What Can Dogs Not Eat? 50 Toxic & Dangerous Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

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Wondering what can dogs not eat? Here is a list of 50 common foods found in many households that you should avoid feeding to your dog.

I’m Corey and I’m a licensed vet. I know first hand how dogs have a tendency to eat any food they can find, even if it’s not good for them.

It’s up to all dog owners to make sure our furry friends don’t find any food that may be harmful to them.

There are a couple of food ingredients that dogs should avoid due to their antinutritive or toxic properties.

While some of these food items will not kill your dog when eaten in small amounts, moderation is rarely dogdom’s strongest suit.

It is better to avoid them completely before your dog develops a taste for them.

Alcohol

Dogs and alcohol don’t mix well; fermented foods, sour dough, and fermented drinks all pose a risk.

Ethanol found in these food items inhibits the nervous system’s GABA receptors, similarly to when humans get drunk but much more severe.

This leads to ataxia, sedation, hypothermia, difficulty breathing, liver failure, coma, and eventually death.

Hops, found in beer, also contain a toxin causing a serious rise in body temperature known as malignant hyperthermia, which causes respiratory difficulties, seizures, and death.

Animal Crackers

Dogs can eat a very small amount of plain animal crackers — but without xylitol or chocolate.

Still, many commercial animal crackers contain these two ingredients. Both xylitol and chocolate are extremely dangerous to dogs and should be avoided.

Want to learn more about animal crackers? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Animal Crackers.

Avocado

Unfortunately, our dogs cannot share our love of avocado. Avocado contains a toxin called persin to which dogs are particularly sensitive.

The whole avocado plant is toxic – fruit, pit, and leaves.

Persin causes fluid accumulation in the lungs and heart leading to difficulty breathing and heart failure.

A high dose causes acute respiratory distress which is often fatal. Avocado pits also present the risk of choking or intestinal blockage if swallowed.

Bay Leaves

This commonly used herb contains eugenol.

While it will enhance the flavor profile of your food, the eugenol they contain will cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Vomiting is considered a major route of chloride ion loss.

Bay leaves are also not very digestible and can cause intestinal obstruction if a lot of them are swallowed whole.

Beef Jerky

Commercially available beef jerky has extremely high salt content, contains a substantial amount of artificial preservatives (depending on country of origin), and contains a lot of spices (ex. onion and garlic).

The negative effects of most of these ingredients have already been discussed.

Dogs can, however, enjoy homemade jerky that contains no salt, spices or additives (100% meat).

Want to learn more about beef jerky? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky.

Bones

Bones are a common reason why dogs end up needing emergency surgery.

Bones, while being a good source of calcium, can splinter, and the sharp edges can cause intestinal perforation (especially when eaten alone) and severe infection.

Some greedy dogs sometimes swallow large chunks of bone causing an intestinal blockage which can lead to even more life-threatening complications.

Cooked bone is particularly prone to splintering and is best avoided. If you must give your dog a bone, give them a raw bone that is big and hard enough for them not to swallow whole or splinter.

Bread or Pizza Dough

Yeast in the dough can cause the dough to expand in the stomach, exactly as it would in your kitchen.

This can cause bloat and gastric torsion which results in extreme abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and leads to emergency surgery in most cases.

Bread or pizza dough can also contain excessive amounts of ethanol which is a byproduct of yeast fermentation. Ethanol is also toxic to dogs.

Caraway Seeds (a.k.a. Persian Cumin)

Caraway seeds are rich in the monoterpene compounds carvone and limonene.

These monoterpenes, together with essential oils, cause a mild intestinal upset and cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Chamomile

Fresh chamomile flowers contain bisabolol, chamazulene, anthemic acid, and tannic acid.

While these molecules are fewer in dry chamomile, it is still not suggested to give to dogs.

These toxic molecules cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, dermatitis, and allergic reactions. Their long term use can lead to increased bleeding tendencies.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake is filled with ingredients that are bad for dogs.

