FOOD & TREATS

What Foods Are Bad for Dogs: Understanding The Importance of Feeding Dogs Properly

Dog wanting to eat
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

Naturally, we want the best for our canine friends, regardless if it comes to feeding them, playing with them or caring for them altogether. Therefore, we should carefully put together a list of aliments that are nutritious and can only do good to any dog, as well as a list of aliments that must be avoided at all costs. What foods are bad for dogs and what can you do to avoid feeding them to your puppy?

The answer is really complex and it must be analyzed in depth in order to clearly differentiate noxious foods from not recommended ones and, finally, to know which are the best possible choices for your pet.

As it follows, we will focus on foods that must never be eaten by a dog and on foods that are not recommended, but which could affect a dog to a lesser extent depending on its medical history, general health, amount eaten and breed.

You might be surprised how a common vegetable like onion can harm your beloved pet in a way that may require long recovery periods due to severe damage to its digestive system. This is mainly the reason why human food should not be fed to dogs under any circumstance even if it tastes deliciously and your dog is practically begging you to give him/her a bite of it.

Foods forbidden for dog consumption

As dog owners, we truly love our pet and we might want to share everything we eat or drink with him/her. However, we must keep in mind that certain foods are forbidden for dogs to eat because of a simple reason; several common fruits, vegetable or meat can harm them in a severe manner. Sometimes, the effects could be worse than we can imagine.

Dangerous foods for dogs

Knowing what not to feed dogs will ensure a happy life for them and a stress free caring period for their owners. Too much love or even ignorance can lead to having an unhappy doggy, which is definitely an undesirable situation.

Vegetables

Vegetables such as onion, chives, dehydrated onion powder, garlic and mushrooms can be very harmful to them. The explanation is not simple. Named thiosulfate, this toxic ingredient is an oxyanion of sulfur, which attacks a dog’s red blood cells. This is found in raw, cooked and in dehydrated onion. When it goes through the dog’s gastrointestinal system, it irritates it and then it travels to its blood stream, attacking its red blood cells. This causes hemolytic anemia of varying intensities.

Fortunately, if the intake of onion is not high, the number of red blood cells will go back to normal in no time. Regarding the garlic aspect, it is true that in small quantities it is used to combat intestinal parasites in dogs. However, eating too much raw or cooked garlic can lead to hemolytic anemia, just like in the case of onion.

As far as the mushroom consumption goes, it is known that some species of mushrooms are bad for people too, so it is good to know that the toxins contained by certain types of mushrooms can cause hyper-salivation, heart disorder, and disorders of the nervous system, seizures, comatose states and even death if first aid is not ensured. You might think that your dog could not possibly go near such mushrooms. That might be true, but keep an eye on your pup if it wanders through a dark corner of a park.

Wild mushrooms and dog

Watch out when you are peeling potatoes or if you have green potatoes in your pantry. If eaten, both of them can determine hyper-salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, severe gastrointestinal disorder, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral changes, muscle weakness, pupil dilation and slow heartbeat. This happens because they contain compounds from the group of alkaloids. It might sound complicated, but nothing is too complicated when it comes to your dog’s health.

Sweets and fruits

The substance responsible for the effects of chocolate on pets is called the bromine. This substance is contained by both raw cocoa beans and fried cocoa beans and has a stimulating effect on the dog’s nervous system, heart and excretory function. The amount of chocolate able to produce states of acute intoxication varies depending on the size of the dog, age and its state of health. The level of intoxication also depends on the type of chocolate ingested because that chocolate might contain high or low levels of cocoa. A whole chocolate bar can kill a dog weighting 22 pounds.

The first signs of chocolate poisoning occur 6 to 12 hours after the ingestion and are hyperactivity, high heartbeat rate, and excessive thirst, frequent urination followed by tremors and spasms of the skeletal muscle and fever as well. If the situation gets worse, your dog could present a major heart rhythm disorder, muscle rigidity, seizures and, finally, coma. All these medical details are important to know in order to truly understand what such a delicious thing as chocolate can do to your doggy.

