Human Foods Your Dog Shouldn't Eat
Before tossing your buddy some of your evening’s leftovers, there’s some considerations to make. You’ll want to make sure the food you give them isn’t on the following list of items dogs should never eat. Keep these human food items out of reach, and never give them to your canine companion as a treat!
- Apples Seeds Or Cores
- Baking Powder
- Cooked Meat With Bones
- Candy or Sweets
- Chicken Skin
- Chili (Hot) Peppers
- Citrus Fruit
- Corn on the Cob
- Fat and Grease/Drippings
- Ice Cream
- Macadamia Nuts
- Mustard Seeds
- Onions and Leeks
- Raisins and Grapes
- Raw Fish
- Raw Potatoes
- Raw Pork Products
- Sugary Drinks
- Unripe Tomatoes
- Wild Mushrooms
In mild doses, alcohol (or ethanol) has similar effects in dogs to those seen in people, drowsiness and lethargy. In high volumes, you may see alcohol poisoning, which is much more serious. Alcohol may be consumed by dogs drinking discarded or unattended beverages, eating a large number of chocolate liquors, or consuming rubbing alcohol.
Similar effects can be seen if a dog eats a large quantity of rotten/fermenting fruit (such as plums or apples fallen from a tree in the garden) and eating yeast or raw bread dough, whereby the fermentation process releases alcohol, which is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Apples Seeds Or Cores
Apple seeds contain cyanide, which could be harmful to dogs if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include breathing issues, bright red gums, weakness, dilated pupils, and, in extreme cases, death.
Apple cores are quite difficult to chew and could be a choking hazard in small dogs or puppies. The flesh of apples is safe for dogs to eat, so it is fine for them to have properly prepared fruit. The odd seed is unlikely to cause any harm, but just try and avoid actively giving them to your pet.
The flesh of avocados is not poisonous; however, this fruit contains a very large pit which could be a hazard if your dog eats it. The pit is not digestible and so could obstruct your dog’s stomach or intestines, requiring surgery to correct. The flesh of avocados is also quite fatty and calorific, so it could lead to weight gain in your pet.
If your dog eats a large quantity of baking soda or baking powder, it could cause tummy upsets and electrolyte imbalances, making them feel quite sick. When it’s used in actual baking form, the chemical balance changes, meaning that many baked goods are just fine for our canine companions.
Small quantities (in dog-safe treats, for example) should be ok, but avoid your dog breaking into your baking cupboard and helping himself to large amounts of cooking ingredients.
Cooked Meat With Bones
Cooked meat contains dry bones. All bones, including pork bones, chicken bones, and steak bones, have the potential to become lodged or cause issues in your dog’s stomach and intestines, particularly cooked ones. Cooked bones are also more likely to shatter, causing sharp edges and points, which can cause irritation to their insides and potentially get stuck.
Bones can act as foreign bodies, causing a blockage or even puncturing the gut lining. Dogs will develop symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, pain in their abdomen, and lethargy. Some dogs that have eaten bones will present to the veterinary clinic with lower grade symptoms such as constipation.
Bones can also cause painful fractures to your dog’s teeth. Biting down on a hard object with force can cause teeth to break, which may seem surprising but happens all too often. Fractured teeth will usually require veterinary treatment.
Raw bones carry the risk of potentially harmful bacteria like salmonella and E.coli. These can cause illness, but also there is a risk of germs being spread to humans as well. As much as dogs like gnawing on bones, it is not worth the risk. Make sure you give them dog-safe treats and toys to chew on instead.
Candy or Sweets
Don’t give your dog candy or sweets, like jelly beans or gummy bears, as these contain high amounts of sugar and little in the way of other nutrients. Not only that, but some sugar-free candies could contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs, causing dangerous side effects.
Some hard candies could also be a choking hazard in dogs, especially round ones, which could get stuck in their throat. Some types of candy also have pieces of plastic or paper attached to them, which can also cause harm to your pup’s digestive system.
