Dog peering over kitchen counter, looking at food

Key takeaway

While there are some human foods dogs can eat, there are many foods that they should avoid because they’re toxic or cause uncomfortable side effects for your pup.

If you have a dog, you’re probably familiar with just how much dogs love to eat people’s scraps. Dogs will wait by the table at dinner time, look at you with those big puppy dog eyes, and beg for just a little bit of your leftovers. And more often than not, you probably give in. I mean, it’s hard not to when your dog is that cute.

A lot of the food we eat is perfectly okay for a dog to eat, too. In fact, some of our food is actually good for them. But you may be wondering, “what can dogs not eat?”.

So before you can go ahead and let your dog lick up your dinner plate, you need to be aware of what foods your dog can’t eat. You might think you’re doing your dog a favor by letting them eat your scraps, but certain human food can wreak havoc on a dog’s health, which is why it’s so important to know which toxic foods to avoid.

In this article, we’ll be answering the question, “what can dogs eat and not eat?” so that you can confidently feed your dog your leftovers from dinner without worrying about the damage it may cause. Continue reading to find out more about the 23 toxic foods to avoid feeding your pup.

1. Chocolate

One of the top foods that dogs should not eat is chocolate. Fido might be tempted to get into that Easter basket sitting on your dining room table, but you need to stop him before he devours the chocolate and develops symptoms.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, and cacao beans contain methylxanthines, which are toxic to dogs and can stop their metabolic process. Even just eating a little bit of chocolate can trigger a host of different symptoms in dogs, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fast breathing
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased urination

2. Grape-Based Foods

We don’t know exactly why grape-based foods are bad for dogs, but we do know that consuming them can cause kidney failure and liver damage. Some research has shown that grapes contain tartaric acid, which might be the cause of the health problems associated with a dog eating grapes. So just to be safe, you should steer clear of feeding your pup any grape-based foods, including raisins and currants.

Some of the signs of grape and raisin toxicosis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Polydipsia
  • Tremors

3. Almonds

Dogs might love almonds – but they’re not the best for them. Almonds can cause gastric intestinal distress and esophagus blockage in your pup. Salted almonds are especially bad, as they can cause an increase in water retention, which can be fatal if your dog has heart disease.

So, if you notice your dog chowing down a couple of leftover almonds from breakfast, look out for these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • General discomfort

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon might not be toxic to your dog, but it’s definitely not something you should actively be feeding them. Cinnamon can irritate your pup’s skin, specifically the inside of their mouth, which can make them very uncomfortable and even ill.

Consuming cinnamon can also decrease your dog’s blood sugar levels, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, increased or decreased heart rate, and potentially liver disease. Even just inhaling cinnamon can cause your dog to have a difficult time breathing, so it’s best to just avoid feeding them cinnamon altogether.

5. Garlic, Onions & Chives

Garlic, onion, and chives are all a part of the Allium family, which means they contain thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs. Thiosulfate can cause damage to red blood cells, which can result in anemia. Some of the side effects of anemia include pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, lethargy, jaundice, and dark-colored urine.

If your dog is suffering from garlic toxicity, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Dehydration

6. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are very poisonous to dogs, so you should absolutely avoid giving them to your dog. It’s not known exactly what’s in macadamia nuts that makes them so poisonous, but even consuming a small amount can cause serious side effects in dogs.

Some of the symptoms of a dog eating macadamia nuts include:

  • Vomiting
  • Ataxia
  • Weakness
  • Hyperthermia
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Fever

7. Ice Cream

As tempting as it may be to let your dog take a lick of your leftover ice cream cone, it’s best to avoid it. Ice cream is very high in sugar, which is not good for your dog’s overall health. Some dogs may also be lactose intolerant or have food allergies to some of the ingredients in ice cream. Additionally, many ice cream flavors, such as chocolate or macadamia nut, are toxic to dogs.

If your dog consumes ice cream, they can develop a host of side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, and gas.

8. Corn On The Cob

It’s okay to feed your dog corn, but corn on the cob should be avoided. Corn on the cob can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as an intestinal obstruction, and can also be a choking hazard.

9. Avocado

You should avoid feeding your dog avocado as avocados contain a fatty acid called persin, which is poisonous to dogs. Consuming persin can cause serious health problems in your pup, like vomiting and diarrhea.

List of things dogs can’t eat

10. Alcohol

Dogs can have very similar responses to alcohol that we do, even if it’s just consumed in a small amount. So, if your dog takes a sip of your mixed drink, you should immediately give your vet a call. A dog consuming alcohol can cause:

  • Depression or lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypotension
  • Hypothermia

11. Artificial Sweetener

Artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, are often found in sweets, like gum, candy, and baked goods. However, the artificial sweetener can be very poisonous to dogs. Consuming xylitol will initially cause vomiting in dogs, but the other symptoms won’t occur for another 12 hours. Xylitol can also cause your dog to go into hypoglycemia, which is a condition that causes your blood sugar to decrease. This can cause weakness and loss of coordination.

