what can dogs not eat

What Can Dogs Not Eat? A Guide for Pet Owners

From chocolate to grapes, it's important that owners be aware of what dogs cannot eat.

As a responsible pet parent, understanding what foods are off-limits for your furry friend is crucial to their health and wellbeing. But it’s not always so simple; navigating the do’s and don’ts of your dog’s diet can be a daunting task.

Many owners want to enrich their dog’s life by giving them a taste of what’s on their dinner plate and it’s easy to assume that dogs can eat what we humans do. But some foods that are perfectly safe for us can be harmful, even deadly, to our four-legged friends.

What can dogs not eat?” is one of the most common questions I get asked as a practicing vet.

So, in this guide, we’ll explore some of the common human foods that you should keep out of your dog’s reach. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of foods that are unsafe for our dogs:

Xylitol

dog xylitol

Xylitol is one of the most dangerous substances for your furry friend. It’s a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free gum and candy, toothpaste, baked goods, and other products.

Xylitol can be harmful to dogs as it triggers a rapid release of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. In severe cases, this can cause seizures or even death; ingesting even a small amount of xylitol can be very harmful to your dog.

Symptoms if your dog eats xylitol

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Tremors/shaking

If you suspect that your dog has ingested anything containing xylitol – whether intentionally or accidentally – seek veterinary care or contact the pet poison helpline immediately. Time is of the essence when dealing with potential poisoning. 


Grapes and Raisins

dog grapes

While grapes and raisins may seem like harmless snacks for humans, they can be extremely dangerous to dogs. Even small amounts of these fruits can cause serious health problems for your furry friend.

We don’t know the exact compound in grapes and raisins that’s toxic to dogs, but even a small handful of these dried fruits can lead to kidney failure in some pups. Toxicity levels differ from dog to dog, and some seem more resistant than others. Unfortunately, we can’t tell how much will make them sick until it’s too late.

Symptoms of Grape or Raisin Toxicity

  • Vomiting (often within a few hours after ingestion)
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain/tenderness when touched
  • In severe cases, acute kidney failure leading to decreased urine production or complete cessation of urination

If you suspect your dog has eaten any amount of grape or raisin-containing foods, seek veterinary attention immediately. Early treatment greatly improves the chances of recovery. Here’s an article by the AKC on why grapes are dangerous for dogs.


Onions and Garlic

dog onions and garlic

If you’re cooking with onions, it’s important to keep them out of paw’s reach. This food contains a compound that is toxic to dogs called thiosulphate. While small amounts of these substances may not cause any clinical signs, if ingested in large amounts, onions can damage your dog’s red blood cells leading to anemia, weakness and even collapse.

The question of whether garlic is toxic to dogs sparks debate. While small amounts seem harmless, studies suggest that only large quantities can have negative effects. Personally, I wouldn’t take the risk. Better safe than sorry!

Symptoms of Onion and Garlic Poisoning

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Collapse

It is worth noting that the symptoms of toxicity may not be immediate; it can be a few days before you notice something is wrong. If you suspect your dog has eaten any any onion or garlic, seek veterinary attention immediately.

To avoid accidentally feeding your pup anything harmful, make sure you store onions and garlic safely out of reach – even if it means locking them away in a cupboard!


Alcohol

dog alcohol toxic

It may seem obvious that dogs should not consume alcohol, but accidents can happen; even a small amount of alcohol can be extremely dangerous to your dog’s health.

The toxic compound found in alcoholic beverages is ethanol. Dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of ethanol than humans due to their smaller size and different metabolic processes.

Symptoms of Ethanol Poisoning

  • Vomiting or retching
  • Lack of coordination or difficulty walking/standing up
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tremors/shaking

If you suspect your dog is suffering from alcohol poisoning, seek veterinary care immediately as toxicity can quickly lead to coma or death if left untreated. It’s important to keep all forms of alcoholic beverages out of reach from pets at all times. This includes beer, wine, liquor, and even foods cooked with alcohol, such as sauces or desserts.


