We love our pups like family, which means keeping them safe and healthy too. Do you really know what might make them sick? Think of this as a brief guide book (not absolute fact). And since many of us have the bad habit of giving their dogs table scraps, try to tell the kiddos too.
More detailed information and a more extensive list can be found on the ASPCA website here: Ask the Experts: People Foods
The list below has some of the more prominent foods, combined from several resources:
- Alcohol – Beer, liquor, wine, foods containing alcohol — none of it’s good for your dog. That’s because alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on humans. But it takes far less to do its damage. Just a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, even death. And the smaller the dog, the greater the effect.
- Avocado – (all parts of the avocado and avocado tree) No matter how good you think the guacamole is, you shouldn’t give it to your dog. Avocados contain a substance called persin. It’s harmless for humans who aren’t allergic. But large amounts might be toxic to dogs. If you happen to be growing avocados at home, keep your dog away from the plants. Persin is in the leaves, seed, and bark, as well as in the fruit.
- Bones and Fat Trimmings – Table scraps often contain meat fat that a human didn’t eat and bones. Both are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Although it seems natural, most bones should not be given (especially chicken bones) because they can splinter and cause an obstruction or laceration of the digestive system. It also poses a choking hazard. It’s best to just forget about the doggie bag.
- Chocolate – Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs. The toxic agent in chocolate is Theobromine, a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic that can be fatal in dogs. It’s in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. The most dangerous kinds, though, are dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating chocolate, even just licking the icing bowl, can cause a dog to vomit, have diarrhea, and be excessively thirsty. It can also cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.
- Coffee, Coffee Grounds, Tea, Soft Drinks, and Other Caffeine – Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog. And, there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, fits, and bleeding. In addition to tea and coffee – including beans and grounds — caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It’s also in some cold medicines and pain killers.
- Fruit Pits & Seeds (most) – Pits and seeds contain Cyanogenic Glycosides which can result in cyanide poisoning – though the fruit itself is okay.
- Grapes and Raisins – Grapes and raisins have often been used as treats for dogs. But it’s not a good idea. Although it isn’t clear why, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. And just a small amount can make a dog ill. Repeated vomiting is an early sign. Within a day, the dog will become lethargic and depressed. The best prevention is to keep grapes and raisins off counters and other places your dog can reach.
- Human Medicines & Vitamins – Reaction to a drug commonly prescribed for humans is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs. Just as you would do for your children, keep all medicines out of your dog’s reach. And, never give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless told to do so by your vet. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine. And, they can be deadly for your dog. Vitamins, especially those containing iron, can cause damage to the lining of the digestive system as well as cause kidney and liver damage)
- Macadamia Nuts – Dogs should not eat macadamia nuts or foods containing macadamia nuts because they can be fatal. There is an unknown substance that is toxic to dogs. As few as 6 raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make a dog ill. Symptoms of poisoning include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, possibly leading to death.
- Milk & Other Dairy Products – On a hot day, it may be tempting to share your ice cream cone with your dog. But if your dog could, it would thank you for not doing so. Milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive upset as well as set up food allergies (which often manifest as itchiness). Fortunately, many local doggy bakeries and stores make or sell ice cream specially for pooches! They don’t usually pose a great danger but many have high fat content — and many pets are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance leads to gas and diarrhea; though small amounts of yogurt and cheese are usually fairly well tolerated. It’s even often recommended to put a teaspoon of plain yogurt with a dog’s meal to help digestion and gas.
- Nutmeg & Other Pantry Items – Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures, and central nervous system damage. Many other items commonly found on kitchen shelves can harm your dog. Keeping food items high enough to be out of your dog’s reach and keeping pantry doors closed will help protect your dog from serious food-related illness.
- Onions & Garlic – Onions and garlic in all forms — powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated — can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Both contain the toxic ingredient Thiosulfate/Thiosulphate. That can happen even with the onion powder found in some baby food. An occasional *small* dose (sometimes found in dog biscuits) is probably okay. But just eating a large quantity once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause poisoning because it builds up in the system. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, dullness, and breathlessness.
- Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums – The problem with these fruits is the seeds or pits. The seeds from persimmons can cause inflammation of the small intestine in dogs. They can also cause intestinal obstruction. Obstruction is also a possibility if a dog eats the pit from a peach or plum. Plus, peach and plum pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both humans and dogs. The difference is humans know not to eat them. Dogs don’t.
- Raw Eggs – There are two problems with giving your dog raw eggs. The first is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli. The second is that an enzyme in raw eggs interferes with the absorption of a particular B vitamin. This can cause skin problems as well as problems with your dog’s coat if raw eggs are fed for a long time.
- Raw Meat and Fish – Raw meat and raw fish, like raw eggs, can contain bacteria that causes food poisoning. In addition, certain kinds of fish such as salmon, trout, shad, or sturgeon can contain a parasite that causes “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease.” If not treated, the disease can be fatal within two weeks. The first signs of illness are vomiting, fever, and big lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking the fish will kill the parasite and protect your dog.
- Salt, Baking Soda, Baking Powder – It’s not a good idea to share salty foods like chips or pretzels with your dog. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. In large amounts these can cause an electrolyte imbalance and in severe cases lead to muscle spasms or even congestive heart failure. It may even cause death.
- Some Vegetables – Potato peelings, green potatoes, rhubarb leaves, and green parts of tomatoes contain oxalates which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. Mushrooms may contain toxins that can cause liver and kidney damage. Broccoli is only toxic in large quantities.
- Sugar-Free Foods – Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol can cause an increase in the insulin circulating through your dog’s body. That can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Eventually, the dog may have seizures. Liver failure can occur within just a few days.
- Sugary or Excessively Fatty Foods & Drinks – Too much sugar can do the same thing to dogs that it does to humans. It can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly the onset of diabetes. Excess fatty foods can cause Pancreatitis.
- Yeast Dough – Before it’s baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that’s exactly what it would do in your dog’s stomach if your dog ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch the dog’s abdomen and cause severe pain, and even lead to rupture of the digestive system. In addition, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Here are some of the resources that you might find helpful:
• 25 Human Foods Toxic to Dogs
• WebMD Slideshow: Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat
• Dogster – Poisonous Plants & Immediate Treatment for a Poisoned Pet
• Doctors Foster and Smith pet education.com
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