Dogs are mealtime opportunists. You’re finishing your dinner, and Sparky thinks it’s his turn to chow down on whatever table scraps are left on your plate. Or you’re grabbing a quick snack, and you look down to see Spot looking up at you with those big, begging eyes. When it comes to snagging a bite, there’s no bad handout in your dog’s opinion. However, there are some foods that shouldn’t become treats for your dog, no matter how much they beg.
Some foods that are even considered healthy for humans can be downright toxic when they’re ingested by your dog. Others won’t be deadly, but can still cause some serious discomfort for your canine. The best thing is to stick with the dog food your veterinarian recommends for your pet, but it’s natural to want to give treats every now and then. That’s well and fine, as long as you avoid using these foods.
What to do if your dog eats these foods
If you come home to find that Fido raided the pantry, or you accidentally give your dog one of these snacks without thinking about it, make sure you seek expert advice. Call your veterinarian, and ask what you should do. You can also call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
1. Onions and garlic
If you use any form of garlic and onion in your meals, save the leftovers for your own lunch instead of sharing them with your dog. Garlic, onions, and leeks are part of the allium plant family, which can break down red blood cells in canines. This can cause your dog to become anemic, explains Justine Lee, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
Garlic in particular is five times more toxic to dogs than the other allium plants, but even the onion powder found in baby food can cause an issue, WebMD reports. Eating large amounts of raw garlic and onions is particularly concerning, but smaller amounts over a consistent amount of time can also cause issues. Symptoms of anemia in your dog can include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, and breathlessness, among others.
2. Peaches, plums, and persimmons
Who knew so many fruits were a bad idea to feed to your dog? It’s unlikely a dog would start chomping on one of these fruits on their own, but if you live in an area with peach and plum trees, it’s best to pay careful attention. The fruit itself isn’t the issue — it’s the pits inside that cause damage.
Most obviously, the pits can cause intestinal blockages that can turn serious. However, the pits also contain cyanide, which is toxic to humans and pets alike. Humans know to not take a bite out of the pit, while your dog might continue chowing down. In addition, persimmon seeds can cause inflammation in the intestines, adding to your dog’s discomfort.
If your dog has created his own Canine Olympics out of jumping up to grab food from the kitchen counter, it’s best to not leave your rising bread dough unattended. Yeast in any form before it’s baked is extremely dangerous for your dog, as it will continue rising in their stomach.
“Ingestion of yeast dough can cause gas to accumulate in your dog’s digestive system as a result of the dough rising,” VetsNow explains. “Not only can this be painful but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become obstructed (blocked) or distended.” The yeast also produces ethanol as a by-product, which in your dog can make them become drunk.
4. Grapes and raisins
The compound in grapes and raisins that is toxic to dogs is unknown, the ASPCA reports. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous enough that it can cause kidney failure in canines, and feeding grapes or raisins to your dog should be avoided completely. According to Canine Journal, eating these otherwise innocuous snacks can also cause severe liver damage.
How your dog responds to eating some will vary based on breed and size, but even a handful can cause serious problems. “I’ve seen dogs that have had only a couple of raisins go into horrible kidney failure and have to be hospitalized for days,” Lee told Good Housekeeping. If you don’t seek medical attention for your pet, this can ultimately be fatal.
As you’ve probably gathered from the information about yeast, your dog getting drunk isn’t a good thing. It might be amusing to watch your dog bob and weave after lapping up spilled beer, but it’s not a funny problem for your dog. Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver as it does with humans, but it takes far less to do the same damage. “Just a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, even death,” WebMD reports.
Veterinarian Sonja Olson suggests pet owners think of their dogs like children when it comes to ingesting alcohol in any form. “Their enzymes are similar to ours, but the effects of alcohol are more potent,” Olson told Good Housekeeping. Keep an extra eye on the sangria and jungle juices — dogs are more likely to try to lap up fruity cocktails that mask the smell of alcohol compared to red wine.
6. Candy and gum
If your gingerbread houses and other candy decorations are in danger of being gobbled up, it might be time to switch to new holiday traditions, and keep candy and gum out of sight. Both will often contain a sweetener called xylitol, which is also found in toothpaste and some diet foods. (It’s almost guaranteed to be in all “sugar-free” sweets.)
