Dog health

10 Toxic Foods to Never Feed Your Dog 

A brown furry puppy eats out of a small silver bowl on a colorful tiled floor.
Expanding your dog’s diet beyond dog food can be a good option. There’s a lot of healthy and nutritious people food that your dog can eat, such as pumpkin, carrot or chicken. On the flip side, there are some types of people foods dogs should 100% avoid, as they can be very toxic to your dog. They can cause health issues and even death. Here are the ten most common toxic foods to never feed to your dog.

Important Contacts if Your Dog Has Eaten Something Toxic

Before we get started, here are some important numbers for you to have on hand, in case your dog has eaten something toxic. Pet Posion Helpline (Canada): 24/7 Animal Poison Control Centre: (855) 764-7661 They have an amazingly helpful list of potentially poisonous foods that can hurt your dog. They’ll tell you what to do and what to expect. ASPCA (USA): 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435 They also have a lot of specific and helpful information on site if your pet has ingested a toxic substance. American Kennel Club (USA): Pet Poison Helpline: 800-252-7894  They also have resources and a helpline available, but it looks to be tied to registering your pet with the business. However, if you do enroll your dog in their AKC Reunite program, it looks like you can drop the usual $85 fee to $15, which could be helpful if your pet is constantly getting into things. **for all of these services, you will likely have to pay a consultation fee. 
a colorful graphic that shows pictures of 10 foods to never feed your dog: grapes, xylitol, avocado, onions, macadamia nuts, alcohol, wild mushrooms, caffeine, fatty foods and chocolate.

What are the 10 toxic foods for dogs?

Different foods cause different issues for dogs. For example, these are ten toxic foods that are bad for dogs.

1. Grapes/Raisins

Grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs. Just one grape can be fatal and cause sudden acute kidney failure. Even grape juice, or cookies or bars that have raisins in them should be considered dangerous foods dogs should avoid.  An early indicator that your dog may have eaten a grape or raisin and has kidney problems is repeated vomiting. Other signs can include: 
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors (Shivering)
Signs and symptoms of grapes or raisin toxicosis can appear within 6-12 hours of ingestion. What you should do if you think your dog has consumed grapes or raisins: Call your vet or a poison control center right away. The sooner you can get them help, the more likely they are to recover. Vets are likely to induce vomiting, and/or treat your dog with activated charcoal to prevent the toxin from absorbing into their stomach or intestines. 

2. Avocado

Avocados seem like one of the healthy foods, but they can be toxic to your dog. Avocado has a fungicidal toxin substance called persin. Dogs are more resistant than people, but it’s still not 100% safe.  Persin is found in an avocado’s fruit, pit, leaves, and plant. It can lead to pancreatitis (From the high fat content) in your dog or other gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. While it’s more likely that ingesting the pit will lead to blockage in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract, you should still watch your dog for 24 – 48 hours to be sure your dog doesn’t display any issues after eating the fruit.  Signs and symptoms to watch out for: 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal sensitivity
What you should do if your dog has ingested avocado: If your dog is choking or if vomiting and diarrhea is not improving, you need to contact your vet and get the help immediately. 

3. Macadmia Nuts

Nuts, not legumes like peanuts, can be toxic for your dog. Not all nuts have these properties, such as almonds, but even safe nuts are a potential hazard, as a dog’s digestive system cannot break them down as easily as a human’s.  Toxic nuts your dog should never eat are macadamia nuts. These are best to avoid, as they can cause damage to the nervous system and muscles. If your dog has eaten either of these, they may show symptoms such as: 
  • Weakness in their legs
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperthermia
What you should do if you suspect that your pet has eaten macadamia nuts: Although many cases of dogs eating macadamia nuts have not been fatal, you should still call your vet, who will ask you some questions to gauge severity. Initial symptoms can show up as soon as 3-6 hours after eating.
A Dalmation dog eats out of someone's hand while sitting on the floor together.
Photo by Bethany Ferr:

4. Wild Mushrooms

While only a small percentage of mushrooms are considered toxic, you still need to be careful with them around your dog – especially because most of them are found in the wild. (Generally, store bought mushrooms are not dangerous, but it doesn’t hurt to double check before you know it’s safe for dogs to eat. It’s not hard to imagine being on a calm walk with your pup, when suddenly, their face is in a patch of wild mushrooms – and you have no idea what kind they are. If you know the toxic types, you can keep an eye out, but I’m betting most of us aren’t mycologists!  Amanita, Galerina, and Lepiota are considered the most toxic mushrooms and if consumed, can affect multiple areas in your dog. They may cause  gastrointestinal, central nervous system, liver and kidney issues.  Your dog can start to show signs anywhere from 15 minutes up to 6 hours after eating. Common signs of mushroom poisoning include: 
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
What you need to do if your dog consumed mushrooms: Contact your vet, animal poison control or get to an animal emergency hospital. There is no real at-home treatment for wild mushroom poisoning, so getting your dog where they can be monitored is your best bet, especially if you don’t know what it was they ate.

5. Alcohol

Alcohol is poison to your dog. Even one sip can be toxic, because dogs aren’t able to metabolize it. Alcohol can cause your dog to go into a coma or even die from intoxication. You’ve probably seen plenty of videos of people getting their dogs drunk ‘for fun,’ but this can be really dangerous for them. In extreme cases, severely intoxicated animals can experience respiratory failure and seizures. Your dog can start to show signs and symptoms as soon as 15 – 60 minutes after consuming alcohol. Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs:
  • Drop in body temperature (Hypothermia)
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Slowed respiratory rate (Severe)
What to do if your dog has had alcohol: Call your vet or an animal poison control center, or take them straight to an emergency vet. Depending on the severity, you could treat tehm with home remedies at home, such as keeping them hydrated and warm. Your vet may want to cause vomiting to get it out of your dog’s system. 

6. Chocolate

While a tasty treat for humans, chocolate is deadly toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can speed up the heart rate and cause issues with the nervous system. Depending on the size of your dog and the amount of chocolate they ate, there could be deadly consequences.  The darker and less sweet the type of chocolate, the more dangerous it is for dogs. White chocolate is probably best to avoid, even if it’s not as potent, but cocoa powder, dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate are generally considered the most toxic. A few chocolate chips are unlikely to be a concern, and also remember chocolate often contains other harmful ingredients like caffeine, macadamia nuts and raisins! One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs. Depending on how much your dog ingested, and how big they are, this can lead to cardiovascular and central nervous system issues. Dogs who eat chocolate will likely show signs of toxicity within 6-12 hours.  Signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning: 
  • Vomiting 
  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Hypothermia
  • Seizure (Extreme cases)
  • Elevated heart rate
What you should do if your dog consumed chocolate: The more information you have about how much and what type of chocolate your dog ate will be helpful. Contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline to see what the best course of action is.
A Golden Retriever looks up from the floor at an offscreen person holding a piece of pizza. High fat consumables are toxic foods for dogs.
Photo by Ivan Babydov:

7. Xylitol

Xylitol is another one of the toxic foods you should never feed your dog. An artificial sweetener most commonly found in candy or gum, it can also be an ingredient in toothpaste, sunscreen, breath mints, baked goods, chocolate and vitamins. This is a dangerous ingredient, and can make your dog very sick. Depending on how much they consumed, the symptoms and signs may progress more or less rapidly. Even different types of gum have varying levels of xylitol in them. Signs & symptoms of xylitol toxicosis:
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Ataxia (These can affect balance, walking and swallowing)
  • Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)
What to do if your dog has ingested xylitol: Take them to your veterinarian or animal emergency hospital right away. Because it can take up to 12 – 24 hours for more serious signs of xylitol poisoning, such as liver failure, to show up, your dog may need to be monitored by professionals.