The pits of cherries contain cyanide which could cause issues if your dog eats a large quantity of them. Cyanide poisoning can be quite serious, causing side effects such as panting, bright red gums, shock, dilated pupils, and even death.
The flesh of cherries is safe for dogs, but they would be quite fiddly to safely de-pit to feed your dog, so it’s probably something you should just avoid altogether.
It is not advised to give your dog the skin from a cooked chicken as this is where a lot of the fat is stored and, in some dogs, it could cause an upset stomach or even pancreatitis (serious inflammation of a small organ called the pancreas).
If you want to give your pup any leftovers from a cooked chicken, you should stick to the lean meat only, rather than any fatty bits. You also run the risk of small pieces of bone being lodged in the skin, although that risk is probably pretty small compared to if Fido eats whole parts of a chicken.
Chili (Hot) Peppers
You should avoid giving your dog spicy food or chili peppers, as it can cause severe stomach cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Some dogs may also show vomiting and drooling.
While chili peppers aren’t toxic, and so they won’t be fatal to dogs, they can cause quite a lot of irritation to their stomach and intestines (guts). Chili peppers contain something called capsaicin which is what affects digestion and can make dogs feel unwell.
Chilis will add no nutritional benefit to a dog’s diet, so they should be avoided altogether. If they do accidentally consume chili peppers or other spicy foods, then make sure your pup has plenty of water and contact your veterinarian if they become sick.
Unlike humans, dogs are unable to process a chemical in chocolate called theobromine. Mild cases of toxicity may present with vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can suffer from side effects such as an elevated heart rate, tremoring, and seizures which, if left untreated, may even progress to death.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are more harmful to dogs than milk or white chocolate as it contains higher levels of theobromine. It is dose-dependent, so smaller dogs will be more susceptible than larger dogs to its effects. Your pup must be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if he seems ok after eating the chocolate, as symptoms can take a few hours to develop.
Be extra careful around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter when there are lots more chocolate around – dogs are very good at sniffing out treats, even if they are wrapped up!
Citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and limes should not be fed to your dog as they can cause vomiting and diarrhea due to toxic compounds contained in the seeds, the skin, and the trees on which they grow.
The flesh of these fruits is not toxic, but could still cause stomach irritation if eaten in large quantities. The acidic flavor usually puts most dogs off of eating these fruits, but you shouldn’t offer them to your pet in the first place.
Many people may not know that Chives are a member of the allium family. This is the same plant family that also contains leeks, garlic, and onions. These plants are all toxic to dogs. And unfortunately, they are in many dishes that end up as leftovers, and often get fed to dogs by mistake.
Chives can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition affecting the red blood cells causing them to become damaged. The broken red blood cells are no longer able to carry oxygen around the body, leading to weakness and other side effects, such as an elevated heart rate, paleness of the gums, and collapse.
Coffee contains high levels of caffeine which can make dogs unwell if ingested. Coffee beans, coffee grounds, and instant granules will all have a very similar effect on your pet, so if they eat any of these then you should seek veterinary advice.
In mild doses, caffeine makes us more alert and focused. In large amounts, it can cause an elevation in heart rate (tachycardia) and abnormal heart rhythms. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremoring, and seizures. Fatal doses of caffeine start at around 140-150mg/kg body weight.
Don’t feed your dog cookies of any type! These sugary snacks will contain little in the way of good nutrition for and will only increase his calorie intake leading to weight gain.
Some cookies could be potentially harmful to your pet if they contain toxic ingredients such as raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, or the artificial sweetener xylitol. Stick to dog-safe biscuits and treats instead.
Corn on the Cob
Dogs should not be allowed to chew on corn on the cob. Although the sweetcorn itself is not toxic, all too often they end up swallowing a whole piece of cob which can have serious consequences. Large pieces will not be digested and could become stuck in your dog’s stomach or intestines (guts). Dogs with blockages will often develop symptoms such as a reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, and a painful abdomen. This often requires surgery to correct.
