Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs

The holiday season is right around the corner! I’m not certain if I get more work being a dog trainer or being a veterinary technician during this time of year.

What I can guarantee is that we will see at least a half dozen toxicity cases before it is all said and done and the holidays are over.

Just because a food is safe for humans, doesn’t mean that it is safe for your pet.

Your pet’s metabolism and how certain foods affect him is completely different than how your body metabolizes them.

Even cats’ and dogs’ metabolisms can be quite different. Be sure to check and see what is safe for your specific pet.

Some Major Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs

The MOST Toxic

Xylitol, an additive that is often found in sugar-free goods and gum, cannot be digested in the intestines until the body adapts, which doesn’t happen in canines. Even small doses (one or two pieces of sugarless gum with xylitol that are swallowed) can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure and death. Xylitol is one of the most dangerous toxins to your pet.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure even in small doses. Raisins are even more hazardously toxic because the drying process makes them more potent.

If and when I allow raisins in my home, I put them under lock and key, I also never leave grapes on the counter. Grapes are kept in the refrigerator and eaten immediately or disposed of outside.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Ironically, we didn’t have this information 20 years ago when I worked at a vet clinic where we often gave the veterinarian’s English Mastiff grapes, at the advice of his owner, because he had such severe allergies. Hopefully, we didn’t unknowingly facilitate an early death.

Kidney failure is a very scary condition! Did you know that for your veterinarian to recognize even the earliest signs of kidney failure or kidney disease when your dog’s creatinine levels have increased is that approximately 66% of the total kidney mass is non-functional or has shut down? Symptoms include loss of appetite, increased water consumption, high blood pressure and damage to the eyes. Please do all that you can to avoid clinical signs of kidney failure. This is why it is so important that steps be taken to minimize damage and failure.

Chocolate and Candy Wrappers

Thankfully small doses of milk chocolate won’t usually cause your pup an issue except for some vomiting and/or diarrhea and discomfort. In large doses or with very concentrated chocolates (think baking chocolate or powders) only a small amount can be dangerous. Toxic doses of theobromine, the most hazardous substance, and caffeine in chocolate is dangerous to your dog and is estimated to be toxic at 20mg per kg. Be very careful to safeguard your dog from this substance during the holidays, and year-round! Holidays are full of chocolate, chocolate baking, and chocolate treats. Be extra cognizant of the chocolate in your home during these times.

Addendum: as I get ready to go to print with this (a few days after Halloween) I had an interesting experience at work just yesterday. We were called by an owner whose Boston Terrier had consumed some bite-sized Halloween chocolates and their wrappers! The owners weren’t exactly sure how much he had ingested. We did initial x-rays, which were concerning, but we had hope that perhaps after the body had broken down some of the milk chocolate, the wrappers would pass without harm.

The dog came in the next day for follow up x-rays so we could see if what we were seeing in the stomach and intestines was moving through his system, which would indicate that his stomach and bowels were not blocked. Unfortunately, the debris had not moved at all. We were forced to do an abdominal obstruction surgery to remove the wrappers from his intestines.  I made sure to take pictures so that you could marvel at what we pulled out of this poor guy that day.  They really are quiet impressive!



This is probably the most expensive and traumatic bag of candy these people have or will ever purchase! Please! Put your candy and dangerous foods away!

Macadamia & Other Nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, ataxia, tremors, increased heart rate, and fever if ingested by your dog. I like to avoid all nuts except peanuts and peanut butter.

Nutmeg and Other Spices

Likewise, nutmeg can also be dangerous. In small doses, it can cause abdominal pain and discomfort, but in large doses, it can cause increased heart rate and seizures. It can also increase body temperature. Be cautious; many holiday baked goods contain nutmeg.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Garlic and onions can cause your dog’s red blood cells to function below their ability or to be able to clot as quickly. Hemolytic anemia can be very dangerous and cause lethargy and pale gums. Many dog recipes call for onion powder, garlic powder, or garlic because the people who publish these recipes are ignorant to the damage that these substances can cause. When making your dog treats or snacks, stick with lean protein and leave out any additives like onion, garlic powder, or salt.

