Human Foods That Are Bad for Dogs
You might want to share a bite of your food with your pup, but there are some things dogs can't eat. Here's what's off-limits:
If you suspect or know that your dog ate any of these dangerous foods for dogs, and/or you see any of these signs, call your vet or emergency vet right away.
It’s hard to deny your dog food, especially when they look at you with those sad eyes as you scarf down something delicious. But while some of your food is okay for them to eat, many human foods can be especially bad for dogs and can cause everything from a tummy ache and some diarrhea to, well, the worst you can imagine.
Some of the foods dogs can’t eat are favorites in the human world. In fact, you’re sure to have several dangerous foods for dogs in your kitchen or fridge right now–maybe even where your dog can get into them.
So, what can dogs not eat? Here’s a list of the most common dangerous foods for dogs.
Grapes and Raisins
What could one little grape or raisin possibly do to a dog? A whole lot, actually. Eating just one of these tiny, sweet fruits could send some dogs into sudden kidney failure, and this can lead to death.
Exactly why dogs can’t eat grapes is still a mystery. We don’t know what exact substance causes all the problems. Also mysterious is the fact that some dogs don’t seem as bothered by grapes, while others are affected in extreme ways.
What we do know is that you just shouldn’t take any chances by letting your dog have grapes or raisins. The signs of grape and raisin toxicity in dogs include:
- Being very thirsty and peeing more than usual
- Not peeing as much or not peeing at all
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy (low energy/weakness)
- Belly tender when touched
- Dehydration (dry nose, pale gums, panting, skin loses elasticity)
We’re not saying you can’t have chocolate, but you definitely cannot share it with your dog. Not even a lick or a chocolate chip.
There are plenty of things in chocolate that are bad for dogs, starting with theobromine and caffeine. These can both affect the heart and central nervous system. They can accelerate your dog’s heart rate and cause an irregular heartbeat. Theobromine is also a diuretic that can cause your dog to pee more and become dehydrated. Our bodies can metabolize theobromine and caffeine sufficiently, but dogs cannot.
But wait, there’s more! Chocolate is loaded with fat and sugar, which makes us happy, but this combo can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
Just how toxic a piece of chocolate is depends on the type and amount that your dog eats. Cocoa, dark chocolate, and baker’s chocolate are the worst for your dog. Here are some of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs:
- Peeing more than usual
- Drinking more than usual
Garlic, Onion, Leeks, and Chives
What do these all have in common? Well, for one, they are all dangerous foods for dogs. And they also all belong to the allium genus of flowering plants. Which brings us to the third similarity–they all contain a compound called thiosulfate, which makes them toxic to dogs but not to humans.
Thiosulfate can do damage to red blood cells, which can cause anemia in dogs. Garlic is the most potent and is five times more toxic than onion or leeks.
Signs to watch for include:
- Pale gums
- Not wanting to eat
Fruit Pits and Seeds
In general, it’s safe to assume that any fruit pit or seed is bad for your dog. Stone fruits, or those that have pits, pose three different types of dangers for dogs. They’re choking hazards, they can cause intestinal blockages, and they contain toxins.
Here are some common fruit pits and seeds to keep away from your pup:
Peaches: Contains amygdalin, which can cause kidney failure, and the stems and leaves have cyanide
Cherries, Apricots, and Plums: The pit, stems, and leaves have cyanide
Avocado: The leaves, skin, and pit contain persin
Apple: The stems, leaves, and seeds have cyanide
Watermelon: The seeds can cause intestinal blockage
This one is also a bit of a mystery. No one knows what is in macadamia nuts that’s toxic to dogs, but it can cause some serious symptoms. It affects a dog’s nerve and muscle function and can cause:
- Severe lethargy
- Weakness (especially in the back legs)
- Stiff joints
Macadamia nuts, like all nuts, are also high in fat and oils, which can cause pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset in dogs, too.
Yes, we know that your dog has perfected the art of table-side begging and they look really cute doing it. But you must stay strong, for their sake. Unless you follow a super healthy and 100% dog-safe diet, you should not give your dog table scraps OR let them lick your plate when you’re done.
We’ve already listed a bunch of foods dogs can’t eat for various reasons, but in general, table scraps can also have a lot of calories, fat, sugar, salt, and all sorts of other things that will most likely end in diarrhea or even vomiting and pancreatitis. Best case scenario is you cleaning up a mess, and the worst case is you ending up at the emergency vet with your dog.
No, milk is not toxic to dogs, but it’s not good for them, either. A lot of dogs can’t tolerate milk, and some dogs have milk allergies. It’s also high in calories and fat.
Drinking milk can cause your dog gastrointestinal upset, aka diarrhea, vomiting, farting, and upset tummy. In some dogs, the high fat content in whole milk could even cause pancreatitis. Basically, there’s no reason to give your dog milk.
This stimulant is in everyone we love, from coffee and energy drinks to chocolate. And while we can handle our caffeine, your dog’s body is way too sensitive to its effects. If they happen to eat coffee grounds, a tea bag, or just one diet pill, they could be in big trouble.
Caffeine can cause damage to your dog’s liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system. The size of your dog and amount of caffeine consumed are factors, but it does not take much to cause a lot of harm.
Here are some of the concerning signs you could see within just a few hours:
- Being hyperactive or restless
If you use artificial sweeteners, or have any “sugar-free” foods in the house, be very careful to keep them away from your dog. That means securing the garbage can, too.
There’s one artificial sweetener that is actually toxic to dogs–xylitol. It can cause liver failure and low blood sugar in dogs. Xylitol can be found in many foods, but also in non-food items that your dog could get into:
- Toothpaste and other oral health products
- Sugar-free candy
- Breath mints
- Cough drops
- Sauces and syrups
- Peanut butter
- Baby wipes
- Lip balm
So what about other artificial sweeteners? They aren’t toxic, but they can still cause your dog’s stomach to be upset, so it’s best to keep them secured from curious noses.
Raw Meat and Eggs
Some might think that feeding your dog a raw diet is healthy and closest to what their dog’s wild ancestors’ might have eaten. The problem is that your dog isn’t out in the wild. Your dog may even hate going potty in the rain because they hate getting their paws wet.
There is also a lot of risk of exposing yourself and your dog as well as other members of the household to bacteria that could cause severe illness.
The American Veterinary Medical Association “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens, because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs, as well as humans.”
On the other side of this, yes, it’s true that the less processed a food is, the tastier it is, and the more nutrients are preserved. If you want to give your dog food that has been through enough to get rid of the bad stuff, but not so much that it destroys the taste and good stuff, try Sundays for Dogs. It’s gently air-dried to create little dehydrated bites of food that dogs love.
What to Do (and NOT do) if Your Dog Ate Something Bad
Here’s a handy list of what to do and what NOT to do if your dog happens to get into some foods that are bad or toxic for them.
DO call your vet or emergency vet right away.
DO try to bring the package or info about what your dog ate and how much.
DON’T panic. That won’t help you or your dog.
DON’T try to make your dog throw up. You could do way more harm than good.
DON’T wait. The quicker you act, the better outlook your dog will have, and the cheaper your vet bill will be if they can make your dog throw up before it causes real damage.
When you get to the vet, they will most likely induce vomiting, and they may give your dog activated charcoal and/or IV fluids to flush out the toxin. Your dog may also need to stay at the hospital overnight or a few days depending on what they ate, how much they ate, and how long ago they ate it.