Dogs are not picky eaters. They’ll wait for dinner table scraps or eagerly lick your plate. They’ll eat nearly anything. But what can dogs not eat? Beware – many foods that are safe for humans are not safe for dogs to eat. These toxic foods for dogs can cause serious illness in dogs and require emergency treatment if your buddy eats them. So let’s explore which foods your dog must avoid to stay safe and healthy.

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What dogs are at risk?

Any dog can be at risk for eating food that they shouldn’t. But dogs that are naturally curious, poke their nose into everything, or frequently put things in their mouth are at greater risk. 

Small dogs may be at increased risk because lesser quantities of toxic food can cause a severe reaction due to the dog’s tiny size. 

You know your dog’s personality and habits best, so it’s up to you as a pet parent to provide appropriate supervision at mealtimes, picnics, and family gatherings, and to store all foods toxic to dogs where your pup can’t reach it. 

Should your dog eat the same food as you?

Dogs have nutritional needs that are different than those of humans. Their digestive system and teeth are adapted to an omnivorous diet, which means they can eat both plant and animal foods. 

A few types of human food, such as some fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meat, are OK for dogs to eat in small quantities. But feeding your dog only table scraps will probably not meet your dog’s nutritional needs and could actually include food products that are harmful to your dog. As a bonus, if you stop offering table scraps, your dog will stop begging at mealtime.

Commercial or homemade dog food that meets the nutritional needs of your dog is better than table scraps. It includes the essential vitamins and minerals needed for your pup’s optimum health. And, you can be sure that it is safe for your pup to eat.

What can dogs NOT eat? Top 15 toxic foods for dogs

Human food is for people, not dogs. Many foods that we humans consume every day can cause vomiting, diarrhea, kidney problems, seizures, or even death in dogs, depending on the size of your dog and how much toxic food they eat. To keep your furry friend safe, become familiar with foods dogs cannot eat. 

1. Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages

You may need a caffeine jolt in the morning, but your dog does not. If your dog consumes large quantities of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda pop, or energy drinks, they can suffer from caffeine poisoning

Symptoms of caffeine poisoning in dogs include heart palpitations, rapid breathing, muscle tremors, and restlessness. If you’ve gulped too many double espressos in one sitting, you understand what we mean. If your pup likes to poke around in the trash, be careful how you dispose of coffee grounds.

2. Chocolate

Many people are already aware that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but do you know why? Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can cause tremors, abnormal heartbeat, seizures, and death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains.

While you can safely enjoy this sweet treat, chocolate is off limits for your dog.

dog sitting on the floor looking up at an empty chocolate cake pan

 3. Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic contain sulfoxides and disulphides, which can damage your dog’s red blood cells and cause anemia. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, pale gums, lack of appetite, and dullness. The risk applies to all forms of onion and garlic, including raw, cooked, powdered, or dehydrated. 

Don’t think your dog is likely to eat garlic or an onion? Make sure they aren’t nibbling on tidbits that fall to the floor while you chop veggies for dinner. Onion and garlic powder are present in many processed foods – even some baby foods – so always read labels carefully. Onions and garlic are part of the lily family, so other related plants such as leeks and scallions are also poisonous for dogs. 

4. Grapes & raisins

Grapes and raisins are a healthy snack, right? Maybe for you, but definitely not for your dog. These sweet treats are highly toxic to dogs and can cause sudden kidney failure and death. Even one grape or raisin can cause symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Avoid keeping fresh grapes in your tabletop fruit bowl to reduce the risk of tragedy for your pup. 

Raisins are dried grapes, so they are just as harmful to your dog as fresh grapes. Beware of raisins hiding in cookies and other treats that might tempt your dog.

 5. Milk and dairy products

Dairy products contain lactose, which can only be digested by an enzyme called lactase. Most dogs don’t have sufficient lactase in their bodies to digest lactose. If dogs eat cheese, milk, yogurt, or ice cream, they may suffer from gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea (similar to what lactose-intolerant humans experience if they consume dairy products). 

Watch for milk or milk products in prepared foods such as pizza, whipped cream, or milk shakes.

dog licking ice cream cone out of a person's hand

6. Raw meat, eggs, and fish

This warning applies to people and dogs: Raw meat or fish can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. Some raw meats and fish contain parasites (these are killed during the cooking process). 

In addition to raw meat or fish, avoid feeding your dog bacon, bacon grease, and fat trimmings from meat or bones. The large amount of fat in these foods can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis, which is a potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas. 

Bones are choking hazards. Bones can splinter and puncture a dog’s digestive tract. Choose synthetic chew toys instead. 

Raw eggs are a no-no for your pup. Raw eggs can contain salmonella, which is poisonous to dogs and humans. Salmonella poisoning from raw eggs can cause fever, vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration.  Cooked eggs, offered in moderation, can be a good source of protein for your dog but do not cook the eggs in butter or oil and do not add salt. 

7. Spicy food

Blazing-hot spicy food can do a number on your dog’s digestive system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers. Resist the urge to share your habanero hot wings with your furry friend. 

8. Salt

Salt, on its own or in prepared foods, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures if consumed by your dog. Salt is everywhere, in chips, pretzels, and many packaged foods. If your dog eats too much salt, it can alter the fluid balance in their body and lead to complications.