Dairy Products (Including Ice Cream)

can dogs drink milk

As much as dogs love dairy products, it’s best to avoid feeding them to your furry friend. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and ice cream contain the sugar lactose, which can be difficult for some dogs to digest. Our canine friends don’t produce enough of the enzymes required to break down the lactose found in these products.

If a dog ingests too much dairy or any other food with high levels of lactose, they may experience symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. This is often accompanied by bloating and gas build-up in your dog’s digestive system.

The Dangers of Ice Cream

Ice cream contains more than just lactose; it also has a lot of sugar, which can cause spikes in a dog’s blood sugar levels leading to diabetes or obesity over time. In addition to this, many commercial brands of ice cream contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs even in small amounts.

Ingesting large quantities of ice cream can also lead to pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas caused by fatty foods – especially if your dog consumes ice cream that includes chocolate chips or nuts. Check out this article for more info on why dogs can’t eat ice cream.

Symptoms of Excessive Dairy Consumption in Dogs

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

To keep your pup healthy and happy without depriving them completely of indulging in treats every once in a while, consider giving them plain yogurt instead. Plain yogurt has lower levels of lactose compared to other dairy products, making it easier for digestion. It also contains probiotics that promote gut health!


Macadamia Nuts

can dogs eat macadamia nuts

Dogs should steer well clear of macadamia nuts – these nuts are highly toxic and can cause serious health problems if ingested.

While the specific harmful compound in macadamia nuts for dogs remains unidentified, even small quantities can pose a risk. Consuming these nuts can result in a range of health effects for dogs, from mild symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea to more severe conditions such as muscle tremors, hyperthermia, and temporary paralysis. It is crucial to exercise caution when it comes to feeding macadamia nuts to our furry friends.

Symptoms of Macadamia Nut Poisoning in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis
  • Fever or hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Rapid heart rate

If you suspect that your dog has eaten macadamia nuts or any other food that may be harmful to their health, contact your veterinarian or call the pet poison helpline immediately. Early treatment is crucial for the best chance at a full recovery.


Chocolate

can dogs eat chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods that your furry friend can ingest. While many humans enjoy indulging in this sweet treat, dogs lack the ability to metabolize certain compounds found in chocolate and are therefore highly susceptible to its toxic effects.

The compound responsible for chocolate’s toxicity in dogs is called theobromine. This stimulant affects a dog’s nervous system and can cause symptoms ranging from mild gastrointestinal upset to seizures and even death depending on the amount of chocolate they eat.

It’s important to know that different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of theobromine, with dark chocolate containing higher concentrations than milk or white varieties.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity
  • Tremors or seizures
  • In severe cases, coma or death may occur within hours after ingestion

If you suspect your dog has ingested any amount of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment options will depend on several factors such as their size, type/amount consumed but usually involve inducing vomiting (if caught early enough), administering activated charcoal medication and supportive care including IV fluids if necessary. In more severe cases, hospitalization might be required where intensive treatment like oxygen therapy may be administered along with close monitoring until full recovery occurs.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Keep all chocolate and other toxic foods out of your dog’s reach to avoid any potential accidents.


Coffee, Tea and Other Caffeine-Containing Compounds

can dogs drink coffee

Many of us rely on caffeine to start our day, but did you know that it can be toxic to dogs? Caffeine is a stimulant that can have severe negative impacts on a dog’s nervous system and heart.

Coffee and tea both contain caffeine; even small amounts can lead to serious health problems for your furry friend.

Symptoms of Caffeine Poisoning in Dogs

  • Restlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tremors
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

If you suspect your dog has ingested any amount of coffee or tea containing compounds such as energy drinks or chocolate products which have high levels of caffeine, contact your veterinarian immediately. The quicker treatment begins, the better chance there is for recovery.


Avocado

can dogs eat avocado

Avocado is all the rage these days, and it’s hailed as one of the great superfoods but did you know that this fruit can be harmful to your furry friend? Avocados contain a fatty acid called persin, which is considered to be mildly toxic to dogs.