Ensure that corn on the cobs aren’t left unattended at BBQs and they are properly discarded in the trash. Skewers and leftover bones from meat are also other BBQ hazards that could cause foreign bodies.
Fat and Grease/Drippings
You should avoid giving your dog leftover fat and rinds, as well as any grease from cooking meat. This is because too much fatty material can irritate your dog’s digestive tract leading to stomach upsets.
In more serious cases, the high quantity of fat can contribute toward potentially fatal pancreatitis. The pancreas is a small organ involved in the digestion of fats, and if this becomes inflamed, it can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and lethargy.
Treatment for pancreatitis usually involves being hospitalized for intravenous fluids (fluid via a drip), pain relief, and other supportive measures. Some breeds are more prone to pancreatitis than others, including Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Miniature Schnauzers.
Another toxic plant, Garlic, is a member of the allium group of plants. Onions and leeks also belong to this plant group. So it will have a very similar toxic mechanism of action to dogs.
Garlic will cause hemolytic anemia in dogs, as it creates oxidative damage to the red blood cells. This damage makes the red blood cells break more easily, leading to a reduction in the number of healthy ones circulating. Symptoms include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, and an elevated heart rate.
While the odd crust of garlic bread is unlikely to cause many issues, a whole stick of garlic bread could be problematic. Raw garlic bulbs and powdered garlic will be highly concentrated and dangerous. Symptoms won’t be seen straight away and take a few days to develop, so even if your dog seems fine now, take them to a veterinarian immediately.
Many types of gravy are quite fatty and also contain high levels of salt – both of which could irritate your dog’s stomach. Some gravies are also made with onions and garlic, which are toxic to dogs and could cause serious side effects.
Avoid giving your dog gravy unless it is a very light-on-seasoned type or the pet-safe sort you find in many wet pet foods. If you are intent on giving your pup Thanksgiving leftovers, which include gravy, make sure to check the ingredient label to ensure the formula is canine-friendly.
If you are into home-brewing, then you need to take care that your dog doesn’t eat the hops. These are the flower of the Humulus Lupulus or come in pellet or plug form. If your dog eats these, then amongst other symptoms, he could suffer from an increase in body temperature, or a fever, which can be pretty serious.
It becomes life-threatening when their body temperature gets too high (more than 107 degrees Fahrenheit). Most households don’t have hops laying around, so the risk here is usually pretty minimal. But If you are a home-brewer, make sure your hops are locked up.
Though it can be tempting to share treats with your pet, you should avoid it where possible and stick to his normal diet. Ice cream is a dairy product, and so some dogs may struggle to digest the lactose that is present (the natural sugar found in cow’s milk). While many dogs can tolerate lactose, some will develop vomiting and diarrhea or even an episode of pancreatitis due to the high-fat content.
It is also worth noting that some flavors could cause additional problems – rum and raisin for example will contain toxic raisins, and chocolate varieties could contain varying amounts of theobromine (the part of chocolate that causes toxicity in dogs).
You should avoid giving your dog kale as it contains a couple of different compounds that can be harmful to dogs, including calcium oxalate and isothiocyanates. Calcium oxalate can cause issues such as kidney and bladder stones, and isothiocyanates can cause gastrointestinal irritation leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
Thallium poisoning is also a rare possibility when eating kale due to the amounts of this heavy metal within the plant. Unfortunately, many dog owners mistakenly feed their dog Kale as it’s a superfood for many humans. But it’s not safe, and should be avoided in favor of other canine-safe greens instead.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs though the exact mechanism for their toxicity is unknown. Animals that are affected usually have issues with their nerve and muscle function. Some dogs seem more sensitive to the effects of macadamia nuts than others, but it can be hard to predict in advance which those will be.
