As much as my little Emily might protest, I stay vigilant about keeping these toxic foods away from her.
What Can Your Dog Eat?
The following is everything that would harm my dog, Emily, if she ingested any of it. Keep in mind, however, that this list is not all-inclusive. We will continue to add more as we find more, so please feel free to let us know if there is anything we can add.
I have always said, "Dogs should have been named pigs, and pigs, dogs." Dogs will eat just about anything, and then vomit. It seems like the stinkier it is, the more they like it, especially for a nice long roll in the latest smelly adventure. (Emily just sneered in response to this statement and gave Bella, our puggle, a high paw.)
Most of the foods on the list are perfectly fine for human consumption, but not for your dog. A lot of the ingredients on the list are in a slice of pizza . . . yikes. (I know Emily has eaten her share of pizza. She just perked up at the mention of the word.)
Important note: If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea for more than a day, this is cause to take notice and call your vet right away. Your dog is trying to pass whatever the problem is. It could be something lodged in the digestive system or potentially be a fatal situation. Dehydration is also a major concern for this type of situation.
Harmful or Fatal Foods for Dogs
Use this list as a guide to keep your dog from eating human foods that are harmful to their health—and possibly fatal.
- Avocado: All parts of this fruit contain persin (a natural fungicidal toxin) which causes vomiting and diarrhea. When ingested in large quantities, it can be fatal.
- Baby food: Some preparations contain onion powder (see onion).
- Bones, cooked: Cooked bones become brittle, even those that have been grilled. I made this mistake with Emily this year with a yummy steak bone. She loved it, but it was a trip to the vet and a $150 mistake. She had to be on meds for a week. Never again. Stick to the bones from pet stores.
- Bones, raw: Besides containing various bacteria contaminations, these bones splinter and cause havoc in the intestinal tract, possibly piercing and tearing other organs. This means potential risks for surgeries and major intestinal infections.
- Bones, fish: Never give your pup these small bones. It could lead to potential piercing and obstruction in the throat, intestines, and colon.
- Cat food: Cat food is generally too high in protein and fats as a regular diet. High fats cause issues with a dog's digestive system, especially the liver.
- Chocolate, coffee, tea or other caffeinated products: These products contain caffeine, theobromine/xantheose (bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant), and theophylline (found in teas similar to caffeine). These components cause vomiting and diarrhea and are toxic to the heart and nervous system. Dogs could die within hours of ingestion. A 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate will poison a 30-pound dog. They will have rapid heart beats with a small amount of caffeine ingested. Please hide the trick-or-treat bag and valentine heart from your dog—there are other holidays for them to celebrate.
- Coins: A penny contains zinc, causing kidney failure and damage to red blood cells. If the penny is not removed, the dog can become very sick and could die.
- Citrus oils: This can cause vomiting. (I do not know of any dog purposely eating this, but if they raid the trash, a couple orange peels could get ingested.) Watch the pulp in juices.
- Fat trimmings: Your dog loves a tasty piece of fat from your steak on occasion, but too much fat can cause pancreatitis, as well as obesity that leads to other major illnesses.
- Fish, raw, cooked, or canned: Feeding high amounts of fish products can cause vitamin B (thiamin) deficiency. Symptoms include a loss of appetite, seizures, and death.
- Grapes/raisins/currants: One or two grapes would likely be OK, but a doctors report recently stated that large quantities can lead to kidney damage from an unknown natural substance in these fruits that the kidneys must process. Some have had to be euthanized as a result of eating a bunch off the vine. Watch dry cereals and the baby feeding your dog raisins off the tray. They love to do it.
- Hops: Dogs love beer, but please dispose of hops from homemade brews in the trash and not the garden if you have a dog. I've read about some large breeds that have had a fatal toxic reaction that triggered the onset of malignant hyperthermia (where the body uncontrollably overheats and they die). If your dog is panting profusely, look for an underlying cause.
- Human vitamins: Never give vitamins intended for humans. The iron causes damage to the intestinal lining and is toxic to the liver and kidneys. Watch out for children who will feed your dog their Flintstone chewables!
