FOOD & TREATS

Foods Dogs Should Not Eat: 10 Human Foods That Are Extremely Harmful to Your Pet

People food toxic for dogs
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

It is a known fact that we all love our dogs and many times we choose to show this love by using special treats like human food. When given in controlled amounts, human food as treats, will not only be fun for the pet but also for the dog owner. In addition, most pets appear to love human food more than they love their own food. All in all, it is still very important to understand the fact that there are certain type of foods that can be extremely toxic to your dog especially when given in large amounts.

The side effects of such foods can be so severe that your pet may either fall into a coma or in some cases may die due to toxicosis or food poisoning. As a dog owner, it is your duty to know the various types of human foods that you should not give your pet at any point.

Toxic for dogs

When addressed immediately, most of these cases can be treated effectively without any serious repercussions or side effects. But if these cases are left unattended for a long duration of time, they might lead to acute organ failure, coma, seizures or even death. Hence, it is highly advisable for every dog owner to ensure that any human food that might be harmful to dogs is always kept out of reach and must not be given to the dog at any instance.

Human foods that you should never give to your pet

Chocolate

Despite the fact that chocolate can be palatable to dogs, it has been proven that it is not only toxic to dogs but also it can lead to serious and adverse side effects. Nonetheless, there are various factors such as the dog’s size and the amount of chocolate consumed that will determine the level of toxicity or how poisonous the chocolate will be for your dog.

Unlike humans, dogs do not have the ability to metabolize effectively theobromine that is one of the toxic substances found in chocolate. The slow metabolism rate of theobromine in dogs is what allows the harmful substance to build up in their system thus reaching toxic levels.

Dog with chocolate

The building up of theobromine in the dog’s system will eventually lead to seizures, tremors, muscle attacks, heart attacks, internal bleeding and many others. The commencement of theobromine poisoning in dogs is usually discernible by excessive hyperactivity. It is also very important to note that high amounts of unprocessed theobromine in a dog’s system can lead to death.

All in all, large dogs have the ability to consume chocolate in large quantities with no serious side effects when compared to small sized dogs. Once a dog becomes poisoned, the only treatment available is through induced vomiting and must be done approximately 2 hours after ingestion.

Also, it is also very important to note that different types of chocolates will have different amounts of theobromine. Cooking chocolate, cocoa, and dark chocolate have the highest amounts of the toxic substance while white chocolate and milk chocolate have the lowest amount of theobromine. The high amount of theobromine in dark chocolate thus means that it takes a small quantity of dark chocolate to cause serious consequences on any dog.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is mainly used as an artificial sweetener though it is also naturally present in most fruits and vegetables such as plums, oats, mushrooms, corn and many others. Unlike other synthetic sweeteners and sugars, xylitol is very beneficial for reducing cavities and it’s also important in re-mineralization. In some studies, xylitol has also been found to reduce the probability of acute middle ear infection, especially in children. Despite the numerous health benefits, xylitol has been found to be extremely poisonous to some animals, especially dogs.

In both humans and animals, the blood sugar level is usually controlled by the production of insulin from the pancreas. However, in non-primate animals such as dogs, the amount of insulin that is usually released from the pancreas after consumption of substances containing xylitol is usually way above the expected mark.

The rapid increase/release of insulin into the dog’s blood usually results in a general decrease in the blood sugar level. A decrease in the blood sugar level is commonly termed as hypoglycemia and can occur anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes after consuming the substance. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.

Xylitol

The dose of xylitol that can lead to hypoglycemia has been reported to be somewhere around 100 mg per kilogram of body weight. The higher the dosage, the more likely the dog will experience liver failure. The most common source of xylitol poisoning in dogs is sugar-free gum. Depending on the brand, most of the time it only takes around nine pieces to cause hypoglycemia in dogs and about 45 pieces to cause liver failure.

With several other brands, especially those containing one gram of xylitol per piece, it will only require one piece to cause severe hypoglycemia in dogs and two pieces, to cause liver failure. Since each brand contains a different amount of xylitol, it is your duty as a dog owner to establish as to whether the amount consumed is toxic or not.

If you suspect that your dog has consumed a high amount of xylitol, you are required to contact your local veterinarian or the Pet Poison Center within your area of residence. It is also very important that you do not try any form of treatment such as induced vomiting or give out anything orally unless you have been directed by a qualified practitioner to do so. Induced vomiting is not an ideal option because there are some dogs that are already hypoglycemic and induced vomiting will only make them worse.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia will occur between 15 and 30 minutes after ingestion. All in all, the most common symptoms include weakness, vomiting, tremors, lethargy or depression, lack of coordination, seizures, and coma.