Too much sugar and fat will lead to obesity, weight gain, and diabetes. The dairy in the cake is problematic for most dogs and will cause an upset stomach.

Some recipes could include xylitol and chocolate, which are toxic and lethal to dogs.

Want to learn more about Cheesecake? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Cheesecake.

Cheez-Its

Cheez-Its are not suitable for you, either, let alone your dog.

The popular snack is full of salt, dairy, and fat. These lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and salt toxicity in the long run.

To top it off, many Cheez-Its contain TBHQ. TBHQ is a preservative that can damage DNA and cause cancer.

Want to learn more about Cheez-Its? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Cheez-Its.

Chicken Nuggets

Dogs can enjoy chicken meat, but chicken nuggets are a no-no.

Super high in salt and fat, this junk food will contribute to obesity, pancreatitis and sodium ion poisoning.

They can also contain very dangerous ingredients, like xylitol and various spices.

Want to learn more about chicken nuggets? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Chicken Nuggets.

Chocolate

Chocolate contributes to one-quarter of all dog poisonings.

The toxins in chocolate are well known; Methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) affect the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting, which is followed by episodes of hyperactivity.

If not treated by a veterinarian these symptoms evolve to heart attack, seizures and even death.

The higher the cocoa solids in chocolate, the more toxic it is to dogs – so when it comes to dark or baking chocolate, the toxic amount is much smaller than for milk or white chocolate.

If the dog sails through the methylxanthine toxicity the high fat content in many chocolates might still harm your dog by causing pancreatitis. [1, 5]

Chocolate

Chocolate contributes to one-quarter of all dog poisonings.

The toxins in chocolate are well known; Methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) affect the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting, which is followed by episodes of hyperactivity.

If not treated by a veterinarian these symptoms evolve to heart attack, seizures and even death.

The higher the cocoa solids in chocolate, the more toxic it is to dogs – so when it comes to dark or baking chocolate, the toxic amount is much smaller than for milk or white chocolate.

If the dog sails through the methylxanthine toxicity the high fat content in many chocolates might still harm your dog by causing pancreatitis.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks and extracts are rich in essential oils that can cause irritation of your dog’s skin, mouth, and digestive system.

It is also not suggested to give your dog powdered cinnamon as its fine powder can easily be inhaled causing irritation of the nasal passages, trachea, and lungs.

In severe cases, this can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Citrus

The fruit skin and other parts of citrus plants contain essential oils and psoralen. These cause vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, depressive behavior and muscle tremors.

The fruit’s flesh is edible. It is however very acidic and feeding your dog a lot of it can still be harmful.

Grapefruit is thought to cause photosensitive skin inflammation.

Coffee and Tea

Caffeine, like theobromine in chocolate, is a methylxanthine and is toxic to dogs.

When ingested in sufficient amounts it causes abnormal heart rhythm and respiratory difficulties.

Caffeine is found in tea, coffee and even in some green and herbal teas.

Coleslaw

Cabbage and sauerkraut can benefit dogs, but coleslaw is a hard pass.

The reason is that most coleslaw recipes include onions, mayonnaise, and salt. All of these are dangerous, if not downright toxic, to dogs.

Onions, in particular, should be avoided. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots — even small amounts of these can send your canine to a vet clinic.

Want to learn more about coleslaw? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Coleslaw.

Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is very unsafe for our furry friends.

Average cotton candy is made of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and food coloring.

Some of these will cause obesity or trigger food allergies. Others are highly toxic and can cause the pet’s death (xylitol, for example).

Want to learn more about cotton candy? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Cotton Candy.

Dairy

Feeding your dog dairy is not a matter of life and death, and can actually be a nutritious treat if fed in small amounts.

However, dogs cannot digest dairy products, as well as most humans, do, as they usually lack the enzyme lactase.

Diary is usually high in lactose and fat. Feeding your dog excessive amounts of dairy can lead to diarrhea, abdominal upset, obesity and flatulence.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are tasty and harmless to humans, however, an unknown toxin found in grapes causes kidney failure and even death in dogs.