Possible symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, ataxia (incoordination of the hind legs), and increased heart rate. Some dogs may also develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to the high fat/oil content of nuts when given in high amounts, including peanuts and almonds. Don’t feed your dog these nuts or products that could contain them, like cakes and cookies. Other nuts that shouldn’t be fed to dogs include walnuts, pistachios, and pecans.
While many dogs can drink milk or eat dairy products without issue, some dogs can have quite severe tummy upsets. This is due to the inability of dogs to digest lactose, a sugar that is naturally contained in milk.
While some dogs may show no symptoms of digestive issues or only very mild ones, others can have pronounced vomiting and diarrhea. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) could also be triggered by the high-fat levels contained in some dairy products. Some dogs with underlying skin allergies may flare up in reaction to the proteins in milk, causing red and itchy skin.
Even if your dog can tolerate milk and dairy products ok, you should probably avoid feeding them too much milk, cheese, and other dairy items as it adds extra calories to his diet, which could lead to weight gain. The occasional treat is unlikely to do too much harm in a dog that isn’t sensitive to dairy products but try not to make a habit of it.
You should not feed mustard seeds to dogs as these could irritate their stomach and intestines (guts), potentially leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Usually, mustard seeds are used as a cooking ingredient, and most dog owners don’t just leave them laying around the house.
Still, if you enjoy cooking and use Mustard Seed, make sure it gets locked up when Fido is around. Dijon mustard and other mustard-based condiments are made from these seeds, so it is not advisable not to give these to your dog either.
Nutmeg is used in a variety of recipes and is, therefore, a store cupboard favorite. However, if your pup gets hold of this spice, it could cause problems.
Nutmeg is toxic to dogs as it contains something called myristicin. In small quantities, such as those used in most home cooking recipes, it will likely only cause an upset stomach. However, in very high doses, dogs may experience symptoms such as hallucinations, increased blood pressure, abdominal pain, and possibly seizures.
Onions and Leeks
Both leeks and onions are toxic to dogs. They cause oxidative damage to red blood cells, which means the red blood cells become fragile and burst. Destruction of red blood cells in this way can cause the dog to become anemic. This causes weakness as oxygen can’t be delivered around the body as effectively.
An anemic dog may also have pale gums, an elevated heart rate, and could even collapse. These symptoms can take a few days to develop, so although Fido may seem fine immediately after eating onions or leeks, you should still get them seen by a veterinarian promptly.
Dogs can become sick by eating a moderate amount in one sitting, but also if they eat small amounts regularly. You must avoid giving your dog food and leftovers that contain onions and leeks.
Unfortunately for Pizza fans, pizza is not a nutritious food to give to your dog. It contains high levels of saturated fats and could have toppings that may cause stomach upsets or toxicities in our pets. The high-fat content of the pizza itself combined with any meats like pepperoni could trigger vomiting and diarrhea or pancreatitis.
If the pizza contains toxic onions and garlic, then this could cause very harmful side effects. Feeding your canine companion pizza leftovers could also lead to unwanted weight gain. You should also watch out for other foods that aren’t safe for canines that are topped on pizza.
You should not encourage your pup to eat peaches because if they are consumed whole, there is a risk of them swallowing the large stone in the middle. While the flesh isn’t toxic, dogs are not known to be delicate eaters, and they could accidentally swallow the stone as they eat the fruit whole. If this happens, then a blockage may occur in their stomach or intestines, particularly in smaller breeds of dog.
Some dogs may also just be inquisitive, and find discarded stones and pits and eat them, so be careful with how you discard these after eating fruit yourself.
Plums have the potential to be toxic to dogs due to their pits. These contain cyanide, which when eaten in large quantities can cause some serious side effects. The stems and leaves of this plant are also harmful to dogs, so you should take care if you have a plum tree in your garden.
Plums are also not good for dogs in dried form. When they dry, they become prunes. While your dog may not suffer any ill effects from a single prune, more than one may cause stomach upset, and can be difficult for your canine companion to digest.
