What Seven Foods Are Toxic for Dogs and What Foods Are Safe for Dogs?
Foods That Are Not Toxic
- Fat is not toxic. Those people who tell you that you cannot give your dog some chicken skin, steak trimmings, or a little cheese are wrong.
Dogs do no need carbohydrates but they do need fats. If your dog is obese and you give her a high fat meal she may develop pancreatitis. (No one is really sure about the mechanism here, just that the problem is seen more in overweight spayed females that gorge on fat, like a big plate of turkey skin on Thanksgiving. Vets call it National Pancreatitis Day.)
A dog in good shape, however, will not suffer from eating a little fat added to her meal.
Dogs all over the world live off of fatty meals with no ill effects. Pancreatitis is very serious and very dangerous, but telling the dog owning public that fat is toxic is like stating that sugar is poisonous because some kids have diabetes.
- A few eggs a week are not toxic: Raw eggs contain avidin and may prevent the ingestion of biotin, a B vitamin, but it is not necessary for your dog to consume that vitamin every day nor will your dog have any problems if she consumes eggs in moderation. She will still have a healthy coat if she does not consume biotin every day.
Raw eggs keep your dog healthy. They contain fatty acids and many vitamins that are missing in your dog´s normal diet. Many holistic veterinarians believe that the beneficial effects of the egg are lost through cooking or processesing and it is better for your dog if given still raw.
Raw Bones Will Not Hurt Your Dog
- Bones are not toxic. Some people get nervous about feeding bones because some dogs have been known to break off a piece of cooked bone and it can cause an obstruction. This can happen with anything, (I read an article recently about one of the healthy “greenies” causing impaction also.) but with raw bones it is unlikely.
I guess the only healthy kind of a bone you can give 100% safely is a nylon bone, and the reason it does not cause problems is that the dogs do not like its taste or texture, and thus it is not chewed on. Since your dog will leave it in the yard untouched, the nylon bone is 100% safe.
My dogs eat raw bones as part of their normal diet. If you want to learn more about how to feed bones as part of your dogs diet there is a by an Australian veterinarian that will explain how feeding bones can improve your dog´s health. I found it useful because he gives formulas, how to use the diet for puppies, adults, and how to feed raw in special cases. If you are interested in the well being of your dog I recommend you read this book and improve your dog´s life by taking advantage of a homemade raw diet. book
I also give my dogs old sea turtle shell bones. They are large and flat, impossible to swallow, and, since they are about 100 years old, the bones are very hard and give her plenty of chewing exercise. I am sure that there is a company that could replicate the object if enough dog owners were interested.
Garlic Will Not Poison Your Dog
- Garlic is not toxic. There is no evidence that garlic is toxic, but it is related to the onion plant, and in the family Allium, so many vets lump them all together and condemn this plant without any proof. I would be glad to accept that garlic is mildly toxic if anyone is willing to produce any sort of proof. There is none.
One web site published an article where an owner told of her dog dying only a few days after eating garlic; the story was reproduced on another web site as proof of the toxicity of garlic, and before long other “experts” were using the second web site as their evidence of the danger of garlic.
There was one study done by some veterinarians in Japan. Dr. Lee and his fellow researchers decided that garlic was toxic so they gave a large dose and monitored the results. (This dose was equal to 60 cloves of garlic.) None of the dogs developed anemia. Therefore they decided to recommend that garlic no longer be fed to dogs. Do you think they would get away with that type of conclusion if they were investigating a big industry? How about “coffee causes anemia.” They study it, determine it does not cause anemia, and then decide to recommend coffee no longer be consumed anyway.
Other Foods That Are Not Toxic
- Tomatoes are not toxic to your dog. There is a toxin (solanine) in green tomatoes and tomato leaves and stem that can hurt your dog. When was the last time you saw your dog going to your garden to eat your tomato plants?
- Popcorn is not toxic. The reason that some vets will tell you that popcorn is toxic has nothing to do with the popcorn. The problem is usually the margarine or butter poured on the popcorn, and all of the salt that is on top.
- Cheese is not toxic. When cheese is produced, almost all of the lactose (milk sugar) is removed with the whey. Residual lactose is used by the bacteria in cheese when it is aging. IF your dog eats too much cheese he can become constipated, so, just like all things, cheese should be given in moderation.
So What Has Proven to Be Toxic?
1. Chocolate is toxic. This is a dose-related toxicity. If your Great Dane eats an M&M there is no reason to call poison control. If your teacup Yorkie happens to get into your secret store of Godiva dark chocolate and eats the whole box, however, you have a serious problem on your hands.
If a four-pound dog eats about one ounce of dark chocolate, he can die. Dark chocolate (like the kind you put in chocolate chip cookies) is dangerous because it has high levels of theobromine, the toxic substance in chocolate. A Hershey’s bar is only 1.55 oz and milk chocolate so it only contains 6mg of theobromine per oz., nothing to worry about since the toxic dose of theobromine is about 100mg/kg.
