Learn How to Avoid Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs (and Why)

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Dogs are loyal companions and beloved members of our families. We want to give them the best care and nutrition possible. However, sometimes we may unknowingly feed them foods that are Toxic to Dogs and can be fatal. In this article, we will explore some of the foods that must not be fed to dogs and the reasons and the impacts if fed. We will also provide some tips on how to prevent accidental ingestion and what to do if your dog eats something toxic.

Chocolate: A Sweet Poison

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Chocolate is one of the most common and dangerous foods that pet owners must not feed their dogs. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, namely theobromine and caffeine, which are stimulants that affect the nervous system, heart, and kidneys of dogs. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of methylxanthines and the more toxic it is. Even a small amount of chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, seizures, and heart problems in dogs. In severe cases, chocolate ingestion can lead to coma and death 1.

To prevent chocolate poisoning, keep all chocolate products out of your dog’s reach and never share them with your dog. If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. Depending on the amount and type of chocolate ingested, your vet may induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal, or provide supportive care such as fluids and medications.

Onions and Garlic: A Hidden Danger

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Onions and garlic are widely used in human cuisine, but they are toxic to dogs. Onions and garlic contain compounds called organosulfides, which damage the red blood cells of dogs and cause hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is a condition where the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be replaced, resulting in low oxygen levels and organ failure. Symptoms of onion and garlic toxicity include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, rapid breathing, and dark urine. In some cases, blood transfusions may be needed to save the dog’s life 2.

Onions and garlic can be found in many foods, such as soups, sauces, gravies, and seasonings. Therefore, it is important to check the ingredients of any food that you give to your dog and avoid anything that contains onions or garlic. If you think that your dog has eaten onions or garlic, call your veterinarian right away. Your vet may perform blood tests, give fluids, and prescribe medications to treat the anemia.

Grapes and Raisins: A Mysterious Threat

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Grapes and raisins are another food that pet owners must not feed their dogs. Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, which is a life-threatening condition. The exact mechanism of how grapes and raisins affect the kidneys is unknown, but it is believed that they contain a toxin that interferes with the normal function of the kidney cells. Symptoms of grape and raisin toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, abdominal pain, and decreased urine output. Without prompt treatment, dogs can develop irreversible kidney damage and die 3.

To prevent grape and raisin poisoning, never give your dog grapes or raisins or any food that contains them, such as cakes, cookies, or trail mix. If you notice that your dog has eaten grapes or raisins, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your vet may induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal, or perform dialysis to remove the toxins from the blood and support the kidney function.

Xylitol: A Sugar Substitute with a Bitter Consequence

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Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in many products, such as gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, and sugar-free foods. Xylitol is safe for humans, but it is deadly for dogs. Xylitol causes a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels in dogs, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition where the blood sugar levels are too low, causing symptoms such as weakness, confusion, seizures, and coma. Xylitol can also damage the liver of dogs, causing liver failure and bleeding disorders. Symptoms of xylitol toxicity include vomiting, lethargy, staggering, collapse, and jaundice 4.

To prevent xylitol poisoning, keep all xylitol-containing products away from your dog and read the labels of any food that you give to your dog. If you suspect that your dog has ingested xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet may give your dog glucose, fluids, and medications to stabilize the blood sugar levels and protect the liver.

Bones: A Choking and Piercing Hazard

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Bones may seem like a natural and healthy treat for dogs, but they can pose serious risks to their health. Bones can splinter, crack, or break into sharp pieces that can injure the mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines of dogs. Bones can also get stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, causing obstruction, perforation, infection, or death. Symptoms of bone-related problems include drooling, gagging, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever 5.

To prevent bone-related injuries, never give your dog cooked bones, as they are more brittle and prone to splintering. Raw bones may be safer, but they still carry the risk of choking, obstruction, or infection. Therefore, it is best to avoid giving your dog any bones, especially small, sharp, or hollow ones. If you choose to give your dog bones, make sure they are large, smooth, and soft, and supervise your dog while they chew them. If you notice that your dog has swallowed a bone or has any signs of bone-related problems, contact your veterinarian right away. Your vet may perform x-rays, endoscopy, or surgery to remove the bone and treat the damage.

Other Foods to Avoid

The foods mentioned above are some of the most common and dangerous foods that pet owners must not feed their dogs, but they are not the only ones. There are many other foods that can cause various problems for dogs, such as:

  • Alcohol: can cause intoxication, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, coma, and death.
  • Caffeine: can cause restlessness, agitation, tremors, seizures, and heart problems.
  • Macadamia nuts: can cause weakness, paralysis, vomiting, and fever.
  • Avocado: can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and obstruction due to the large seed.
  • Persimmons, peaches, and plums: can cause obstruction or inflammation due to the seeds or pits.
  • Raw eggs: can cause salmonella infection or biotin deficiency.
  • Raw meat and fish: can cause bacterial or parasitic infection or thiamine deficiency.
  • Salt: can cause excessive thirst, urination, dehydration, and sodium poisoning.
  • Yeast dough: can cause bloating, gas, and alcohol poisoning.
  • Milk and dairy products: can cause lactose intolerance, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Mushrooms: can cause liver and kidney damage, seizures, and death.
  • Nutmeg: can cause hallucinations, tremors, and seizures.
  • Garlic and onion powder: can cause the same effects as fresh garlic and onions.

Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning in Dogs

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The best way to prevent food poisoning in dogs is to feed them a balanced and complete diet that is specially formulated for their needs. Avoid giving them human foods, especially those that are known to be toxic to them. If you want to give your dog a treat, choose one that is safe and appropriate for dogs, such as a dog biscuit, a carrot, or a piece of apple. Always check the ingredients and expiration date of any food that you give to your dog and store them in a secure place that your dog cannot access. Educate yourself and your family members about the foods that are harmful to dogs and teach them not to share them with your dog. If you have guests over, inform them about the foods that your dog cannot eat and ask them not to feed your dog anything without your permission.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Something Toxic

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Despite your best efforts, your dog may still manage to eat something that they should not. In that case, you need to act quickly and seek veterinary help. Here are some steps that you should follow if your dog eats something toxic:

  • Identify what your dog has eaten and how much. If possible, collect the packaging, label, or any remaining pieces of the food.
  • Call your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline and follow their instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give any home remedies unless advised by a professional.
  • Bring your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic or emergency hospital. Bring the food or any evidence of what your dog has eaten with you.
  • Follow the treatment plan and recommendations of your veterinarian. Monitor your dog for any signs of improvement or worsening and report them to your veterinarian.


Dogs are curious and opportunistic eaters, which can put them at risk of eating foods that are toxic to them. As a responsible pet owner, you need to know what foods are safe and what foods are dangerous for your dog. You also need to prevent your dog from accessing or ingesting any harmful foods and seek veterinary help if they do. By doing so, you can protect your dog from food poisoning and ensure their health and happiness.

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