto tried to eat his Caterpie when they met. There are also some hints that regular animals do exist in-universe, though most of them come from early on.
    • In "Who Gets to Keep Togepi?", Meowth takes Togepi's egg into the bath with him. This is a very bad idea; eggs are porus, and submerging a fertilized egg in water risks drowning the embryo.
    • In "Meowth Rules!", the islanders serve Meowth a huge pile of fruit. This includes multiple fruits with parts that are bad for cats, and even cherries, which cats should never eat.
    • In Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, giving Lucario (a dog-based Pokémon), chocolate was a plot point in the movie (then again, this is a part-steel bipedal dog that can shoot hadoukens).
    • At the end of the mini-movie "Pikachu and Pichu" Ash, Misty, and Brock's Pokemon all chow down on a feast of sugary treats, including chocolate. At worst all that sugar is lethal to them, at best it will cause them severe digestive upset.
  • In Princess Jellyfish Tsukimi keeps her pet jellyfish Clara in a standard rectangular fish tank. Actual jellyfish require circular or cylindrical tanks without any corners and with a current to keep them drifting them around, or else they'll sink to the bottom or get stuck in a corner.
  • In the Sailor Moon manga, a man feeds sugar candies to Luna. Ignoring the fact that a real cat probably wouldn't even like them or even be able to taste them at all (though this is now under debate), you should never try to give candies to a cat in the first place. In one episode of The '90s anime, Minako tells a lengthy anecdote about feeding Artemis a piece of caramel and it getting stuck in his teeth. Although Luna and Artemis are alien cats from the planet Mau, the aforementioned man who fed Luna sugar candies in the manga didn't know this and thought she was an ordinary Earth cat.
  • Subverted in 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess. When the "torture" is bunnies, Krall specifically notes that carrots have too much sugar to be regular food for rabbits, and thus she only allows the rabbits in her care one carrot stick per day.
  • Several openings in the Toriko anime have animals eagerly eating chocolate. Unfortunately Truth in Television in that some animals, especially dogs, can taste and as a result, really enjoy chocolate. This just makes it more unfortunate that it's very fatal to them. Justified In-Universe, as many animals, especially those with potent Gourmet Cells, can actually keep in shape and become stronger/tastier by eating delicious food (regardless of the source) compatible with their cells.
  • In Yo-Kai Watch, Jibanyan, a cat yo-kai, is seen frequently eating and enjoying chocolate. Despite the fact that chocolate is very bad for cats (and most animals), cats normally don't even like it since they can't taste sweetness... It's a good thing Jibanyan is already dead and on top of that, a yokai. It's also Lampshaded in one of the games.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes lampshades this trope in Season 7 episode 39, where alien dog Lele develops an addiction to chocolate since it works as a G-Rated Drug for his species. Professor Limen tells the viewers that this is not how chocolate affects dogs in real life, and that it's in fact poisonous to them.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Ford: Early issues had Cirano, the group's Italian pointer dog, being pampered by the bad guys and fed lots of chocolate sweets that are probably noxious to dogs.
  • Harley Quinn loves animals, but in her comic, she tends to feed both her two hyenas and stray dogs foods that would make them sick in reality, like hamburgers and pizza.
  • The Hawkeyes - adopted by Clint, taken by Kate - own the indicatively named Lucky the Pizza Dog because Clint gave him a slice when meeting him, and it keeps on liking the pies. All this when pizza is not a healthy choice for dogs to eat. As Screen Rant Pitch Meetings put it in an episode about Lucky's live action debut:
    Producer: So she rewards the dog with diarrhea?
    Writer: She does! That's a lot of cheese for a dog, for sure.
  • In one Little Lotta comic Lotta wins a pony in a contest, but finds the pony isn't strong enough to carry her, so instead of hay she decides to bulk it up with high-fat goods... including meat. Equines are herbivores. While some horses can and will eat meat on occasion if given the chance, too much of it (as in, more than a little bit once in a blue moon) is unhealthy for them.
  • In Lucky Luke Lucky Luke is often seen asking for a beer for his horse, Jolly Jumper. This is a very good idea. Horses often like beer as a treat, and there is nothing in beer horses won't eat of their own volition. Horses are much larger than humans and metabolize alcohol much more efficiently, so there is nothing in a beer that can harm a horse. Adding a splash of beer to water is a common way to ensure that a dehydrated horse drinks. Then again, even if that weren't the case, Jolly Jumper would probably get a pass anyway, considering that he fishes, cooks beans, smokes and beats his rider at chess...
  • In those versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in which Master Splinter is a rat mutated into a humanoid rather than vice versa, Splinter is apparently the only rat which Hamato Yoshi kept. Rats are social in the extreme and (barring aggression issues) should never be kept alone.

    Fan Works 
  • Fireheart mentions in Bitter Repercussions that he was separated from his mother at one moon (four weeks). While kittens can be separated at six to eight weeks, they ideally should stay with their mother for six to twelve weeks.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Frequently averted in these fanfics:
    • Bolt is aware of and avoids foods he shouldn’t consume (alcohol, onions, garlic, chocolate), and when he purposely drinks a lot of coffee in "The Coffee Shop," he does so knowing it will make him sick. In this story, he also starts eating table scraps from the garbage and begging for coffee shop treats, but gains weight doing so. Penny scolds him and puts him on a diet, returning the dog’s weight to normal.
    • Mittens drinks spiked punch in "The Wedding Reception" after falling headfirst into a punch bowl, ending up with severe Hangover Sensitivity the next morning.
    • It's however played straight with Rhino, who also imbibes alcohol in "The Wedding Reception" and eats copious amounts of pastry in "The Cakes" while apparently suffering no ill effects.
  • Defied in What Tomorrow Brings. Cassie recalls a professor at vet school saying that negative reinforcement was a valid training technique for horses. She morphed into a horse and kicked over his desk in retaliation.

    Films — Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians has the titular puppies at one point being fed on cow's milk, straight from the source (in other words, raw milk). Most animals are lactose intolerant, and dogs are no exception. The puppies were probably already past the age at which they could digest milk, so in Real Life it would have given them severe diarrhea and upset stomachs. (A case of Science Marches On, since the movie came out in 1961.) The fact that they were starving far away from other food sources at least makes drinking or eating something they normally shouldn't the lesser of two evils in this particular case.
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Zig-zagged. Brom Bones' Establishing Character Moment involves him smashing the top of a beer barrel open so his horse and some dogs can have a drink. This is meant to be a Pet the Dog moment for him, and while horses can consume beer with few if any negative effects, the same is not true for dogs, which are far more susceptible to alcohol poisoning than humans. Even a few sips can make a dog sick, and the effects may be lasting or even fatal.
  • An American Tail: Tiger comments that he's a vegetarian. Cats are carnivorous creatures and wouldn't be able to survive on a vegetarian diet. He does mention he'll eat fish occasionally though, which might cut him a little slack.
  • Near the beginning of The Aristocats, the evil butler Edgar actually pours some of Madame's sleeping pills into the titular cats' milk so he can drug them and take them all away from her mansion while said cats are sleeping. (He also hits Roquefort the mouse, who used a cracker to share the treat.) In real life, the amount of sleeping pills Edgar used to drug the cats is enough to kill a human, never mind a cat or any other small species! Since Edgar's goal was to get rid of the cats, he probably wouldn't have cared if he killed them, but the fact that they survive at all shatters suspension of disbelief. Not that it's advisable to give adult cats milk anyway, but at the time the film was made, that wouldn't have been common knowledge — it still isn't as well known in this day and age as it should be, especially given the complication (for human comprehension) that some adults cats actually can cope with cow's milk without any reported side-effects.
