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West Highland White Terrier in deep contemplation copyright sigsigmundo

Foods That Humans Eat That Are Toxic to Dogs

As dog owners, we often treat our furry friends as part of the family, sharing our lives and sometimes even our meals with them. However, what’s tasty and harmless for us can be dangerous, even fatal, for our canine companions. It’s crucial to be aware of the human foods that can pose serious health risks to dogs. This knowledge not only ensures the safety of our pets but also helps us make informed decisions when it comes to feeding them. In this post, we’ll delve into some common and not-so-obvious human foods that are toxic to dogs, helping you keep your beloved pet safe and healthy.

Commonly Known Toxic Foods

  1. Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine: These beloved human treats contain substances called methylxanthines, found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and certain nuts used in sodas. When ingested by dogs, these can lead to severe symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and in some cases, death. It’s important to note that darker chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolate, while white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. Baking chocolate, however, contains the highest.

  2. Grapes and Raisins: A seemingly harmless snack for humans, grapes, and their dried counterparts—raisins, sultanas, and currants—can be deadly for dogs. The toxic substance within these fruits is currently unknown, but they have been linked to kidney failure in dogs. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how many grapes or raisins might trigger this reaction, so it’s best to avoid feeding them to your dog altogether.

  3. Alcohol: This is a no-go for dogs. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause a range of severe symptoms in dogs. These include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Under no circumstances should your dog consume alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, it’s imperative to contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center immediately.

Less Known but Equally Dangerous Foods

  1. Onions, Garlic, Chives: Often used in our cooking, these common kitchen ingredients can be harmful to dogs. Consuming onions, garlic, or chives can lead to gastrointestinal irritation in dogs and potentially cause red blood cell damage, leading to anemia. While the risk is higher for cats, dogs are also vulnerable, especially if they consume these in large quantities.

  2. Macadamia Nuts: These nuts may be a tasty treat for humans, but they’re toxic to dogs. Ingestion can lead to symptoms such as weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. These signs typically appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last around 24 to 48 hours. It’s best to keep these nuts out of your dog’s reach to prevent any health issues.

  3. Xylitol: Found in many sugar-free products, such as gum, candy, baked goods, and even some toothpastes, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. It triggers an insulin release, which can lead to liver failure and a drop in blood sugar levels. Early signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination, which can progress to seizures. Liver failure and elevated liver enzymes can occur within days, making it vital to keep any products containing xylitol away from your dog

Foods That May Cause Digestive Issues

  1. Milk and Dairy: While the image of a dog lapping up a bowl of milk may seem common, in reality, many dogs lack significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose in milk. This deficiency means that milk and other dairy products can cause digestive upset in dogs, leading to symptoms like diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. It’s best to avoid giving your pet milk, cheese, and other dairy products to prevent these uncomfortable issues.

  2. Nuts (including almonds, pecans, and walnuts): Nuts are another food category that can create health issues for dogs. High in oils and fats, nuts can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, pancreatitis. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are particularly troublesome and should be kept out of reach of your furry friend to avoid these adverse effects.

  3. Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs, and Bones: While a natural diet might seem ideal for dogs, raw meat and eggs can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. These can be dangerous to both pets and humans. Additionally, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), potentially leading to skin and coat problems. Bones, whether raw or cooked, can also pose a hazard as they might choke your dog or cause severe injuries if they splinter and become lodged in or puncture the digestive tract.

Surprising Foods to Avoid

  1. Citrus: The stems, leaves, peels, fruit, and seeds of citrus plants contain citric acid and essential oils that can cause irritation and potentially central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts by dogs. While small doses, such as eating the fruit, are unlikely to cause more than minor stomach upset, larger amounts can be more harmful. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep your dog away from citrus plants and fruits.

  2. Coconut and Coconut Oil: Coconut and coconut-based products can cause stomach upset in dogs when ingested in large amounts. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts contain oils that may lead to loose stools or diarrhea. While not severely toxic, it’s wise to use caution when offering these foods to your pets. Additionally, coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to dogs.

  3. Yeast Dough: Unbaked bread dough can be particularly dangerous for dogs. Yeast dough can rise in your pet’s stomach, causing gas to accumulate. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, a life-threatening emergency. Additionally, as the yeast ferments, it produces ethanol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning in dogs. Therefore, it’s important to keep yeast dough well out of reach of your canine companion.


Understanding and avoiding these toxic foods can significantly reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in dogs. Always err on the side of caution and keep potentially dangerous foods securely out of your dog’s reach. If you suspect your dog has ingested any of these harmful substances, immediate veterinary care is crucial. Sharing this knowledge with fellow dog owners can help create a safer environment for all our beloved pets. Let’s work together to keep our furry family members healthy and happy!