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What Can Dogs Not Eat? 20 Toxic Foods to Dogs

When dogs eat foods that are not good for them, some of them can lead to serious gastrointestinal complications and even death. Prevention is better than treatment when it comes to food poisoning in dogs. 

It is normal to want to share some of your food with your dog, especially when they are looking at you eat with their mouths drooling. 

Dog owners should know the foods dogs can’t eat to protect them from pain and to avoid medical bills.

In this article, we discuss 20 common foods that dogs cannot eat, as well as the symptoms that dogs experience when they eat these food items.

Human Foods That Are Harmful To Dogs

Foods that are good for humans can be harmful to dogs. Dogs’ metabolism is different from humans’. Dogs can’t digest some of the toxins and compounds found in human foods.

Human foods that are harmful to dogs can affect their digestive and respiratory systems. Dogs should not be exposed to these foods.

1. Chocolate, Caffeine, And Other Methylxanthines

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. These contain the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine, just like caffeine, can also be found in some teas and soft drinks. 

Dogs get methylxanthine poisoning most often from ingesting chocolate or coffee, but they can also get it from other foods. Methylxanthine is toxic to all dogs, especially smaller breeds, and can cause the following harmful side effects:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Methylxanthine toxicosis depends on the amount of methylxanthine present in the chocolate that your dog ingests[1]:

Type of product The total methylxanthine concentration
Dry cocoa powder 28.5 mg/g
Unsweetened chocolate 16 mg/g
Cocoa bean hulls 9.1 mg/g; 0.5 to 0.85% theobromine
Semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate 5.4 to 5.7 mg/g
Milk chocolate 2.3 mg/g
Refined chocolate candies 1.4 to 2.1 g/kg
White chocolate An insignificant amount of methylxanthines
Cocoa beans 1 to 2% theobromine
dark chocolate

2. Cyanide From Different Plants

Cyanide is found in the seeds of fruits in the Rosaceae family, like apples and pears. The cyanide is in the coating of the seeds.

The amount of cyanide in these seeds is small. It takes a large consumption to give your dog cyanide poisoning resulting in the following:

  • Weakness
  • Stupor
  • Convulsion
  • Hypothermia
  • Dyspnea
Can I Feed My Dogs Apple Seeds

3. Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol should not be given to dogs. Alcohol and foods with a high ethanol concentration lead to intoxication. The level of intoxication depends on how much the dog ingests. 

Excessive alcohol consumption causes central nervous system disorders like

  • Decreased reflexes
  • Ataxia
  • Depression
  • Polyuria
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Alcoholic Beverages

4. Milk

Some dogs have a deficiency in lactase enzymes making them lactose intolerant. Not all dogs should stay away from milk. If milk is not good for your dog they will experience the following symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Can Dogs have Soy Milk

5. Citrus Oil Extracts

Things that have been infused with citrus oils like linalool and limonene contain insecticidal properties. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Fruits Not To Feed Dogs

Some fruits cannot be eaten by dogs because they contain chemical substances that dogs cannot digest. It’s not always the entire fruit that is toxic. In some cases, it is only the flesh or only the seeds of the fruit that are poisonous to dogs.

Some fruits should not be eaten by dogs at all and some have parts that dogs can eat. It is important to know the difference so you don’t deprive your dog of the vitamins and minerals they need.

1. Grapes And Raisins

Grape, raisin, sultana, and currants ingestion can result in kidney failure for dogs. The exact toxin that causes this is yet to be pinpointed[2]. Any amount can be problematic, so it is best not to feed your dog these things at all. 

Symptoms of ingestion include

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea in the early stages
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tremors 
  • Renal failure within 24 to 72 hours of ingestion
ripe grapes

2. Avocado

Avocado is poisonous to dogs because it contains persin, a fungicidal toxin found in the fruit and the leaves. It can trigger the accumulation of fluid in the heart, pancreas, abdomen as well as in the lungs and chest, leading to difficulty breathing. 

The high fat of avocado can also lead to

  • Pancreatitis
  • Congestion
  • Respiratory distress
  • An enlarged abdomen
  • Increased heart rate
  • Unrest

Swallowing the avocado pit can obstruct your dog’s digestive tract leading to choking.

avocado

3. Stone Fruit Pips

The ingestion of the pips of stone fruit like persimmons, peaches, and plums is harmful to dogs. Pips can obstruct your dog’s digestive tract or the intestines. 

Large pips are also a choking hazard and can obstruct the esophagus or the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Dyspnea
  • Collapsing
  • Gagging and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
Are Persimmons Safe for Dogs to Eat

4. Rhubarb Leaves

These are toxic to dogs as they contain oxalates[3]. Oxalates are also found in other foods, including macadamia nuts, buckwheat products, sesame seeds, spinach, swiss chard, and tahini.