Symptoms shown by poisoned dogs include vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, seizures, and reduced urination. It is suggested to take your dog to the vet after ingesting any amount of grapes or raisins.

Luckily, the toxin is digested very slowly, so even if it has been several hours since your dog ate grapes, the vet will still be able to help.

Gum, Candy and Gummy Bears

One should never give candy or chewing gum to dogs. Candy contains an enormous amount of refined sugar which can lead to high blood sugar levels and hyperactivity.

When given to your dog regularly, candy can lead to obesity and diabetes.

Xylitol is also often found in candy and chewing gum. Xylitol toxicity is characterized by an acute drop in blood sugar levels resulting in depression, inability to move, seizures, coma, liver failure, hemorrhage, and if not treated, even death.

Want to learn more about gummy bears? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Gummy Bears.

Jello and Jelly Beans

Jello is a little trickier because plain jello is safe for dogs.

However, there aren’t many plain jello options out there. Most jello varieties contain xylitol, alcohol, or too much sugar.

These can cause xylitol toxicity, alcohol poisoning, kidney failure and liver failure and ultimately prove fatal to our canines.

The same goes for jelly beans. Both of these are best avoided.

Want to learn more about jelly beans? Check out our articles Can Dogs Eat Jello and Can Dogs Eat Jelly Beans.

Leaves and Seeds/Its of Apples and Stone Fruits

While the fruit flesh of apples, peaches, plums, and cherries is safe for your dog to eat, care should be taken to remove all leaves, stems, seeds, and pits.

These parts contain amygdalin.

After being metabolized into hydrogen cyanide, this toxin stops cells from utilizing oxygen. This leads to tremors, incoordination, respiratory and cardiac failure, and death.

Licorice

Licorice’s distinctive flavor comes from glycyrrhizin.

Glycyrrhizin, in high enough doses, can be toxic to dogs. Glycyrrhizin acts like aldosterone, a hormone found in the body that helps regulate potassium levels.

This causes an imbalance of body potassium, causing vomiting, liver damage, very high blood pressure, muscle weakness and abnormalities in heart-beat rhythm.

Want to learn more about licorice? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Licorice.

Macadamia Nuts

Another unknown toxin, found in macadamia nuts, affects the musculo-skeletal, digestive, and nervous systems causing locomotory difficulties, weakness, trouble breathing, tremors, paralysis, and elevated body temperature.

This type of poisoning is rarely fatal but it can be incredibly painful for the dog.

The toxic dose is different for individual dogs with some showing symptoms even after very small doses.

Mints and Breath Fresheners

Many mints and breath fresheners contain menthol.

Menthol irritates the dog’s mouth and intestinal lining and could possibly cause intestinal upset.

Many of these products also contain xylitol, whose serious effects have already been discussed earlier.

Mold

Avoid giving your dog any spoilt food, as well as keeping your bins safe from thievery. Some molds can produce tremorgenic mycotoxins, causing tremors and seizures.

These kinds of molds can grow on almost any type of spoilt foodso don’t give your dog anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.

Moldy cheeses might not cause you harm but can harm your dog. Blue cheese contains Roquefortine C which is a neurotoxin.

Symptoms of Roquefortine C toxicity include vomiting, excessive panting, muscle tremors, seizures and possibly death.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains myristicin. Myristicin is structurally similar to mescaline and causes neurological and locomotor impairment.

The symptoms presented are usually an elevated heart rate, tremors, nausea and confusion.

Nutmeg also contains safrole which is suspected to be carcinogenic.

Onions and Garlic

Sulfoxides and aliphatic sulfides are found in all members of the allium family (ex. onion, garlic, leek, chives, shallots).

Feeding these ingredients to dogs, even in small amounts, can have a cumulative effect over time. These toxins destroy the red blood cells, causing hemolytic anemia.

The first symptoms usually seen are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and depressed behavior.

These are followed by more serious symptoms like weakness, lethargy, breathing difficulties, elevated heart rate, jaundice and even death.

