What Not to Feed Dogs
Dogs are known for those big puppy eyes when they're begging for food, but feeding your dog table scraps can be downright dangerous. Your dog's digestive system is different from a human's, which means that even things that are perfectly fine and even healthy for humans to eat could be poisonous to your dog. In this guide, we've provided a rundown of the most common foods, plants and household items that can be toxic to your pet. Some of the items on this list may surprise you!
What Not to Feed Dogs
Whether or not to feed your dog some human foods on occasion is largely a matter of preference. Dogs are naturally scavengers, which means they can enjoy a variety of foods beyond the usual kibble. However, there are plenty of foods you should avoid giving your dog, no matter how politely he sits and stares. Below, we've broken down the foods and substances you should avoid giving your dog into several categories so you get a comprehensive look at unsafe foods for dogs.
Fruits and Vegetables
There are many fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fine to give your dog on occasion as a special treat. However, even these safe foods can pose a risk if the pieces are big enough to be a choking hazard. Always feed your dog fruits and vegetables in small pieces and where you can keep an eye on them in case anything happens. Fruits and vegetables that should be avoided include:
- Some kinds of wild mushrooms
Onion and garlic are particularly important to watch out for, as they are common seasonings and additions to human food that may be cooked down enough that you don't know they're there.
Fruits and vegetables that are toxic in large quantities include:
- Rhubarb (mainly leaves)
- Potato leaves and stems
- Tomato leaves and stems
Apple seeds, cherry pits, apricot pits and peach pits are also important to remove before feeding these fruits to your dog as they can pose a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal obstructions.
Some nuts are OK for dogs to eat, but walnuts and macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Macadamia nuts in particular can cause weakness, vomiting and hypothermia in dogs. Keep an eye out for baked items that may contain nuts or items made from nut flours.
Of all the unsafe foods for dogs, chocolate is usually the one that most dog owners are already aware of. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs even in small quantities because of the theobromine found in it, and dogs who eat chocolate can experience diarrhea and vomiting. Chocolate poisoning can be fatal in dogs, and the risk of fatality is even higher with dark chocolate and baking chocolate because of the higher percentage of theobromine. If you think your dog has ingested chocolate, it's important to get them to a vet as soon as possible.
We usually think more of foods than drinks when we talk about giving dogs a taste of the human world, but many common beverages can also be toxic for dogs. Coffee, tea and alcohol are all substances you should avoid giving your dog, and this includes both as a liquid drink and as an ingredient in other foods.
Other Unsafe Foods for Dogs
Some other unsafe foods for dogs include bread dough, uncooked meat and raw eggs. While feeding your dog a raw diet has gained popularity in recent years, both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that these should be avoided.
Xylitol is another sneaky ingredient in many foods that can be dangerous for your dog. Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener and is often found in products labelled as sugar-free, although it can still be present in foods with sugar as well. Xylitol can cause liver failure in dogs and is extremely toxic.
Household Substances That Are Unsafe for Dogs
Foods aren't the only thing in your house that could be unsafe for your dog. Everything, from what you use to clean your kitchen table to your favourite house plant, can pose a risk for your dog. We've provided a list of common substances that may be found in your home that could be dangerous, but keep in mind this list isn't exhaustive. You can find more information at The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Although the VPIS only handles direct enquiries from vets (not pet owners), its website does provide some useful information. When in doubt, keep chemicals and plants put away from where pets can reach them.
- Cleaning agents
- Pest control products
- Household items
- Car products
- Flea and tick products
- Fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides
- Aloe Vera
- Apple (seeds)
- Apricot (pit)
- Autumn Crocus
- Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves)
- Easter Lily
- Elephant Ears
- English Ivy, Poison Ivy, Devil's Ivy and other ivies
- Oriental Lily
- Peach (wilting leaves and pits)
- Tomato Plant (green fruit, stem and leaves)
- Bird of Paradise
- Indian Rubber Plant
- Lily of the Valley
- Peace Lily
- Poinsettia (low toxicity)
- Swiss Cheese Plant
- Tiger Lily
- Weeping Fig
If you think that your dog has ingested something poisonous, it's important to seek veterinary care immediately. If possible, bring whatever your dog ate with you, such as a plant or the wrapper from a candy bar, so your vet knows exactly what the substance is. It's also helpful if you can provide information on how much your dog ate, how much time has passed and what symptoms he has been displaying and for how long, as all of these factors, can influence the course of treatment.
For more pet care tips, including healthy treats and human foods your dog can eat, browse our dog care archives.