Your dog is under the table nudging your leg for a bite of your dinner. He starts barking while you’re sneaking a late-night snack from the fridge so he can get in on the fun.
Our pups love human food—and we like showing our dog our love by giving them some of our chow. And that’s not always bad. Dogs can eat people food on occasion. Some people food can help add vitamins and nutrients to your dog’s diet, while sending their taste buds on an exciting ride.
But there are some foods you should always avoid, no matter how much your dog barks or begs. In some cases, your dog’s stomach simply can’t process these foods because canines have different digestion enzymes. They could get tummy troubles like vomiting, diarrhea, or gas. In more serious cases, some foods can be poisonous and toxic to dogs, causing coma and even death in large enough doses.
Keep in mind that weight, size, and breed of dog will impact the level of toxicity. For example, my friend had an overweight golden retriever who snuck into the pantry and ate 22 chocolate birthday cupcakes—wrapper and all! After taking him to the vet, the dog was thankfully nearly unharmed. He had vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy for about a week, but the chocolate (and wrappers) didn’t hurt him because he was so large. In smaller dogs or leaner breeds, even one chocolate cupcake could have killed the dog. (We NEVER recommend letting your dog eat 22 chocolate cupcakes!)
You never know how a food will impact your dog—so it’s best to avoid dangerous foods altogether.
Below we’ll give you an alphabetical list of the foods you should always avoid. Those with a star next to them are especially toxic and should be kept away from dogs in any and all forms.
It’s not funny to give your dog a beer to watch him act “drunk.” Alcohol—even in small doses or in food—can have serious consequences for your pup. The decreased coordination could cause serious injury, and the inability to process alcohol could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system in both humans and dogs, but it’s amplified in canines even more. This can lead to abnormal blood acidity, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, and even death. Don’t give your dog a beer.
Apple seeds contain amygdalin. When ingested, amygdalin releases a cyanide sugar. In large enough amounts, this can enter the bloodstream and cause cyanide poisoning. Signs of this include vomiting, heart palpitation, skin irritation, and even coma or death.
Apples are okay for dogs, but try to avoid the seeds if possible. Cut up the apple into slices and throw out the core.
Avocados contain persin. Persin isn’t toxic to dogs, but it doesn’t sit well with their digestion. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and heartburn.
Don’t give dogs uncooked or cooked bones from your food. Owners mistakenly think, because dogs love chewing on bones, that it’s okay to feed their dog the bones from their leftover steak or turkey. However, these bones can splinter and get lodged in the throat or puncture the digestive tract. This can be fatal to dogs.
Cat food has too much protein and fat for dogs. Cat food can actually “overdose” your dog on macronutrients, which can make their stomachs sick and their organs overworked. Stick to dog food for your dog.
Chocolate is the number one offender when it comes to dog toxicity. Chocolate (and caffeine) contains methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds. These can damage your dog’s heart and nervous system. Chocolate also has theobromine and theophylline, which are toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate is especially bad for dogs as it has high levels of these compounds.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death.
Citrus plants like lemons and limes contain citric acid. This can irritate the stomach and colon lining as well as depress the dog’s central nervous system. Keep your pet away from all parts of the citrus plant, including stems, leaves, peels, fruit, and seeds.
Coconut isn’t toxic, but it can cause an upset stomach in most dogs. This can lead to loose stools and diarrhea, which isn’t fun to clean up.
Don’t give your dog coconut water, which is too high in potassium for dogs.
Have you ever had one too many cups of coffee and felt uncontrollably anxious? That’s how dogs feel with even a sip of caffeine. Caffeine in coffee and soda can cause restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors.
Like with humans, dogs can’t fully digest corn. Corn pieces can get lodged in their small intestine, which can cause blockages and infections. These pieces have to be surgically removed or it could cause a fatal situation for the dog. Don’t give your pup any corn pieces, especially straight from the cob (which is a choking hazard).
Fish is okay for dogs, but you want to avoid giving them raw fish, which can carry fatal bacteria and parasites. For example, raw salmon can sometimes have the parasite Nanophyetus salmincola, which can carry infected bacteria. These bacteria can be fatal to dogs if not treated urgently. Cooked salmon is usually okay because it kills the parasite.
Recommended Reading: What Is Giardia?
Even just a few grapes can cause almost-instant liver damage and kidney failure. Experts aren’t sure yet what compound causes such a toxic reaction for dogs, but it’s a common poison nevertheless. Be careful when giving your dog cookies or trail mix as well because these can contain raisins.