Even salt can be dangerous to your dog! High salt in large and continuous doses can cause kidney disease.

Yeast Doughs & Baked Goods

Yeast doughs and other baked goods, when ingested by your dog, can continue to “rise,” can be filled with gases, and become deadly. If you are baking and you let your dough rise, do it behind a closed door where your dog can’t gain access. Yeast dough, cinnamon roll doughs and the like can be extremely dangerous yet smell delicious to your dog. Be cautions when handling these things.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Also remember that many holiday treats contain chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Lactose Intolerant and Susceptible to Food Poisoning

Pets are also lactose intolerant, so dairy products aren’t the best idea. In small doses, cheese can be fine. But don’t give your cat a saucer of milk; that is an old wives tale that just creates stomach distress. Do your best to avoid using dairy. Did you know that one of the leading causes of allergies can be cheese? If your dog has allergies and you hide pills in cheese, you can be adding to his distress and misery. Instead of using cheese or dairy, use some peanut butter to hide pills.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Dogs are also susceptible to food poisoning. Be careful feeding raw foods! Salmonella can wreak havoc on your dog’s internal system. If you do feed raw, feed fresh, human quality raw. Also, don’t give your dog food that has sat out longer than something you would be willing to eat. Bacteria that live in rotten foods can be toxic to your dog as well!


Alcoholic beverages (that’s right – letting him imbibe with you this holiday season may kill him or make him seriously sick) is toxic to dogs. Dog livers do not break down alcohol like human livers can do. I can’t tell you how many people think that giving their dogs alcohol and getting him drunk is humorous. Even if you don’t see death or immediate distress after the initial exposure, the damage has likely been done and will not be repaired. The truth is when our dogs are old, and their systems are failing we would do anything to take back something harmful that we may have originally been ignorant about. If in doubt, don’t do it! It isn’t actually funny. Liver failure is a sad and debilitating disease. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea, yellowing or jaundice of the whites of the eyes, tongue, gums, and skin.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Caffeine and Stimulants

Likewise, caffeine and caffeinated drinks can be toxic to dogs. Always put your coffees, teas, and energy drinks in places that are impenetrable to your pets. Like drinking alcohol and the later behavior is not entertaining, neither is the behavior and agitation and possible death that caffeine can cause for your dog.

Bacon, fatty foods, and other table scraps can cause severe pancreatitis. Our bodies are used to eating fatty foods, and most of us can deal with that well. However, your dog’s body is set up to eat much less processed fats and more lean meats.  Even one piece of bacon can cause serious pain, stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea that can result in a required hospitalization stay. Some breeds such as Schnauzers and cocker spaniels are even more prone to pancreatitis.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Avoid fatty foods and table scraps at all cost. The damage that it can do to your dog, not only his weight but also his internal systems that break down fat can be severe.

Preventative Medicine

It is a lot easier to keep bad foods locked up than to worry about what your dog may or may not have ingested. There is no shame in locking up foods that are toxic to dogs.

I, personally, don’t even buy anything with xylitol in the ingredients. It just isn’t worth it to keep this dangerous substance in a home where my dogs love food and might make a deadly mistake.

And, I get used to putting my food up and out of my dog’s reach! Yes, I can train my dogs not to steal off of counters or get into food when I am home, but it is so much safer if you use double protection

Veterinary bills for poisoning can reach thousands of dollars and do permanent damage to your dog’s red blood cells, cause liver and kidney failure.

No piece of gum, raisins or bar of baking chocolate is worth a dead or sick pooch!

Recognize the Signs and Symptoms

Know your inventory! You will want to be able to recognize when something that could be toxic to your pet goes missing, and poison control and your veterinarian will need to know how much was ingested and the approximate time of ingestion.

foods that are toxic to dogs

It is best if we can induce early vomiting before the body starts to break down the toxins.

However, in some cases with some poisons it is critical not to induce vomiting but instead to use activated charcoal.

Unknown vomiting is usually one of the first symptoms of toxic ingestion. Vomiting is the body’s way of trying to get the bad or toxic contaminants out of the body.

