What Can Dogs Not Eat: 35 Foods Toxic To Dogs

Ever wondered what can dogs not eat? Here’s a list of 35 foods that you and your dog should avoid when feeding your dog.

What Can Dogs Not Eat: 35 Toxic Foods Poisonous To Dogs

I’m James, and I’ve had the pleasure of owning a dog pretty much all my life.

Looking around the internet, I’ve grown frustrated at the lack of accurate information currently online. Most are lightly researched and don’t have reliable sources for evidence.

So I thought I would do some research and find out for you. After over 120 hours of research, I’ve found 35 human foods that dogs should avoid and why. 

A registered vet has proofread this article to ensure the information I have given you is truthful and accurate.

Onions, Garlic & Chive

Onions, leeks, and chives are all part of a family of plants called Allium.

The allium family contains sulfoxides and aliphatic sulfides. Should you feed these types of foods to your dog (even in small amounts), it can cause gastrointestinal irritation and eventually lead to red blood cell damage and anemia.

Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even depression can occur initially. However, more severe problems will eventually begin, such as weakness, breathing difficulties, elevated heart rate, and even death.

Baby food containing any of these ingredients can also have the same result. There is no antidote to this kind of poisoning, so please contact a vet should you have any questions. [1]

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are quite possibly one of the most dangerous foods to feed your dog.

Macadamia nuts, which are part of the Proteaceae family, contain an unknown toxin that can affect your dog’s muscles, digestive and nervous system. Symptoms caused include; weakness, trouble breathing, swollen limbs, and elevated body temperature.

Signs typically appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 24 to 48 hours after consuming Macadamia nuts, but this can vary from dog to dog. [1,2]

Chocolate

Chocolate contains toxins that are well known; Methylazanthines (theobromine and caffeine). These toxins are typically found in cocoa beans and stop your dog’s metabolic process, causing vomiting and eventually episodes of hyperactivity.

Theobromine affects a dog’s central nervous system, respiratory system and cardiovascular system.

lethal dose of theobromine is approximately 100-500mg/kg of the body weight in dogs. It can take up to 24 hours for symptoms to appear and up to three days of recovery. Symptoms can inevitably lead to heart attack, seizures, or even death.

You can access a chocolate consumption calculator, to be sure, but we recommend avoiding giving your dog any chocolate.

The higher amount of cocoa contained in the chocolate, the more toxic it is for dogs. Milk chocolate is less harmful in comparison to dark chocolate. [1,3]

Grapes

The actual reason why grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs is unknown, but toxins found in them can cause kidney failure and even death in dogs.

Suppose your dog has consumed any grapes or raisins. In that case, luckily, the toxin is digested very slowly, meaning a vet can still help your dog even if it was several hours since.

Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, seizures and a reduction in urination. 

We always recommend you take your dog to a vet if they have ingested a small number of grapes or raisins. [1,4,5]

Peanut Butter (Xylitol)

The main ingredient in Peanut Butter to avoid is Xylitol, which causes an insulin release in our bodies. Many manufacturers add Xylitol in their peanut butter, so read the label carefully before giving it to your dog.

Beware, Xylitol is very toxic to dogs. We would recommend avoiding it at all costs to be safe.

Peanut butter is energy-dense, with around 180-200 calories per 2 tablespoons—most of which comes from fat. That means the calories in peanut butter add up quickly.

PetMD 

The high-fat ingredients contained in peanut butter can lead to pancreatitis. There is also a high amount of salt contained in peanut butter too. [6]

Avocado

Avocado contains a toxin known as Persin in its leaves, fruit and seed.

Persin causes fluid accumulation in the lungs, also known as pulmonary edema. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness, rapid breathing, and blue tongue or lips.

Should your dog’s lips turn blue, get your dog to the nearest emergency veterinary centre.

A considerable amount of Persin can cause respiratory distress and can often be fatal. [7,8]

Alcohol

Alcohol and dogs don’t go well together. Primarily this is due to a toxin in alcohol called Ethanol.