8. Onions

Dogs cannot eat onions because they cause blood cell damage and anemia. One of the top toxic foods, onions, have a toxin called N-Propyl disulfide, which is deadly. All parts of the onion are toxic, along with any powders. Onions are dangerous for dogs. They have a toxin that causes “oxidative damage to their red blood cells by attaching to the oxygen molecules.” This causes your pup’s body to think its blood cells are invaders. Signs & symptoms of onion toxicity:
  • Pale gums
  • Fainting and/or panting
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Other symptoms may include vomiting
What you can do if you think your dog has eaten onions: Take them to the vet as soon as possible, so they can gauge their symptoms, run blood work and diagnose their condition. Onions are one of the most common ingredients in many households, making this common food deadly. Be cautious of any onion part falling on the ground.

9. Fatty foods

Another one of the types of foods your dog should avoid is anything high in fat. While supplementing their diet with healthy fats, like Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty oils can be beneficial, giving them high fat foods like fatty cuts of meat is not.  While giving your dog fatty food isn’t necessarily considered to be toxic, it can definitely lead to issues with thier health. Giving them foods like: these can lead to severe health issues. 
  • Oil
  • Gravy
  • Buttery food
  • Fatty meats or grease
Besides contributing to obesity issues, foods that contain too much fat are deadly to dogs, as they can cause gastroenteritis (like mild vomiting or diarrhea) or the more severe pancreatitis This is where the pancreas becomes inflamed, which can lead to more inflammation throughout their body, which can lead to organ failure. It is also very painful and can lead to death. Not all fatty foods will cause death, but you should still limit those foods.  Signs & symptoms your dog ate too much fatty food: 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite and lethargy
  • Delayed onset vomiting (Can occur 1-4 days after eating)
Signs & symptoms of pancreatitis: 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of or decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy
It can be hard to spot, because it has similiar symptoms to many other issues. The chronic type may have less severe symptoms, as compared to the acute version. Here, symptoms may come on suddenly and your dog may show more severe signs from the above, as well as dehydration, collapse or shock.  What you should do if your dog is showing severe or consistent symptoms of either eating too much fatty food or pancreatitis: Contact your vet immediately if you have observed your dog consuming a lot of fatty food, and let them know as much information as you can. Early attention will benefit your dog, as the sooner it is caught, the more likely you can help your pet.

10. Caffeine

Another one of the people foods to avoid feeding your dog is anything containing caffeine. Dogs are highly sensitive to caffeine. Small amounts consumed will cause your dog to vomit or have diarrhea. If you have a small dog, you should monitor them more closely, since they weigh less. Caffeine is found in: 
  • Beverages like tea, soda, energy drinks, coffee and coffee beans or grounds
  • Weight loss supplements
  • Chocolate
If your puppy or dog takes a drink out of your glass, it’s unlikely to harm them, but if they consume a lot of caffeine, grinds, especially (They have a more concentrated amount of caffeine.), it can be toxic to their heart and nervous system. The effects of caffeine toxicity are similar to if a human ingestted too much of the substance.  Signs & symptoms to watch out for: 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Collapse
  • Elevated heart rate
What to do if your dog has ingested a lot of caffeine or is showing any of these symptoms: Contact your vet immediately if you think your dog has ingested coffee beans or grounds (Or a lot of caffeine in general), and be armed with as much information as you can. How much your dog weighs, how much and what they consumed – this will help them gauge the danger. You can also contact the Pet Poison Line.  Top 10 Helpful Tips to Help You Find The Best Vet For Your Dog 

These are toxic foods for dogs!

Who knew so many of the foods we eat are bad for our pups?! When trying to give your dog something new, always search online to see if that food is safe, and make sure you are very careful about what you let your dog eat. Several common human foods like onions, chocolate, and grapes are just not ok for your dog to eat. Always pay attention to your dog’s behavior and habits, and keep any human food well away from your dog – even the garbage and compost. Note: While we have conducted a fair amount of research on this topic, this article should be used as a helpful guideline, not to be considered as medical advice. Always refer to your vet for any issues with your pets!! Photo by cottonbro studio

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