Persin is present in the flesh, pit, leaves, and bark of the avocado tree, which can cause serious health issues for dogs. Not all dogs will have a bad reaction after eating avocado; some are pretty resilient and may not experience any negative effects. It all depends on how much avocado your dog has eaten.

Some may experience mild symptoms like stomach upset but one study did show that two dogs suffered from heart muscle damage following ingestion. Therefore, the jury is still out on this one but it’s probably not worth taking the risk.

Symptoms of Avocado Poisoning in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inability to pass stools
  • Coughing

If you suspect your dog has eaten any part of an avocado plant (or avocado-containing products like guacamole) and begins exhibiting these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Bones

can dogs eat bones

Contrary to the popular belief that dogs and bones are a perfect match, bones have the possibility of extremely dangerous to your dog’s health. While in many cases, dogs won’t suffer any adverse effects after eating bones, consumption can lead to potentially fatal consequences in rare cases.

Cooked bones can be really dangerous for your pup. They tend to splinter easily and can cause serious injuries like choking or punctures to their throat and tummy. Better to play it safe and steer clear of any potential risks!

Even uncooked bones carry potential risks, such as bacterial contamination or causing fractured teeth. Instead, use safer alternatives such as chew toys that are specifically designed for dogs. Always supervise your furry companion while they are indulging in their favorite chews to avoid any untoward incidents.

Symptoms Of Bone Consumption In Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stool
  • Lethargy
  • Painful abdomen

If you think your dog has eaten any kind of bone, reach out to your vet asap! They’ll give you the best guidance on how best to deal with the situation.


Fat Trimmings

can dogs eat fatty meat

Feeding your dog fat trimmings from your meal might seem like a loving gesture, but there are substantial health risks involved in doing so.

The high-fat content in meat trimmings can be difficult for a dog’s digestive system to handle. When consumed, the excess fat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Feeding your dog fatty foods like meat trimmings on a regular basis can also increase their risk of developing pancreatitis. This condition occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed due to an overload of fatty foods in the diet.

Symptoms Of Fat Trimming Consumption In Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Loss of Appetite

If you suspect that your dog has ingested fat trimmings or any other toxic foods, contact your veterinarian immediately. Stick with quality dog food made specifically for their dietary needs and give them occasional treats in moderation.


Permissons, Peaches and Plums

can dogs eat plums

While peaches and plums might be a refreshing snack for us humans, these fruits can pose serious health risks to our canine companions.

Unfortunately, peaches, plums, and apricots contain a compound called amygdalin which can release cyanide when ingested by dogs.

Cyanide is highly toxic to dogs as it interferes with their body’s ability to transport oxygen throughout their system, resulting in death if left untreated.

Symptoms of Cyanide Poisoning in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling excessively
  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Bright red gums or tongue
  • Dilated pupils

If you suspect your dog has eaten any amount of peach, plum, or apricot pits, contact your veterinarian immediately. The faster treatment begins after ingestion, the better chance they have of making a full recovery.


Raw Eggs

can dogs eat eggs

Raw eggs, while seemingly harmless, can actually pose a number of health risks to dogs.

Raw eggs contain avidin, a protein that binds to biotin (one of the essential B vitamins) and hampers its absorption in the body. Consistent consumption of raw eggs can ultimately cause biotin deficiency in dogs, while also exposing them to the risk of salmonellosis, an unpleasant bacterial infection.

Symptoms of Eating Raw Eggs in Dogs

  • Hair loss or skin problems due to biotin deficiency
  • Vomiting and diarrhea due to salmonella contamination
  • Pancreatitis due to high-fat content present in egg yolks

While a single raw egg might not cause your dog too much harm, avoid making a habit of feeding your dog raw eggs. Biotin deficiency could lead to hair loss or skin problems over time, while eating contaminated eggshells could cause your dog to become very unwell due to salmonella infections.

