Which Foods Are Poisonous To Dogs?

Keep your pup away from these foods 🙅‍♀️

dog with onion, garlic, peach

Dogs are excellent at making you feel guilty when you’re eating a meal. And when you see your pup staring up at you from under the table, you might be tempted to give him a few scraps of food.

But before you do, you should know that there are a number of human foods that are actually poisonous to dogs.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Travis Davison, a veterinarian at Bluffton Veterinary Hospital in South Carolina, to find out which foods are poisonous to dogs, and what to do if your dog eats something he shouldn’t.

What foods can dogs not eat?

There are lots of foods that people eat all the time that are poisonous to dogs. You might already know some (most people are aware that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, for example), but other foods aren’t so obvious.

“Chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins, alcohol, sugar-free gum (with xylitol as the sugar substitute) and high-fat foods are the ones that I see issues with most commonly,” Dr. Davison told The Dodo.

Here is a list of common foods that are toxic to dogs:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to dogs. Dogs can’t digest caffeine and theobromine as well as people, which leads to poisoning.
  • Onions and garlic — Onions and garlic (and other members of the allium family like shallots, leeks and chives) damage dogs’ red blood cells, which leads to anemia.
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol has the same effect on dogs as it does on people, but it takes much less to affect your dog, which means it can become dangerous quickly.
  • Sugar-free gum and candy — Many sugar-free foods use a sweetener called xylitol, which can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can even cause liver failure.
  • Avocados — The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain a toxin called persin, which can cause stomach upset in dogs, and its high fat content can trigger pancreatitis.
  • Caffeine — Caffeine is a methylxanthine compound which works as a stimulant, and dogs can’t metabolize it well like humans can. Signs of caffeine toxicity are usually the result of the stimulant effects.
  • Dairy — While dairy isn’t technically toxic, many dogs are lactose intolerant, so it can often cause digestive issues.
  • Macadamia nuts — The most common symptom of macadamia nut toxicity is weakness in the back legs.
  • Fat trimmings and bones — Fat trimmed from meat can cause pancreatitis in dogs, and bones are a choking hazard.
  • Peaches and plums — While the actual flesh of the fruit is safe, the pits, leaves and stems contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs (and people). The pits can be a choking hazard as well, so dogs shouldn’t have access to whole fruits.
  • Raw eggs, meat and fish — Dogs can contract bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli or listeria from raw or undercooked foods just like people can. Some fish species can also have a parasite that leads to salmon poisoning, which can be fatal.
  • Salt — Too much salt can cause your dog to become dehydrated (similar to people), and in severe cases, your dog can get salt poisoning.
  • Yeast dough — If your dog eats yeast dough, it will keep rising in his stomach, which can cause an obstruction in your dog’s digestive system and can lead to bloat. The yeast can also release alcohol, which can cause alcohol poisoning.

If you’re ever unsure if a food is toxic to your dog, you can visit the ASPCA’s poison control site to look it up.

Symptoms of food poisoning in dogs

Depending on what your dog ate or how much he ate, the symptoms of food poisoning may vary in type and severity, but there are some common signs you can look out for.

Common signs that your dog ate a food that is toxic to dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate (usually caused by caffeine)
  • Hyperactivity (usually caused by caffeine)

What to do if your dog gets food poisoning

If your dog is showing signs of food poisoning, or even if he’s not showing symptoms but you think he ate a toxic food, you should call your veterinarian immediately. In most cases, the sooner you get treatment, the better the outcome will be.

“Contact your vet ASAP,” Dr. Davison said. “They may have you contact an animal poison control center (they will charge a fee, but it's worth it). Some things can be fixed very quickly and easily, [but] some require more intensive care (inducing vomiting, IV fluids, medications to manage symptoms, monitoring lab work for blood sugar/organ damage, etc.).”

Two phone numbers you should always keep on hand are the ASPCA poison control number and the Pet Poison Helpline so you have them at the ready in case of emergency.

How to prevent your dog from eating foods poisonous to dogs

The best treatment for food poisoning is prevention!

Here are some steps you can take to keep your dog safe and away from any foods that are harmful to dogs:

  • Become familiar with foods that are toxic to dogs.
  • Keep your human food away from your dog, and don’t feed him anything you’re not totally sure is safe.
  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat or fish (this will keep you safe, too!).
  • Make sure your dog stays out of the garbage so he can’t get any scraps of food (this pet-proof garbage can received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval!).

Basically, you should do anything you can to keep your food out of your dog’s reach, and never feed your dog something if you don’t know if he can eat it.

“If you're not sure you can feed something to your pet, don't do it,” Dr. Davison said. “If you do think they ate something, and it caused [food poisoning], just be truthful to your vet!”

Knowing which types of food are poisonous to dogs is important to keeping your dog safe, and by keeping this list and these tips handy, you’ll be much less likely to run into an emergency!

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