Diarrhea is another early symptom that your dog has consumed something that he shouldn’t have.

Always withhold food in a dog that has vomiting or diarrhea. He will need water to stay hydrated but you may need to take his food away so he doesn’t make himself sicker. When we have the stomach flu, we know enough not to eat a big meal. But your dog doesn’t understand the need to let his system heal.

All dogs go through bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, but when that comes with inappetence and lethargy, we in the veterinary world really begin to worry.

Early diagnosis and possible fluid therapy are best to get your canine companion to feel better.

Once clinical signs begin to manifest we have fewer options and the toxicity may become a severe emergency.

Bloodwork can also give us a picture of what is going on inside your dog.

In an Emergency

In a true emergency, it is best to contact Animal Poison Control  or Pet Poison Helpline  and have a case number opened. Your local veterinarian can continue to seek help through that case number. You can call the number as you drive your dog to the vet but do yourself a favor and invest in that service. They even have a mobile app.

foods that are toxic to dogs

Emergency veterinarians deal with more poisoning cases than the average vet. However the SPCA has set up a special hotline to be utilized in emergency cases, and that is all they do. I suppose you could liken it to going to a pediatrician or a cardiologist for your child’s heart condition. I would rather pay the expert and get the information quicker.

All in all, be cautious what human foods you feed your pets. One wrong snack or accident could be deadly! And, always remember to put all dangerous items behind locked doors to keep your home safe and dog accident proof!

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  1. steve says:

    Thanks for the tips (toxic foods for dogs) .always welcome tips to better my knowledge for my puppy’s health and safety


  2. Rick Gomez says:

    A very informative article. I have three dogs and appreciate your emails and all the info you put out thereTHANKS Rick and my 3dogs


  3. Eva Davis says:

    For the family’s, that will get new dogs or pups ,this is for you Please,Read. It’s important!


  4. Donald says:

    You say to give the dog peanut butter and nuts ,,but at the same time it has been said NOT to give it to a dog,,do to what is in it ..


  5. Sherry says:

    What about turmeric


  6. Peggy says:

    Great article on what not to give your dog or cat! Thanks. Most I already knew but great reminders. I will pass on to others who are not so aware of the dangers!


  7. Luis says:

    Very interesting and informative


  8. Karen B Wharton says:

    Thank you so much for this very important information!! My Morkie sometimes gets diarrhea after eating dental chews. Which dental chews are recommended?


  9. Antje says:

    My to pups thank you for the advice. Mom means well and feeds us table scraps and lunchmeat when she makes sandwiches. What about toothpaste? My puppy brother loves the minty taste of toothpaste and wants his teeth brushed. Is toothpaste toxic too? Thsnks Winston and Blackjack


    Minette Reply:

    human toothpaste can be


  10. Pam says:

    Thanks for the tips 🤗


  11. Eleanor Sweeney says:

    Excellent article!


  12. Douglas Peever says:

    Anti freeze should be added to your list.
    It is very toxic for dogs to consume and its sweetness is very tempting.


  13. S McCafferty says:

    I was told tomatoes are deadly for dogs. Is this true?


    Minette Reply:

    I don’t believe so


  14. Margaret Gaskin-Tuell says:

    Thank you for the interesting information. I knew some of the products were bad for dogs but I didn’t have the whole list. Thank you again for the information on the poison hot line. I didn’t know there was a hot line for animals.


  15. Katherine says:

    Thank you for the information. It’s very helpful for my 4 pets. Thank you again


  16. Thank you! I was aware of some of the foods you mentioned but I never thought about simple people food can be dangerous to give to my dog.. What about pasta and hamburgers? Thanksgiving dinner what’s dangerous about that?


  17. Kathy Maier says:

    Excellent article. I know a lady whose dog ingested a piece of discarded gum with that horrid “X” word in it. Her poor little pooch died within hours. Too bad it can’t be regulated because if it is harmful for pets what about children?


  18. Andi Cohen says:

    Thank you for this important and informative article on bad foods for dogs!!