- Macadamia nuts: I don't know about you, but my dog Emily is not getting my share of these anyway! An unknown chemical in these delectables will produce ataxia (wobbling), depression, vomiting, muscle tremors, hyperthermia, weakness, rapid heartbeat, and possibly shock. Kidney failure can also occur.
- Marijuana: Just being around humans who are using this product causes a depressed nervous system (brain on drugs) 99% of the time, vomiting 30% of the time, and a change in heart rate. If ingested, it can cause more severe symptoms including urinary incontinence.
- Mistletoe: Good thing it grows high on trees, because just one berry can be fatal. Please do not bring these into the house for the holidays if you have pets or babies that will put things into their mouth.
- Nutmeg: This spice in large doses can cause tremors, seizures, and death.
- Milk/dairy products: Some dogs are lactose intolerant or have an allergic reaction to dairy products in general. They can develop vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can also occur.
- Moldy/spoiled food: There are multiple toxins here affecting body systems. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and potential organ failures.
- Mushrooms: Some can contain toxins causing multiple organs to fail. Never feed a dog mushrooms. If you suspect they have eaten any from the yard, call the vet. The poisonous type can cause death in a very short amount of time.
- Onion and garlic: Raw, powder, or cooked all contain natural chemical sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage the red blood cells in dogs and cause hemelytic anemia. This is a very bad thing.
- Persimmons: Their seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine).
- Pits, fruit: Besides causing the obvious throat and intestinal obstruction, most pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous for your pet.
- Raw eggs and shells: They contain avidin (a tetrameric biotin-binding protein produced in the oviducts of birds), which leads to a decrease of biotin in blood. Despite the popular belief that raw eggs are good for their coat and skin, this is not worth it. Also there's the potential of salmonella contamination.
- Raw meat: With raw meat, there's a possibility of bacterial infection due to E. coli and salmonella bacterias. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea can be severe from infection or from spoiled food.
- Rhubarb/tomato/potato leaves: These plant parts contain oxalates, which affect the digestive tract, nervous system, and urinary tract.
- Salt: High levels cause electrolyte imbalance. Watch for foods high in salt—so go light on those potato chips that I know you are feeding your dog.
- Sugary foods: This can cause obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes.
- Table scraps: Should never exceed 10% of the diet and certainly not include any of the foods on this list. Fat should be trimmed from meats if feeding scraps regularly.
- Tobacco: Nicotine, like caffeine, will be fatal in high amounts. A small amount will cause a rapid heart rate and possible heart damage.
- Walnuts: It's not the walnut itself, but the fungus mold that grows on a wet walnut that can be fatal. Vomiting, tremors, drooling, lack of coordination, lethargy, loss of appetite, and jaundice indications are to be taken very seriously.
- Xylitol: This is a sugarless natural substitute originally created to sweeten gum, candy, and mints, and is now found in many other foods. It can be fatal to your dog. It causes a sudden drop in blood sugar and could lead to extreme hypoglycemia, vomiting, weakness, liver failure, and even death. Check labels of foods to be sure you do not give your dog a treat that is perfectly fine for you to eat, but fatal for them. Again, this bears repeating: little children love to share treats with a dog, so watch out!
Tips for New Puppies
Emily and I suggest these tips, especially for a new puppy.
- Do not bring home foods that are pet toxic. But if you must, keep them out of reach.
- Be firm and refuse to share those toxic treats.
- Keep the trash secure at all times.
- Do not compost anything in your garden that can become a tasty snack.
- Always, always, always give your dog something they are allowed to chew. Emily likes those large raw hides or a real processed bone purchased from PetSmart (these bones clean teeth in an awesome way).
- When cleaning bedding, wash it separately with very low detergent in hot water. If your dog is skin sensitive to detergents, double rinse.
- Never leave a baby or young children alone with your dog! They could feed your dog everything from toxic food to small toys. Dogs will also lick babies clean of all toxins.
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.
Melanie on April 16, 2018:
We are prett sure that oranges/orange peelings have caused our dogs last 2 seizures. I have been researching if these are toxic and theres a mix of information, but we are almost positive that has been the culprit so please becareful with oranges and dogs.