Raisins and Grapes
Both grapes and their dried form, raisins, are toxic to dogs. They can cause kidney failure and even death. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, which means it can be quite difficult to know how many will make a dog unwell.
In some cases, eating a few grapes or raisins can cause problems, in other cases, a dog may eat lots and be OK. We just can’t predict how each dog will react, so it’s usually safest to avoid giving any at all. Also, don’t give your dog any products that might contain grapes or raisins, such as fruit cakes, raisin bread, fruit bread or bagels, grape jelly, and grape juice.
Raw fish is a potential source of parasites that could be harmful to dogs. One of these is the ‘broad fish tapeworm,’ which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss, and another is a parasite that contributes towards ‘salmon poisoning disease.’
Raw fish could also be a source of bacteria like salmonella and listeria, which could also cause illness, especially in dogs with compromised immune systems. Some fish can contain heavy metals as well, which if eaten in large quantities could cause harm. Don’t take the risk! Avoid feeding raw fish to your pet. Commercially prepared dog food with with fish is okay.
While cooked potatoes are very unlikely to cause a problem in dogs, raw potatoes could cause problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Raw potatoes, particularly ones that have sprouted or turned green, contain high levels of solanine which is a glycoalkaloid poison. It is one of the potato’s natural chemical defenses against pests.
The plant itself also contains solanine, so if your pup eats the leaves or stems of a potato plant in the garden then similar effects can be seen.
In large quantities, solanine can affect the nervous system of dogs, causing a slowing of their heart rate, digestive upset, and possibly affecting their vision. There has also been a possible link found between potatoes and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition that affects the muscle of the heart, but more evidence is needed to prove this.
If you are going to give your dog potato as an occasional treat, then only ever give unseasoned cooked potatoes, and never give them the raw peelings from the skin to eat.
Raw Pork Products
Raw meat generally can be hazardous to our pets due to bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella. However, raw pork products, in particular, can contain the cysts of a parasite that causes trichinosis in dogs.
The parasite is a type of worm called Trichinella spiralis, and it is caught by ingesting the cysts, which may be in raw pork meat. These hatch out into larvae which migrate around the body where they can form new cysts in the dog’s muscles.
These infections can be quite hard to diagnose as sometimes animals show no signs at all, or sometimes they have very non-specific symptoms such as stomach upsets, changes in appetite, fever, and muscle weakness. Infection is much more likely in dogs that have a weakened immune system.
Rhubarb stems (as used in rhubarb crumble) are not likely to cause an issue in dogs, but the leaves of the plant itself are toxic. Rhubarb plants contain soluble oxalate crystals, which affect the calcium levels in a dog’s blood, causing a severe drop. This could potentially go on to cause acute kidney failure, which can be fatal. Symptoms of rhubarb leaf toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremoring, and bloody urine.
Most dogs will not eat too many rhubarb leaves due to the bitter taste, so poisoning is thankfully rare. Although the stalk of the plant is non-toxic, it is still not advised to allow your dog to eat this as it could encourage them to eat the plant (and potentially the toxic leaves) if they stumble across it themselves in the garden or growing in the wild.
Salty snacks that contain salt can be harmful to our pets. While not toxic in only moderate doses, very high salt levels can affect your dog’s electrolyte levels and make your pet much more thirsty than normal.
In extreme circumstances, sodium toxicity could occur, which will cause dogs to have diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, and seizures. Death can occur if dogs eat excessive quantities of salt.
While the odd snack won’t do too much damage, many salty treats like chips and salted peanuts are highly processed and won’t provide your pet with much in the way of valuable nutrition. The extra calories could also lead to unwanted weight gain in your pet. Find healthier alternative treats instead and you could even consider low-sodium dog food.
Although it can seem fun to offer your dog some of your drink, you really should avoid doing this. Drinks high in sugar like sodas, cordials, and milkshakes are not healthy for canines. They contain little in the way of other useful nutrients for him, and some drinks could even upset his stomach.