Grapes and raisin

Just like macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins can also be toxic for some animals, especially dogs. The toxicity has become an issue of concern for various breeders and pet owners because it was discovered that both grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure and many other health related complications in dogs. Currently, the exact cause of kidney failure has not been established but researchers have pointed out the fact that it is something contained in the grapes and raisins.

All in all, there is a group of dogs that can consume grapes and raisins with no serious repercussions while there are those that will develop life-threatening complications, immediately after eating a couple of grapes or raisins. Since the active ingredient contained in both grapes and raisins has not yet been found, dog owners are advised to feed their pets neither grapes nor raisins.

Grapes and raisin

After consumption, a dog will start to experience vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea within the first 12 hours. As the toxicosis progresses slowly, the dog will continue to become lethargic and dehydrated. The peak of toxicosis is usually marked by a loss of appetite, an increase in urination followed by a drastic decrease in later stages. If after 4 days the issue is not addressed, death due to kidney failure will occur or in some cases the pet will start to experience a long-term kidney failure.

Furthermore, the dog will also start to develop foul breath which will be slightly similar to the smell of urine. In some scenarios the dog may also develop mouth ulcers especially in the locations where the salivary ducts usually drain. Once the kidney failure progresses, your pet’s blood pressure will continue to increase and eventually the dog will fall into a comma.

The dosage of grapes and raisins has not yet been established but since raisins are usually dried, their concentration is usually higher thus making raisins more toxic than grapes. Some researchers have pointed out the fact that the increase in toxicity may be due to a mycotoxin – a substance that is normally produced by molds and funguses.

Despite the fact that the toxic substance has not yet been established, raisins and grapes must not be fed to pets at any given time. If you suspect your pet is experiencing grape related toxicosis, you should make a point of contacting the veterinary officer as soon as possible so as to avoid death or a long-term kidney failure.

Poisonous to dogs

Once taken to the veterinary officer, he or she may conduct a series of tests such as the CBC (Complete Blood Count). The CBC is a series of treatments that employs the use of urinalysis and serum biochemistry profiling to determine the level of damage that might be done on the kidneys and also determine the dog’s recovery. Currently, there is no antidote for grape and raisin toxicosis but there some therapies that can be used to interfere or alter the rate of absorption and also minimize the level of damage to the kidneys.

  • During the first 2 hours after ingestion, the veterinary officer will use induced vomiting to remove the grapes or raisins from the dog’s stomach after which he or she will administer activated charcoal. The activated charcoal is used to block any further absorption of the grapes or raisins into the blood stream.
  • After the first two therapies have been completed, the veterinary officer will put the patient on intravenous fluids to flush out the remaining toxins and also to maintain a stable kidney function. Depending on the gravity of symptoms, the veterinary officer may decide to administer several drugs to control vomiting or nausea.

All in all, the prognosis will depend on a number of factors such as the number of raisins or grapes consumed, the state of the pet before treatment and whether there were clinical signs of improvements after the commencement of the treatment therapy. If the dog will have consumed some grapes or raisins the prognosis will always be good, but if he or she consumed many the prognosis would always be poor.

It is very important to note that kidney cells do not have the ability to regenerate themselves hence once they become destroyed; they are not going to function as they previously did. Grapes and raisins must always be kept out of reach and must not be used as treats at any one point.

Avocado

It has been found that Avocado fruit, seeds, bark or leaves are all very harmful to animals because they contain a toxic substance called persin. Persin is a fungicidal toxin that is usually found in Avocado. Persin is harmless to humans, but for dogs and other animals, it is very toxic especially when consumed in large amounts.

The most toxic avocado species is the Guatemalan variety that is mostly found in most grocery stores and shopping malls. When consumed by birds, dogs, horses or any other large animal, avocado can lead to congestion, distress, fluid accumulation especially around the heart and in some cases it can even lead to death.

Avocado not for dogs

Regardless of the presence of persin in avocados, the level of toxicity in dogs and cats is way less than the effect the same substance may have on other animals. When consumed in large amounts by dogs, persin will cause mild stomach upsets as the only major side effect. If the pet accidentally consumes the pit, then obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract may occur.

Obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract can be very fatal, thus will require immediate medical attention. Since avocado may be included as a nutritional supplement in most pet foods, the amount of avocado present is usually tested which means that there won’t be any serious side effect on your pet.

