Blog, Food

What Food Not to Feed Your Dog

Providing a safe and healthy diet for your canine companion involves not only choosing the right dog food but also knowing which human foods can pose dangers. 

This detailed guide delves into ten specific foods that are harmful to dogs, explaining the risks they pose and the health complications that can arise from ingestion. Awareness and precaution are key to preventing accidental poisoning and ensuring your pet’s well-being.

Chocolate: A Hidden Danger in Sweetness

Often considered a treat for humans, chocolate holds a dark secret when it comes to canine health. The danger lies in theobromine and caffeine, two substances dogs process much slower than humans. Ingestion can lead to a spectrum of symptoms from mild restlessness to severe health issues like seizures, heart issues, and in dire situations, death. The darker the chocolate, the higher the risk, making it imperative to keep all forms of chocolate securely away from dogs.

Xylitol: The Sweetener That’s Not So Sweet for Dogs

Xylitol, a common sweetener in sugar-free products like gum, candies, and some baked goods, is deceptively dangerous to dogs. It triggers a rapid insulin release, dramatically dropping blood sugar levels and leading to hypoglycemia. Symptoms range from loss of coordination and vomiting to seizures and can escalate to liver failure or death. Vigilance in reading ingredient labels can prevent accidental ingestion of this toxic substance.

Grapes and Raisins: Small Fruits, Big Risks

Despite their natural origins, grapes and raisins have been linked to acute kidney failure in dogs. The toxic substance within these fruits remains unidentified, but their impact is well-documented. Even small quantities can cause severe symptoms, including vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration. It’s essential to avoid feeding these fruits to dogs and ensure they are kept out of reach.

Onions and Garlic: Culinary Staples with Hidden Harms

Both onions and garlic, in all forms—raw, cooked, or powdered—contain compounds that can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. This condition may not be immediately apparent but can manifest as weakness, reluctance to move, and breathlessness. Given their prevalence in human foods, it’s crucial to be mindful of what scraps dogs are given.

Avocado: Not a Dog-Friendly Fruit

Avocados contain persin, a substance that can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. While the flesh has lower levels of persin, the pit and skin contain higher concentrations and pose additional choking hazards. The safest route is to avoid avocados in your dog’s diet altogether to prevent potential health issues.

Alcohol: Potent and Dangerous

Alcohol’s effects on dogs mirror those on humans but require significantly smaller amounts to cause damage. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, acidosis, coma, and even death. Keeping alcoholic products out of your dog’s reach is a critical safety measure.

Macadamia Nuts: A Nut to Avoid

Macadamia nuts, while a healthy snack for humans, are toxic to dogs. The consumption can lead to weakness, vomiting, hyperthermia, and tremors. The toxicity mechanism is unclear, but the effects are significant, warranting the exclusion of macadamia nuts from your dog’s diet.

Coffee and Caffeine: Hidden Dangers in a Cup

Similar to chocolate, coffee and other caffeinated beverages contain substances that are toxic to dogs. Caffeine can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, death. It’s important to ensure that your dog does not have access to coffee or caffeinated products.

Dairy Products: A Common Cause of Digestive Distress

Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose in dairy products. Consuming milk, cheese, or ice cream can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea, vomiting, and gas. Opting for lactose-free dog treats or specifically formulated dog milk is a safer alternative.

Bones and Fat Trimmings: Choking Hazards and Digestive Woes

While it might seem natural to give a dog a bone, both cooked and raw bones can splinter, leading to choking or causing damage to the digestive tract. Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, characterized by vomiting, abdominal pain, and fatty stools. It’s safer to stick with chew toys and treats designed for dogs, which satisfy their chewing instinct without the risks.

Dog Dietary Safety FAQ: Foods to Avoid

When it comes to feeding our furry friends, ensuring their health and safety is paramount. Dogs have different metabolic rates than humans, and some foods that are safe for us can be harmful or even deadly to them. This FAQ section addresses common concerns and questions about what foods to avoid giving to dogs, helping pet owners make informed decisions to keep their pets healthy and happy.

Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs?

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that dogs are unable to metabolize efficiently. Even small amounts can lead to toxic reactions, including vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, seizures, and potentially death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is due to higher levels of theobromine.

Can dogs eat grapes or raisins?

No, grapes and raisins should be strictly avoided. They can cause kidney failure in dogs, even in small quantities. The exact toxin causing this reaction is unknown, but symptoms can include vomiting, lethargy, and decreased urine production. If a dog accidentally consumes grapes or raisins, immediate veterinary care is essential.

Are bones safe for dogs to chew on?

While it may seem natural to give dogs bones to chew, both raw and cooked bones can pose serious risks. They can splinter and cause oral injuries or obstruct and puncture the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, certain bones, especially cooked ones, are hard enough to break teeth. It’s safer to provide dogs with toys and treats specifically designed for chewing that won’t harm their digestive system or teeth.

Is it okay to feed my dog leftovers from my meals?

Feeding dogs leftovers from human meals should be done with caution. Many common ingredients, like onions, garlic, and certain spices, can be toxic to dogs. Moreover, human foods tend to be higher in fats and salts, which can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health issues in dogs. It’s best to feed dogs food and treats formulated for their dietary needs and to consult with a veterinarian about safe human foods.

Understanding what foods to avoid giving to dogs is crucial in preventing accidental poisoning and ensuring their well-being. Always err on the side of caution and when in doubt, consult a professional for advice on feeding your dog.


Understanding and avoiding these ten foods can significantly reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in dogs. A diet tailored specifically to their nutritional needs, combined with vigilance about potential household hazards, is key to a long, healthy life for your furry friend. If your dog does ingest any of these dangerous foods, immediate consultation with a veterinarian is crucial. Through awareness and careful feeding practices, you can help ensure the safety and health of your dog.