Chocolate toxic for dogs

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener, which can be found in some sweets such as chewing gum, candy, cookies without sugar, juices and so on. If a dog eats any of these sweets, the xylitol contained by them causes an increased secretion of insulin, which, in turn, can cause hypoglycemic coma by dramatically lowering the level of glucose from a dog’s blood.

Also, xylitol can cause damage to a dog’s liver function that can be really serious depending on the breed. Signs of xylitol poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination in motion, failure to stand (ataxia), limb tremors and convulsions.

Avocado is among the most poisonous foods for dogs. In fact, it is among the most toxic foods that a dog can eat. According to ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the avocado fruit contains a toxic principle called persin, which is a fungicidal substance that provides protection for a plant against parasitic fungi. This is harmless to humans, but toxic to animals if it is consumed in large quantities. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty to breathe and heart rhythm disorders are the side effects of eating avocado for dogs.

Avocado toxic for dogs

Less than six grapes can cause acute renal failure to a small dog or to a sensitive dog. The toxic principle responsible for these effects is still unknown. The researchers do not know yet what is so damaging to dogs in a common grape. The usual symptoms of grape or raisins poisoning are thirst, followed by polydipsia, which means the dog drinks large amounts of water, polyuria which means that the dog urinates a lot, diarrhea, apathy, vomiting, loss of appetite, which is also called anorexia.

However, there are certain breeds of dogs that are not at all affected by the compounds of grapes and raisins. Some puppies can eat those without having bad side effects. In any case, it is better to avoid treating your dog with grapes or raisins if you do not know for sure whether it is all right or not. Not even a vet can tell this for sure.

Grape toxic for dogs

The same thing cannot be said about grape seeds. It is even recommended to put some grape seeds in your dog’s food because they help prevent allergic diseases, diabetes, kidney disease, tumors and so on. The seeds from fruits such as cherries, apricots, peaches, apples and plums are not good either. The likelihood of poisoning with the fruit seeds mentioned above is relatively low, but it is not negligible. You do not need to be alarmed if your puppy eats an apple core or swallows a cherry.

You only need to be cautious for your dog not to be greedy when it comes to eating these fruits. The possible side effects are pupil dilation, tachycardia, which means fast heart beat that is accompanied by cardiac arrhythmias, difficulty to breathe, skin irritations and coma in severe cases.

Meals and condiments

Raw bread dough must never end in your dog’s stomach. If a pup eats raw bread dough, the latter continues to ferment in the puppy’s stomach, generating gases that accumulate and can cause a mechanical distention of the stomach and of the intestines. The generated gastrointestinal disturbances look like a simple bloated tummy, but they lead to vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal obstruction, which is a medical emergency that happens rarely.

Except the symptoms above, the dog can have other ones determined by sugar and gluten. If the dough you are making contains gluten or sugar, expect your dog to show other side effects. Therefore, do not feed your dog with something that you would not eat and also do not leave the dough unattended if you know that your pet is curious and snoops around when you are gone.

Chicken or pork bones are also not a good food choice for your dog. It might seem a little like a paradox, but some types of bones are a treat when ingested by your lovely house animal. The rule of eating too much also applies in this case. If so, your puppy might suffer of severe constipation that may or may not lead to intestinal obstruction. The bone fragments resulted from chewing (especially the long bones from chicken or turkey), have the appearance of chips with sharp edges at the ends.

Once inside the intestine, they can cause injury or they can even perforate a dog’s stomach. Also, these bone fragments can form conglomerations that are capable of producing intestinal obstruction, colonic and rectal irritation, followed by painful defecation. The only recommended bones are the ones from cattle, which can be fed to dogs after they are boiled without any kind of condiments.

The Macadamia nuts contain a toxic principle that is still unidentified, which affects the digestive and nervous system of a dog. It can also affect its skeletal muscles, in which case the dog can end up paralyzed. A limited number of such nuts is enough to produce intoxication. The toxicity signs occur about 12 hours after the ingestion and are focused on vomiting, muscle weakness, trembling limbs and fever.

The symptoms subside after about 48 hours, but the fever and muscle weakness can cause other diseases later on if the dogs are sensitive or their immune system is low. The combination of these nuts with chocolate worsens the clinical condition of any dog. In addition, even spices like nutmeg can be harmful.