Milk

When it comes to milk consumption, there are dogs that consume milk without any repercussions while some cannot stand it and will experience acute intestinal stress. The ability to break down lactose, a major sugar found in milk is what will determine as to whether a dog will experience lactose intolerance or not. So, what exactly is lactose? Lactose is a two molecule sugar that is mainly found in milk and other dairy products.

Hence during digestion, lactose must be broken down into its basic sugar components so that the milk will be properly absorbed into the body. So as to break down the lactose, the dog must be able to produce a special type of enzyme called lactase, and this is something that dogs cannot do freely. If you have ever noticed your dog develop gas problems or pass loose stool, then there is a high chance that he or she is lactose intolerant.

Milk not for dogs

However not all dogs are allergic to milk, but as a precaution, all dogs are assumed to be lactose intolerant. The allergic reaction is usually related to the amount of lactose found in different dairy products with the higher the amount of lactose in a specific product, the higher the chances that the dog will suffer from intoxication. Dairy products such as milk, ice cream, and yogurt are some of the dairy products that do have higher lactose content than any other dairy product.

All in all, dog owners are still encouraged to give their pets dairy products that have a low lactose content such as cheese that are known to be a great natural supplement for dogs.

Alcohol

Unlike humans, dogs have been found to be more sensitive to ethanol. For animals, especially dogs, even the slightest amount of any product that may contain alcohol can cause serious intoxication. In our day to day lives, our pets may be exposed to alcohol, through the ingestion of various products, such as wine, mixed drinks or beer that may be left unattended in the house. Also, products such as an alcohol containing syrups, elixir or raw yeast can lead to serious alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol dog

Alcohol intoxication in dogs can lead to vomiting, stupor, disorientation, loss of coordination and many others. In cases where the intoxication is severe, the dog may experience a seizure, fall into a coma or in some cases death may occur. Any dog that may be showing any signs of intoxication must be closely monitored until they fully recover. In case the intoxication is severe, then as a dog owner it is your duty to call the veterinary officer so that he or she can attend to the dog before the situation gets any worse.

Onions and garlic

Any plant that is closely related to either onion or garlic can be harmful to most animals especially dogs. This is because they all contain a toxic compound that can damage the red blood cells of a dog, especially when ingested in sufficient amounts. Also, it has also been noted that the stronger the plant is, the more harmful it is to your pet, and this rule is what makes the garlic more dangerous than onions.

Despite the fact that it is not common for dogs to consume raw onions, any food that has a higher concentration of garlic such as garlic soup can put your dog at risk of developing toxicosis.

Onions and garlic

After consuming high amounts of onions or garlic, damage or symptoms of the disorder, are not usually visible until after 2 to 5 days. Most affected dogs are weak, reluctant to move or may become extremely tired after mild exercises. Also, the dog’s urine will change in color from its usual color to either dark-red or orange-tingle.

If you suspect that the pet, is by any chance, undergoing toxicosis, then make a point of contacting your veterinary officer as soon as possible. In most cases, toxicosis will be treated successful but in cases where toxicosis is severe enough, a blood transfusion may be required.

Bread dough

Apart from macadamia nuts, another type of food that you should never give your pet is raw bread dough. Since raw bread dough contains live yeast, when ingested the conditions inside the dog’s stomach are highly favorable for yeast multiplication that can be fatal. Upon reaching the stomach, the yeast contained in the raw dough will multiply due to the favorable environment thus causing an increase in the mass of the raw bread dough. The sudden increase in ] mass size of the raw bread dough may be severe enough.

Bread dough

Thus causing a decrease in blood flow towards the stomach which often results in the death of the tissues present in the stomach lining. Also, an increase is the mass size of the dough may also lead to breathing difficulties because the stomach will now be pressing the diaphragm, thus interfering with the movement of the lung and the diaphragm.

It is also very important to note that when yeast multiplication occurs, alcohol is usually created as a by-product. When the alcohol is absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, it can cause some serious alcohol intoxication. After consuming large amounts of bread dough, your dog will experience a lack of coordination, vomiting, stupor and disorientation.

In severe cases, the pet may fall into a comma or may start to have seizure attacks which if not attended to result immediately in death due to alcohol intoxication. If a pet is showing mild signs, he or she should be closely monitored until the symptoms fade away.