  • Flushed Away depicts the main character, a pet rat named Roddy, living alone in a cage. The movie later deconstructs this by pointing out how lonely Roddy is, and how it is unhealthy for rats to live this way. Upon seeing his home, Rita, a wild rat, is astonished and appalled about how lonely Roddy lives.
  • This seems to be used for humor in Food Fight. The Funny Animal dog likes both raisins and chocolate. He's not technically real, being an anthropomorphic "ike" (a food mascot), so no damage is done, but both raisins and chocolate (especially dark chocolate) can be deadly toxic to actual dogs. So don't feed them to a dog, especially not raisins, or you will live to regret it.
  • Lady and the Tramp:
    • The movie sees Lady being served coffee (toxic) and a donut (not quite toxic, but not exactly healthy for dogs either) for breakfast.
    • Later, she roams the streets in a muzzle for longer than 30 minutes, something extremely dangerous for the animal. This can be chalked up to Values Dissonance, possibly even Deliberate Values Dissonance, considering the film's early 1900s setting.
    • The famous romantic dinner scene sees Lady and Tramp both eating a plate of spaghetti with meatballs. This dish contains significant quantities of both onion and garlic, both of which are extremely toxic to dogs and at the very least is likely to make the two of them sick if not possibly kill one or both of them.
    • At one point, Darling smacks Lady for misbehaving. All corporal punishment does is teach the animal to fear whoever deals it. At least Lady mentions that Darling had never done it before: she was just shorter-tempered than usual due to her pregnancy.
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • In the original movie, Lilo brings Stitch home for the first time and feeds him coffee. At this point she still thinks he's a regular dog. In real life, one should avoid giving their dogs coffee, because it is poisonous to them. Pets and caffeine simply do not mix. Thank god Stitch is really an alien. He is a little more destructive, but he otherwise has no resulting health problems. Also provides a double whammy of Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Horror: A six-year-old couldn't be expected to know this... and her older sister was too overwhelmed to realize it and provide proper supervision of Stitch's diet.
    • Lilo seems to all around be a poor caretaker of animals. Besides the caffeine thing, she also feeds a fish a peanut butter sandwich once a week. She also tries to train Stitch to fetch by spraying him with water; this type of reinforcement, positive punishment, is strongly recommended against since it can increase aggression and destroy trust. There are reasonable uses for positive punishment, like stopping biting, but punishing an animal to encourage it to do something that ought to be enjoyable makes no sense. In fact, Lilo might have already been a poor caretaker in-universe—in an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, she says that she once had a goldfish who died. While she doesn't say how it died, given the above, it's likely that she was responsible.
  • Oliver & Company has several cases of this regarding food:
    • Jenny feeds ice cream to her recently-adopted cat Oliver. A few licks from an ice cream cone or a little bit of milk is not going to affect a cat that much, but it's still not a good idea given the sugar and other things ice cream is loaded up with, especially since Oliver is a kitten and his digestive system is not as resilient as an adult cat's (as any cat owner or animal shelter worker who's worked with kittens for long enough can tell you).
    • Jenny also gives Cocoa Krispies to Oliver. Chocolate is even more toxic to cats overall, not just kittens but also full-grown cats. She also tops them with whipped cream, which would be unhealthy for the same reasons as ice cream.
    • When Fagin's dogs go to Jenny's house to find Oliver, Einstein can be seen eating a chocolate meant for Jenny's poodle Georgette, this is despite the fact that chocolate is poisonous to dogs as well.
  • Open Season: The characters throw rabbits during "Rabbit Fights". DO NOT try this with real rabbits as this can frighten them easily.
  • Penguins of Madagascar: Classified shoots the penguins with tranquilizer darts. No darts small enough to be used on a small penguin exist. The reason is most likely because a penguin could jump into the water after being darted and drown.
  • Pocahontas: Percy, Governor Ratcliffe's pampered pug, enjoys a bowl of cherries during a bath. In real life, dogs should not be fed cherries since their pits, leaves and stems contain cyanide, which is poisonous and potentially fatal if consumed in large enough amounts. Cherry pits can also get lodged in a dog's intestinal tract, causing blockage and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Ratatouille: Remy better not have been taste-testing his own French cooking. Onions or scallions are key ingredients for most of the recipes he's shown preparing, and ingesting either of these can destroy a rat's red blood cells. Handling or even sniffing such food could've left him severely anemic.
  • Rio:
    • At the beginning of the movie, Blu is shown enjoying a hot chocolate and some chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate contains theobromine (a bitter alkaloid compound found in the cacao plant), which is toxic to most animals, and especially to birds — even very small amounts can kill them.
    • Tulio, the ornithologist, allows birds to eat out of his mouth, which is extremely dangerous because mammalian saliva is loaded with gram-negative bacteria that can kill birds. Lampshaded by Blu when he finds this disgusting.
    • The entire plot of the movie hinges on the fact that Linda kept Blu for so long without knowing his species, when in reality this would have come to light on her first visit to an exotic vet. Unless, even more unrealistically, she kept a macaw for fifteen years with no veterinary care and had it remain in excellent health up to that point.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Linda puts human toothpaste on a toothbrush for Blu. Human toothpaste is toxic to birds (or any pet for that matter)
  • Rise of the Guardians: Some elves are shown fitting an iron shoe onto the hoof of one of Santa's reindeer. While there are shoes designed specifically for reindeer, they generally consist of two separate pieces of metal to allow the hoof's two parts to splay out naturally, and they certainly aren't just a regular horseshoe nailed on backwards.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Air Bud, Josh bathes Buddy using human shampoo. This is not a good idea because the pH in humans' skin is different than that of a dog's. He also brushes Buddy's teeth using human toothpaste, which is toxic to dogs. However, this is actually justified as Josh had just brought Buddy home and obviously wouldn't have the proper dog-friendly supplies to clean him with.
  • Aquaman (2018): One of the sharks that comes to young Arthur's rescue at the aquarium is a Great White Shark. It’s unlikely that a real aquarium would hold a Great White, as they have a reputation for dying extremely quickly in captivity.
  • Batman Returns:
    • Catwoman keeps a fish in a tiny fishbowl and she also feeds her cats milk. Fish die quickly in fishbowls that small and most cats are lactose intolerant.
    • The Penguin keeps a bird in a small, round cage with nothing but food and a perch. This would be neglectful, but it also serves ac to ds a Call-Forward to when Max gets put inside a human-sized version of the cage later on.
  • Cry Wilderness has possibly the worst animal rehab specialist to ever operate. Helen keeps all the animals under her care in tiny cages with no access to food, water, or shelter; the cages aren't even secured to the ground. We even see her put an eagle into what appears to be a couple of fence panels slapped together around a perch - it doesn't even have a roof.
  • Deep Blue Sea: Preacher allows his pet parrot to nibble some kind of white cake topping (frosting, whipped cream, marshmallow ... it's not clear which) from his finger. Although not necessarily toxic, all of the above have far, far too much sugar and fat to agree with such a bird's digestive system.
  • A Dog's Purpose: Tino the Corgi is given a lot of unhealthy food (such as pizza and ice cream) by his lonely college-aged owner Maya. He ends up a chubby, lazy Big Eater but otherwise doesn't seem harmed by his diet.
  • Home Alone 3: Doris the white rat doesn't have any cage-mates to live with. Fancy rats (and any brown rat for that matter) are extremely social animals that, barring temperament problems, should never be kept as solitary individuals.
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Chance has to have a few porcupine spines removed from his face by vets. However, the vets choose to do this with Chance still conscious with a few vets holding him down. Chance should have been anesthetized before a vet went anywhere near him.