Take special care when feeding your dog baby food as these products can have high amounts of these ingredients. There is no antidote for this kind of poisoning.

Oregano, Marjoram and Mint

The essential oils found in oregano and marjoram cause gastric and intestinal irritation in dogs.

This will often result in abdominal discomfort and cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Oreos

Oreos are packed with sugar and fat. But, more importantly, Oreos contain loads of chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs.

Furthermore, some of the Oreo products contain xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is pretty bad for dogs — there is no known antidote to xylitol poisoning.

Want to learn more about Oreos? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Oreos.

Peanut Butter

A small amount of peanut butter is usually safe for dogs. However, many manufacturers add xylitol to their peanut butter formula, so make sure to read the label carefully!

Xylitol is very toxic to dogs.

Peanut butter is also high in calories and fat, leading to obesity. The high-fat content in peanut butter can also lead to pancreatitis when a dog eats a lot of it in one go.

Most manufacturers also add excessive amounts of salt to peanut butter.

Pepperoni

Pepperoni, like many spicy foods, is bad for dogs.

Too much salt and fat in them contributes to heart disease, obesity, and pancreatitis.

Furthermore, many pepperoni include garlic or onion powder. These are extremely toxic to dogs and will result in onion/garlic toxicity.

Just a small amount of onion and garlic can damage a dog’s red blood cells, cause hemolytic anemia, kidney failure, and eventually lead to the pet’s death.

Want to learn more about pepperoni? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni.

Persimmon

In contrast to some of the other foods mentioned, persimmons are not fatally toxic.

They do however have a laxative effect on dogs, which is not very desirable.

The seeds and fibers can be a serious hazard since they can cause intestinal upset and blockage, but are not inherently toxic.

Poppy Seeds

While poppy seeds have many uses for human food, they can be lethal for dogs.

Even small amounts of poppy seeds are poisonous to dogs.

Poppy poisoning is a serious condition. If your dog ingests poppy seeds in any form, you should immediately take them to the vet.

Want to learn more about poppy seeds? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seeds.

Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts are another commercial food that is quite bad for dogs.

Various Pop Tarts have different ingredients. Still, most of them are full of fats, sugars, artificial flavors and colors, and even chocolate in some cases.

These lead to obesity, weight gain, pancreatitis, and a host of health problems.

Chocolate is particularly problematic since it is toxic to dogs and fatal.

Want to learn more about Pop Tarts? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Pop Tarts.

Pretzels

With no salt, sugars, or additives, plain pretzels might be ok dog food, on a very rare occasion.

However, for the most part, pretzels contain too much salt, additives, and sugar.

There are many better treats for your canine than sugary and salty food like pretzels.

Want to learn more about pretzels? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Pretzels.

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing may seem innocent enough, but it contains many harmful ingredients.

To start with, commonly used buttermilk will upset the dog’s stomach.

But the main problem is garlic. Garlic is toxic to dogs and will cause hemolytic anemia. Unfortunately, this condition often ends in the pet’s death.

Want to learn more about Ranch dressing? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Ranch Dressing.

Raw Bacon

One mini-slice of raw bacon won’t hurt your dog — however, don’t make it a habit. Bacon is extremely high in salt and fat, which can be pretty harmful to our furry friends.

Too much salt leads to sodium ion poisoning, or salt toxicity — this condition can be fatal for your dog. Fat, on the other hand, contributes to pancreatitis, a painful and severe inflammation of the pancreas.

Want to learn more about Raw Bacon? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Raw Bacon.

Rhubarb

The problem with rhubarb is that it contains oxalates.

Unfortunately, these cannot be destroyed by cooking or any conventional process. Oxalates act as an anti nutritive factor by binding calcium and other minerals causing bone weakness and mineral deficiencies.

Oxalates can also cause kidney stone formation which can block urine flow, cause kidney damage and be very painful for your dog.

Salami

Salami is easily one of the most processed meats available.