Ethanol impedes the nervous system’s GABA receptors. If your dog displays; drooling, weakness, decreased breathing rate, vomiting or retching, or incoordination, seek veterinary advice to see if treatment is needed.

The amount of Ethanol needed to cause intoxication varies depending on its concentration in the substance ingested. The published oral lethal dose in dogs is 5.5 to 7.9 g/kg of 100% ethanol. One millilitre of Ethanol is equal to 0.789.

AKG

Beer also contains an ingredient called Hops, leading to a rise in body temperature (known as malignant hyperthermia) in dogs. Dogs can develop respiratory difficulties, seizures, and even death. [1,10]

Bones

When I grew up, I always thought it was safe to give my dog a bone. But actually, cooked bones are more dangerous than you think.

Bones can contain bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which are harmful to humans and pets.

Bones can also splinter and cause intestinal perforation due to the sharp edges and severe infection.

If a dog swallows large chunks of bone as well, this can cause intestinal blockages and lead to life-threatening conditions. If they penetrate the intestinal wall, this can cause peritonitis.

Cooked bones are more likely to splinter, so it’s best to avoid this. If you choose to give your dog a bone, try to provide them with a raw one and prevent choking and splintering. [11]

Coffee & Caffeine

Like chocolate, caffeine contains theobromine that is toxic for dogs. If digested, it can cause significant damage to a dog, causing abnormal heart rhythm and respiratory difficulties.

Similar drinks such as tea, including herbal and green tea, contains caffeine. [12]

Yeast/ Dough

Yeast dough, which is the main ingredient in bread or pizzas, rises. The primary issue is that yeast will expand in the stomach too.

Yeast can cause stomach bloating and gastric torsion, a life-threatening emergency resulting in severe abdominal pain or difficulty breathing. 

Yeast or dough also produces excessive amounts of Ethanol, which is toxic to dogs as well. [13,14]

Citrus

The skin and other parts of citrus (such as peels, leaves, stems, and seeds) contain essential oils and psoralen, causing irritation, vomiting and diarrhea, depression, or muscle tremors. Typically this only occurs if there has been a substantial amount consumed.

In small quantities, it does not cause problems beyond a minor upset stomach. But remember, it does remain acidic to your dog.

It is suspected that grapefruit causes photosensitive skin inflammation. [15,16]

Gum & Candy

It is always best advised not to feed or give your dog candy or chewing gum. Similar to chocolate, candy and chewing gum often contain Xylitol.

Suppose a dog is suffering from Xylitol poisoning. In that case, it can result in a drop in blood sugar levels resulting in depression, seizures, liver failure, or even death.

Additionally, candy contains vast amounts of sugar, leading to high blood sugar levels or hyperactivity. [1,10,18,19]

Persimmons

Persimmons such as plumbs or peaches are not fatally toxic. However, they can contain laxatives.

Seeds from these foods can cause significant problems in a dog’s small intestine, even blocking them. However, they are not inherently toxic. [1]

Dairy

Dairy is not dangerous to give your dog in small amounts and can be nutritionally beneficial for them.

However, dogs cannot digest dairy products as we can. This is primarily due to dogs lacking lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk.

Diary also contains a high amount of fat and lactase. Feeding your dog excessive amounts will lead to diarrhoea, obesity, abdominal upset and even flatulence. [19,20]

Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains something called oxalic acid. Oxalic acid causes metabolic imbalance, binding calcium and crystals in the urinary tract, eventually causing kidney failure.

Rhubarb contains approximately 570-1,900 mg of oxalate per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).” 

Healthline

Not only this, it can cause significant bone weakness and mineral deficiencies in dogs.

Kidney stones can be formed due to Oxalates blocking the urine flow and causing severe kidney damage. [1,21]

Salt or Salty Foods

A certain amount of salt is not a bad thing in any diet as it’s essential for normal bodily functions. However, human foods typically contain an excessive amount of salt to preserve them and elevate the taste.

Feeding your dog too much salt can lead to excessive thirst and urination, dehydration or even ion poisoning.

Clinical signs of salt poisoning can be weakness, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, and seizures.

If your dog is suffering from salt poisoning or you suspect it, give your dog plenty of water to drink until you can get them to a vet.