  • Jack and Jill: Jill's cockatoo, Poopsie, is seen sticking its head under a chocolate fountain. Chocolate contains theobromine (a bitter alkaloid compound found in the cacao plant), which is very toxic and potentially fatal for most animals, birds included. Most vets will flat out state that animals shouldn't have any, ever, no matter the concentration, just to be safe. The filmmakers knew this and used a CGI bird for the scene, and got an outstanding rating from the AHA for the film.
  • Live a Little, Love a Little: One of the indicators of Bernice's kookiness is how she likes to prepare elaborate meals for her dog Albert. She taste-tests one of these meals on Greg, asking if there's too much garlic. Garlic is toxic to dogs in reality and in any quantity.
  • Several times in Mary Poppins, a goldfish in a bowl is seen in the Banks's parlour room — this is not good for goldfish. However, the film is set in 1910, so this can be chalked up to Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Upon arrival at the mountain ruins, Jonathan turns Geraldine the Yak loose with well-meaning urgings that she "run free!". All very sweet, except he's releasing a domesticated bovine into an area of the mountains where the grass is too deeply-buried in snow for grazing, and he doesn't even bother to remove her halter, which has a dangling lead that could easily get caught in a crevice and trap her.
  • The 1995 Disney flick Operation: Dumbo Drop features, as you might imagine, a skydiving elephant. Elephants are too heavy relative to their leg strength to jump normally without injuring themselves. There is very little chance that Bo Tat would have survived its delivery, and if it did, it certainly wouldn't have had any unbroken bones in its legs. Yes, the elephant's in a crate of sorts -an uncushioned crate with no way to counter the physics involved in landing.
  • Seven Pounds features a dog that is according to its owner a vegetarian. While it is possible to do this under strict vet supervision, it's still a very stupid idea and the food she's shown feeding the dog would cause long-term health problems.
  • In the 1973 horror film Sssssss, the Mad Scientist lets his pet boa constrictor drink alcohol from a bowl. Real snake owners know that reptiles loathe the smell of alcohol, and indeed may keep it around as an emergency means of getting their pet to let go if it bites or coils around someone.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie lampshades the inadvisability of the characters in This Island Earth feeding the cat, Neutron, a big saucer of cream.
    Crow: (as Neutron) "No, please, I can't digest milk!"
  • Young Einstein: Marie Curie keeps her pet goldfish in a container that has less than a liter of water. This is a fraction of what a goldfish needs to survive, let alone thrive.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: In a case of Science Marches On, Dinah drinks a saucer of milk every teatime. It's since become known that most weaned cats are lactose intolerant.
  • Black Beauty:
    • This was the book that kicked off concern about animal care, mostly by telling people the story of an animal that was taken care of by ignorant humans, and how much the animal suffered for it. A groom working for one of Beauty's later owners seems to think the horse will be fine on a high-grass low-grain diet (while he pilfers the grain to feed the rabbits he and his wife raise). But while wild horses are fine with high-grass, a domestic breed like Beauty is adapted to high grain, even with a low workload.
    • One sympathetic character does what he thinks is right for Beauty — gives him a lot of cold water to drink after a straining effort and leaves him standing uncovered in his stall to help him cool off because he's sweating — and it nearly kills him. The former is not quite as much a problem as the latter; cold water will "merely" give the animal a stomachache. But as for the leaving Beauty standing, to quote...
      After a horse goes through a strenuous workout, it needs to be walked to help dissipate the excess heat produced by its muscles. Sweating and breathing both release heat from the body to help the horse's core temperature return to normal. If the stored heat is not properly released, it can become trapped in the horse's muscles and its core which can lead to colic and "tying up" aka rhabdomyolysis - a condition of muscle stiffness, pain, and trembling. At the same time, when a horse is being cooled down, it needs to replace all those lost fluids. Dehydration reduces blood flow to the muscles and organs, which can cause the core temperature to drop and make the horse hypothermic.
  • Bunnicula: Harold the dog is regularly depicted as eating chocolate. In one of the young reader books he breaks the fourth wall to tell the readers that no, a real dog would not enjoy chocolate the way he does. While Harold's favorite type of chocolate, cream filled cupcakes are probably one of the less dangerous types of chocolate a dog the size of Harold can have, it's not an ideal thing for a dog to eat. In another young reader mystery book, his owners are still aware that he steals fudge and also still unaware that he's immune to chocolate, and the plot is centered around the animals determining what, exactly, a pan of white-chocolate fudge is.note 
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries: Subverted — Charlie is noted as being very careful not to let Diesel eat anything that isn't good for cats, such as onions. In book 4, he lets Azalea's sister Lily know exactly what Diesel can't have, including milk, cheese, chocolate, raisins, grapes, green tomatoes, raw potatoes and the aforementioned onions. It's also noted that while Diesel loves to play with ribbon, Charlie's always careful to make sure he doesn't eat any.
  • In Mary Reed and Eric Mayer's Chosen Of The Nile, the sacred crocodile at the Temple of Sobek is fed prepared grains, honey-sweetened milk, and wine by its keepers rather than meat or fish. Justified in that the keepers are guided by their belief that it's a living god accepting gifts, not a mundane animal slaking corporeal hunger ... and by them not wanting it to be healthy enough to pose a danger to them.
  • A Dog's Purpose: In A Dog's Journey, Molly the Spaniel-Poodle mix is given ice cream bars, cookies, and pizza by her teenage owner, Clarity. It doesn't help that Clarity has an eating disorder and one of her ways of coping with a situation is by eating a lot of ice cream (well, before she forces herself to throw up, that is), and she will almost always give her puppy just as much as she eats. Averted when Molly is given an ENTIRE bag full of moldy cheese in hunks by Clarity's mother, Gloria, who needed a way to get rid of the expired cheese. Since Gloria doesn't know much about dogs, she assumes that dogs are immune to moldy foods because according to her, they eat just about anything and can be okay since their bodies can handle it... except for the fact Molly ends up getting very sick and begins to vomit until Clarity arrives home from school and sees her poor dog (who is still a puppy) passed out with her tongue hanging out in the yard and, fearing the worst, ends up taking her to the vet. Molly ends up fine with the vet reassuring Clarity that luckily it wasn't anything too bad and whatever she ate must've passed through her and to just keep a watchful eye on her next time. However, that doesn't stop Clarity herself from still giving Molly ice cream bars or pizza. It may not be as bad as eating expired cheese, and Molly doesn't seem to have ill effects and clearly finds the treats delicious. But in reality, all the treats Clarity gives Molly should be making Molly constipated or making her sick with more trips to the vet, as dogs are lactose intolerant and all that dairy can't be good.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In "The Getaway", a monkey is regularly served at a swim-up bar. This is frowned upon in real life.
    • In "The Long Haul", Greg feeds a seagull a cheese puff, which is not good for birds.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Mouse is mentioned as having eaten onions once as a gag. Feeding onions to a canine is a VERY bad idea. Potientially justified, though still a bad idea in real life, given Mouse is no ordinary dog, capable of walking off buckshot and posing a threat to Fae.
    • Early in the series, Harry makes it routine to share cans of Coke with his cat, Mister. Caffeine in any form is harmful to cats.
  • Franny K. Stein: Yet another disregard for how lethal chocolate can be to dogs can be found in the second book, Attack of the 50-Ft. Cupid, where the final illustration shows Franny hugging her dog Igor as he takes a bite from the chocolate part of an enlarged chocolate-covered cherry.
  • Pets in Harry Potter seem to be partially magical, but if they weren't, the following would be bad ideas:
    • The owl's ability to find the recipient of a letter without an address has led to an all-too-real Red Stapler situation, which J. K. Rowling herself has come out against. Also the behind-the-scenes special features on the DVDs have twice felt the need to directly address the fact that owls do not actually make good pets.
