Dangerous Foods and Treats for Dogs
Alcohol- Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
Aspartame- See Xylitol below
Avocado- Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds. Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.
Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine- These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
Cherries: Are toxic
Citrus- The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.
Coconut and Coconut Oil- When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.
Grapes and Raisins- Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.
Macadamia Nuts- Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Milk and Dairy- Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Nuts- Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
Onions, Garlic, Chives- These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. Even in powder form.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones- Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
Salt and Salty Snack Foods- Large amounts of 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. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.
Xylitol- Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
Yeast Dough- Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produces ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).
Over-the-counter drugs including acetaminophen and ibuprofen
Household items including expandable glues and paints
Meds prescribed by veterinarians. Some are available in chewable form with nice flavors, and pets have been known to break through pill bottles to eat the whole batch.
Lawn and garden products
Citrus Fruits- like lemons, limes and grapefruits as well as persimmons can cause an upset stomach.
Rhubarb and wild mushroom- are also toxic
Corn- should always be avoided as it’s a common allergen in all pets. The food you feed should also NOT contain any corn.
Here are the symptoms that indicate you need to get to a veterinarian quickly:
Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, excessive thirst and infrequent urination.
Human and pet meds can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure, Internal bleeding, pancreatitis and kidney failure can all be caused by things that are toxic to pets.
The number for the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison hotline is (888) 426-4435. Have your credit card handy because the call will cost you $65.
There’s no charge for calls to the national Poison Control Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222. They handle calls for people and for pets, but if they feel they can’t help they refer callers to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Go to aspca.org/apcc for further information.
Rawhide- Doesn’t Digest and Poses a Choking Hazard
Greenies- become lodged in a dog's esophagus or intestine and they can’t be digested
Pig Ears- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a few strains of Salmonella suspected to be contaminating pig ear treats and infecting people who handle them.
Here are a few “dog-approved” people foods:
Peanut butter- A favorite treat of many canines. Not only is it a good source of protein, but it also contains heart healthy fats, vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin E. Stuff peanut butter into a Kong to keep your dog busy for hours. Choose raw, unsalted peanut butter. NOTE: Be absolutely sure that you’re not using sugar-free or “lite” peanut butter that has artificial sweeteners, particularly xylitol, as these substances are incredibly toxic to dogs.
Cooked chicken-Can be slipped into the bowl along with your dog’s regular food to add a spice and extra protein to its diet. This also makes a good meal replacement if you’re in a pinch and out of dog food.A little baked chicken once in a while is another great lean meat option for healthy dog treats. It’s rich in essential amino acids, which promote overall health. And provides protein for proper immune system functioning as well as a boost of energy. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, don’t put any seasonings on it, and never feed your dog chicken that contains bones.
Cheese- A great treat for a dog as long as she isn’t lactose intolerant, which a small percentage are. Make sure to monitor your dog’s reaction. Opt for low or reduced fat varieties and don’t overfeed, as many cheeses can be high in fat. Cottage cheese is typically a good choice.
Baby carrots- Good for a dog’s teeth, carrots are low calorie and high in fiber and beta carotene/vitamin A. Carrots help keep a dog’s teeth clean and are also low in both calories and fats. If your dog is a little on the chubby side, carrots are healthy dog treats that can help decrease his appetite so he feels more satisfied at dinnertime.
Carrots also promote healthy bowel movements because they increase the amount of hydration in your dog’s tummy. You can serve them raw or cook them. If you choose the latter option, just make sure you don’t add any ingredients such as sugar, spices, or salt.
Yogurt- High in calcium and protein. But make sure to only choose yogurts that do not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars. Yogurts with active bacteria can act as a probiotic and are good for your dog’s digestive system.
