Protect your beloved canine companion with our guide to dangerous foods your dog should never eat. Learn about common household items that can be harmful to your furry friend’s health. Stay informed and keep your pup safe
Many pet owners say that having a dog is like having a toddler in the home. Interestingly, that’s where most poisonings occur. The majority are accidental. Canines are more likely to get in trouble than felines, accounting for up to 80% of cases. Dogs won’t hesitate to eat anything they find, whereas cats are typically choosier about what they consume.
Not Just Like Us
It’s worth mentioning from the get-go that our pets aren’t little people. Just because you can eat most of the things on our list doesn’t mean your dog can. Sadly, ingesting some of these things can lead to severe or even life-threatening results.
15 Dangerous Foods That Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat
1. Chocolate: A Bitter Treat
Three ingredients in chocolate can cause poisoning: methylxanthines, theobromine, and caffeine. Unsurprisingly, many cases of accidental ingestion occur during the holidays. The first one is the biggest problem, but all are problematic. The darker the chocolate, the more serious the results. Methylxanthine can cause issues with central nervous system (CNS) function and cardiac arrhythmias.
2. Raisins & Grapes: A Sour Outcome
The toxicity of raisins and grapes stems from their tartaric acid content. It is the most prevalent acid in these fruits. Ingestion by dogs can cause liver damage and kidney failure. Signs are evident within 24 hours, often sooner. They include lethargy, tremors, weakness, and vomiting. Kidney failure occurs within 72 hours of ingestion, necessitating the euthanasia of the pet.
3. Citrus Fruits: A Sour Bite
The toxicity of citrus fruits, like grapefruits, oranges, and lemons, also involves an acid called citric acid. It’s a significant contributor to a food’s pH. For example, lemon juice is highly acidic, with a pH of 2.0–2.6. These fruits can irritate your pup’s mouth and the lining of their digestive system. It can also sicken your pet, causing vomiting, and impair the function of their central nervous system.
4. Starfruit: A Star Turned Harmful
The starfruit is the quintessential exotic fruit. Hailing from Southeast Asia, it is delicious and relatively low in sugar. Unfortunately, it can be problematic for dogs and people. It can cause kidney issues, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions. It can interfere with medication uptake, making it inadvisable for pets on prescription drugs. Starfruit can also cause confusion, and nausea, at least in people.
5. Fruit Pits: A Seedy Situation
It may surprise you to learn that popular fruits like apricots, cherries, peaches, and apples can be poisonous if you eat the pits. They contain a chemical called amygdalin. If the pits are chewed, they can trigger a reaction in a dog—or human—because it releases cyanide. It doesn’t take a lot of it to cause weakness, vomiting, respiratory distress, and death by interfering with the ability to use oxygen.
6. Foods High in Oxalic Acid: A Double-Edged Sword
Oxalic acid is the proverbial double-edged sword. It exists in highly nutritious foods, like almonds, tofu, and spinach. However, it can bind with magnesium or calcium and become oxalate crystals. That’s where the trouble starts since it can cause drastic and dangerous drops in these minerals. Calcium oxalate can lead to kidney damage.
7. Garlic, Onion, Leeks, Green Onions, & Chives: A Dangerous Mix
Onion is the worst one of the lot. The problem arises from each vegetable’s content of aliphatic sulfides and sulfoxides. These chemicals can cause Heinz body anemia, which leads to the destruction of red blood cells. Only 15–30 g/kg is needed to lead to toxicity.
8. Avocado: Not for Dogs
Avocados being on the list might surprise you. Other than the large pit and its fat content, it doesn’t seem like a harmful food. It’s an example of the varying sensitivities of different animals. The culprit, in this case, is a toxin called persin. Ingestion can cause nausea and vomiting. It can also potentially cause heart damage.
9. Mustard: A Spicy Surprise
Mustard is made of the ground seeds of the plant. It contains a chemical compound called isothiocyanate. It’s also found in cruciferous vegetables, such as kale and broccoli. Ingesting too much of this chemical can irritate your pup’s stomach and cause gastroenteritis. Signs of poisoning include abdominal pain, vomiting, and drooling.
10. Bones: A Risky Chew
We all have the classic image in our heads of a dog chewing happily on a bone. Unfortunately, it can also lead to problems, particularly if it splinters. A pet may hurt their mouth or damage their teeth when chewing on bones. If they swallow any shards or pieces, it can lead to a gastrointestinal blockage, making it a medical emergency. We don’t doubt that your dog would love to chew on a bone; however, it’s not worth the risk.
11. Spicy Foods: A Fiery Mistake
This one should be a no-brainer. The substance behind the heat of spicy food is called capsaicin. Research has shown it triggers a pain response in dogs. It can also increase their heart rate. Therefore, you should never offer your pet spicy foods of any kind.
12. Cinnamon & Nutmeg: A Seasonal Danger
These spices are toxic to dogs in large amounts. Ingesting cinnamon can lead to respiratory distress, vomiting, and low blood pressure. Nutmeg has the opposite effects from a chemical called myristicin. A small bit can cause nausea. However, it can also lead to high blood pressure, disorientation, and hallucinations. The effects can last up to 48 hours.
13. Baked Goods: Sweet Trouble
Baked goods are potentially harmful partially because of the spices we discussed. There’s also the fat and sugar content to consider. Even a single mini-donut has about 60 calories. That’s a hefty chunk in a 10-pound dog’s recommended daily intake of 275 calories. Obesity is a serious health issue and can increase your pet’s risk of heart disease and diabetes.
14. Xylitol-Containing Candies & Gum: Sweet Poison
Xylitol is a natural sweetener you’ll find in many products. However, it’s toxic to dogs on two fronts. First, it can trigger spikes in the animal’s liver enzymes, which can potentially cause damage or liver failure. Second, xylitol leads to a chain reaction with an increase in insulin and a subsequent drop in blood sugar. An affected pet will be weak, vomit, and may even have seizures. Vet intervention is required.
15. Macadamia Nuts: A Nutty Reaction
The precise cause of the toxicity of macadamias is unknown. However, dogs that ingest these nuts experience vomiting, tremors, and marked weakness within 12 hours. Your vet may treat your dog with pain meds and IV fluids in severe cases, but most dogs recover within 48 hours.
It’s easy to understand why anyone would want to share something tasty with their pet. After all, our dogs are our best friends. However, it’s unwise to make it a habit. Many perfectly safe foods can be harmful or even poisonous to our pets. It’s simply not worth the risk. There are plenty of safer ways to bond with your dog that wouldn’t involve an emergency trip to the vet.