Egg yolk also contains high levels of fat which can lead to pancreatitis when consumed by dogs; this condition often requires urgent treatment.

However, when prepared properly, eggs can have some great health benefits for our dogs. See this article for more information on feeding your dog eggs.


Raw Meat and Fish

dogs dogs eat raw meat

Feeding raw meat and fish to dogs might appear as a natural dietary choice, but it actually carries significant health risks. Both can harbor bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli, leading to food poisoning in dogs just as it does in humans.

In addition to the risk of bacterial infections, feeding your dog raw meat comes with another potential danger – pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a very unpleasant condition for dogs, which can be triggered by a high-fat diet. It’s worth noting that many raw meats are naturally high in fat.

Also, it’s important to note that raw fish can potentially lead to salmon poisoning disease. Some raw fish may carry small parasites that are infected with a harmful type of bacteria. If your furry friend happens to consume it, it can cause a lot of harm. So, it’s best to avoid feeding raw fish to your dog.

Symptoms Your Dog May Experience After Eating Raw Meat or Fish

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

But you may be thinking, ‘I thought a raw food diet was more natural for my dog.’ This is not true; most vets strongly advise against a raw food diet. Click here to read our article on why.


Salt

can dogs eat salt

While a small amount of salt is necessary for a dog’s diet, excessive salt intake can lead to serious health problems.

Salt contains sodium chloride which when consumed in large amounts, can cause an imbalance of electrolytes and dehydration.

Be careful with what human foods you let your dog eat, although some foods may be ‘safe’, an excessive amount of them can lead to too much salt in their diet.

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Seizures
  • In severe cases, coma or death

Sugary Food and Drinks

can dogs eat sugar

Despite the sweet tooth many dogs seem to have, consuming too much sugar can actually be detrimental to their health.

Feeding your furry friend sugary treats and drinks can lead to a real problem: weight gain. Consuming too much sugar can lead to obesity, which can have serious health consequences. Let’s keep our pups healthy and happy!

Symptoms of Eating Too Much Sugar

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Bloating

While it may be tempting to share sugary foods and drinks with your dog as a harmless treat, it can lead to significant health issues for your furry friend. It’s crucial to refrain from feeding your dog anything high in processed sugar to ensure their well-being, stick to a balanced and nutritious diet, and avoid giving your dog any sugary foods or drinks.


Yeast Dough

dog dogs eat dough

Though it may seem harmless, yeast dough can pose a significant danger to dogs when consumed in large amounts. When dogs ingest raw yeast dough, the yeast continues to ferment in a dog’s stomach, causing the dough to rise and expand. This can lead to several issues, including digestive problems, respiratory distress, and even alcohol toxicity.

In addition to these symptoms, consuming yeast dough can also cause other digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation. Dough can easily become lodged in your dog’s intestines, resulting in an obstruction – this can quickly become a life-threatening situation that requires immediate surgical intervention.

Symptoms of Eating Too Much Yeast Dough

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Neurological issues

It’s essential to keep yeast dough away from your dog to avoid the serious health problems that it can cause.


Cinnamon

can dogs eat cinnamon

Cinnamon, despite its pleasant aroma and taste for humans, should be administered to dogs in moderation due to potential health risks.

Feeding cinnamon to dogs can be a cause for concern due to the potential irritation it may cause to their mouth and digestive system. The spice has the ability to inflame your dog’s mouth, leading to discomfort and pain.

Cinnamon also poses a risk to dogs’ respiratory system. Inhaling the powder can cause irritation, leading to coughing, wheezing, and breathing difficulties. In certain cases, dogs may even suffer from an allergic reaction to cinnamon, resulting in swelling and, in severe instances, breathing difficulties.

Symptoms That Your Dog Has Eaten Too Much Cinnamon

  • Mouth inflammation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

While cinnamon is not considered toxic to dogs, it’s best to avoid giving it to your furry friend to prevent these potential health problems.


Almonds

can dogs eat almonds

Almonds, though nutritious for humans, can pose health risks to dogs when consumed in large quantities.