    • Harry attempts to feed Hedwig (owls are carnivores) vegetables. Not his fault — the Dursleys hadn't given Harry anything else to eat himself — but Harry would have been wiser to use the veggies as bait for mice or bugs than to expect Hedwig to eat them. At least Hedwig reacts with disgust, lampshading this.
    • Letting any pet as tiny as a rat sleep in a boy's bed, even if it's not Peter Pettigrew in animagus form, is a good way to get it squashed, be bitten or scratched, or end up with rat waste all over your sheets and/or holes chewed in your mattress. Scabbers does end up chewing holes in Ron's sheets a few times.
  • The Hunger Games: In Mockingjay, Katniss stuffs Buttercup into a bag and carries him over her shoulder, even elbowing him to get him to be quiet. She also bounces him against the floor. In the book, this only causes yowling. In real life, this would've also caused him a great deal of injury. She also picks Buttercup up by the scruff of his neck without supporting his rump. He's a grown tom cat. Any pet owner will tell you that is a humongous no-no. And after Buttercup is forced into a bag, he allows Prim to tie a ribbon around his neck and hold him in her arms. After being bagged? Both of these actions would probably cause a cat a great deal of distress (possibly causing the animal to retaliate in violence) in real life. However, in the first book Katniss mentions that she tried to drown Buttercup in a bucket of water when Prim first brought him home, so his wellbeing isn't high on her list of priorities.
  • InCryptid: In Half-Off Ragnarok, Alex disposes of a body by feeding it to an alligator snapping turtle. While they'll happily eat carrion, their slow metabolism means that it would take one the better part of a year to eat that much. One certainly couldn't eat an entire human in one night and it wouldn't bother eating the larger bones (or the petrified bits).
  • There is a Nancy Drew novel where someone's dog dies after eating a box of chocolates that arrived in the mail. It's treated as a plot point that the chocolate, by itself, would not have killed the dog, which overlaps with Conviction by Counterfactual Clue.
  • Pippi Longstocking: Pippi keeps her horse on the veranda of Villa Villekula. While being there isn't directly harmful to the animal, the horse could easily trip and hurt itself if it ever tried to use the veranda's steps to enter or leave. (Fortunately, Pippi's strong enough to lift and carry it when necessary.)
  • The Poky Little Puppy: The puppies are excited at the prospect of dessert. Rice pudding? Not great for dogs. Plain rice itself is OK, but there’s milk and either granulated or brown sugar in rice pudding too, which isn’t good for their stomachs. Chocolate custard? That’s a no go in real life - chocolate is toxic to dogs. Strawberry shortcake? Again, not great for dogs. A few strawberries are fine (although there is some natural sugar, so moderation is needed). The shortcake part, however, isn’t going to do the puppies’ stomachs any favors.
  • Ratman's Notebooks: Ratman uses a raw leek stolen from a neighbor's garden as a training treat for his Swarm of Rats. Uncooked leeks are toxic to rats, destroying their red blood cells. Since the book's narrator says over and over again that he has no idea how to tell male and female rats apart, it seems safe to say the author did no research.
  • Remember Dippy: Johnny keeps feeding human food to the ferrets Linguini and Jambalaya. Linguini is particurarly fond of chocolate, which in real life is highly poisonous to ferrets.
  • Stargirl: The titular character has a pet rat. She's a good owner overall but she only has one rat. Rats are extremely social animals, and unless the owner can devote at least four hours every day toward playing with the rat, it's recommended you have at least two to keep each other company.
  • Stray is a 1980s book and features some outdated animal care, on top of the intended elements of animal abuse:
    • It's implied that Granny Harris kept one budgie for several years, but she kept him permanently caged during that period. She eventually gave him away both because he couldn't talk and she was worried that her new cats would hurt him. Budgies are social birds who need room to exercise, so keeping a lone bird permanently caged is considered neglectful. The budgie's new owners, her daughter and son-in-law, aren't any better. The one time they let the bird out of his cage, he flew around wildly and then flew out the window.
    • As a part of Science Marches On, Pufftail is often given milk despite the fact that cats are lactose intolerant.
  • Theres A Hair In My Dirt (by The Far Side author Gary Larson) follows a woman who thinks herself a Friend to All Living Things... and could not be further from the truth. Among others, she tosses a "turtle" into a pond (actually a tortoise, so she just condemned it to drown), returning a baby bird to its nest (where it gets tossed out again by the cuckoo chick already there), and rescuing a mouse from a snake causes her to catch the virus the mouse was carrying, killing her.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Unadulterated Cat, a vegan couple claim their cat thrived on a meat-free diet, while the rest of the neighbourhood knew it thrived on the area's entire rodent population.
  • Warrior Cats: There's at least one scene where humans leave out a bowl of milk for cats to drink. While dairy is bad for cats' digestion in real life, the characters in the books suffer no ill effects.
  • Watership Down: The rabbits are obsessed with lettuce, and how good this is for them depends on the type of lettuce. Iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value; worse, it contains too much phosphorus, which can end up leaching calcium from their bones. Darker lettuces like Romaine and lamb's lettuce, however, are a nutritious treat. Fortunately, the rabbits of Watership Down, being wild, would rarely encounter enough lettuce to harm them and would be right to regard it as "flayrah" (their word for superior food).
  • There's a brief scene in A Wind in the Door that features one of the characters making hot cocoa and casually pouring out a saucer for the family's black Lab, who "had an uncanine fondness for cocoa". Anyone who's ever owned a dog ought to know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs and shouldn't be given as a treat.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adventures in Wonderland: Alice on a few occasions has a goldfish in a bowl. Real life goldfish do not do well in a bowl — this does not allow enough oxygen to circulate, and it does not give enough space for the fish to move around. She also has a cat in the room, which also isn't a good idea. (Even though some cats can be trained to ignore fish in a tank.) This is softened a little by the fact that it's only in her room for a few episodes, suggesting that maybe she is keeping the fish in a bowl while the tank is cleaned by her family members offscreen.
  • In an episode of truTV's All Worked Up, process server Byron McElderry must serve court papers to a defendant at his home. Byron tries to calm down the defendant's dog by feeding it a sandwich from Subway. When the defendant sees this, he gets understandably pissed off.
  • Sadly, about ninety percent of the cases that come up on Animal Planet Heroes programs are Truth in Television examples of this trope.
  • Are You Being Served?: For someone so lovingly obsessed with her pussy, Mrs. Slocombe often doesn't treat her cat very well. In one instance, she brought her pregnant cat to the store. When the cat started giving birth, she asked the store nurse for some human sedatives to give the cat, and didn't even tell the nurse what they were for!
  • Better Call Saul: In "Chicanery", Jimmy buys a cheap, disposable goldfish, which he keeps in a plastic bag as pretense when he visits Caldera at his veterinarian clinic to hire a pickpocket. He is then chastised by Caldera for depriving the bagged fish of oxygen. He tells Jimmy to give the fish at least a gallon sized tank and give it a good bubbler. In the season 4 premiere, "Smoke," we see Jimmy has taken Caldera's advice to heart.
  • Animal Planet's Call of the Wildman centered around show star Ernie "Turtleman" Brown Jr. catching and removing wild animals with his bare hands instead of using the kinds of tools that most professional animal control services use, like poles, snake hooks, or live traps. This put both him and the animals he was catching at unnecessary risk. One of the prime examples was an episode where he grabbed a coyote by the tail and lifted it off the ground. Like all mammals (even tiny mice), an adult coyote is too heavy to be safely lifted in this manner, doing so meant that it was at massive risk of a spinal injury.