Nestle Toll House chocolates come in 6, 12, and 24-ounce sizes, and since they contain about 30mg/oz a big bag would be enough to kill a 15-pound dog. Even if the dog does not die from the toxin in the chocolate, he might have enteritis or pancreatitis from all the sugar and fat. So, the thing to remember is that chocolate is toxic but it is not like “biting down on a hollow tooth filled with arsenic.” Be careful, keep the chocolate out of reach, but if the dog eats some do not freak out.
What About Raisins and Grapes?
3. Raisins and grapes may be toxic. The dose of raisins and grapes that have caused toxic signs in dogs is not really that high, half an ounce per pound of body weight, and the symptoms have been so severe that the poison control centers are recommending aggressive treatment like pumping the stomach, inducing vomiting, and putting the dog on IV fluids for at least a few days.
The strange thing is that no one is able to reproduce this poisoning with the normal components of grapes so there is obviously something else going on, like maybe molds, strange mixtures, who knows? Grapes have only been considered toxic for dogs the last few years.
Something about eating raisins is causing kidney failure though so this is definitely something to avoid.
Onions Are Poisonous In Large Amounts
2. Onions are toxic. They can cause a type of blood poisoning called hemolytic anemia. The red cells are weak and break up easily so the anemia doesn’t develop for several days. The only reports out there of onions causing problems are when the dog ate a cup or more—onions are only toxic when consumed at more than 0.5% of their body weight.
It takes a lot of onions to cause toxicity so they can only be considered mildly toxic.
Other Things That Can Be Toxic
4. Macadamia Nuts. They should only be considered mildly toxic. In reports I have read in veterinary journals all dogs that were poisoned by macadamia nuts recovered with and without any treatment.
5. Avocado Pits. The skin may be toxic and the pits may act as a foreign object and cause blockage. There is actually dog food made out of avocado so, although it may be toxic to some animals, in dogs the flesh of the fruit does not cause a problem. Peach and apricot pits can also cause problems.
6. Alcohol. Dogs can have effects from sharing a drink, but the most common problem is when a dog is sprayed with an alcohol based flea control product. Besides being disoriented and having trouble walking, the GI tract is involved and dogs vomit and have diarrhea. If they are not treated they can have seizure and die.
7. Xylitol. This product is used a lot as an artificial sweetener in gum. It is very toxic, and can cause seizures, coma, and death. Usually the gum only has a small amount of the artificial sweetener in each stick so it may take as much as 9 pieces to kill a medium sized dog. If your dog does consume this gum, however, you should get her to your vet as soon as possible.
Other Toxic Substances
There are other substances but they can be toxic for both us and our dogs. Dogs can be poisoned by lead from eating old paint chips, poisoned from antifreeze when drinking from a pan that is left around instead of being disposed of, they can be poisoned from agro toxins dumped on your lawn, or they can be poisoned with toxic mushrooms.
There are a few things that we can eat that can sometimes cause problems in dogs, like broccoli, but only if over 10% of a dogs diet. (Would anyone ever feed their dog this much broccoli, and would he even eat it?)
There are not a lot of toxic substances out there you need to be careful of but there is a lot of hype about the few that do cause problems. I'm sure that if a group of Japanese researchers selected a bunch of our normal fruit and vegetables and fed high levels to dogs they would determine them dangerous. There is still a lot we do not know.
If you do have a dog that goes “dumpster diving” however, you are never sure what he has eaten, how much may have been dumped in the trash, and what strange mixture he may have picked up. It is better to take your friend in to the emergency clinic and have his stomach pumped, given a dose of activated charcoal, and then put on IV fluids to make sure everything in flushed out of his body.
If you would like to read more about the material presented in this article, take a few minutes and read one of these reference sources:
- Fats: https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_fats_and_oils_good_for_your_dogs_health
- Eggs: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/feeding-your-dog-raw-eggs-good-or-bad/
- Bones: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/05/09/bone-supplements-for-pets.aspx
- Garlic: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/garlic-for-dogs-poison-or-medicine/
- Cheese: https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/book-page/ripening-processes-chemical-and-physical-changes
- Tomatoes: http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-dogs-eat-tomatoes/
- Popcorn: http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-dogs-eat-popcorn/
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Will chocolate really kill dogs?
All toxins are dose related. If a dog eats enough chocolate, especially if it is a dark product with a high level of theobromines, it is toxic.Helpful 4
Can dogs eat clam strips ?
Are these clams that you yourself are eating? If so, there is no problem. The main problem with clams is that they can be from nasty water and contain toxins. If they are from clean water and people are already eating them, then there is no problem.Helpful 5
My nine-year-old Am Staff had major surgery a month ago. She still hasn't gained her weight back. What can I feed my Am Staff that won't be unhealthy to help her gain weight?
This is difficult to answer for several reasons. It might depend on the surgery, and there still might be underlying issues. Assuming there is not, and you just want her to be fat, giving her a simple carb source like pasta will add some weight. If you are looking for mass, and not just fat, I would also feed grass-fed beef. I also give my dogs grass-fed lamb, which may or may not be available in your area. Chicken necks also have a lot of fat and for a lean dog, they are fine. For an obese dog, there is some danger they can provoke pancreatitis, and there is also some danger of vitamin deficiencies if a dog eats a lot since they do not need to eat much else if they are eating such a fatty diet.
© 2012 Dr Mark