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15 People Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

Dog counter surfing looking at a stack of doughnuts and pastries
There are a lot of “people foods” your dog should never eat and this time, it has nothing to do with his waistline. In fact some are downright dangerous for him and this list may surprise you.

1. Your Medicine

Reaction to a drug prescribed for humans is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs

Ingredients such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen found in pain relievers and cold medicine can be deadly for your dog. Just as you would do for your children, keep all medicines out of your dog's reach. And, NEVER give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless your vet tells you to.

Many people automatically assume that.. "I take one... my dog is a bit smaller than me therefore I will give him/her half! However you might be going from 80kg to 2.5kg and could be physically overdosing to the tune of five to tenfold: this can be not just toxic but life-threatening!

2. Chocolate

White puppy looking at a slice of chocolate cakeMost people know that chocolate is bad for dogs. The toxic part is Theobromine. It's in all kinds of chocolate, even white. 

The most dangerous kinds, though, are dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate but it all depends on the percentage of cocoa (the lower the better)

Eating it, even just licking the icing bowl, can cause a dog to vomit, have diarrhoea, and be excessively thirsty. It can also cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death. 

3. Alcohol

Dachshund puppy trying to drink a glass of beer
Alcohol contains ethanol which is toxic for canines.

Symptoms include staggering and your dog may also be confused. He may vomit, but this can happen only 1 to 2 hours after the ingestion of alcohol. 

If you notice that your dog has ingested alcohol, you should induce vomiting, to prevent the ethanol from being absorbed in the bloodstream.
High amounts can cause cardiac arrest and death. 

4. Onions 

Onions - powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated - can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia
That can happen even with the onion powder found in some baby food. 

A little bit of onion is not so risky but eating a large quantity just once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause Haemolytic Anaemia

Symptoms of aenemia include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, dullness, and breathlessness. 

5. Coffee, Tea & Other Caffeine  

Dog yawning sitting at a table with coffee being poured in a mug

Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal and there is no antidote

Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, fits, and bleeding. 

In addition to tea and coffee - including beans and grounds - caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks as well as cold medicines and pain killers. 

6. Macadamia Nuts

Dogs shouldn't eat macadamia nuts or foods with them because they can be fatal. As few as six raw or roasted macadamias can make them ill. Symptoms of poisoning include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, possibly leading to death. 

7. Grapes and Raisins

Dog lying down looking at green grapes and red raisins
Grapes and raisins are a real issue and should be avoided at all cost. So don’t give your dog a slice of Christmas pudding or a hot cross bun as a treat! 
Although it isn't clear why, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. And just a small amount can make a dog ill. 

Repeated vomiting is an early sign. Within a day, they become lethargic and depressed. The best prevention is to keep these off counters and other places your dog can reach. 

8. Persimmons, Peaches & Plums 


Dog sniffing persimmons and peaches
The seeds from persimmons can cause inflammation of the small intestine in dogs. 

Peach stones and plum pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both humans and dogs. The difference is that we know not to eat them. Dogs don't... They can also cause partial intestinal obstruction. and long term ill thrift. Obstruction is also a possibility if a dog eats the pit from a peach or plum. 

However the most common foreign body obstruction in dogs are corn cobs! These are very dangerous as they will require a very expensive surgery to be removed so please be careful what you put in your compost heap! Ensure the area is closed off so your dog can't access it, better still never add risky items like corn cobs and peach stones!

9. Candy and Gum 


Dog wearing a hat next to a gingerbread house

Candy, gum, toothpaste and mouthwash, baked goods (e.g. cupcakes, cookies) and some diet foods - including  protein bars and some brands of peanut butter - are sweetened with XylitolIt can cause more insulin to circulate through your dog's body which causes his blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. 

Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Eventually, he may have seizures. Liver failure can occur within just a few daysHypoglycemia is usually evident within an hour or two after a dog ingests Xylitol, but symptoms are occasionally delayed for several hours. 

Treatment depends on how quickly it is given. Vomiting is induced in cases where the Xylitol has just been ingested.

10. Fat Trimmings and Bones

Table scraps often contain meat fat that a human didn't eat as well as bones. Both are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, he can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog's digestive system. It's best to just forget about the doggie bag. 

11. Raw Eggs

Dog looking at a raw egg on a kitchen counter
There are two problems with giving your dog raw eggs. The first is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli.

 The second is that an enzyme in raw eggs interferes with the absorption of a particular B vitamin. This can cause skin problems as well as issues with your dogs' coat if they have been eating them for a long time. 

12. Salt

It's never a good idea to share salty foods like chips or pretzels with your dog. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death. 

13. Yeast Dough

Before it's baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that's exactly what it would do in your dog's stomach if he/she ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch a dog's abdomen and cause severe pain. In addition, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it makes alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Anticipate that your dog will have a hangover the next day and will be quite 'flat' during recovery!

14. Garlic

Little dog with tongue out next to a bulb of garlic
Garlic is a member of the Allium genus (a branch of the lily family, extremely toxic to dogs) and its safe use has therefore come under close scrutiny. One of its compounds (also found in onions) can in large doses cause oxydative damage to red blood cells, potentially leading to anaemia and even death.

However a dog would need to ingest over 0.5% of his body weight to even start triggering that process (or several cloves of garlic for a dog over 25kg). 

Please note that garlic should NOT be fed to pets with a pre-existing anaemic condition, those scheduled for surgery or young puppies under 8 weeks.

15. Milk & other Dairy Products

Some dogs have no problems digesting milk and dairy products. Yet, others experience acute intestinal distress — like gas, diarrhoea or vomiting — whenever they consume these kinds of foods.

Dachshund puppy lapping milk from a pet food bowl
It all comes down to how your dog handles a specific nutrient found in milk — a nutrient known as lactose

This inability to digest milk is infamously known as lactose intolerance. And it’s the same lactose intolerance so many humans suffer from every day. You can feed lactose-free milk but basically dogs don't need it after they have been weaned.

Many kinds of cheese contain considerably less lactose than milk and can make a great natural treat for any pet.

Last but not least, be aware that a lot of really bad episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea are a consequence of dogs finding spoiled food, especially meat / prawn shells and the like! Some dogs like to roll in it and others will scavenge it ferociously! Dogs are probably slightly better able to cope with food poisoning that what we are but not really by much! 

They can get very sick and even die from what vets call "garbage gastritis" or garbage toxicity. They can also pass on some serious diseases like Salmonella to humans. 
So be careful what you feed your dog AND what they scavenge...

We would like to thank Dr. Mark Lawrie, CEO, University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney for his contribution to this article.

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