  19. Nancy McKean says:

    Tell guests about “no chocolate”. A friend’s houseguest had a container of brownies in her open suitcase, the poodle ate them all and nearly died. It lived but sustained severe, permanent liver damage.
    Thank you for this article!
    Nancy McKean


  20. Jean Furs says:

    You didn’t mention many foods like raw garlic, broccoli in large amounts and there are many others.


  21. RONALDO says:

    OMG – Thanks ever so much for such useful info. And now I worry about stomach bubbling sounds and diarrhea. “What did he get into?” My faithful dog eats grass and sometimes hacks it up. What should I do?


  22. Liz Knight says:

    Thank you!


  23. Heidi Hunziker says:

    Very good information. Thank you! I didn’t know all that’s bad and even dangerous for pets.
    Our cats in the 70’s and 80’s loved their daily bowls of milk.
    We didn’t even have dry food then but Whyskas (spelling?) wet food in Germany.
    Can digs be fed other fruit if they like it?


  24. Anne says:

    Thanks for all the important information that you give to us in able to keep our pets happy and healthy. Happy thanksgiving Chet.


  25. Pastor Richard Beckinger says:

    Is spaghetti with tomato sauce dangerous to dogs?


    Minette Reply:

    it can have both garlic or onion which should be avoided


  26. Dee says:

    Is pineapple in small doses harmful to a grown yellow lab?


  27. Steve says:

    My last dog loved to clean up pavement by local shops of chewing gum working hard with her teeth to remove it and it never occurred to me of the danger


  28. Richard says:

    Always great articles. My twin Standard Poodles and I say Thank You very much


  29. Aren says:

    Thanks. I have 6 Rescued Dogs


  30. L J Maffie says:

    Ive believe hazelnuts ARE SAFE for dogs & too much of a good thing like peanut butter is not! 100% pumpkin in the can IS A GREAT TREAT for cats& dogs…aids digestive troubles ,restores enzymes. EVEN OK IF PET HAS DIARRHEA


  31. Bev Roberts says:

    Good reading but I have to say I think a dog knows when not to eat instinctively. If they have a poorly gut the first signs are usually they go off their food…. At least all mine have. I’m fanatical about not giving take scraps but unfortunately my family will sneak the odd thing to my dog which displeases me immensely. Ignorance is not bliss in these cases. Thank you for the advice. I have shared on fb. 👍



    thank you for the information. very enlightening!


  33. Nancy G. Ache says:

    This article is very informative. Every dog owner should be made aware of the dangers these foods pose to their pets.


  34. Micheal says:

    Useful. Although most dogs cannot digest milk, both our poodles are milk drinkers. The male only drinks water if on a walk…the female drinks both equally. Neither our previous poodles like or tolerated milk. Intetesting.


  35. Antje says:

    Can be what?


  36. Princess says:

    Peanut is not actually a type of nut. Just like coffee beans are not actually beans. Please google it.


  37. DB says:

    You should never give you dog or cat human toothpaste. Only use toothpaste formulated for dogs or cats. The Hunan stuff is bad for them.


  38. ANN DISS says:

    Thank you for your very interesting food comments.
    My dog is very different to other dogs I have owned. She eats a Rib Filet steak at night cooked medium rare and we leave Hills or any other good brand of biscuits for her.
    Her most enjoyed food is fruit. My Polly loves mandarins, if she had her way would eat a full one. Currently she is loving blueberries. Strawberries are a favourite, pineapple is liked in small amounts same with banana. She has just discovered mangos and adores them. Apples are eaten peeled and cored.

    My pup is just 8 months old. Despite eating fruit every day her motions are never loose. She is a Kelpie cross.


  39. Mary says:

    Thank you and have always avoided most human food to be on the safe side. I do however feed certain fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked. Always error on the side of caution if I am never sure of something. I am just starting to cook for my dogs and the internet is invaluable for information on what is not good for them.


  40. Jan Landers says:

    Very good reminder. Fortunately my sweet Abby instinctively knows to reject grapes, onion, garlic and chocolate that falls to the floor or are within her reach. But she loves bacon and fatty meats, which we don’t give her. She loves ice cream, so we purchase nondairy pet ice cream. However, she loves to catch and eat lizards and other critters that make her very sick. Like the other commenter, when she eats something she should not, her bowel sounds are audible and she eats grass to make herself vomit.