  • FlashForward: A pet store owner grateful for the FBI's help offers Janis a free cockatiel. Um.....for starters, there is the obvious problem of giving a pet to someone who isn't fully committed to taking care of it. Also, cockatiels in particular need a ton of time and attention and socialization or else they can become self-destructive. No bird breeder or caretaker worth their salt would consider just giving a bird away like that.
  • In the History Channel's documentary Hippies, the narrative of how LSD was invented is backed up by footage from early experiments with the drug, including a shot of a hamster trying to chew its way through the bare metal mesh at the bottom of its cage. Exposed wire-floor cages are terrible for pets' feet, especially those of rabbits, whose feet don't have pads. Also a case of Artistic License – Biology, as the context implies that the animal is chewing the wire only because it's drugged out of its mind, but gnawing on objects and attempting to dig its way free is perfectly normal behavior for a hamster, and any other rodent, that feels frustrated. Research animals were often kept in bare metal mesh cages back in the day. Things have gotten MUCH better nowadays.
  • It's Me or the Dog: One woman fed her dogs ice cream, cookies and human tea. Victoria pointed out that dogs should not be fed human food with sugar in it.
  • Medium: The psychic daughter gives a piece of candy to the class pet she's minding, then finds it dead and blames herself for killing it. Said class pet is a tarantula, which isn't any more equipped to eat a piece of candy than to eat a rock.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • According to the "Fish Club" sketch, goldfish have a ravenous appetite and eat sausages, spring greens, gazpacho, bread and gravy.
      Announcer: (reading text on screen) "The RSPCA wishes it to be known that that man was not a bona-fide animal lover, and also that goldfish do not eat sausages."
      Fish Club Man: Treacle tart!
      Announcer: Shut up! "They are quite happy with bread crumbs, ants' eggs and—" (text shows "AND THE OCCASIONAL PHEASANT" crossed out) Who wrote that?!
    • Then there's the "Dead Parrot" sketch, in which it's a bit late for proper animal care; though bad animal care on the part of the incompetent pet shop owner is almost certainly the reason the parrot is no more, has ceased to be, and is an ex-parrot.
  • The Animal Planet series My Big Fat Pet Makeover is basically Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition for pets. Usually, the root of a pet's problems in any given episode boils down to basic things people should know, like the importance of not overfeeding said pet.
  • In the Odd Squad episode "Puppet Show", Oprah gets a new dog named Whoops, whom she feeds juice to. While most fruit juices are not toxic to dogs (apart from grape juice, which is incredibly toxic to them), many veterinarians recommend that they don't drink it due to juice being high in sugar and artificial preservatives. Considering Oprah is The Alcoholic who is addicted to juice and drinks as many as a thousand juice boxes a day, it's little wonder that Whoops becomes an Absent Animal Companion for the remainder of the series.
  • Nat Geo Wild's version of the Puppy Bowl, the Fish Bowl, involves various fish swimming around in a bowl. As mentioned, putting fish in bowls is typically a bad idea. There is a lot of care taken into the welfare of the fish off-screen, and it is just a temporary enclosure rather than a permanent one.
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Salem with chocolate milk in his bowl. Not only are cats lactose intolerant, but chocolate is also toxic to them. However, it likely won’t affect Salem that much since he Was Once a Man.
  • An episode of Scrubs had two college friends of JD and Turk getting married, they considered buying a ferret as a wedding gift. At the end of the episode, since they can't make the wedding themselves, they give the ferret to another friend who is attending. Turk reminds him that "The ferret only eats fresh vegetables". In reality, ferrets are carnivores and should not eat any vegetables as their digestive systems cannot process them.
  • Supernatural: Sam accidentally hits a dog with his car and takes it to a veterinarian. After she treats it, she guilt-trips Sam into adopting it because the owner cannot be found. This is something a real vet would obviously never do. Sam didn't even want the dog, and there was no reason for her to believe he'd take care of it or even keep it for longer than it took to get out of her office and set it loose. Such a system would be a good way to get animals into abusive homes, which is exactly what adoption shelters want to avoid.
  • Done in-universe in an episode of the original version of Survivors; the heroes have been struggling along, attempting to keep their post-pandemic farm going, when a genuine farming expert turns up and chews them out for all the things they've been doing wrong with their animals.
  • Averted by the professional aquarium-builders on Tanked, but played straight by some of the customers, whose requested tank designs are so bizarre (e.g. the spade-shaped tank with its nearly-inaccessible lower section) that the finished product can't help but be difficult to maintain over time.
  • On Total Blackout, one challenge required contestants to identify objects in a set of four glass tanks by touch. Live rats were in the first tank, and a live snake (probably boa) in the third. Any responsible snake-handler would have put the reptile before the rodents, as the aroma of rat on contestants' skin could have potentially incited the snake to bite, mistaking their hands for a food source.
  • The Untamed: Wei Wuxian tosses a rabbit to Jiang Cheng and holds another one upside down. In real life this is terrible idea. Rabbits are sensitive animals that frighten easily, so when they're shocked enough they might literally die of a heart attack. Throwing them or making them lie on their backs is a good way to do that.
  • The Wire: In "Duck and Cover", Ziggy Sobotka gets a duck, which he calls his "attorney". He feeds it only peanuts and whiskey. By the next episode, it's dead. The other stevedores lampshade Ziggy's idiocy.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Arctic Circle comic, Oscar takes in a kitten and Ed asks him if he knows how to look after a cat. Oscar claims he did his research...and attempts to feed the kitten lasagna and coffee, due to using Garfield for said research. Ed calls him out on it.
  • An early Dilbert strip had Dogbert eating chocolate cake; when it was first published, the author was immediately bombarded with emails pointing out that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Bipedal talking egg-dogs are, apparently, not immune.
  • Foxtrot:
    • Jason regularly feeds his pet iguana Quincy mealworms or crickets — iguanas are actually vegetarians, or at least 98% vegetarian. However, an early comic shows him pouring a bowl of fruits and vegetables into Quincy's terrarium, so maybe he wasn't too far off...
    • A later strip has Jason feeding Quincy his dinner of vegetables and opting to eat the crickets he was originally going to give him. While this is set up as a joke that insects would be more appetizing than Andy's cooking, this would actually be a lot more healthy for Quincy anyways.
    • In one strip, Quincy was shown eating chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate is poisonous for most animals, iguanas included.
    • In one strip Jason decides to give Quincy a bubble bath (because Paige just so happened to be taking a bath at the time) This is a TERRIBLE idea because the chemicals in bubble bath aren't good for iguanas' skin.
    • Played for Laughs in one strip wherein Paige gets fish... and she has an angelfish and guppies in the same aquarium. Predictably this doesn't end well, as one punchline has Paige say "That's right little guppies, eat the fish food. That's right angelfish, eat the fish-FOOD! I SAID EAT THE FISH FOOD!"
  • Garfield contains many examples of unrealistic (or bad!) treatments of animals.
    • Granted, though Jon provides some of what Garfield eats (and Jon often tries to serve cat food), he often does the obtaining food on his own, but with all the lasagna (which in spite of being his Trademark Favourite Food contains two vegetables bad for cats, garlic and onions), ice cream, cake, candy, etc he eats, it's amazing he's alive. On the other hand, his hatred of raisins is helpful, considering raisins cause kidney failure in cats.
    • Sometimes, Garfield gets put on diets, most of them involving vegetables like lettuce and carrots. This would likely do more harm than good for obligate carnivores like cats.
    • Jon also has a history of trying to keep fish and birds as pets, which is generally ill-advised when you have a cat in the house. Predictably, Garfield has frequently tried to eat them (and often succeeded).