12. Sugary Foods

Sugary foods in general are a big no-no for your pup. A lot of sugary foods can contain artificial sweeteners, but also toxic flavors, like chocolate, which can pose health problems for your dog. Consuming too much sugar can also cause weight gain, tooth decay, and diabetes.

13. Caffeine

Caffeine contains a stimulant that is toxic for your dogs, so you definitely don’t want Fido lapping up the remains of your morning cup of joe. Some of the symptoms of caffeine poisoning include:

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Hyperthermia

14. Yeast Dough

Yeast rises, and if a dog consumes yeast dough, that dough can rise and ferment in their stomach. Not only can this fermentation cause alcohol poisoning, but also the rising of the dough can cause your dog’s stomach to stretch, which can be very painful.

15. Too Much Salt

Just like humans, too much salt can contribute to dehydration in dogs. Some of the symptoms of a dog consuming too much salt include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Seizures

16. Milk & Cheese

It’s no secret that dogs love dairy, specifically cheese. While it’s okay to give your dog cheese in very small amounts, you should avoid feeding them large quantities. Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so consuming milk and cheese can upset their stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues.

17. Wild Mushrooms

There are some types of mushrooms that are okay for dogs to eat, but there are also some types that are highly toxic to dogs, specifically wild mushrooms. So before you let your dog eat your scraps from dinner, make sure it doesn’t contain any type of wild mushroom.

These are some of the symptoms that mushroom toxicity can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Lack of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures
  • Coma

18. Fruit & Vegetable Seeds & Stones

While it’s okay for dogs to eat certain fruits and vegetables, they should not eat the seeds and stones of them. Fruit and vegetable seeds and stone contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs and can cause tremors, difficulty breathing, and convulsions. These seeds and stones can also be a choking hazard for your pooch.

19. Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin, which can be toxic to dogs. Consuming high amounts of nutmeg can cause disorientation, hallucinations, increased heart rate and blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and even seizures.

20. Raw Potato

While it’s okay to feed your dogs cooked potatoes, raw potatoes are not. Raw potatoes contain solanine, which is a compound that can be toxic to dogs.

21. Rhubarb

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid and oxalate salts, which are toxic for dogs to consume. If your dog consumes rhubarb, these are some of the signs you should watch out for:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors

22. Acidic Fruits

You should avoid feeding your dog acidic fruits, such as grapefruit and lemons. Acidic fruits contain essential oils and psoralens, which can be toxic to dogs. Some of the signs of a dog consuming acidic fruit include1:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Potential dermatitis

23. Cooked Bones

You can give your dog a raw, uncooked bone, but you should not give them a cooked bone. Cooked bones can easily splinter into smaller pieces which can be very harmful for your dog if swallowed. Consuming these pieces of cooked bones can cause constipation or even a perforation of the gut.

What to do if your dog eats something they shouldn’t

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Something They Shouldn’t

If your dog eats something they shouldn’t, don’t panic. First, remove the item if possible, then call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline number, which is (888) 426-4435.

Can My Dog Eat…

So now that we’ve answered the question of “what foods can dogs not eat?”, you’re probably wondering what foods they can eat. It ultimately depends on the dog. If you’re wondering if it’s safe for your dog to eat a specific food, talk to your vet first.

It’s also important to note that this list of toxic foods isn’t comprehensive and some dogs have sensitivities or allergies to other types of food and should therefore steer clear of those ingredients.

What Can Dogs Not Eat: FAQs

Here are some helpful FAQs about what foods dogs should not eat.

What fruits can dogs not eat?

Dogs should not eat grapes, acidic fruits, avocados, tomatoes, and cherries.

What vegetables can dogs not eat?

Dogs should not eat asparagus, wild mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

How do I know if my dog ate something toxic?

If your dog ate something toxic, they will most likely show symptoms fairly early on. Some of the most common symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, difficulty breathing, or lack of appetite.

Dog and owner at kitchen counter

Final Notes

As tempting as it is to give into your dog’s puppy dog eyes and feed them your leftover dinner scraps, it’s crucial to make sure that what you’re feeding them is actually safe for them to eat. There are a variety of foods that are toxic to dogs and can pose serious health problems if consumed. And if your dog accidentally gets into something they shouldn’t be, you should give your vet a call immediately.

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References

  1. “Grapefruit.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/grapefruit

  2. Staff, AKC. “Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 3 Apr. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/human-foods-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/

  3. Staff, AKC. “Fruits & Vegetables Dogs Can and Can't Eat.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 24 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fruits-vegetables-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/