Toxic Foods for Dogs

Dogs generally do best with food made specifically for canines. Sometimes, though, if a dog is ill, or is being tested for allergies, or if the food is a special treat, human food for dogs is appropriate. We all love to share with our dogs, but there are some foods that dogs can’t eat without serious ill effects.


Dogs can’t have alcohol. It doesn’t take much of an alcoholic beverage to cause alcohol poisoning. Getting a dog drunk isn’t funny, and it could be fatal.


Dogs can’t have caffeine. Caffeine affects dogs more intensely than it does humans, and too much can be fatal. Save the coffee for your morning wake-up call and stick to plain water for your dog. If you have diet pills in your home, put them in a place your dog can’t get to. These pills typically contain caffeine, and just two of them could kill a small dog.


Dogs can’t eat chocolate. Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be toxic, or even fatal, to a dog. One simple rule of thumb when it comes to dogs and chocolate: the darker the chocolate, the greater the danger. White chocolate, for example, has almost no theobromine, so while it’s not necessarily safe for dogs to eat, it is less toxic than milk or baking chocolate. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) says that just 3 ounces of baking chocolate can kill a medium-sized dog, while it would take over 1 pound of milk chocolate to kill the dog. Don’t rely on measurements, though—keep your dog safe by saving the chocolate treats for yourself.


RELATED: Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?



Dogs can’t eat cooked bones. Most dogs enjoy chewing on a bone, but those bones should be raw. Cooked bones can shatter or splinter into shards that, if swallowed, can pierce the intestines and lead to death. Raw bones are potentially dangerous, too. After two or three days, raw bones will dry out and act just like cooked bones. Consider offering rawhide treats, instead of bones, for a safer alternative.


Dogs can’t eat grapes or raisins. Grapes, and therefore, raisins, can cause kidney failure in your canine friend. The effects of grapes on dogs are not definite, and there is no set amount determined as harmful. Some dogs may have no ill effects from ingesting grapes, while others may suffer irreversible damage. Play it safe and never give your dog grapes or raisins.


Dogs can’t eat macadamia nuts. These tasty Hawaiian treats are among the most dangerous human foods for dogs. When consumed, macadamia nuts can cause paralysis of the hind legs anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after a dog has eaten them. While the paralysis does wear off after a couple of days, it’s an unpleasant and frightening experience for both you and your dog. Also, because of the extended time the dog is paralyzed, it is possible for the condition to be misdiagnosed and the dog to be euthanized. The bottom line: Don’t go nuts with macadamia nuts. Keep them for your cocktail hour (far away from your dog), and offer your pup a biscuit instead.


Dogs can’t eat onions or garlic. Bad breath aside, there are a few reasons you should ban onion and garlic from your dog’s diet. Both foods can damage red blood cells and cause hemolytic anemia—bad news for dogs (and their pet parents). Keep onions and garlic cloves away from your dog, and avoid feeding him any leftovers or table scraps that include these flavorful ingredients.


Dogs can’t eat raw egg. A bit of cooked egg now and then can make a tasty treat, but raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds up with the B vitamin biotin. When avidin and biotin bind, your dog can’t use the biotin. Also, as with any raw food, there’s the risk of salmonella, which can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Dogs can’t have the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free products like gum and candy that, in dogs, can cause hypoglycemia, with symptoms of depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure. If you cook with xylitol, keep it away from your dog. Also, check the ingredients of any sugar-free products in your kitchen for xylitol, and keep them away from him.


Dogs can’t eat yeast dough. If a dog eats yeast dough, it can continue to rise in his stomach. Besides causing pain, rising dough could cause a condition called bloat, where the dog’s stomach twists, sealing off both ends. If untreated, bloat can be fatal. Also, the rising dough produces ethanol, a form of alcohol, which can lead to fatal alcohol poisoning.


Don’t give your dog anything that could block his intestines if swallowed, like corncobs or avocado pits. Both can cause an obstruction of the bowels, which may require a costly and painful surgery to remove. Pay attention to the size of any bones or treats you give your dog, too. Chewing a bone can be good; swallowing one whole is not.

Spicy, rich, greasy foods, while not specifically life threatening, may cause vomiting or diarrhea. Of course, neither of those is pleasant, for you or your dog.

If you know your dog has ingested any of these foods, contact your veterinarian right away. If possible, tell your vet how much of the food your dog ate.

If your dog is vomiting, seems lethargic, has diarrhea, or has a painful, distended stomach, call your veterinarian immediately. If you suspect a food may be the source of the problem, tell your vet what food and how much you think your dog ate. Prompt treatment can stop or reverse the effects of many of these foods, but if you wait too long to seek help, it could cost your dog his life.

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