  • Get Fuzzy: Rob's mother attempts to put her cat on a vegetarian diet. This, realistically, causes the cat extreme distress, at one point leading her to beg Rob to put her out of her misery. He leaves her with several hundred dollars in cash and a barbecue restaurant delivery menu, which is probably only a little better, depending on what's in the sauce/rub. For example, if there's onions in it, they'll destroy her kidneys.
  • Peanuts:
    • In a lot of early strips, Charlie Brown occasionally gave Snoopy treats that dogs should never have, like potato chips, cookies, and chocolate. This tended to taper off in later years, but there were a few modern strips where Charlie Brown let him have pizza. The cheese would've made the small dog very sick.
    • Chocolate chip cookies are a Trademark Favorite Food of Snoopy's, and one arc ended with Snoopy becoming too sick to play tennis after eating an entire box of them. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, with smaller dogs like Beagles are prone to being more vulnerable to this, and even if the chocolate didn't cause a problem, the large intake of sugar probably would. But as it still makes him feel sick to some extent, this is a downplayed example.
  • In one Phoebe and Her Unicorn comic, Phoebe is feeding bread to ducks while pointing out that they're more interested in the bread she's feeding them than the rainbow she's sitting on. Readers quickly pointed out that bread is bad for ducks, which caused Dana Claire Simpson to release a follow-up strip three years later where Phoebe points this out to Marigold.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The lion family from Between the Lions usually eat meat, which is part of a lion's diet. However, in "The Popcorn Popper", Lionel and Leona are seen eating popcorn, which isn't good for a lion unless it's plain without any butter or seasoning.
  • Fraggle Rock: In "The Thirty Minute Work Week", Doc lets Sprocket choose which donut he can have. As stated above, while donuts aren't toxic to dogs (unless they contain chocolate or caffeine), they have too much sugar and aren't healthy for them.
  • In The Noddy Shop episode "Following Directions", Kate accidentally pours bubble bath into Johnny Crawfish's aquarium, and he's perfectly fine afterwards. If done in real life, this could probably kill a lobster.

  • Subverted in Legally Blonde. Paulette bakes what at first appears to be a chocolate birthday cake for her dog, but she mentions that it's actually made from "a dog-friendly chocolate substitute"note . And it's shaped LIKE A BONE.

    Video Games 
  • In the Animal Crossing games, you can display the fish, bugs, and sea creatures that you can catch in your homes as decoration. The tanks are far too small for the fish to even move around (unless they happen to be tiny species). Goldfish are also displayed in goldfish bowls and the bird cage item also contains an absurdly tiny cage. Of course, the games aren't supposed to be realistic.
  • In Barrow Hill, Emma's blog mentions her buying her dog Wincey a small cake for a treat. The cake in question has chocolate drops for decoration.
  • Far Cry 5 has Cheeseburger the grizzly bear. He was found as an abandoned cub rooting in a garbage dumpster for food and got his name because of his love for cheeseburgers. This unhealthy diet caused him to develop diabetes, and when you encounter him in the game you're told that nowadays he sticks to eating salmon and other things that are part of a grizzly's normal diet. Additionally, Cheeseburger is apparently domesticated. Real bears are temperamental, territorial creatures, so they can't be domesticated. And they're not social animals, so they don't have a social structure.
  • The developers of Farming Simulator 17 bothered to program your chickens to shut up and go to sleep when the sun is down, but they snooze outside their very prominent coop. Chickens always sleep indoors when they can, and it would have been trivial to have them disappear until dawn.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Averted. The Protagonist initially avoids to give chocolate to Lobo, the giant Wolf King, as his Valentine's Day present and gives him meat instead. Lobo, however, has no interest in that meat and demands chocolate as his present like everyone else does. Thus, the protagonists reluctantly gives Lobo Valentine's Day chocolate, but telling them not to eat it because it's poisonous. Lobo doesn't eat it, but its unfamiliar scent won't remind him of his past, which is why he doesn't accept meat as his present.
    • The above Valentine's scene is calling back a straight example from the Shinjuku chapter: when you find out Saber Alter has been sheltering a stray dog, you're prompted to offer it some food. For whatever reason, the only snacks you're carrying are chocolate and a raw onion. Saber Alter scolds you, since she kept hunting dogs in life as King Arthur and knows better, and takes you home to get "Cavall II" some dog food instead. Since Lobo debuted in the same chapter, that's probably why you know not to give him chocolate for Valentine's.
  • Averted in Nate's route in Growing Up, where he feeds the ducks with peas because bread is unhealthy for them. As an aspiring vet, he knows what is best for the animals.
  • A clickpoint on the penultimate page of the Living Books title based on Arthur's Reading Race has Arthur letting Pal (his pet dog) lick his chocolate ice cream cone. Although this wouldn't be concentrated enough to harm Pal, Arthur comments that "Pal likes chocolate, too!" after the fact, which is pretty bad.
  • In The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals, one mini-game about the food chain has a toucan eating an avocado. Avocados are very toxic to birds that aren't quetzals. This may just be an example of Science Marches On though.
  • In Minecraft, parrots at first were tamed by feeding them cookies, which were the closest objects in the game to parrots' favourite crackers. However when fans pointed out that the chocolate chips in the cookies are poisonous to parrots, Mojang patched the game a few days later so that seeds would tame them instead. If you try to feed a cookie to a parrot anyway, the parrot will die instantly. As well, Mojang added a title screen splash that warned players not to feed chocolate to parrots (which itself references an identical splash warning the same for avocados).
  • In Mirror's Edge you can find a rat kept by some eccentric individual as a pet in a tiny cage, with no bedding, no companion, no place to hide and no access to food and water, just a note on a wall reminding to feed Scruffy.
  • Persona 5: This trope is discussed with regards to Morgana at one point. Morgana looks like a cat in the real world but insists that he isn't. During one conversation, he'll mention that he ate an entire onion without ill effects and cite that as proof that he's not actually a cat, as onions are poisonous to cats.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims 2 Womrats (a fictional rodent-type creature similar to a hamster or guinea pig) are depicted living in a maybe 5-gallon plastic cage. In reality, that type of cage should never be used because not only are they too small, but they do not give the animal adequate ventilation. One of the creature's animations might even be lampshading this: it actively and repeatedly tries to escape the Containment Unit by climbing the front wall.
    • Keeping a falcon in a birdcage and letting it perch on you without a glove on are bad ideas. Sims also seem to feed it birdseed for some reason. Granted, the falcon isn't stated to be one and is essentially a Palette Swap of the parrots, but it looks accurate (it's based on a male American Kestrel) and then doesn't work like a real falcon at all. Falcons and parrots, as well as songbirds, belong to a group of birds called Australaves.
    • The Sims 4 expansion pack DLC My First Pet Stuff allows you to own pets like hamsters and guinea pigs for the first time. Starting in the 2000s, as more understanding of the pets have emerged, it's generally become seen as improper to consider small pets "first pet" material because they can be just as much work, if not more, than something like a dog or a cat.
  • In Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill, one of the items is a saucer of milk. Common trope or not, cats are lactose intolerant.
  • In Spiritfarer, sheep and cows can be fed anything, even food that's unhealthy for them in real life. As long as the sheep are well-fed and are kept in sheep corrals, they won't eat Stella's crops.
  • Before the title screen of Wobbledogs, there's a message saying that the wobbledogs can eat things that are dangerous to real dogs.

    Visual Novels 
  • Enchanted in the Moonlight: It turns out to be a moot point since he's hardly a normal fox, but upon encountering Miyabi in his fox form during the prologue, the protagonist feeds him some of her fried tofu and then takes the apparent wild animal into her bathroom and strips naked in order to give it a bath. Had she done this with a real wild fox instead of a transformed kitsune, it would most likely have quickly become a painful experience.

