Harmful Foods For Dogs

This is the list thus far of what harmful foods you should NOT use when making dog treats or dog food meals for your dog. Please let me know if there are others that need to be added. 

If you think your dog has consumed something toxic call your veterinarian or the ASCPA hotline 1-888-426-4435 right away.

Alcohol contains ethanol, a seriously toxic chemical compound to dogs that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression. Only small amounts of ethanol can cause toxic effects. Ethanol is rapidly absorbed into the dog's system, so it is important to seek medical attention quickly. Inducing vomiting usually will not help. Symptoms include sedation, depression, lethargy, weakness, drunken gait and hypothermia with resulting intoxication, liver failure, coma, seizures and death.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder in large quantities need to be ingested for toxic effect (relative to a dog's size). Typically, these compounds release gases when they react with moisture and heat (as in your dog's stomach). This reaction can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), muscle spasms and /or congestive heart failure. 

Bones, cooked, may splinter and puncture or obstruct the digestive tract. Completely ground bones are acceptable. Raw bones are ok but monitor your pet while chewing. 

Broccoli in LARGE amounts can cause illness in dogs.

Caffeine (coffee, tea) and caffeinated items (energy drinks) is similar to the toxic chemical theobromide found in chocolate, caffeine can damage the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system. Symptoms include hyperactivity, excitement, restlessness, and vomiting which can be followed by panting, weakness, rapid heart rate, drunken walking, muscle tremors and convulsions with possible damage to heart, lungs, kidney organs, heart attack, coma or death. 

Cat Food is very high in fats and protein and when ingested by a dog, particularly in large amounts or on a regular basis, can lead to potentially deadly pancreatitis. 

Chocolate, Coffee and Tea all contain stimulants that cause abnormal heartbeat, seizures and death in dogs. Chocolate is especially dangerous for dogs.

Corn is one of the most frequently genetically modified foods and in form (flour, meal, oil) is not easily digested by dogs which causes the kidneys and liver to work overtime.  It is also thought to be the #3 common cause of food allergies in dogs.

Cranberry Juice has a chemical that prevents bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder.  Cranberries, however, are safe.

Dough and Cake Batter - The combination of raw bread dough and a dog’s body heat can cause the dough to rise inside the stomach resulting in vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating. The batter used in cakes and pies usually contains raw eggs which could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning. 

Fatty Meats can be very dangerous for dogs because they can cause canine pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis in dogs may develop over time with regular and frequent ingestion of high fat foods or just one fatty meal. Canine pancreatitis is a painful and potentially life-threatening disease. Symptoms can be mild and not that obvious or very painful and severe. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, no appetite, abdominal pain, dehydration, severe weakness and/or collapse, shock, and fever. Signs of abdominal pain include restlessness, heavy panting, wincing, trembling, arched back, or lying with their front down and their rear end up.

Grapes and Raisins contain an unknown substance that causes kidney failure in dogs.

Greasy, fatty table scraps can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas caused when too much digestive enzyme is produced. Affected dogs may have bloody vomit or diarrhea and suffer dehydration and even death. This includes dog favorites bacon, ham, and pig ears so feed these sparingly.

Green Unripe Tomatoes, leaves, or stem contain tropane and atropine alkaloids. The tomatine alkaloid present in green unripe fruits and in the tomato plant is highly poisonous to dogs.  Excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation are signs of tomato toxicity. Dogs that have ingested green tomatoes will suffer from stomach upsets because tomatine is not efficiently absorbed by the intestines.  The cardiac and the central nervous systems of the dog will be directly affected by the toxins present in unripe tomatoes.  Ingestion of a considerable amount of unripe tomatoes or leaves and stem of the plant would result in accelerated heartbeats. The toxins will cause tremors, muscle weakness and breathing difficulties which can lead to coma and death.

Hops used in the brewing of beer. Toxicity can occur both before, and after the hops have been used in brewing beer. Dogs particularly like hops soaked in sweet wort. Greyhounds and labradors are particularly sensitive to hops poisoning. Small amounts of hops can trigger malignant hyperthermia, carbon dioxide levels in blood increase dramatically, high fever (up to 108 degrees), heavy panting, rapid heart-rate (up to 200 beats per minute) resulting in blood toxicity and possible death.

Macadamia Nuts contain an unidentified toxin that causes weakness, tremors, panting and swelling in the legs.

Milk can difficult for some dogs to digest effectively because they do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhea or other digestive upset. Some dogs have no problem so watch your dog for any symptoms if you choose o let him/her consume milk-based products.

Molds can be toxic to dogs.

Mushrooms contain toxins which are very dangerous for dogs. Symptoms vary dependent on mushroom and may include nervous system abnormalities, anxiety, restlessness, slow heart beat, wheezing, urination, salivation, diarrhea, seizure, vomiting possibly resulting in organ failures (including kidneys, liver, brain), seizure, coma, vomiting, and death. Common white mushrooms are considered safe for dogs to eat. However, wild mushrooms are often poisonous.

Nutmeg can be toxic or even fatal to dogs. Scientists have not identified the component of nutmeg responsible for the toxic effects. Signs of toxicity include tremors, seizures, central nervous system abnormalities, or death.

Onions, both cooked and raw, contain thiosulphate which can cause digestive upsets, hemolytic anemia, and death.

Pennies dated after 1981 are made from zinc with a thin copper coating. A dog swallowing just one of these pennies can suffer damage to red blood cells and kidney failure due to zinc poisoning.

Pistachio nuts are rich in fat which can contribute to pancreatitis, contains high amounts of phosphorus which can cause bladder stones, and can become contaminated with aflatoxin (produced by a fungus or mold) which can lead to liver failure.  

Raw Egg Whites contain avidin which causes B vitamin deficiency, skin problems and skeletal deformities raw eggs can also harbor salmonella or e.coli. Eggs are beneficial so always thoroughly cook before serving in any form. 

Raw Fish, especially salmon, may contain parasites that are dangerous for dogs.

Raw Yeast/Uncooked Yeast Dough when uncooked produces ethanol, a type of alcohol. Symptoms can include sedation, depression, lethargy, weakness, drunken gait and hypothermia leading to liver failure, coma, seizures and death.

Rhubarb contains oxalates which trigger abnormalities with the nervous system, kidneys and digestive tract.

Sage contains essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets, especially in cats.

Salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.  Sea salt is safe.

Seeds and Fruit Pits can cause choking or intestinal blockages and some contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs.

Tree nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and Brazil nuts, are often contaminated with very low levels of the poison Aflatoxin which comes from the Aspergillus mold. Although levels are safe for humans, dogs are acutely sensitive to this poison so even low levels of Aflatoxin can be extremely toxic and lead to complications such as gastroenteritis. They also have a high phosphorus content which causes the formation of bladder stones in dogs. Peanut butter (non-salted) appears to be non-toxic to dogs although peanuts themselves may have ill-effects on your dog. Symptoms of Aflatoxin poisoning include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, orange-colored urine and jaundice, liver failure, blood-tinged vomit and bloody or blackened stools. Aflatoxin causes acute liver failure, persistent vomiting (sometimes bile may be seen in the vomit), dehydration and watery diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, stomach grumbling, and general listlessness. Symptoms of bladder stones which can result in blockage of the urinary tract include difficulty urinating, frequent "dribbling" urination, bloody urine, painful urination. 

Xylitol causes an insulin reaction in dogs which can lead to liver failure within a few days. It’s found in many candies, gums, toothpastes, and pastries.