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It’s easy, especially for new owners, to assume dogs can eat anything we eat – they are a member of the family after all. But every dog owner needs to know the most dangerous foods. Dr. Wolfe, DVM has ranked the 16 foods that present the greatest risks to the wellness and safety of our dogs. Each of them need to be handled wisely and stored intelligently in your home.

  1. Xylitol: Xylitol is a diabetic-friendly sugar substitute often found in sugar-free products like gum and candy. Unfortunately, when dogs consume xylitol, it can cause a rapid release of insulin, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can result in symptoms such as vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and can lead to death.
  2. Alcohol: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from alcohol poisoning. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, and even death. To keep your furry friend safe, ensure that alcoholic beverages and food containing alcohol are stored securely. If you have parties, remind guests to not put their drinks on the floor and quickly wipe up any spills. This is how accidental poisonings happen.
  3. Moldy foods: Moldy foods can contain harmful mycotoxins that, when ingested, may lead to mycotoxin poisoning in dogs. Symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to muscle tremors and seizures. Dispose of moldy food in a secure trash can, so your dog can’t access it.
  4. Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is toxic to dogs. Ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Dark chocolate is especially dangerous due to its higher theobromine content. Keep all chocolate products away from your dog.
  5. Coffee: Caffeine, found in coffee and other caffeinated beverages, is harmful to dogs. Caffeine poisoning can cause symptoms like hyperactivity, vomiting, tremors, and even seizures. Store your coffee and related products securely to prevent accidental ingestion.
  6. Onions: Onions contain compounds that can damage your dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, and pale gums. Even small amounts of onions, whether raw or cooked, can be harmful to your dog, so avoid giving them any food containing onions.
  7. Garlic: Similar to onions, garlic contains troublesome compounds that can cause anemia in dogs. While it may take larger amounts of garlic to cause harm, it’s wise to avoid intentionally giving your dog any food containing garlic to be on the safe side.
  8. Grapes and Raisins: Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause acute kidney failure. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Keep grapes and raisins out of your dog’s reach and never use them as treats.
  9. Raw meat: Though you may come across resources discussing a raw diet, there’s still risk that uncooked meats can expose your dog to harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, leading to gastrointestinal issues and, in severe cases, organ failure. It’s safer to feed your dog properly cooked meat to avoid any risks.
  10. Bread dough: Raw bread dough containing yeast can expand in your dog’s stomach, causing bloating and discomfort. Additionally, the fermentation process can produce alcohol, leading to alcohol poisoning. Keep raw dough away from your dog and ensure they don’t have access to rising dough.
  11. Macadamia nuts: These nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause weakness, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. Make sure to store macadamia nuts securely and avoid giving your dog any food containing them.
  12. Fried foods: High-fat fried foods can lead to pancreatitis in dogs, a painful and potentially life-threatening condition. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Limit your dog’s consumption of fatty foods and opt for healthier treats instead.
  13. Fruit pits and seeds: Pits and seeds from apples, cherries, and peaches can pose a choking hazard and, in some cases, contain cyanide compounds that are harmful to dogs. Always remove pits and seeds before giving your dog fruit.
  14. Wild mushrooms: Many wild mushrooms can be toxic to dogs, causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and seizures. It’s challenging to distinguish between safe and poisonous mushrooms, so it’s best to prevent your dog from eating any wild mushrooms they encounter during walks or outdoor activities.
  15. Animal bones: While it may seem natural to give your dog a bone, cooked bones can splinter and cause blockages or tears in your dog’s digestive tract. Opt for safer alternatives like specially designed dog chews or toys to satisfy your dog’s need to chew.
  16. Avocado: Avocado contains a toxin called persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Additionally, the large pit can pose a choking hazard or cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. To be safe, it’s best to avoid giving your dog any part of an avocado.

For more education, see our complete list of foods dogs can and can’t eat. Remember to share what you learn with other dog owners so together we can reduce the amount of accidental dog poisonings.

About the Writer
Dan Greco , Dog Dad

Having been a dog dad for 5 years, I know how hard it is to make sure your dog gets the right nutrients and stays away from hazardous foods. With the help of a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition, I created this blog to help dog owners quickly access food information they need.

photo of vet holding a pup
About the Contributor
Dr. Hillary Wolfe , Veterinarian & Certified Food Therapist

Dr. Wolfe holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University and holds nutrition certifications from the NAVC and CIVT. Her business, Tula Veterinary Nutrition, hosts online courses that teach owners how to cook for their pet for optimal health and longevity. Follow her on Instagram at @doctorwolfe.dvm for dog nutrition tips, recipes and insights.