It’s hard to resist a dog’s big eyes gazing mournfully at us while we eat a meal. How bad can a little treat from the table really be? Well, that depends on what it is and what’s in it—there are a lot of people foods a dog should never consume. And, it’s not simply because of concern for their weight, some foods are downright dangerous for dogs—and some of these common foods may surprise you.
Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol. It can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Early symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and coordination problems. Eventually, your dog may have seizures. Liver failure can happen within just a few days.
Avocados contain persin, which is fine for people who aren’t allergic to it, but too much can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs. If you grow avocados at home, keep your dog away from the plants. Persin is in the leaves, seed, and bark, as well as the fruit. Also, the avocado seed can become stuck in the intestines or stomach, and obstruction can be fatal.
Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on people but it takes a lot less to harm your dog. Just a little beer, liquor, wine, or food containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination problems, breathing problems, coma, even death. The smaller your dog, the worse it can be.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic—powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated—can kill your dog’s red blood cells, causing anemia, including the onion powder in some baby foods. Eating a lot just once can cause poisoning. Look for signs like weakness, vomiting, and breathing problems.
Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine
Caffeine can be fatal. Watch out for coffee and tea, even the beans and the grounds. Keep your dog away from cocoa, chocolate, colas, and energy drinks. Caffeine is also in some cold medicines and pain killers. Think your dog had caffeine? Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, just a small amount can make a dog sick. Vomiting over and over is an early sign. Within a day, your dog will get sluggish and depressed.
Milk and Other Dairy Products
On a hot day, it may be tempting to share your ice cream with your dog. Instead, better to stick with cold water. Milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems for your pup. They can also trigger food allergies, which can cause hot spots and itching.
Keep your dog away from macadamia nuts and foods that have macadamia nuts in them. Just six raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make a dog sick. Symptoms include muscle shakes, vomiting, high temperature, and weakness in their back legs. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, possibly even leading to death.
Most people know chocolate is bad for dogs. The problem in chocolate is theobromine. It’s in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. The most dangerous types are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. Chocolate can cause a dog to vomit and have diarrhea. It can also cause heart problems, tremors, seizures, and death.
Fat Trimmings and Bones
Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis in dogs. And, even though it seems natural to give a dog a bone, they can choke on it. Bones can splinter and block or cause cuts in your dog’s digestive system.
Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums
Seeds from persimmons can cause problems in a dog’s small intestine. They can also block the intestines. This can also happen if a dog eats the pit from a peach or a plum. Peach and plum pits also have cyanide, which is poisonous to people and dogs. People know not to eat them, dogs don’t.
Some people feed their dogs a “raw diet” that includes uncooked eggs. However, major veterinary medical associations warn there’s the risk of food poisoning from bacteria like salmonella or E. coli.
Raw Meat and Fish
Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can contain bacteria that causes food poisoning. Some fish, such as salmon, trout, shad, or sturgeon can also have a parasite that causes “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease.” It’s treatable, but get help right away. The first signs are vomiting, fever, and big lymph nodes. Always fully cook fish to kill the parasite.
It’s not a good idea to share salty foods like chips or pretzels with your dog. Eating too much salt can make your dog seriously thirsty. That means a lot of trips to the fire hydrant, which can lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death.
Sugary Foods and Drinks
Too much sugar can do the same thing to dogs that it does to people. It can make your dog overweight and cause problems with their teeth. It can even lead to diabetes.
Before it’s baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that’s exactly what it would do in your dog’s stomach if he ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch your dog’s abdomen and cause a lot of pain. Also, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it makes alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Dogs shouldn’t take people-medicine, it can make them very sick. Just as you do for your kids, keep all medications out of your dog’s reach. And, never give your dog over-the-counter medicine unless your vet tells you to. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine, which can be deadly for your dog.
Many items often found on kitchen shelves can hurt your dog. Large amounts of baking powder or baking soda are both highly toxic. So are large amounts of nutmeg and other spices. Keep food high enough to be out of your dog’s reach and keep pantry doors closed.
If Your Dog Eats What She Shouldn’t
No matter how careful you are, your dog might find and swallow something they shouldn’t. Keep the number of your local vet, the closest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center — (888) 426-4435 — where you know you can find them. And, if you think your dog has eaten something toxic, call for emergency help right away.