It’s packed with salt, fat, and toxic spices. Onion and garlic are often used in salami. They are also the main reason you shouldn’t let your dog eat salami.

Want to learn more about salami? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Salami.

Salt or Salty Foods

Salt is a case of too much of a good thing becoming a bad thing. A certain amount of salt is important for normal bodily functions.

However, human foods commonly have an excessive amount of salt for taste or preservation purposes. Salt poisoning also commonly occurs when giving your dog salt to induce vomiting.

This trick is very dangerous and it is better to take your dog to the vet than making things worse for your dog.

Symptoms of salt poisoning are severe dehydration, liver failure and brain edema leading to brain hemorrhage.

If you suspect your dog has salt poisoning, provide lots of fresh water to drink until you can take them to the vet.

Sorbitol

Xylitol is not the only sweetener that is toxic to dogs.

Sorbitol is a laxative and causes diarrhea. While this is not as serious as in the case of xylitol toxicity, it can still cause dehydration and ion deficiency if its effects are prolonged.

Sorbitol is commonly found in sugar-free and low-calorie foods.

Star Fruit (a.k.a. Carambola)

Star fruit may be a great addition to your kid’s lunchbox, but sadly, not to your dog’s bowl.

It contains oxalates and caramboxin. Oxalates have already been discussed previously and cause calcium deficiency and kidney stones.

Caramboxin is a neurotoxin, which leads to convulsions and neurodegeneration.

Takis

Takis are filled with preservatives and harmful ingredients that can hurt dogs.

To begin with, spicy foods are generally not recommended since they irritate the dog’s digestive system.

But, even worse, many Takis contain both xylitol and onion. So, it’s best to keep them far away from your furry friends.

Want to learn more about Takis? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Takis.

THC

As legislation surrounding cannabis and its products is being revised around the world, cases, where dogs ingest this plant or its edibles, is becoming increasingly common.

THC found in cannabis causes vomiting, depressive behavior, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, dilated pupils, and low body temperature.

Tremors, seizures and coma were sometimes observed in extreme cases.

If this happens, it is always wise to take your dog to the vet sooner rather than later and to be honest about your dog’s consumption.

Tortillas

Tortillas are in the grey zone for dogs since there are many options.

Plain tortilla is unlikely to seriously harm your dog if fed on a rare occasion and in small amounts.

However, if your dog is allergic to wheat/gluten, or if tortilla contains xylitol and spices (especially onion and garlic powder) — do not feed it to your canine.

Want to learn more about tortillas? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Tortillas.

Wasabi

Spicy foods are generally bad for dogs as they irritate the gut and cause gastrointestinal upset.

Wasabi, being one of the spiciest, is not recommended.

Dogs should not ingest wasabi because it can cause difficulties breathing and even burns in extreme cases.

Want to learn more about wasabi? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Wasabi.

Waffles

Plain waffles are still bad for dogs because they have too much sugar and milk. These contribute to obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, and many problems with dog’s stomach.

But waffle toppings are worse. Many toppings have either chocolate or xylitol, sometimes both. Each of these substances is quite toxic to dogs and can be lethal.

Want to learn more about waffles? Check out the article Can Dogs Eat Waffles.

Wild Mushrooms

Store-bought mushrooms are generally considered safe for dogs to eat. However, you should avoid feeding your dog any mushroom of unknown origin, especially if it is foraged.

Mushroom toxicity ranges from mild intestinal irritation and vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal discomfort to serious toxicity and death.

As a rule, don’t feed your dog mushrooms you wouldn’t eat.

The Bottom Line

We hope that this list will give you a fair idea of what human food items dogs should not eat. It is best to always do your research about any new food item you intend to feed your dog.

Be careful of the information you find on the internet. People are free to write just about anything on the internet.

We, therefore, suggest that you talk to your trusted veterinarian before feeding anything new to your dog. 

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Dr. Corey, a veterinarian and owner of five dogs, fell in love with the subject of Animal Nutrition during his vet school days. He firmly believes that educating owners about dog nutrition is one of the most impactful aspects of his job.

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