In dogs, xylitol can lead to an insulin spike, which ultimately is bad for blood sugar and can potentially cause damage to the liver. According to Good Housekeeping, if xylitol is among the first three to five ingredients, it’s probably toxic for your pup.
7. Macadamia nuts
If you regularly snack on macadamia nuts or are a white-chocolate-macadamia cookie fiend, make sure to keep your stash hidden from your furry friends. Along with chocolate, grapes, and garlic, these nuts in particular are some of the worst foods you can feed your dog.
As few as six macadamia nuts can make your canine ill, WebMD reports, whether they’re raw or roasted. The poisoning can become apparent through muscle tremors, vomiting, and even paralysis. Symptoms might only last for 12 to 48 hours after ingestion, depending on the dosage, but you should take it very seriously if your dog accidentally eats even a handful of these nuts.
8. Corn on the cob
Corn might be the No. 1 filler ingredient in many dog foods, but skip the au naturel version that comes on a cob when you’re feeding it to your pet. Dogs will continue chomping on the cob long after the kernels are gone, and ingesting large bits of the cob could cause digestive issues, primarily blockages.
A chunk of corn cob that’s even just a few inches can be enough to cause a problem, Lee told Good Housekeeping, and can apparently be quite difficult to locate on X-rays. In the worst cases, eating corn cobs can land your canine in surgery.
Most dogs aren’t going to be found slurping coffee, but they should stay away from caffeine in all forms, including in sodas and energy drinks. “This is essentially poison for your dog if ingested,” Canine Journal states bluntly.
Caffeine contains substances called methylxanthines, which are found in “the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas,” the ASPCA reports. “When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
You might have chalked this one up to hype or an old wive’s tale, but chocolate really isn’t good for your dog. Like caffeine, chocolate contains methylxanthines, and can carry the same dangerous side effects as caffeine. All types of chocolate contain these compounds, though it’s more prevalent in some kinds. Dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baker’s chocolate are particularly potent and harmful to dogs, according to WebMD.
Feeding a handful of potato chips or pretzels to your dog when your own snack cravings hit might not be the best example of “sharing is caring.”
“Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning,” WebMD writes. While we know we should drink plenty of water — especially the moment we actually begin to feel thirsty — we might not remember to monitor our pet’s water intake. A chip or two won’t cause major harm, but it’s best to dole out low-sodium alternatives when possible.
12. Milk and dairy products
Not all dogs are lactose intolerant, and those who aren’t will be fine eating the occasional ice cream or yogurt treat. Even so, it’s best to avoid milk and dairy products for the most part. As with most foods that dogs can’t eat, they’ll experience vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues if they are lactose intolerant.
In some cases, an allergic reaction could also occur, which will most likely take the form of itchiness.
While avocados might be having a moment on toast, in guacamole, and even by themselves for humans, our furry counterparts won’t get the same health benefits we do from the fruits. Avocados contain a compound called persin, which can be toxic to dogs. Among other issues, persin can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and heart congestion in canines.
Not only is persin in the fruit itself, but it’s also in the pit, leaves, and even the bark of an avocado tree. If you live in a warm climate where avocados grow naturally, keep your pet away from these trees.
14. Fat trimmings and bones
Dogs thrive on the fat trimmings from your plate, right? Not so much, as it turns out. Eating too many fat trimmings can lead to pancreatitis in dogs, otherwise known as an inflamed pancreas.
In addition, bones given to domestic dogs can cause them to choke, or the bones can splinter and become a danger during digestion. Cooked bones are a particular risk, since their chance of splintering is greater. While some sources say raw bones are OK, others suggest forgoing the bones altogether.
15. Human medicine
This should be a no-brainer, but don’t assume that the medicine you take for a headache or other malady will work in the same way for your dog. Unless you receive specific directions from your veterinarian, don’t become your dog’s over-the-counter pharmacist.
According to WebMD, reactions from medicines meant for human consumption only, is the most common form of poisoning for dogs. Ingredients like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are incredibly common in OTC medications, but they’re deadly for your pet.