We never recommend using salt to induce vomiting; take your dog to a vet instead. [22,23]

Wild Mushrooms

Washed white mushrooms found in the supermarket are okay for dogs to consume in small doses. You should avoid letting your dog eat any mushrooms when you are not sure where they came from (ex. Mushrooms in the garden).

Wild mushrooms can be very toxic for dogs.

Mushroom poisoning symptoms depend on the mushroom species as the toxicity varies between them and can affect dogs differently. 

However, in many cases, mushroom toxicity can lead to dogs displaying excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea initially. Eventually, this can develop into weakness, collapse and even organ failure if left untreated.

Some mushroom species can cause neurotoxicity (when toxic substances (neurotoxicants) alter the typical activity of the nervous system), leading to hallucinations, seizures, comas, drunk like movements and even death.

Generally, it is best not to feed your dog anything you wouldn’t eat yourself when it comes to mushrooms. [24]

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is toxic for dogs due to a compound known as Myristicin which can be found in the seed’s oil. It is a naturally occurring insecticide that can cause neurological and locomotor impairment.

Typically, symptoms can develop within a few hours, lasting up to days. Diarrhoea, seizures, muscle tremors, disorientation, confusion can be displayed by dogs with nutmeg toxicity and can eventually lead to death.

In addition, nutmeg also contains safrole, an organic compound that is suspected to be harmful. [21,25,26]

Cherries

The main danger in cherries is their pits, stems and leaves as they contain amygdalin, which your body converts into cyanide. Cyanide is lethal if consumed in large quantities. We recommend extreme caution when feeding your dog cherries but provided you are careful, dogs can eat them.

Cyanide stops cells from utilizing oxygen, meaning your dog’s blood cells aren’t getting enough oxygen. This can lead to respiratory or cardiac failure, tremors, incoordination and even death.

Common signs to look out for if you suspect cyanide poisoning is bright red gums, dilated pupils or laboured breathing. [27]

Cinnamon

According to the ASPCA, Cinnamon isn’t toxic for dogs.

However, be wary as it’s the treats that Cinnamon is typically in that may be toxic for them. For example, a Cinnamon bun contains raisins or macadamia nuts, both poisonous to dogs.

Cinnamon sticks, however, contain essential oils that can irritate your dog’s skin, mouth or digestive system. This can lower your dog’s blood sugar leading to vomiting and diarrhoea and even liver disease.

We also advise against giving your dog powdered Cinnamon. It can easily be inhaled, leading to irritation of the nasal passages, lungs and trachea. In some severe cases, this has lead to aspiration pneumonia. [28]

Mints and breath fresheners 

Typically, mints or breath fresheners contain menthol. This ingredient can irritate a dog’s mouth and intestinal lining, causing mild vomiting, diarrhoea and extreme stomach aches.

Additionally, many of these products contain Xylitol, which, as we discussed earlier, has dangerous effects on dogs. [29]

Bay leaves 

According to the ASPCA, bay leaves contain Eugenol.

Common signs of toxicity due to Eugenol include vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. In addition, bay leaves aren’t great at being digested and can cause intestinal obstructions if they are swallowed whole. [30]

Raw/ undercooked meat, eggs 

Thoroughly cooked eggs are great for dogs to eat (ex. scrambled eggs or hard-boiled). Undercooked or raw eggs are dangerous to dogs.

A common enzyme found in raw eggs is avidin which decreases the body’s ability to absorb biotin (a B vitamin), leading to severe skin or coat problems in dogs.

Raw meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli which can harm both humans and pets. Ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly before giving it to your dog.

Common symptoms of Salmonella infection can be diarrhoea and loss of appetite. If you suspect your dog has become infected, speak to your vet immediately. [31]

Leaves and seeds

The fruit flesh itself in apples, peaches or plums are safe for your dog to eat. However, every effort to remove the leaves, stems, seeds and pits of the fruit should be made as they contain amygdalin.

