Top 10 Toxic Foods for your Dog
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
Smart Bark is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Dogs are masters at getting their paws on treats. As much as we love to feed them, the important thing to remember is that there are a number of foods and drinks we have around our homes which are particularly toxic for our dogs.
Obviously, every dog lover wants to keep their dog healthy and avoid any unnecessary trauma. So our advice is to familiarise yourself with our list of dog foods that are so dangerous, they should have a big, fat warning label on them.
Some of these you’ll know, while others might come as a surprise.
Top 10 Dangerous Foods for Dogs
First on our list is everyone's favourite - chocolate. This is always a difficult one because most of us love the odd chocolate bar whilst watching Netflix in the evening.
Unfortunately this can make it all too readily accessible if our back is turned for one second, that's all it takes for your four-legged friend to woof down a whole bar.
Let's clarify, chocolate is extremely dangerous for dogs. Be really careful not to let dogs get even a bit of chocolate which includes icing, cocoa powder or even chocolate milk.
The quantity needed to affect a dog varies with their body mass but avoid them it at all costs.
Chocolate contains several ingredients that are bad for dogs, but the toxic ingredient is theobromine. Humans can easily metabolise theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.
Even a small amount of chocolate will probably give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhoea. If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for advice if you’re concerned.
Make a note of the type of chocolate and how much chocolate your pooch has eaten. Better still, if you have the wrapper take it to the vets. This information will help the vet work out whether your dog has eaten a toxic amount of chocolate and therefore how to treat them.
2. Garlic & Onions
The whole onion family including garlic, leeks and shallots are toxic for your dog. They can cause severe liver damage and even be fatal in certain quantities.
You need to consider that onion in any form is harmful including raw, cooked or as an ingredient in a recipe.
Be aware that garlic oil which can be found on some bread products and other prepared foods.
Garlic and onion are both species of allium which contain a variety of sulphur-based poisons that damage the red blood cells, reducing the body's ability to carry oxygen.
It's worth noting that symptoms may not be obvious for some time, in fact whilst you may see symptoms within the first 24 hours, it can take several days for them to appear.
3. Artificial Sweetener - Xylitol
Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that can often be found in diet products such as sugar-free chewing gum, toothpastes, mouthwash and even some brands of peanut butter.
Prevention is key here. Try to keep all these foods out of the reach of your dog.
Don't leave packs of chewing gum lying around the home or in pockets and handbags that your dog might raid.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten a product containing xylitol, you need to get them to the vets straight away as it can be absorbed into their bloodstream rapidly.
If the vet can prevent a drop in blood sugar level or bring it under control quickly, the prognosis is good.
The important thing to remember is that even though signs of poisoning can be rapid or delayed, you should never wait for symptoms to appear before seeking veterinary help. In most cases, symptoms will start to appear within half-an-hour but can take anything up to 12 hours to develop.
4. Cooked Bones
Everyone says ‘Give a dog a bone’ little realising what a catastrophic outcome it can be for some dogs. Whilst bones aren't toxic cooked bones in particular can harm your dog.
We all know dogs consider a bone a prized possession but not every bone is safe for your dog.
The crucial thing is to avoid cooked bones of any kind.
Once cooked the bone can splinter into shards which can cause choking and serious damage to the dog's mouth, throat, or intestines.
Even when feeding your dog raw bones, vets recommend that you should always monitor your dog and ensure the size of bone is appropriate.
5. Grapes & Raisins
It isn't known exactly why grapes are bad for your dog, but what's undeniable is that they are definitely toxic.
It’s not just fresh grapes, but it includes all dried vine fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants.
Christmas is always a potential disaster, with so many festive foods containing dried fruit - mince pies, Christmas Cake, pudding - just be very careful to keep them all out of the reach of your four-legged friend.
If your dog does manage to eat some, you should visit your vet immediately to assess the situation and possible pump their stomach.
Unfortunately, effects are not noticeable immediately, the onset of symptoms is anything from 6 to 24 hours.
Admittedly, Popcorn isn’t toxic for dogs, but if they’ve succeeded in woofing down a whole bucket on movie night, you could be heading for a whole load of problems.
Popcorn and the intact kernels can cause quite a lot of damage as they aren’t easy for your pup to digest and present a potential choking hazard.
Whilst us humans love the taste of the popcorn coatings too much salt or sugar isn't safe for dogs.
It is not unheard of for a dog to get sodium ion poisoning (salt poisoning) from indulging in too much human food.
7. Macadamia Nuts
Most people are aware that nuts and dogs simply don't mix but it's worth noting that macadamia nuts are particularly dangerous.
Although not that common, they can be found in some baked goods, including cakes, cookies and muffins.
Whilst the exact toxin isn’t known, the sensitivity to macadamia nuts varies considerably between different breeds and sizes of dog.
It's probably best to keep your four-legged friend well away from them as some dogs can show symptoms after swallowing just 1 or 2 nuts.
Assuming no underlying conditions, macadamia ingestion cases have an excellent prognosis, with your dog returning to normal in 24-48 hours. But always check with your vet.
You’ve seen it in the movies and it appears amusing, but in the real world, dogs shouldn’t drink alcohol.
Alcohol toxicity in dogs is very rare because they tend to find the taste unpleasant.
However, since most dogs are much smaller than humans, a smaller dose of alcohol can prove more harmful to them than it would be to us.
Even small amounts of alcohol can trigger life threatening levels of toxicity, including a dangerous condition called metabolic acidosis.
Although wine does have grapes in it, which can be dangerous for dogs, there’s no research showing that wine is more dangerous to dogs than other types of alcohol. Rather, it all boils down to just how much alcohol your dog has consumed.
9. Blue Cheese
Most dogs absolutely love cheese and of course they can eat it in small amounts.
In fact cheese can make a high value treat which is great for training purposes.
The only dangerous cheeses for dogs to consume are blue cheeses such as stilton and roquefort.
The fungus used to make these cheeses produces a substance called roquefortine C, which dogs can be extremely sensitive to.
So best stick to the cheddar for training.
Dogs are far more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and caffeinated products than people are.
Whilst a couple of sips of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, if your dog woofs down a handful of coffee beans or tea bags they could be in danger.
Signs and treatment of caffeine poisoning are similar to chocolate toxicity.
Watch out for vomiting and diarrhoea along with increased heart rate as caffeine products are stimulants.
If you think your dog has eaten or drunk any of the foodstuffs listed above, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for advice. Thanks for dropping by and reading our article on the Top 10 Toxic Foods for your Dog.