Hops

Cultivated hops are mainly used in beer production though when ingested by animals especially dogs they have the ability to cause some life-threatening health complications and disorders. Since hops are mostly used in home brewing, many dogs stand a risk of exposure.

All in all, it has been proven that hops plugs (those which have been dried) are more toxic than hop pellets. Currently, the exact cause of toxicity has not yet been established, but many researchers have all pointed the fact that it is somehow related to the resins, oil residues, nitrogenous constituents and phenolic compounds found in the plant. Irrespective as to whether they have been cooked or not, hops have the ability to interfere with a dog’s body temperature that in the long run will lead to organ failure and damage.

Cultivated hops

Once a dog becomes poisoned, he or she starts to become restless, start panting excessively and eventually will start to experience muscle tremors that will be followed by a seizure. The most common signs and symptoms to watch out for include, an increase in breathing, anxiety, vomiting, abnormal clotting, a racing heart beat, and an elevated heartbeat. Any dog that is suspected of ingesting hops either raw or cooked must be rushed to the nearest veterinary officer as soon as possible.

So that he or she can be treated before the symptoms advance to the next stage. Death usually occurs 6 hours after ingestion. Hence immediate medical attention is very important. However, it is very important to note that dog breeds such as Labrador retrievers, greyhounds, Dobermans, pointers and Northern Breeds are usually at a higher risk of suffering toxicity when compared to other dog breeds.

Macadamia nuts

As one of the most recent discoveries, macadamia nuts have been found to be extremely harmful to dogs when ingested. As of the moment, the specific compound or component that causes the toxicosis has not been found but nonetheless they still cause some toxic reactions in dogs. Unlike some other foods, the toxicosis due to macadamia nuts is not fatal. Still, the dog will experience some adverse side effects that can last up to 48 hours.

The toxic dosage will vary from one dog to another though it has been reported that the dosage is usually somewhere between 2.4 grams and 64.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Since the dosage will vary from one dog to another, there are certain dogs that will fall in after consuming a small amount of the nuts while there are others that will require a larger amount to fall ill or show signs of toxicity.

Macadamia nuts

Affected animals will start by showing signs of weakness in the hind legs. The animal will appear to be in extreme pain most of the time, they will experience tremors from time to time and finally they will experience a low-grade fever. The good news is that all these signs and symptoms will subside after 48 hours but the dog should benefit from veterinary care anyways.

Most of the time macadamia nuts related toxicosis is treated by amalgamating the use of pain control procedures and intravenous fluid therapy since there is no antidote. If while recovering, the dog shows signs of elevated temperature, you can choose cold towels to bring down his or her temperature to manageable levels. All in all, in severe cases, the pet’s blood clotting mechanism will be compromised. Hence he or she will require heparin therapy and plasma transfusion to return the blood clotting mechanism to its normal state.

Can my dog eat that Infographic

In conclusion, even though your pet seems to beg for some food on your table, you need to be a responsible parent and consider the side effects. There’s no need to put your dog and yourself through an extremely unpleasant situation just for a moment of pleasure.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.

  • Daniella Roberts

    I have a Lab who adores milk, and he’s ok with it. No tummyaches whatsoever. My friend who lives in Japan shared some video on snapchat where his dog (also a Lab) can be seen drinking Yakult Probiotic drink.
    I want to try it for my dog…..but how safe is this?

  • Alice Moore

    Citrus fruits in large amounts may also prove fatal. They are toxic in large amount relative to the dog’s size, so better safe than sorry (and keep the pooches away from limes, oranges, etc). Throwing this information out there for other dog owners.

    • Appreciate your insights, Alice! Thank you.

  • Hi, Daniella,

    Probiotics help stabilize digestion although not all dogs like it. There are also other preparations for your dog’s probiotic needs such as those in capsules or tablets.

  • Mary Ong

    Hi! I just want to share my cousin’s experience. Her dog (young retriever) ate dark chocolate, she immediately induces her dog to vomit with a hydrogen peroxide. After some little while, she got her dog to the vet. Is hydrogen peroxide safe? She was successful at using it, though.

    • Using Hydrogen Peroxide to induce vomiting is one of the most common methods for both dogs and cats. This method can be used up to three times within an approximately 15-minute interval until the dog vomits.

  • judy wangsness

    can my havenese have eggs

  • Hi Judy,

    Yes, your Havanese can have eggs. However, remember to give it to them in moderation like once or twice a week as the maximum limit.

  • Aditya

    Hello,my dog doesnt want to eat his regular food everytime,if changed he would happily eat it.Is there any solution for it?

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