10 Foods that are Dangerous for Dogs

It can be hard to resist your dog’s sweet face when they beg you to share your food. While a small portion of some human foods can be okay as an occasional treat, many types of human foods will poison your dog. Here is a list of the top 10 offenders: 

1. Grapes and Raisins 

Although the toxin present in these fruits has not been identified, even ingestion of a small number of either fresh grapes or dried raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs within 12 hours. If they do not receive immediate emergency intervention, ingestion can prove fatal. 

2. Allium Vegetables – Onions, Shallots, Chives, Scallions, and Garlic 

Allium vegetables pose a higher risk to cats but are still toxic to dogs. Ingestion of onions, shallots, chives, scallions, or garlic cause a dog’s body to destroy its red blood cells, leading to anemia. Signs of anemia include pale or white gums, lethargy, weakness or stumbling, dark urine, and lack of appetite. Although often quantity-dependent, exposure to concentrated forms of these items (think onion or garlic powder or seasoning mixes) can also prove extremely dangerous. When considering feeding any human food to your dog, avoid seasonings altogether and use only plain, cooked, lean meat. 

3. Chocolate and Caffeine 

Both chocolate and caffeine contain substances called methylxanthines that are very dangerous to dogs. These substances can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperthermia (high body temperature), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, and seizures. The effects depend on the type of chocolate ingested (dark vs. milk, for example) and the quantity. Each animal will have a different level of tolerance. If you believe that your dog may have ingested any chocolate or caffeinated products, they should receive emergency intervention. 

4. Alcohol 

Ingestion of any ethanol will cause your dog to act ‘drunk,’ but they cannot tolerate and process ethanol the same way humans can. Signs of alcohol intoxication include vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, tremors, coma, and may progress to death unless treated. 

5. Raw Meat and Eggs

Raw meat is often contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, E. Coli, toxoplasmosis, or other harmful pathogens. Raw meat diets are marketed as more “natural” dogs, but they expose both you and your pet to unnecessary risk and lead to deadly infections.

Raw eggs may also be contaminated with bacteria and contain an enzyme called avidin. Avidin prevents dogs from absorbing the B vitamin biotin, leading to problems with their skin and hair coat. 

6. Animal bones 

Recently, more people have been feeding their pets raw and cooked bones to mimic how dogs eat in the wild. However, this is dangerous for your dog. 

First and foremost, dogs are not aware of what they are chewing on and do not have the foresight to prevent themselves from biting too hard on the bones and fracturing their teeth. Veterinary dentists cite chewing on hard objects like bones and antlers as the primary cause of fractured molars in cats and dogs. 

Once a bone has been ingested, it may be in pieces that are too large to pass through your dog’s intestines, causing a blockage that is life-threatening without surgery. If the bones are cooked to soften them, they have a high likelihood of splintering, and the small shards can pierce the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, causing significant internal damage. 

Securing safe toys and chewing items for your dog is vital for their lifelong health and happiness. When in doubt about a chew toy, you can use a few easy tests to determine if it is too firm for your dog: 

  • You should be able to dent the surface with a fingernail. 
  • Or bend the ends a little, showing the flexibility of the material.
  • You should also be able to give yourself a small whack on the kneecap with the object and not cause pain – if it hurts you, it is too hard for your dog’s teeth as well. 

7. Xylitol 

A common sweetener is used in many human products to avoid high amounts of sugar; xylitol is very toxic to our household companions. Xylitol is often found in jars of peanut butter, sugar-free gum, candies, toothpaste, baked goods, and various liquid medications. Xylitol causes your dog’s body to release a large amount of insulin, which can result in mild symptoms like increased thirst and urination, to severe symptoms like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, coma, and death. Ingesting xylitol will also cause damage to your dog’s liver that may or may not be reversible. Aside from avoiding household products containing xylitol, be very careful with any liquid medications you are using for your dog – they should come directly from your veterinarian or from a compounding pharmacy that can make a liquid formulation without the addition of this dangerous sweetener.

8. Macadamia nuts 

These tasty tropical nuts are found in mixed nut snacks and may seem like a relatively safe sharing option. Unfortunately, they are toxic to dogs. Within 12 hours of ingestion, symptoms of toxicity will be noticeable, including vomiting, limb weakness and tremors, depression, and hypothermia. The good news here is that macadamia toxicity usually resolves within 24 to 48 hours of its occurrence, and your dog is likely to make a full recovery.

9. Yeast (dough) 

Most issues with yeast arise from the counter surfers who may steal some uncooked bread dough or other baked items. However, yeast can be found in a variety of items in your kitchen. Once ingested, the yeast rises and creates a large volume of gas in your pet’s stomach – not only is this very uncomfortable but in deep-chested dogs, this can lead to an emergency twisting of the stomach, called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV). GDV is a true medical emergency, so if you notice its symptoms, like non-productive retching, rolling on the ground, panting, or an inability to get comfortable, seek emergency care. An additional risk of yeast ingestion is the fact that, as it rises, yeast releases a byproduct – ethanol. That’s right, the active ingredient in alcohol can cause the same effects of drunkenness in your dog, even without them taking a sip. 

10. Sodium-laden/Salty Snacks 

Overeating salt isn’t good for you as an owner, nor is it healthy for your dog. Mild symptoms of sodium ingestion appear as increased thirst and increased urination. More dangerously, dogs can develop sodium ion poisoning. An excessive amount of sodium causes hypernatremia or a high sodium level in the blood. This can have serious consequences, such as severe vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, and even death. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a lot of salt or salty foods, seek care for them at your nearest veterinarian. Blood testing can help to identify if high sodium levels are present, and treatment can begin quickly. 

Conclusion

You may be feeling a little paranoid after reading this list. Remember these simple rule when sharing food with your dog: 

  • If you doubt the potential side effects, don’t risk it! Your dog will be just as happy if they don’t share that dinner with you.
  • If you’re concerned that your dog may have gotten into something they’re not supposed to, err on the side of caution and take them to the vet.
  • If your pet has any of the above-described symptoms or seems in any way to be acting abnormally, take them to receive emergency veterinary intervention. 
  • If you’re unsure about the safety of an item, but your dog doesn’t seem to be suffering any ill effects, reach out to your local veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. Your veterinarian would always rather tell you that you have nothing to worry about than tell you they wished you had called or gotten help sooner.