LiZ jones on April 14, 2018:
My dog can’t tolerate much human food. 1 am scrape of meat is ok but if she gets more than a scrape of any human food she gets diarrhea. Please advise on how to stop diarrhea (3x+) without giving ANY human food. I.e. rice ground beef pumpkin etc human food=diarrhea always
ken on August 07, 2017:
oh crap just feed all of these to my dogs
Bri on May 29, 2017:
okay so boloney and other meat products are ok?
Amber on December 27, 2016:
I was told by my vet that 100% pumpkin is a great treat n dogs love it. I freeze mine in ice cube trays. My big guys love to eat n play with them ( we call them popsicles) also frozen green beans are good treats too.
t on September 24, 2016:
lol what ever
Carol from NJ on April 06, 2016:
I had a Shetland sheepdog years ago and I thought I would cook him a treat. I boiled a beef bone for him to chew on and he wound up getting a splinter in him which I found out when he started to bleed and I took him to the vet. I had to put him on a diet if cooked ground beef mixed with plain cooked rice til I saw he had normal bowel movements. I never gave him a fresh bone again. Back then (1965) there weren't all the things they have now--there weren't even many pet stores.
laila on December 29, 2012:
i love dogs and ia m going to take care of him because when i grow up i will be a vet and i will save dog that are on the street you should come to belizeand see so much dogs that don't have owners and no homes it is so sad and i wish i can help them but i don't have any money so but when i get older i will help dogs and save all the ones in the street
Golfgal (author) from McKinney, Texas on July 28, 2012:
Hi Nikki, yes apparently garlic has the same harmful sulfides as onions, it affects the dog in a way that cause them to experience Hemyletic anemia. It is life threatening, but they likely have to eat a lot of it or a steady diet of it that could build up and become toxic. That is what I have learned anyway. Garlic obviously smells very bad and oozes from the pores of those who consume it, including dogs. I am sure fleas do not like it, but your dog could also be harmed and anemic as a result.
nikki on July 27, 2012:
yes onions are bad, but garlic? Many pet supplements like Brewers yeast have garlic in it. It is recommended for fleas.
Angela on May 22, 2012:
This information should be read by all dog owners.
Golfgal (author) from McKinney, Texas on May 08, 2012:
Thank you Haley P, I will definitely add this to the list and from personal experience no doubt. I forgot about this experience years ago when I gave my dog a yummy steak bone. She loved it, but the fragmentsscraped her intestines for days and caused diarrhea. I had to take her to the vet and luckily we got by with a few meds. I felt so bad. I agree 100%...NEVER give your dog a bone that is cooked.
Haley P on May 07, 2012:
You shouldn’t feed your dog cooked bones as they can splinter off and get caught in there throat they should only be given raw bones.
Golfgal (author) from McKinney, Texas on November 03, 2011:
Thanks Sharon, yes, who would have thought all the foods that are beneficial to us could be harmful to our pets. My dogs love to lick our empty yogurt cups. I agree it is good for them. Thanks for visiting.
Sharon McConnell from Gilbert, Arizona on November 03, 2011:
This is a very thorough list. I have done a lot of research on the subject because I make my own dog food. I do, however, giver her plain yogurt once or twice a week as a treat and understand that this can be very beneficial if your dog tolerates lactose. Thanks for writing this, so many people feed their dogs poisonous foods.....more people need to be educated on this subject!
Golfgal (author) from McKinney, Texas on April 05, 2011:
Thanks Stephanie for the cudos, I appreciate your kind words and deeds. Peace.
Stephanie Henkel from USA on April 05, 2011:
Golfgal, This was a great hub for dog owners! I never knew there was such an extensive list of things that are toxic to dogs. I shared on Facebook. Voted up a useful!
Golfgal (author) from McKinney, Texas on February 11, 2011:
Thank you Irohner, you are right!!!! You cannot give your Tylenol!!!! With getting permission from your vet, baby aspirin is permitted in certain circumstances. I would never give my dog a drug that I did not check with my vet first. It is not worth the risk or expense of fixing your blunder.
lrohner from USA on February 11, 2011:
I knew chocolate was bad for dogs, but I didn't know about the rest. Aren't anti-inflammatories, like Tylenol, problematic too? Great hub and voted up, up up!