Watch for salt in unexpected places, such as homemade play-dough or rock salt used to de-ice the driveway.

9. Macadamia nuts, almonds, & pistachios

Tree nuts in general are not a good choice for dogs to eat. Some, like macadamia nuts, are toxic to dogs. As few as six macadamia nuts can cause poisoning in a dog. Watch for macadamia nuts baked into cookies or other treats that might tempt your pup. 

Other nuts, including almonds and pistachios, can be a choking hazard for dogs because of their size and hardness. 

Products made from peanuts, on the other hand, are generally OK for dogs to eat in moderation. Natural peanut butter with no salt or sweetener added is a great treat for dogs.  Smear peanut butter on a favorite chew toy and watch your pup enjoy a bit of doggie heaven. 

10. Mushrooms

White dog outdoors in grass with mushrooms

It’s risky for humans and dogs to eat wild mushrooms if you aren’t 100% certain about the type of mushroom. Some mushrooms, notably the frighteningly-named death cap mushroom, are toxic for people and pets. 

Never let your dog eat wild mushrooms when you are outdoors hiking or exploring. It’s just too risky unless you are the world’s foremost expert on mushroom identification. 

On the other hand, washed white mushrooms from the grocery store might be OK for your dog, but it may be safer to offer different treat to your pup.

Read more: When Dogs Eat Mushrooms: What To Do?

11. Tomatoes & raw potatoes

A ripe summer tomato from the garden is irresistible – and OK for your dog to eat. However, green, unripe tomatoes can be highly toxic to your dog if eaten. Unripe tomatoes and the green leaves of tomato plants contain solanine, which can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs.

Potatoes are in the same family as tomatoes. Raw potatoes are off-limits for dogs, but fully cooked potatoes with nothing added are safe for your pooch to eat. This might include the French fry you dropped as you pulled out of the drive-thru. 

Read more: What Vegetables Are Good For Dogs?

12. Yeast & raw bread dough

Do you bake fresh bread at home? This is a potential problem for your dog if they eat the bowl of raw yeast dough rising on the countertop. Any item containing raw yeast, such as bread dough, can expand inside your dog’s belly and cause extreme bloating and severe pain. Plus, as the yeast ferments in your dog’s belly, it produces alcohol, which presents another serious problem. 

13. Anything with Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener present in many human foods. Candy, gum, diet foods, diet soda, yogurt, peanut butter, and baked goods may be sweetened with xylitol, and you won’t know it unless you read the label. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure in dogs. 

14. Tobacco & nicotine products

Some dogs eat just about anything, including tobacco. If you use nicotine in any form, keep it away from your dog. A cigarette left on the table, a full ashtray, chewing tobacco, nicotine gum, or the contents of vaping cartridges can be dangerous if eaten by your pup. 

Nicotine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, agitation, seizures, tremors, and weakness if it is consumed by your dog. Frequent exposure to nicotine can result in coma or death. 

15. Alcohol

Although not technically a food, alcohol is often served alongside human food and is a potential problem if consumed by your pet. Allowing your dog to take a sip of wine or lick up spilled drinks may seem cute at the time, but alcohol can cause medical problems such as rapid drops in body temperature, seizures, respiratory failure, or even death.

What to do if your dog eats something they shouldn’t have

Despite our best efforts, dogs eat things that they shouldn’t. So be prepared to act quickly should an emergency arise. 

  • Become familiar with the list of foods in this blog, and try to keep them out of your home or stored in a place that’s inaccessible to your pup.
  • Add the phone numbers for your veterinarian’s office, the local emergency animal clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center to your phone contact list today so you don’t waste valuable time searching for who to call when an emergency happens.
  • If your dog accidentally ingests a toxic food, remain calm. Try to identify the exact type of food consumed. Contact your veterinarian or the local emergency animal clinic if it’s after hours. 
  • The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day to offer advice if you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic substance. A consultation fee applies to these calls. 
  • Don’t just do it yourself – always get help for a suspected case of poisoning in your dog. For example, you may think it’s a good idea to induce vomiting if your dog eats toxic food, but that may be the exact wrong thing to do depending on what your dog has eaten. 

After receiving treatment for poisoning, your dog may need to be on a special diet as they recover. White rice with no butter, oil, or salt can be a good starter food for your dog’s recovery. White rice is bland and easy for your dog’s digestive system to handle. Your veterinarian will make specific dietary recommendations for your dog’s recovery.

white and brown dog laying on the floor next to a full dog food bowl

Keep your dog on a healthy diet and limit human foods

Though it’s scary to contemplate all the forbidden foods that your dog could accidentally eat, there are plenty of healthy foods for your dog to enjoy. 

Start with a commercial or homemade wet or dry diet that meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Then use commercial or homemade treats for a reward when your pup follows obedience commands or is just an all-around good dog. 

Some human foods that are safe to use as treats include green beans, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, zucchini slices, apple slices (without the core & seeds), blueberries, and peeled bananas. Remember, all treats are best offered in moderation.  

Learn more: Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?

By keeping your pup on a healthy diet and away from toxic foods, you and your furry friend will spend time enjoying adventures together instead of worrying about their health!