A little bit of liver can give your dog an extra boost of vitamin A. However, liver has a lot of vitamin A, which can negatively impact a dog’s muscles and bones when ingested in large amounts.
Macadamia nuts have a toxin that actually paralyzes your dog’s muscles and nervous system. He’ll start to feel weak, have swollen limbs, and even start trembling. It can also cause depression, panting, vomiting, and hyperthermia (high temperature).
Meat is good for your dog. Raw meat isn’t. Raw or undercooked meats and eggs can carry dangerous salmonella and E.coli that your dog’s system can’t fight off. Raw eggs also contain avidin, which is an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to a B vitamin deficiency, causing skin and coat problems.
Dogs are lactose intolerant. They don’t have enough lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down the lactose sugar in milk. Milk isn’t toxic, but they’ll have an upset stomach, stinky farts, diarrhea, and sluggishness.
Just like you don’t want to eat moldy or expired food, neither does your dog. Mold and bacteria contain toxins, which can be fatally poisonous to dogs.
Bring fresh, unspoiled dog food with you wherever you go with our COMPLEASH! Your hungry pup will thank you.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans have high levels of oils and fats. Your dog can’t consume too much fat or this could lead to potential pancreatitis or diabetes. In the short term, it can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Onions, garlic, and chives contain disulfides and sulfoxides that can actually cause anemia and red blood cell damage in large enough amounts. These are almost always toxic in cats and small dogs, and they can be harmful in larger dogs if eaten in excess. You should avoid these in all forms, including dry, raw, cooked, and powder.
Peach pits are not only a choking hazard, but they also contain amygdalin (like apple seeds). Amygdalin turns to cyanide when ingested, which can cause cyanide poisoning.
Pear seeds contain trace amounts of arsenic that can be dangerous to dogs, even in small doses. In general, we recommend keeping your dog away from any and all seeds or pits.
Rhubarb and tomato leaves contain oxalates, which impact the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. Symptoms can include increased salivation and tremors, and ultimately it can lead to kidney failure.
Like humans, too much salt can be a bad thing for dogs. It can cause minor problems like excessive thirst and urination up to more severe consequences like vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and death. Avoid feeding your pet potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn—though a few bites likely won’t hurt.
In a similar way, a little sugar won’t hurt your dog. However, excessive amounts of sugar can cause dental issues, obesity, and even diabetes.
It’s important to make sure your dog’s blood glucose levels are remaining steady without spiking or dropping frequently (due to sugar or lack of eating). Learn more about glucose levels here.
Nicotine has an even worse effect on dogs than it does in humans. It can almost immediately increase heart rate and damage the nervous system, causing dogs to pass out, slip into a coma, or even die. Don’t let your dog anywhere near tobacco products.
Xylitol is a sweetener in products like gum, candy, baked goods, and even toothpaste. It can cause a high level of insulin release, which can lead to hypoglycemia, diabetes, or even liver failure. If your dog eats xylitol, he may show signs of vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures, which could all be the first signs of liver failure. Keep an eye out for symptoms of blood glucose level changes as well.
Yeast can actually rise in your dog’s stomach. This will cause an accumulation of gas in the digestive system, leading to bloating, gas, diarrhea, and pain. In some cases, the dog’s stomach can twist, which requires emergency surgery.
P.S. Don’t let your dog eat your clothing or furniture. Learn more here.
Don’t panic. If you found your dog eating a bad food or he’s showing symptoms (bloating, vomiting, lethargy, etc.), take him to the vet immediately. You should also call ASPCA for more information about animal poison control.
If he ate a food that will just upset his stomach and isn’t toxic, give him white chicken and white rice fully cooked. This will help ease his stomach cramps and harden his stool if he has diarrhea. You may also want to give him a tummy massage.
Talk to your vet about a healthy diet for your dog. Human foods that are generally safe for dogs include:
Turkey is still up for debate. Most dogs can eat turkey without a problem, but the infamous “sleep turkey L-tryptophan” can make them lethargic and sluggish (just like you on Thanksgiving). You also want to ensure there are no bones in the turkey that your dog could choke on. Talk to your doctor before feeding your dog turkey.
You want to keep your pup healthy and well fed. Always have food on-hand with our COMPLEASH. With a 10 oz water flask and 2 serving/storage bowls, you can make sure your dog is always well fed and hydrated wherever you go!
Please keep in mind that there may be other foods we haven’t listed in this article. Always be sure to consult your pet’s diet with a vet to ensure optimal health.
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