  41. Meg says:

    No tomatoes are not bad for dogs they are actually good for them as well as some other veggies


  42. Mia Desrocher says:

    Thank you so much for the info.


  43. Beth says:

    Thank you very helpful will tell ohers


  44. Mick says:

    Very very helpful
    Thank you!


  45. Mick says:

    Very very helpful tip
    Thank you!


  46. Nancy Stewart says:

    I have heard that avocado is toxic for dogs, and along with grapes, anything with skin and seeds. And that lettuce are not digestible.


  47. Sandi Hoecker says:

    I had trouble with all 3 of my dogs (2 doxies, 1 miniature schnauzer) getting “chocolate pudding” diarrhea after eating 1 OraVet chew. I now cut them in half & don’t give daily. It may not be as effective for their teeth but it is better for the pooches!


  48. Linda Morris says:

    Grass doesn’t hurt them and cats use it for medicine.


    Minette Reply:

    Grass can and often makes them vomit


  49. Ggack says:

    It is regulated as a food for humans. Dogs have a different digestive system and cannot tolerate it. Onions and garlic are good for us. Again – Not for dogs.


  50. Karen Tschida says:

    This information is so important to have posted by your dogs food area.


  51. Pepper says:

    My 8 mo old Pitbull eats everything I give him to sleep on. Every dog bed, blanket, towel, etc. he eats them. Naturally the material doesn’t digest and he frequently vomits up large chucky materials. I don’t why he eats all his beds but how do I stop it and what is it doing to his insides?


  52. Bob Schwein says:

    Thank you so much – this short info gram is going into our Dalmatian’s emergency folder!!


  53. Gail Cortner says:

    As a nurse RN I have given new parents talks on frist aid and to have The Posion Control Number by their phone. Now as a Breeder and dog show enthusiast I will be spreading the his information to my brethren . My puppies will go home with a copy of this article . Thank you so much.


  54. Whitney says:

    How do you induce vomiting in a dog?


    Minette Reply:

    Honestly it is best to take your dog to the vet to have this done. They have fast acting drugs that get the job done and then drugs that help them feel better. Also some things should not be vomited back up but instead should pass through the system and it is time dependent.


  55. The thing about grapes and raisins is still not really understood – why some dogs get acute kidney failure, and other times, people don’t know about this and give their dogs grapes all the time with no issues. Always better to be safe!


  56. Sue Dieringer says:

    Minette, your information is always so valuable I appreciate you and your time you give us. I say also I use the internet every time I can’t remember if a food is safe or not and immediately I get an answer. The last thing I Googled was a potato, and was shocked to find out that a raw potato is toxic to dogs, cooked potatoes are fine in any form. I’m was so close to giving my dog a raw potato to chew on and the internet told me not to. Thanks again for all of your time and valuable information.


  57. littledove says:

    I read what a vet said awhile back, not to let your pet eat the grape seeds, for they are poison to a dog. But, I don’t give my fur babies grape anyway. They eat all natural dry dog foods. My Pomeranian was having bad seizures, and I took her off dog food that had corn, wheat, soy, and all the other junk in it and her seizures have practically gone. She has been on all natural dog food for over a year now, and has had only two light seizures. I feed both my fur babies a little raw hamburger once in a while, and chicken, but never raw pork. Dogs are not grain eaters, and it’s not good on their digestive system.
    I do make up them human foods such a rice, and green beans, or peas, with some canned all natural food, for the other Vet. said we all like a variety of food, and so do our pets. My fur babies haven’t been begging for my table food as much anymore either for they seem more satisfied.
    I am not a Vet. I’m just stating what I have read, and my experience with my own two fur babies. ☺


  58. EDT says:

    Thank you so much for posting this valuable info regarding foods that should be avoided by dog owners.
    Very good info


  59. William Reyes says:

    I give my dogs chicken winnies, they love them, could that make them sick.????


    Minette Reply:

    things with high salt aren’t good in large quantities


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