These can affect your dog’s digestive, nervous and urinary systems resulting in

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Bloody urine
Rhubarb Leaves

5. Apple Seeds

Apples are good for dogs as they provide fiber and vitamins. But apple seeds are dangerous for dogs. The seed casings contain the natural chemical amygdalin that releases cyanide when ingested. 

If one of these enters your dog’s bloodstream, it can induce

  • Ambivalence
  • Slower response to stimuli
  • Hypothermia
  • Neurological disorders

Related: Can Dogs Eat Apple Cores?

Health Concerns of Feeding Dogs Apple Cores

Vegetables Not To Feed Dogs

Not all vegetables are good for dogs even though they provide vitamins and minerals. Vegetables that are toxic to dogs can cause malnutrition, food poisoning, or death. 

There are many vegetables that dogs can enjoy and combinations of them e.g. vegetable broth. Dogs should not be fed the following vegetables.

1. Garlic And Onions

Garlic and onions are part of the Allium family of vegetables. They are poisonous to dogs because they contain toxic components called organosulfur compounds. This includes all kinds of onions, such as white, red, and green onions.

They metabolize into reactive antioxidants in the dog’s body that damage the red blood cells and cause hemolytic anemia. 

Dogs can be poisoned by fresh, cooked, or powdered onions. Garlic is less toxic than onions, but it is harmful to dogs. 

Symptoms of the loss of red blood cells result in

  • Rapid heart and respiratory rate
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Weakness
garlic against bees

2. Almonds

Almonds are not good for dogs because they are high in salt and fats. This makes your dog retain water and gain weight. Almonds are also a choking hazard and can obstruct your dog’s airways. 

Dogs can experience the following symptoms if they eat almonds:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
almonds

3. Green Tomatoes And Raw Potatoes

Unripe tomatoes and raw potatoes are dangerous for dogs because they contain solanine. This is a glycoalkaloid that is toxic to dogs in large amounts. Potato sprouts and green unripe tomatoes have a high solanine concentration. 

Solanine poisoning causes a variety of symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiousness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
Potatoes for dogs

4. Hops

Hops are toxic to dogs because of toxic components that are still unknown to humans. Hops are used when brewing beer and dogs exposed to this process can experience the following symptoms:

  • Panting
  • Hypothermia
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Clotting disorders 
  • Seizures
  • Death
Hops

5. Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms are bad for dogs. Mushrooms that are bad for dogs contain toxins that affect multiple systems and cause liver or kidney damage. 

Dogs can eat white mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, and baby bella mushrooms, while wild mushrooms like amanita phalloids, Galeria marginata, and amanita gemmate can be fatal for dogs.

mushroom

What Meats Can Dogs Not Eat?

Dogs cannot eat raw meats or meats high in fat. Generally, most dog breeds can eat lean cuts of meat that have been cooked and are not seasoned with spices.

It’s not always the type of meat, but the preparation method that makes some meat bad for dogs.

Related: Dog Food Brands to Avoid

1. Raw Meat

Raw meat is harmful to dogs because it contains toxic bacteria. Beef can contain E. coli and poultry Salmonella spp. both of which can lead to food poisoning. There is also the risk of food-borne diseases for the dog and the person preparing the food. 

If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, consult your vet. Raw meat poisoning can result in the following symptoms: 

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
man-slicing-meat-on-table

2. Raw Fish

Raw fish is dangerous to dogs. It can contain parasites that cause “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease”. The bones in raw fish can result in choking or organ rupture. 

Cooked fish that is deboned and unseasoned is safer to feed dogs although too much can result in a thiamine deficiency, resulting in the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Death in severe cases
raw fish

3. Liver

Liver can be toxic to your dog if fed in large amounts. Liver is high in vitamin A which can affect your dog’s joints and cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

4. Meat Fat Trimmings

Cooked and uncooked fat trimmings are toxic for dogs. The fats create inflammation and swelling around the pancreas which leads to pancreatitis and the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
Meat Fat Trimmings

5. Bones

Bones are not safe treats for dogs. Sharp and heavy ones can be an obstruction in the intestines and small ones, like chicken or fish bones, can perforate the intestines causing leaks and life-threatening systemic infections. 

Bone ingestion can cause:

  • Gagging and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Shock
  • Death

Conclusion

If you are contemplating sharing a certain food with your dog, it is best to consult a reputable source or contact your vet before doing so. 

It’s also important to add things to your dog’s diet gradually and in small amounts. Monitor how your dog is behaving in the days following the new addition to their diet and discontinue the feeding if you see physical or gastrointestinal side effects.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.