Although it may seem boring to us, you should stick to plain water for your pet and use caution with sparkling water. Keep in mind that some sugary drinks may also contain xylitol, which is toxic to our furry friends. If your pup drank something that contains xylitol, call your veterinarian, right away.
Because Tea contains caffeine, it’s not suitable for our canine companions. Caffeine at high levels could cause some serious issues. A small sip of lukewarm tea is unlikely to do any real harm, but if your dog accidentally eats tea bags or loose leaf tea, this could be dangerous.
High levels of caffeine can cause upset stomachs in dogs, but also potentially tachycardia (fast heart rate), tremoring, and even seizures. In very high doses, caffeine can be fatal.
Ripe (red) tomatoes are usually safe for dogs, but green, unripe ones and the tomato plant contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid. High volumes of solanine could be toxic, causing an upset tummy, lethargy, and weakness.
You shouldn’t encourage your dog to eat tomatoes as it could make them more likely to raid a tomato plant in your garden or allotment, potentially eating unripe tomatoes and parts of the plant, which could be dangerous.
You shouldn’t let your dog eat mushrooms growing wild because it can be quite hard to identify which ones are safe. Some mushrooms have the potential to be deadly in both dogs and humans.
Some examples of toxic mushrooms include the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), which is an innocent-looking white mushroom, the Autumn Galerina (Galerina marginata), a small brown mushroom, and Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), a classic red and white spotted toadstool.
Mushroom poisoning symptoms vary considerably depending on the type of mushroom eaten. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, jaundice, abdominal pain, seizures, and coma. To keep things simple, it is best to just have a no mushroom policy and don’t allow your dog to eat any types at all to avoid your pup becoming confused.
Dogs that eat yeast can experience issues with bloating and abdominal discomfort. The yeast ferments in the warm, moist environment of the dog’s stomach, causing it to expand. Some dogs experience severe bloating and even a dangerous condition known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), where the stomach twists. This is a life-threatening emergency. If your dog has stomach pain, a swollen belly, or is trying to vomit, then call a veterinarian immediately.
The second issue with yeast is that it releases ethanol, a type of alcohol that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Alcohol poisoning in its mild form will cause a dog to appear drunk, with wobbliness and drowsiness. In more severe cases, it will cause tremoring, disorientation, hypothermia, and breathing issues.
Your dog may get hold of yeast either in its pure form, often coming as a dry powder in sachets, or through eating raw bread or pizza dough. Try and avoid this by keeping any raw dough and yeast well out of reach.
Xylitol (pronounced zai-luh-tol) is an artificial sweetener used in many everyday items such as sugar-free gum and candy, sugar-free peanut butter, diabetic snacks, and some medications.
It is safe for humans, but in dogs, xylitol will cause their pancreas to release large amounts of insulin into their bloodstream. This creates a sharp drop in their blood sugar levels. If these sugar levels become too low, then your dog could suffer from hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause harmful side effects.
Irreversible liver failure can also be seen in some cases and is potentially fatal.
Dogs with xylitol poisoning show symptoms such as weakness, vomiting, tremoring, pale gums, increased heart rate, and seizures. Treatment is usually aimed at correcting the dog’s sugar levels, and your pet may need to stay in the hospital for fluids and possibly anti-seizure medications.
Hopefully, this list has given a useful insight into a whole array of things that dogs should not eat. Some of them are just unhealthy to feed, and others are dangerously toxic!
Many of these foods will cause very similar symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Unless you know for sure what your dog has consumed, it can be quite hard to work out what has caused their illness, so any treatments are aimed at controlling the symptoms.
You should avoid actively feeding anything on this list, but if you are aware your dog has accidentally eaten something they shouldn’t have, then please get them to a veterinarian ASAP. In many cases, medication can induce vomiting, which will help reduce the absorption of any toxins, giving a much better outcome.