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl: In a chapter focusing on a birthday party for Chirpy and Paulo, one of the presents is a chocolate bunny meant for Chirpy, who mentions loving the candy. Birds can’t eat chocolate due to theobromine being toxic, but the same doesn’t apply to cat and dog people.
  • Consciously averted in Freefall. When Florence, a genetically-modified wolf, has a dinner date with Winston at a French restaurant, she has to call her order ahead of time to make sure her food is free of garlic and onion, two major staples of French cuisine that are deadly to canines. She ends up with a filet of sole in butter. Her dinner conversation is on how weird it is for humans to eat jalapeno and other hot peppers just for the flavor. On another occasion, she mentions that coffee would be just as deadly to drink, but as an engineer, she craves the smell of it anyway.
  • Girls with Slingshots: Hazel tries to put her cat Sprinkles on a vegetarian diet to cure its excessive flatulence. It almost kills poor Sprinkles.
  • The early strips of El Goonish Shive occasionally show cats playing with yarn. An unsupervised cat is likely to either become entangled or accidentally swallow yarn, the latter situation pretty much guaranteeing a trip to the vet. note  This is averted in the commentary of many strips, written years later, wherein the author clarifies that he didn't know better at the time and advises against giving cats yarn. Oddly, he even goes into this when the one playing with yarn is a cat-girl. This is likely just to reinforce the idea not to give pet cats yarn, but it's still pretty funny.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Jared is apparently the only person to ever actually feed and pay attention to his Pokemon, or feed an obviously carnivorous Gyarados meat. He becomes a Pokemon Professor for this.
    Jared: Wait, you mean you just figured out that animals like it when you pet them and give them treats? Who gave you your science license?
  • The Order of the Stick: Lord Shojo feeds his nephew Hinjo's animal companion, Argent a tub of frosting (calling it "table scraps"). Though it's implied that this was deliberate (Shojo often used Obfuscating Stupidity), as the silver fillings Argent needed to get afterwards make his bite effective against demons.
  • Parodied in a flashback in Out at Home, which shows Herman telling his then-six-year-old daughter over an open Christmas gift box, "Next year we'll remember, hamsters like airholes..."
  • Prequel: Nah(?), a perfectly normal human woman and is in no way a vampire attempts to lure a kitten full of blood with some grape jelly. This attempt fortunately fails to succeed.
  • Shotgun Shuffle: Ellie shows her love for animals by overfeeding them until they look like furry basketballs. It should kill them well before then.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The family tree published at the end of Chapter 12 shows a couple of cats from the Just Before the End prologue with lines coming out from their portraits, suggesting that they had kittens and possibly have very distant descendants in the main story's era. Both of those cats belonged to people living in urban areas of northern Europe in Next Sunday A.D.; in other words, in a place and time where neutering cats was a highly recommended procedure.
  • A meta-example occurs in Unshelved when Tamara outlines a book (a real-life one, as the characters did from time to time) where the lead habitually lets her dog lick the chocolate frosting off her cupcakes (which is supposed to symbolize how close they are). The kid she's explaining the book to points out that chocolate is deadly for dogs. When Tamara tries to explain that "it's okay, it's just a little", the kid points out that it's still dangerous, and very wrong.note 

  • Pointed out in this Wired article, regarding the proposed "Ark Encounter" creationist theme park and its initial idea of keeping and displaying live animals inside a wooden full-size replica of Noah's Ark, all in order to attempt to prove its scientific and historical truthfulness.
  • Tumblr:
    • There was a post that made the rounds of a vegan stating that their cat "lived for six healthy years" on an all vegan diet. As several other users pointed out, the average lifespan of a house cat is 13-17 years. Given how easy it is to look up this information, the post might have been a Stealth Parody.
    • Deconstructed in this Tumblr post, which explains exactly why owls should NEVER be kept as pets. A few excerpts:
    Fluttersheep: owls are predators. They're destructive. They will potentially look at you as their mate and will become aggressive around your friends and family. They can seriously hurt you. Their talons and beaks are sharp as fuck and even an accident can cause you to need stitches.
    • Another viral post shows a golden retriever pointedly ignoring the sweet potato casserole it has been presented, the owner bragging about how "excited" it is. A veterinarian immediately jumps on the post to point out the obviously uninterested body language and malnourished state of the dog.
  • Videos of people removing barnacles from turtles are rather popular and receive praise. However, forcibly removing live barnacles from turtles only hurts the turtle and damages the shell. In addition, turtles having too many barnacles is usually a symptom of an underlying health problem, as healthy turtles in nature are capable of removing their own barnacles. The best way to treat them is to keep them in fresh water for at least 2-3 days (which kills the barnacles and makes them easier to remove).
  • Reddit:
    • Since she doesn't have any pets but, instead, has stuffed animals that look real at first glance in her photos, Amoridere plays with this, as she photographs her stuffed animals in situations (putting them in clothes, taking them to public places, in snow, etc) that could be dangerous otherwise, discouraging this trope with Don't Try This at Home disclaimers in case anyone gets confused.

    Western Animation 
  • 12 oz. Mouse:
    • In the Invictus special, Fitz is seen loving pepperoni pizza, which is deadly to mice. He is also shown snacking on a corndog, which is also lethal. Justified because he is a Funny Animal.
  • Adventure Time: Jake mentions in "Slumber Party Panic" that he can't eat chocolate or fudge since he is a dog and it would probably kill him, but in "The Pods" he's able to eat chocolate ice cream without any ill effects. In some episodes, he's shown drinking coffee. Granted, he's a magical dog and eventually turns out to be half alien, and is shown in "Jake vs. Me-Mow" to be able to increase the size of his liver to better metabolize poison.
  • Arthur:
    • Subverted in an episode when Pal got sick and had to be taken to the vet, and it turned out it was from the junk food Arthur had been feeding him earlier in the episode. This is made stranger by the fact that several of Arthur's classmates are dogs of the bipedal, sapient variety.
    • Played straight with DW's pet budgie, Spanky. His cage was at least two sizes too small and lacked the basics (toys, perches, etc). He only had a single swing that he sat on. Is it any wonder he died in his debut episode?
    • In Bunny Trouble, this might be a justified instance as DW is about 5 and so wouldn't know, however, she does this trope when she tries to take Larry (the Class Pet bunny) for a walk with a dog leash and collar, not on a harness.
    • In some episodes with Ladonna, we see her pet rat, General Higgins, who's kept by himself. While rats can be kept alone and, in some cases, it's more preferred, rats are social and tend to best in groups.
    • At the end of the episode "Blockheads" a special guest that comes to DW's preschool brings a live koala, which is fine but he just carries it in, not in a cage or under a blanket or anything. This is a TERRIBLE idea as a wild animal like that is unpredictable and could get nervous and attack, especially in a classroom of excited little kids. There's also the fact that he could escape and destroy the classroom.
  • Blue's Clues: Blue has consumed chocolate at least twice in the series. "The Snack Chart" reveals Blue's favorite snack is chocolate milk, and at the end of the episode "Soccer Practice" when the characters share ice cream together, Blue and Magenta chose chocolate for their ice cream flavors. In real life, chocolate is dangerous to dogs in large quantities, and even if the chocolate didn't cause a problem, the heavy hit of dairy and sugar still wouldn't be good for puppies.
  • Bojack Horseman is a strange case since everyone is either an anthropomorphic animal or just a human. There have been a few episodes where BoJack is shown with meat on his plate, despite horses being solely herbivorous. Feeding even a small portion of meat to a horse is a VERY bad idea.