Salmon- A good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are responsible for keeping your dog’s coat healthy and shiny, as well as supporting your dog’s immune system. Feed your dog cooked salmon, add salmon oil to her food bowl, or slip him some of your unwanted fish skins. If you want to mix in a little seafood to your dog’s diet as an occasional treat, baked salmon can be great healthy and natural dog treats. You have to make sure it’s baked, however, and never give your canine raw fish of any kind. That could not only make your dog extremely sick, it could even be fatal. Salmon is a lean meat and is an excellent source of not only protein but also omega-3 fatty acids. These help make sure your dog’s immune system works as it should, and also promotes a shiny, healthy coat. Look for an easy recipe online for the best way to cook the salmon, and at what temperature.
Pumpkin (Not Pie filling)- Good source of fiber as well as beta-carotene/vitamin A. It can help keep the GI tract moving and can aid with digestive issues. Pumpkin is known as a remedy for a dog’s upset stomach, but it’s also great for healthy dog treats. Put a tablespoon of canned pumpkin in your dog’s bowl and you’ll be amazed at how fast it disappears. Pumpkin — since it contains A LOT of fiber — is a great way to fight both diarrhea and constipation. So if your pup is having bathroom troubles, try a little pumpkin. Plus, it has other healthy ingredients like vitamin A (great for eyesight), potassium (which promotes healthy nerves and muscles), and many other important ingredients. But remember: Since too much vitamin A can be toxic to dogs, don’t make pumpkin a regular part of your pup’s diet.
Eggs- Scrambling up an egg for your pup is a great way to give her diet a protein boost. Eggs are also a source of easily digestible riboflavin and selenium, making them a healthy snack.
Green beans- Make a great treat for your dog since they are filling and low in calories. Select beans that have no added salt.
Apple slices- Help to clean residue off a dog’s teeth, which helps to freshen her breath. Apples are a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A and C. Make sure to take out the seeds and the core before feeding to your dog, as these can be choking hazards.
Oatmeal- A great source of soluble fiber, which can be especially beneficial to senior dogs with bowel irregularity issues. It is also a great alternate grain for dogs allergic to wheat. Make sure to cook oatmeal before serving it to your dog. Do not add any sugar or flavor additives.
Bananas - Are healthy for people and make healthy dog treats too. They provide long-lasting energy through fructose, sucrose, and glucose, and they also promote healthy digestive functioning because they’re high in fiber. The magnesium in bananas also helps to keep bones strong. Simply slice a banana and give your dog a few small pieces. If your dog is teething, or the weather is hot, he’ll love chewing on some small slices of frozen banana.
Sweet Potato Chunk- The sweet potato is another human food that makes for healthy dog treats that your four-legged friend
will love. It’s not only full of nutrients such as vitamins C and A that are great for skin and the immune system, it’s also a great source of fiber, which can make sure your dog’s digestive tract works properly. You can find sweet potato treats for dogs at your local pet store or make them at home. For a homemade touch, simply boil and puree some potatoes and put a spoonful or two in your dog’s bowl.
Natural Peanut Butter- As long as your dog doesn’t have a peanut allergy, they will enjoy some substantial benefits from having peanut butter. However, it’s important that the only peanut butter you feed your friend is natural. Most popular peanut butters contain a lot of sugar and other ingredients that are very bad for your dog.
Natural peanut butter contains a lot of healthy ingredients, such as protein and “good” fats that promote heart health. Plus, they’re rich in vitamin E and vitamin B. Just don’t make it an everyday treat, because its fat content could lead to some extra pounds for your pup.
Dried Apricots - Dried apricots are other healthy dog treats, as long as your dog eats them in moderation. They’re filled with fiber as well as many other nutrients that help your dog’s immune system. These nutrients include beta-carotene, which is good for vision, and potassium, which helps improve muscle and bone health. Never give the pit of an apricot (or any food) to a dog, because it’s a choking hazard and could be poisonous.
Bell Peppers (Red, Green, Orange or Yellow)
In general, fruits are higher in sugar than vegetables, and thus should be limited.
Consider steaming or boiling cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, as they are much easier to digest when cooked.