Healthypaws macadamia

Nutmeg is an exotic spice that is used relatively often in various foods and cakes. Most often the dogs can be poisoned indirectly by eating food scraps left on the table. The toxic principle is still unknown and symptoms of poisoning are tremors and spasms of the skeletal muscles, seizures and nervous system depression.

Very salty or fatty foods are risky to be eaten by dogs, not just by humans. Fatty foods are generating a lot of diseases to people, so it is obvious that dogs will have the same problems as humans if not worse. If a pup is frequently fed with high fat foods such as bacon, lard, tallow, fried foods and so on, it will develop stomach, liver, gallbladder diseases and, in severe cases, disorders of the pancreas that are hard to treat.

Also, very salty foods are risky because they affect a pup’s cardiovascular system and they lower the calcium from its organism, which leads to bone demineralization. The ingestion of large quantities of fatty and salty foods in dogs leads to vomiting and diarrhea.

Foods not recommended for dog consumption

As mentioned before, there are certain foods that might not have severe outcomes on the dogs that eat them, but which are still not recommended for them. This list includes raw eggs, cat food, milk and dairy products in general, raw fish and meat, baby food and even beans if they are not properly cooked. Each of these aliments has an explanation for not being recommended. Knowing the details might help any dog owner to understand why monitoring its diet is probably the most important aspect for their dog’s care.

Raw eggs represent a health risk for several reasons. First of all, eggs can be infected with pathogens such as Salmonella and E. Coli that produce digestive tract diseases with serious and lasting effects on a dog’s health. The egg whites can cause biotin deficiency that manifests on a pup’s skin under the form of eczema, pruritus, itching and dandruff formation. Also, the dog can present a thicker skin and his fur can change color.

Raw egg and Husky

Cat food is made for cats, so any dog owners who might think it is nutritional for dogs as well are wrong. Dry cat food contains more proteins and more fat than dry dog food, therefore, a doggy that eats cat food can become obese and have increased risks when it comes to food allergies given by the protein levels found in cat food.

Milk and dairy in general are not recommended either. Just as us humans, there are dogs that are intolerant to lactose, so if they eat dairy products or drink milk they might vomit and have diarrhea. Regular cheese, pressed cheese, cottage cheese or any other type of cheese is a no-no for healthy dogs too. This is because all cheese types are rich in fats.

Raw fish and uncooked meat are dangerous for several reasons as well. First of all, the parasites contained by raw meat must not be ingested by dogs or humans. In this case the principles that apply to humans also apply to dogs. Raw fish contains a sort of anti-vitamin that prevents the intestines to absorb vitamin B1, so if a dog eats raw fish, it might have muscle aches (also called myalgia), digestive and cardiac disorders, hypothermia and so on.

Raw pork is a fatty meat, whose excessive consumption leads to obesity with all the shortcomings and diseases arising out of this state. On the other hand, the pig is an intermediate host for a number of parasites. Eating meat in its raw state can infect a dog with numerous parasites such as Trichinella spiralis.

Raw meat in big quantity

The foods indicated in the lists above are toxic to dogs in various measures. While the forbidden foods are almost guaranteed to harm your doggy, the not recommended foods should be consumed in large amounts to have any undesired effect. However, by avoiding both categories of food, you would definitely make a difference in your dog’s health condition and well-being.

While we humans eat something we are not supposed to eat from time to time because we are too food-minded sometimes, we can limit our dog’s intake of foods that do not do any good to him/her. A pup can be educated and raised in a healthy way without him feeling the lack of chocolate, sugar or other prohibited foods in its life. A healthy dog is definitely a happy dog that does not need treats as long as they are not a hundred percent nutritious.

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.

  • Samantha Grey

    I have an Asian neighbor who feeds her dog vegetables including Shitake mushrooms and button mushrooms. I’ve read here that mushrooms are bad for dogs. So far, her dog is doing great. Is her dog just being lucky? Or does this work like a food allergy thing?

  • Grace Hill

    We’ve tried using cat food as treats for our dog, and we have the go signal of our vet to do it. Apparently so long as the cat food/cat treats don’t become a major part of their diet, it’s all right. It’s not really dangerous in small amounts. This is just in case any dog owner was around who gives their dog the occasional cat food.

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