Many human foods can be an occasional special treat or snack for your dog. Unfortunately, some foods that we would consider harmless are actually quite dangerous for your dogs. If your dog consumes any of the foods on the following list, contact your veterinarian or poison control immediately.
Alcohol – Alcohol causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, breathing difficulty, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death
Apples – Small pieces of the fruit can be safe. The seeds, stems and leaves are toxic.
Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums – The pit can cause an intestinal obstruction.
Avocados – The seeds can cause intestinal obstruction. Small amounts of avocado are fine. Dogs that are prone to pancreatitis should avoid avocado.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. A leavening agent is a common ingredient in baked goods that produces a gas causing batter and dough to rise. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder consists of baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate or a mixture of the three. Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure or muscle spasms.
Bones – Bones can get stuck in the mouth or throat and cause choking. They can splinter and cause injuries to the intestines that could be life threatening. Bones can cause constipation if they are not digestible. They can carry bacteria that can lead to life threatening illness. They can also cause fractures to the teeth when the dogs chew on them.
Bread Dough – Dough that contains yeast is a problem. The yeast rises in the warm, moist environment of the stomach. This causes stomach distension which can decrease blood flow to the stomach. Fermentation of the yeast can be reduced to alcohol and cause signs of intoxication.
Chewing Gum – Sugar free gum that contains Xylitol are toxic. Xylitol can drastically drop the dogs blood sugar and lead to seizures. It can also cause liver failure.
Chocolate – Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which are toxic to dogs. They are nervous system stimulants that can cause hyperexcitability, very high heart rates and arrhythmias, vomiting, restlessness, high blood pressure or temperature, and seizures. Very high doses can cause coma. Dogs can also get pancreatitis due to the high fat content of chocolate. Pancreatitis can be fatal.
Coconut and Coconut Oil – Small amounts are OK for dogs. Coconut can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to dogs.
Coffee – The coffee grounds and beans contain caffeine and can lead to toxicity. The clinical signs are similar to those of chocolate ingestion.
Corn on the Cob – The cob can get lodged in the intestines and cause an obstruction that will require surgery.
Dairy products – They tend to be high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis. Dogs lack the enzyme to digest lactose which can lead to gas or diarrhea. Small amounts of plain yogurt or cheese are tolerated by most dogs but it is safest to avoid dairy products altogether.
Fatty foods – Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Clinical signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. They will often walk with a hunched posture. These dogs are sick and need immediate veterinary care.
Fish – High amounts of fish can cause a deficiency in thiamine which can cause a decrease in appetite, seizures and death.
Fish and Poultry Bones – These bones tend to be very brittle, especially after cooking, and can break and cause lacerations to the GI tract.
Grape and Raisins – Ingestion of raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure. Aggressive veterinary care may be required to give the dog a chance at survival. One grape may be enough to cause kidney failure.
Hops – Hops is found in beer and can cause elevated heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures and death.
Macadamia Nuts – Clinical signs develop within 3-24 hours after ingestion. Signs include weakness, central nervous system depression, vomiting, ataxia, tremors and elevated body temperature. Joint and muscle pain may occur. Tremors and ataxia are thought to be related to muscular weakness. They can also cause an intestinal obstruction.
Moldy foods – Clinical signs of moldy food ingestion include restlessness, panting, drooling, muscle tremors that may progress to seizures. The body temperature can become elevated from the excessive muscle activity. You can also see eye twitching, dilated pupils, sensitivity to sound and movement, diarrhea and increased heart rate.
Nutmeg – Large amounts of nutmeg can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, drowsiness and death.
Onions, chives and garlic – Dogs lack the enzyme necessary to digest onions. This can results in gastrointestinal signs of vomiting, gas and diarrhea. Larger amounts of onions and garlic can cause anemia due to the red cells becoming fragile and breaking apart.
Peanut Butter – Some peanut butter contains Xylitol which is toxic to dogs and can lead to low blood sugar. Be sure to check your peanut butter before giving to dogs.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones – These can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to dogs and people. Raw eggs contain an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin which can lead to skin and coat problems. Dogs can choke on raw bones or they can splinter and cause damage to the intestines.
Rawhides – Rawhides can get stuck in the esophagus and cause them to choke. They can also cause problems in the stomach and not let the stomach empty properly. Many rawhides are contaminated with bacteria which can make your dog sick.
Rhubarb leaves – They contain oxalates which can lead to kidney failure.
Table scraps – It is tempting to give dogs tidbits of leftover food. Many of these foods are fatty and can lead to pancreatitis. Others contain spices which can be toxic or cause vomiting and diarrhea. It is best to avoid feeding dogs table scraps.
Tomatoes and Potatoes – They both contain oxalates which can cause abnormalities in the digestive tract, kidneys and nervous system.
Walnuts – They are prone to growing mold which can cause tremors in dogs. Black walnuts can cause lethargy in dogs. Walnut shells can cause an intestinal obstruction.