    • Princess Carolyn (a cat) is shown downing dozens of bottles of cream in “Escape from L.A.” Cats are lactose-intolerant, and would get severe digestive issues if they consume enough dairy products. In the same episode, Charlotte (deer) makes eggs and bacon. To be fair, half of her family is human.
  • Breadwinners: The ducks eat nothing but bread, a diet that would kill real ducks due to its lack of nutritional and caloric value.
  • Doug: Porkchop, displaying some human traits, can pretty much eat any human food without suffering any adverse effects, such as pizza and ice cream. Ironically, this is seemingly averted in "Doug's Fat Cat" with Roger's cat Stinky, who got sick from eating the aforementioned food, but then it turns out that she was actually in labor. Played with in the very first episode, wherein Porkchop eats nothing but vegetables and fruits, but Doug insists he had nothing to do with this and that Porkchop's vegetarianism is "just a phase". We should hope that it is and that it ends quickly. Dogs can survive on an all-vegan diet the way a human can survive eating only's possible, but definitely not good for them.
  • DuckTales (2017): In the episode "The Rumble For Ragnarok!", Dewey feeds a lollipop to Fenrir the wolf, only for Fenrir to choke on the candy and spit it back up. This is lampshaded by someone:
    "What are you doing?! You can't give candy to a dog! What are you, a dummy?!"
  • Feast: Winston, a small Boston Terrier, chows on loads of human food of an amount and varieties that would make any veterinarian scream in horror at what it has to be doing to his system.
  • Parodied in an episode of Futurama, where a hippy claims to have taught a lion to eat nothing but tofu. We then see the lion scrawny and pale as hell, clearly starving to death.
  • In one Harold and the Purple Crayon episode, the young protagonist is shown keeping his goldfish in a fish bowl. The fish dies not soon afterwards (presumably under the myth that goldfish are short lived, not because it was kept in a bowl) and Harold learns about death.
  • The HBO Storybook Musicals episode Ida Sleeps Over depicts a goldfish in a generic fish bowl. Doing that will kill a goldfish very quickly.
  • Johnny Bravo: One episode had an emu being fed avocados, which are poisonous to birds. As mentioned above, quetzal birds are one of the only bird species that don't get poisoned by them. In fact, they can swallow avocado pits and they play a crucial role in dispersing them.
  • Justice League Action: In the episode "Unleashed", Dex-Starr infiltrates the Watchtower in the guise of an ordinary housecat. Plastic Man is currently holding the fort while the other heroes are away, and he feeds Dex-Starr a variety of things unsuitable for feline consumption, such as cheese and jello. This leaves Dex-Starr with an upset stomach and an increasingly urgent need to visit the litter box.
  • Averted in an episode of ''Kenny the Shark" where the titular shark and his dog friend Marty gorge themselves on chocolate. When we see Marty later in the episode he mentions having to get his stomach pumped.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012):
    • "Topped With Buttercream" has the pets enter the pantry of a sweet shop and stuff themselves full with sugary treats. The only ill effects they suffer are a sugar high, some hallucinations, and a stomachache. In real life, that much candy and sugar would likely be lethally poisonous to those pets.
    • Zoe, a dog, has been shown to be freely given chocolate cake by Blythe at the end of "Bakers and Fakers". It's not as harmful as straight up dark chocolate would be, but it certainly isn't good for her.
    • Really, the main premise of the show could count. Multi-species pet day camps don't exist for a reason. Aside from the obvious risk of predatory behavior, each of these animals needs different care that isn't really fulfilled by what's seen on the show. Also, small pets like Vinny and Russel could easily be left at home in a safe enclosure throughout the day, rather than needing to go to a day camp or having someone watch them. There is also a pet door leading from the day camp room right out onto the sidewalk. Why this isn't a good idea should be obvious.
  • Looney Tunes taught generations of children how to kill their pets through poor diet:
  • Averted in one episode of Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol in which the titular characters teach their friend safety tips regarding caring for pets, one of which is not to give a dog chocolate (which said friend was stopped from doing).
  • Averted in Martha Speaks where Martha has to avoid eating chocolate or onions because they're poisonous to dogs and cats. They also break the Fourth Wall in that eating alphabet soup to keep Martha's ability to talk only works on Martha and wouldn't work for other dogs.
  • In My Dad the Rock Star, Mosh the Komodo Dragon is walked on a leash like a dog, but the leash is attatched to his collar. It should be attatched to a harness if you're going to walk any type of pet that isn't a dog, as their neck shape is different and they can slip out of a normal collar.
    • In "The Sound Of Zilla", Mosh eats bratwurst and sausages, which would make him sick in real life.
  • In one episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Token Human Adam Lyon proposes adding human food to the Funny Animal school's cafeteria. The human food results in everyone except Adam becoming obese, and at the end of the episode, everyone is exercising their weight off. In real life, weight gain would be the least of their problems.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Fluttershy has a job dealing with wild, non-Civilized Animal animals. This includes ferrets, who apparently live outside and everything. Ferrets (as in domestic European polecats, not wild black footed ferrets) are domestic animals and should ideally be inside, or at least caged.
    • In "Winter Wrap Up", she feeds said ferrets what appears to be a salad. Ferrets are carnivores.
    • In "Filli Vanilli", Fluttershy is seen giving cheese to mice. Mice need a diet of plants, seeds, nuts, and grains to live, and while they'll eat it if they have to, cheese isn't good for them.
    • "Inspiration Manifestation" has an example that's actually serendipitous because it increases the horror of the title spell. Rarity drowns her sorrows with an ice cream binge she ordinarily would have greatly regretted that night, but the spell had such control over her that it made her completely oblivious.
    • "Secrets and Pies": Rainbow Dash feeds her discarded pies to her pet tortoise and Cheerilee's class hamster; the sugar content would likely be lethal for both pets. This is actually downplayed as both pets get sick from this, just not as sick as they should have gotten.
  • PAW Patrol: Hailey gives her cat some pie that was stated to contain rhubarb, which is deathly toxic to cats. The cat does get sick from it, but it's via overeating and not via the contents of the pie.
  • In the Producing Parker episode "Model Moms", Parker shares a chocolate ice cream sundae with her dog Massimo. Chocolate is toxic to dogs.
  • The Raccoons: In the episode "Moving In!", George Raccoon bakes a Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Supreme for Chef Surprise and mentions it's his daughter Lisa's favorite. Real-life raccoons can't digest the chemicals found in chocolate and consumption of it would result in vomiting and/or death.
  • Ruby Gloom has the cat "Doom Kitty" eating muffins with chocolate chips, which are toxic to most animals and would be especially dangerous to a small animal like a cat. Though, given the nature of the show, Doom Kitty may already be dead.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • It's pretty obvious that no Great Dane (or any breed of dog in general for that matter) would have Scooby's famous cast iron stomach. This is mildly averted in the second theatrical film where Scooby turns down drinking a chocolate milkshake in favor of a strawberry one... though if you want to get pedantic about it, milkshakes of any flavor aren't good for dogs.
    • Played straight in an episode of Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo where Scooby and Scrappy both eat chocolate cake with no negative consequences.
    • Also played straight in Aloha, Scooby-Doo!, where there's a Running Gag of Scooby and Shaggy constantly on the hunt for macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.
  • Played with in Shaun the Sheep- the farmer feeds his animals appropriately for their species, but Shaun and the other sheep love human foods like pizza, sandwiches, cake, and ice cream. They even have been shown eating meat like hamburgers and roast chicken on occasion, which dips into Fridge Horror given that there are chickens and cows as characters on the show.
  • The episode of The Simpsons with all the greyhound puppies had them hiding the newborn pups all over the room like Easter eggs for some reason. DO NOT do this with real puppies, especially newborns.

Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Animal Care