One risk of feeding almonds to dogs lies in the potential for choking. Due to their small and hard nature, almonds can easily get stuck in your dog’s throat or digestive system, resulting in an obstruction.

Feeding almonds to dogs can also pose a risk of causing digestive issues for our furry friends. Almonds are high in fat and fiber, which can be difficult for dogs to digest. Almonds are also calorie-dense, so excessive consumption may contribute to obesity, which can, in turn, lead to a higher susceptibility to various severe health issues.

Symptoms That Your Dog Has Consumed Too Many Almonds

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Choking
  • Weight gain

Certain types of almonds, such as flavored or salted almonds, can also be dangerous for dogs as they may contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs, while salted almonds can lead to sodium poisoning.


Fruit and Vegetable Seeds and Stones

can dogs eat seeds

While many fruits and vegetables are often beneficial to dogs, the seeds and stones they contain can be harmful.

Seeds and stones can become lodged in your dog’s throat or digestive system, leading to choking, blockage, or even perforation of the intestines.

Feeding dogs fruit and vegetable seeds and stones comes with an added risk of potential toxicity. Certain seeds and stones contain hazardous substances, including cyanide, which can be harmful to dogs if ingested in significant quantities.

Symptoms that Your Dog Has Eaten Seeds and Stones

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Choking
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Lethargy

Some seeds and stones, such as avocado pits, can also cause intestinal obstruction, which can be a life-threatening emergency.


Raw Potato

can dogs eat potatoes

Raw potatoes, although a staple ingredient found in many owner’s pantries, can be harmful to dogs. Cooked potatoes are safe for dogs to consume; however, feeding them raw potatoes can potentially lead to health issues.

One of the most significant concerns associated with feeding raw potatoes to dogs is the potential for toxicity. Raw potatoes contain solanine, a toxic compound that can be harmful to dogs if consumed in large amounts. Solanine can cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, an upset stomach, and even death in severe cases.

Symptoms that Your Dog Has Eaten Too Much Raw Potato

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Bloating

Additionally, consuming raw potatoes can also lead to an increased risk of pancreatic disease. Raw potatoes contain a type of starch called amylose, which can be difficult for dogs to digest and metabolize. This can lead to the accumulation of starch in the pancreas, which can cause inflammation and damage to this vital organ.


Rhubarb

can dogs eat rhubarb

As tempting as it might be to offer Fido a slice of your rhubarb tart, it’s important to know that this ingredient can leave a sour note in your dog’s health.

One of the most significant concerns associated with feeding rhubarb to dogs is the potential for toxicity. Rhubarb contains oxalates, which can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large amounts.

Additionally, consuming rhubarb can also lead to an increased risk of calcium deficiency. Rhubarb contains high levels of oxalic acid, which can bind with calcium in your dog’s body, preventing its absorption. Over time, this can lead to a deficiency of this important mineral, which can cause a range of health problems.

Symptoms of Rhubarb Toxicity in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Increased Thirst and Urination due to kidney damage

Rounding up

As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to know what foods can harm your furry friend – xylitol, grapes, onions, alcohol, chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocado, bones, and fat trimmings are all big no-nos. If your dog eats toxic food then seek veterinary help immediately.

Many human foods can cause serious health issues or even death in dogs, but now you hopefully feel well equipped to answer the question “what can dogs not eat?”.

It’s not all bad news, though; there are plenty of human foods that can have great benefits for dogs.

Keep your pup healthy and happy by being mindful of their diet and avoiding these harmful foods.

FAQ

What foods are toxic for dogs?

Chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions/garlic, alcohol, caffeine, avocado, xylitol, dairy products in large quantities, bones, and fat trimmings are all toxic for dogs. Read the article for the full list.

Do dogs know what foods are harmful to them?

No, dogs do not inherently know which foods are harmful, so it’s up to owners to ensure they’re fed a safe and balanced diet. Learn more about what foods to avoid feeding your dog here.

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