Which Foods are Unsafe to Share with the Family Dog?

Today I have the pleasure of introducing my followers to Tali Wee. She has written this great article about food safety for the family dog.
Once upon a time the family dog served as a companion as well as a multi-purpose cleaning machine. The dog took on the role of the garbage disposal, clearing plates before they entered the dishwasher and cleaning up any spilled food under the table.  Now, we know so much about dog safety that many of the foods we consume are deemed unsuitable for our family pets.  Here’s a comprehensive list of the main items to watch out for:
1.  Chocolate
2.  Avocado
3.  Garlic & Onion
4.  Alcohol, Caffeine & Tobacco
5.  Xylitol
6.   Grapes, Raisins
7.  Tomatoes
8.  Fruit Seeds from Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Pears and Plums
9.  Macadamia Nuts
10. Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Yeast Dough
… and sometimes Dairy, Eggs & Raw Meat or Fish.

Okay, we all know about chocolate!  Yes, it’s dangerous; but if the dog eats the single chocolate chip that drops to the floor in the process of baking cookies – the dog will live.  The point is to be aware of these threats and not intentionally feed them to dogs.  If pets get into these items and have, for instance, a handful of chocolate chips, then they should probably go to the vet to be evaluated closely for dangerous symptoms.

Chocolate contains theobromine which can cause seizures, coma and even death when too much is consumed.  The concentration of this toxin varies in chocolate and is strongest in baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate. The size of the dog also plays into the concentration equation as one ounce of chocolate will have a much stronger impact on a smaller dog than the diluted effects in a larger breed.

Avocados contain persin which causes vomiting and diarrhea.  The family dog may have eaten avocado before and not displayed obvious signs of being sick, but keep an eye out in the future.  Many meals around my house include avocado, onion and garlic.  It’s unsafe for our dog to clear off our dishes because these ingredients can become toxic in excess.  Raw or powdered garlic and onion destroy dogs’ red blood cells and can cause anemia.  These ingredients are often found in baby food.

Next, let’s keep our bad human habits away from our pets!  Even one sip of alcohol can be deadly for dogs. The Ethanol and hops are toxic to our family pets.  These can induce the symptoms of a drunk, sloppy dog, but can also cause excessive panting, uncontrollably high body temperatures, seizures, coma and death.  Caffeine can also cause heart palpitations and become fatal in high concentrations. Watch out because dogs love the enticing flavors of milk, eggnog and sweet mixed drinks.  Another human vice is tobacco, which can cause a whole host of symptoms from vomiting and drooling to seizures and death.  Nicotine is poisonous to dogs in fairly low doses so be sure to clean up any lingering cigarette butts. Sweets are my bad habit and it’s important to keep them away from the family dog.  As Connie mentioned, the artificial sweetener Xylitol is highly poisonous to pooches and unsuspectingly present in many candies and gums.

It’s clear that dogs can’t consume anything delicious or fun, so let’s cover the random unsafe items too.  Grapes and raisins mysteriously cause vomiting and kidney failure when consumed in larger amounts. It’s also important to watch out for fruit seeds, many of which contain cyanide toxins that are dangerous to both humans and pets. Another odd and unsafe food for dogs is the macadamia nut. These nuts can cause painful symptoms for dogs and even paralysis in their hindquarters.

Now, you won’t find homemade bread in my house, but yeasty dough in other homes should be kept away from dogs. The dough can expand inside animals’ digestive tracts causing blockages.  Other baking items to steer clear of are baking soda and baking powder; both are unsafe for animals.

Like humans, some dogs have allergies.  It’s possible that dogs are sensitive to dairy or lack the enzyme to digest it, rendering them lactose intolerant.  In those cases, avoid all dairy products.  Otherwise, treats of cheese or milk are fine to feed pets in moderation.  Eating raw meat, fish or eggs is considered risky behavior since the product may contain bacteria, causing a negative reaction in both pets and humans. Again, using good judgment, an uncooked soup bone with a little raw meat around the outside might please the dog for hours, where a bowl of cooked eggs might cause diarrhea.  For these borderline items, give it a try and monitor the dog’s behavior.

So the lessons learned are: don’t panic over spilt milk, but avoid letting Fido lick out the homemade guacamole bowl.

Bio: Tali Wee currently blogs about life in the northwest andhandles the community outreach for Zillow. She owns Wee Picket Fences where she writes about being a new homeowner, bargain hunter and activity enthusiast. Tali enjoys family, food, travel, writing and spending time on projects around the house.


  • Rosie

    This is an excellent post! Esp with holidays coming up, ppl think it is fun to slip morsels to the begging dog! children and adults – so it is helpful let ppl know how dangerous it is, and also, good to keep a few treats out for them to give the doggies!!!

  • Diane K.Brimmer

    Awesome information! Several of these thing I had never heard of. Thanks for sharing and helping me to be a better pet owner.

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