When ingested, amygdalin is hydrolyzed into cyanide; we discussed the dangers of cyanide poisoning earlier. Inevitably this can lead to tremors, respiratory and cardiac failure and even death. [21,32,33,34]

Oregano, marjoram and mint

Due to the essential oils found in oregano and marjoram, they can cause gastric or intestinal irritation in dogs, often resulting in abdominal discomfort, vomiting or diarrhoea. [35,36]

Sorbitol

Sorbitol is commonly found in sugar-free foods. While not as severe as xylitol poisoning, it remains toxic to dogs. Sorbitol is a laxative that can cause severe diarrhoea for dogs, ultimately resulting in excess thirst and dehydration or ion deficiency. [29]

Beef jerky

Beef jerky is exceptionally high in salt content, contains a vast amount of artificial preservatives and many spices such as onion and garlic. We have previous spoken about the dangers these ingredients cause to dogs.

Beef jerky that contains no salt, spices or additives is safe for dogs to consume in moderation. If you are unsure, speak to a qualified vet beforehand. [37]

Caraway seeds (a.k.a. Persian Cumin)

Caraways contain a high amount of monoterpene compounds. These are known as carvone and limonene.

Carvone is a terpenoid that has toxic qualities that may cause blood thinning. Limonene is a terpene that can cause skin and respiratory irritation.

The essential oils and these monoterpenes contained in Caraway seeds can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, mild intestinal upset, blood thinning, or decreased glucose levels. [38]

Chamomile

According to the ASPCA, Chamomile is toxic to dogs due to it containing anthemic acid, tannic acid, bisabolol and chamazulene.

Chamomile has been used for years due to its relaxing qualities and if used correctly.

However, in large, incorrect doses, it can cause chamomile poisoning which can be fatal for dogs.

Common signs of this type of poisoning vary depending on each dog. However, some symptoms include; hypersalivation, depression, vomiting, dermatitis or allergic reactions.

If you believe that your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, please contact your vet as soon as possible. [39]

Liquorice

Liquorice is exceptionally high in sugar content; however, this is not the only reason it’s toxic for dogs. Liquorice contains glycyrrhizin which is how it gets its distinctive flavour.

Glycyrrhizin acts similar to aldosterone (a hormone that regulates potassium levels in the body).

Due to an imbalance of potassium in the body, dogs can suffer liver damage, high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeats or even muscle weakness. [21,40,41]

However, liquorice root can be used as a powerful natural remedy for various types of diseases such as gastrointestinal puptic ulcers, liver disease and skin conditions like eczema.

Star fruit (a.k.a. carambola)

Carambola contains high levels of oxalates and caramboxin. We have previously discussed oxalates. However, they can cause acute kidney failure, calcium deficiency and even kidney stones.

Caramboxin is a neurotoxin that can cause adverse neurological effects, including kidney disease, seizures and even death. [42,43,44,45]

Mould

It is always best to avoid your dog getting to any food scraps, particularly in the bins. Some moulds have been identified to produce tremorgenic mycotoxins, which cause severe tremors and seizures.

These moulds can grow on all types of foods, so please ensure your dog cannot access or be given anything you wouldn’t consume yourself.

Blue cheese also contains a neurotoxin known as Roquefortine C. If your dog suffers from Roquefortine C poisoning, this can result in excessive panting, seizures and even death. [46,47,48,49]

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal ingredient in cannabis. Common signs of cannabis poisoning in dogs include dilated pupils, lack of coordination, low blood pressure and/or body temperature.

In extreme cases where cannabis poisoning has occurred, it can result in tremors, seizures or even comas. It is worth noting that Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil is different to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Please consult your vet if you suspect they have consumed THC. [50]

Final Thoughts

It’s always best to do thorough research before introducing any new foods to your dog. We hope this list has given you a fair idea about what foods human foods dogs should not eat.

Be mindful when browsing the internet to find out information. Anyone can write anything, and there is little regulation on the accuracy of information.

If you are ever unsure about what foods are safe for dogs, speak to the vet. 

James Fuller

James Fuller

Founder of Honest Whiskers

Hey! I’ve owned a pet pretty much all my life, in fact, I currently have both a cat and a dog! My mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information

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