What Your Pup Should Never Eat

Keep your dog safe and store these items out of reach
By Mark Daniels, February 2022

Dogs are curious creatures, motivated by food and driven to be part of the family pack. It’s only natural that they want to eat what you’re eating—or that they’ll be tempted to do something they shouldn’t, like climb onto the kitchen counter in search of something tasty.

Accidents happen. You turn your back for one second, and that’s plenty of time for your pup to ingest something they shouldn’t. Some human foods cause toxicity in dogs or can injure them in other ways, which is why it’s important to monitor your furry friend as much as possible.

Here’s a list of common foods or medications that your dog should not eat. If you suspect your dog has consumed some, call the ASPCA’s poison control hotline, or put your dog’s health insurance to good use and head to your local emergency vet as quickly as possible.

Animal Bones

Cooked animal bones can splinter or cause a blockage in your dog’s digestive tract, causing internal injuries that require surgery to repair. Even raw bones can be dangerous if they become too small, especially if your dog chews and swallows them. It’s best to give your dog treats and chews designed especially for our canine companions and monitor them as they enjoy them.

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Onions, Garlic, and Chives

At best, your dog could suffer gastrointestinal irritation after consuming these vegetables and herbs. At worst, they could cause red blood cell damage and anemia. If you grow these plants in your backyard garden, make sure they’re out of your pooch’s reach, and throw away garlic peels and onion scraps in a way that your dog can’t access them. Consuming these in large quantities definitely calls for a veterinary visit.

Grapes and Raisins

These fruits are delicious snacks for people, but they contain a toxic substance that can cause kidney failure in dogs. The number your dog can accidentally ingest before it’s considered an emergency depends on your dog’s size and other factors, so be sure to ask your veterinarian about treatment options.

Chocolate

Although some milk chocolate is likely to simply cause gastrointestinal discomfort, real chocolate, like dark chocolate, baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, and more, contains methylxanthines found in cacao seeds. Methylxanthines consumed by dogs can cause vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, panting, abnormal heart rhythm, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors, and death.

Coffee

Coffee, like chocolate, contains methylxanthines and should never be given to your pet. The caffeine in coffee also can be harmful.

Coconut

In small amounts, coconut-based products aren’t likely to harm your pet, but they can cause stomach upset and diarrhea, all of which is very uncomfortable. Coconut water contains a lot of potassium, so you should never give it to your dog.

Artificial Sweeteners

With more and more people turning to artificial sweeteners to avoid the extra calories and carbs that come from sugar, pets are at an increased risk of accidentally eating something they shouldn’t. One of these sweeteners is xylitol. When xylitol is consumed by dogs, their pancreas releases excess insulin, which can lead to liver failure and hypoglycemia.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages of any kind can cause decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, abnormal blood acidity, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and death. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has consumed alcohol.

Macadamia Nuts

Signs of macadamia nut ingestion include weakness, vomiting, depression, tremors, and hypothermia. These symptoms appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last up to 48 hours.

Corn on the Cob

While not toxic to dogs, there’s a different danger that comes with corn on the cob. Should your dog ingest the cob, they could suffer from obstruction or blockage. Both will require immediate veterinary care and possibly surgery to avoid ruptures in the digestive tract.

Acorns

Acorns and oak leaves contain tannins that are harmful to dogs. Acorn poisoning, called Quercus poisoning, can cause stomach upset, kidney failure, and sometimes death. If your backyard has oak trees that produce acorns, you’ll want to keep them picked up and away from your pet. Teach your dog the “leave it” command, and use it on walks to prevent your dog from eating anything they shouldn’t on the sidewalk or walking path.

Marijuana

Because dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains than humans do, the effects of cannabis are more dramatic and potentially toxic when compared to humans. If your dog has consumed cannabis products, contact your vet right away for advice.

Yeast

Uncooked yeast dough can continue to rise inside your pet’s digestive system, causing gas to accumulate and lead to a condition called bloat. Bloat can also cause twisting of the gastrointestinal tract and become a life-threatening emergency. The ethanol in yeast also acts as a type of alcohol in your dog, another no-no for pets to consume.    

Fruit Pits

Fruits in the Prunus genus, like cherries, nectarines, plums, and peaches, contain cyanide. While your pet would need to chew and swallow quite a few pits to cause cyanide poisoning, there’s a bigger risk for bowel obstruction, which can require surgical intervention.

Human Medications

Human and animal medications are formulated differently, and some human medications can cause serious health issues in your pet. Always talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet medication of any kind.

Note that this isn’t a comprehensive list. Many other human foods or environmental objects can be toxic or harmful to dogs. Always talk to your vet before giving your pets any “human food” or medications.

Mark Daniels is a versatile writer with extensive experience creating interesting, engaging, and unique articles in multiple industries.