Most dog owners are aware of the typical chocolate and grapes as being bad for pets to eat, but there are so many lesser known food items that can also be dangerous too.
Not only are there several human foods that are considered toxic, but there are also many plants that can cause health concerns as well.
If you’re unsure of what common household foods and plants are toxic or poisonous to your dog, then keep reading to find out more!
Top 9 Foods That are Toxic to Dogs
One of the most crucial things to remember regarding toxic foods is to always call your veterinarian if you think that your dog may have even possibly ingested an inappropriate and dangerous food item. They will walk you through the next steps and guide you in the right direction.
Let’s start off with the most common potentially dangerous human foods that pose a toxicity risk in dogs.
1. Chocolate – Stay Away From The Halloween Candy!
It’s no surprise that dogs love chocolate! I mean, who can blame them? The problem with chocolate and dogs is the ingredient theobromine. Theobromine is like caffeine and their canine bodies cannot metabolize it properly, leading to lethargy, excessive panting, increased heart rate, vomiting, and diarrhea.
In rare cases, chocolate ingestion is fatal, but it is possible if care and treatment are not addressed quickly.
All forms of chocolate are potentially dangerous but the most dangerous is baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has less theobromine in it than dark or baker. Also, even though white chocolate has the word in its name, it’s actually just milk, sugar, and butter and is not actually toxic.
2. Grapes and Raisins – A Tasty and Toxic Snack
Grapes, raisins, and even currants are toxic in dogs. Essentially, any form of them, whether they’re seedless, seeded, homegrown, or bought from the store, is dangerous. Unfortunately, science hasn’t been able to confirm the exact agent in grapes that causes toxicity.
When a dog ingests grapes or raisins, it can take almost 24 hours to see clinical signs.
Typically, owners will notice lethargy, lack of appetite, and sometimes diarrhea and by that time acute kidney failure has already set in. These symptoms are minor, which is why it is imperative that you call your veterinarian right away if you suspect your dog has eaten grapes or raisins.
There is no established-toxic dose for grapes and raisins. The sensitivity seems to depend on the individual pet.
3. Alcohol – Not Even During Holiday Parties
Alcohol is something that will land your dog an emergency vet visit if they decide to drink even just a little. It does depend on the quantity ingested vs the dog’s body weight, but it only takes about 15 minutes before clinical signs are seen.
Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, more mild symptoms include lethargy, staggering, nausea, and disorientation.
In severe cases, blindness, tremors, coma, and respiratory depression can be seen. While a fatality from alcohol ingestion is rare, it is certainly possible in cases where they become severely hypotensive with cardiac depression.
4. Apple Seeds – No One Wants Cyanide
Apples are super tasty and can be good for dogs in small quantities, but the seeds on the other hand are a problem.
It has been somewhat common knowledge that apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide. This chemical is highly poisonous in larger doses for people and dogs. Cyanide causes respiratory depression and hypoxia, leading to death.
Not only are the seeds dangerous, but the tough apple core and stem can be choking hazards for dogs.
5. Onions and Garlic – Flavor Can Be A Problem
Onions and garlic are excellent and delicious additions to many different human meals. Unfortunately, these two ingredients can be toxic for dogs in certain quantities thanks to thiosulfate, which causes damage to their red blood cell production, leading to hemolytic anemia.
Very small quantities can be fine but you should still speak with your vet if you suspect that your dog might have even something with garlic or onion in it.
6. Macadamia Nuts – The One Bad Nut
Nuts like almonds and pecans can cause some minor stomach irritation if ingested by dogs because of their high oil content, but there’s one particular nut that’s the big bad guy out there and that’s the Macadamia.
Scientists are not quite sure what the toxic mode of action is with the macadamia nut. They just know that it causes vomiting, weakness, stumbling, tremors, and hyperthermia.
In most cases, unless severe, your veterinarian will correct any nausea and send them home with strict monitoring.
In situations where the pet was not doing well, they may have to stay in the hospital on IV fluids.
7. Xylitol – Common Artificial Sweetener
Artificial sweetener, xylitol, is an ingredient that strikes fear in many veterinary professionals. First, it is in a lot of foods, including some brands of peanut butter, candy, and gum.
So, without packaging material to tell you the ingredients, you may not even know your dog ate anything containing xylitol.
Even an already chewed and spit-out piece of gum can contain enough xylitol to be life-threatening.
Xylitol toxicity causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin than necessary, which can lead to a detrimental drop in blood sugar. When this happens, if the hypoglycemia is left untreated, it can lead to death.
8. Yeast Dough – No Raw Dough For Dogs!
Yeast dough may seem like one of those things that shouldn’t cause a problem, but boy can it ever!
While the dough itself doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients, what happens when ingested is that the dough rises in their stomach and causes it to swell, leading to a painful abdomen and potentially bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening and emergent condition where the stomach fills up with air and twists.
Not only does the dough pose a risk for bloat, but as the yeast in the dough breaks down, it turns to ethanol. Ethanol is found in alcoholic beverages, which as mentioned earlier, can also be dangerous to dogs.
9. Fruit Pits – Similar To Apple Seeds
Fruit pits and apple seeds are both dangerous to dogs because they contain levels of cyanide. Cyanide can lead to respiratory depression and death if left untreated.
Not only is the risk of cyanide poisoning enough of a reason to avoid them with your dog, but they are also foreign obstruction concerns. These round pits fit perfectly in a dog’s intestinal tract, blocking up traffic for an experienced veterinary surgeon to remove.
Foods Can Be Dangerous, But What About Plants?
This was a list of the most common human foods that can cause toxicity or poisoning in dogs, but what about plants? There are several plants that can be dangerous and harm our canine companions, but let’s cover a few of the worst.
Sago Palm – A Pretty Yet Dangerous Tropical House Plant
The sago palm is a common houseplant in warmer climates, but it can be found in any home. Every part of this alluring plant is dangerous to dogs, but the seeds are the worst. Even a small amount of ingestion can cause serious problems and will require immediate veterinary care.
The sago palm contains several toxic compounds that can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, depression, drooling, and vomiting. If left untreated, neurological signs can be seen once it affects the central nervous system. Liver damage will often happen even with treatment and recovery.
Tulips – A Beautiful and Deadly Flower
Tulips are part of the lily family, which contains a harmful compound called glycosides. These glycosides are concentrated in the flower’s bulbs and less prevalent in the stem and leaves. However, those can cause irritation to the mucous membranes if chewed on.
When the bulbs are ingested, clinical signs can range depending on how much was eaten. A small amount will usually cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
If a large amount of tulip bulbs were eaten, then more severe symptoms, such as increased heart rate, respiratory rate, and cardiac arrhythmias are noted. That can eventually lead to abdominal pain, tremors, coma, and even sudden death.
Lily of the Valley
Thankfully, this lily is less likely to cause acute kidney failure, but it is still extremely dangerous and should be treated right away. Another flower that contains glycosides like the tulip, clinical signs are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, and seizures.
Conclusion: Foods That are Toxic To Dogs – and Some Plants Too
These are the major and most common toxic foods and plants that can affect dogs. Even when doing the best you can to minimize the risk of these exposures, accidents still happen.
It is important to always call your veterinarian right away if you suspect that your dog has ingested a potentially dangerous or toxic food or plant.