Chocolate
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
June 27, 2024 ·  5 min read

20 Human Foods You May Not Realize Are Poisonous to Your Dog

Dogs might be man’s best friend, but they definitely do not have the same metabolism. That’s why certain foods can be perfectly safe for people but poisonous for dogs. “Every species has different needs, and animals don’t metabolize food the same way we do,” says Deborah Linder, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M., a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “Foods that are okay for you may not be for dogs, even for healthy pets. Assume a food is not okay to give your dog unless you learn otherwise.

Look out for signs of food poisoning in pups, such as vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, weakness, loss of appetite, etc. Call a professional veterinarian for help immediately if your pet eats the following foods:

Apples, cherries, and peaches

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The seeds and pits of these foods are poisonous to dogs since they contain cyanide. Unlike humans, dogs don’t know they should avoid eating these parts, which can lead to digestive issues and other serious symptoms.

Read More: 34 Foods That Give You Longer Lasting Energy Than Coffee

Avocado

Avocado fruit and cut in half sliced with green leaf isolated on green color background. Top view. Flat lay. Copy space.
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Avocados are nutritious for humans but they contain persin, which is poisonous for dogs. This toxin appears in all parts of the plant, including the fruit, pits, leaves, and even the bark. Persin can cause fluids to build up in the animal’s chest and make it hard to breathe. The fluid can also build up in other organs, which can all lead to death. Plus, the avocado pit on its own is a dangerous choking hazard. 

Chocolate, coffee, and tea

Cozy winter day at home with a cup of hot coffee or tea, dark chocolate, fresh letters and newspapers and granny's coat
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These foods contain caffeine, which is a type of chemical compound called methylxanthine. Caffeine doesn’t sit well for some people, but for dogs, it can be extremely dangerous. When dogs ingest methylxanthines, they can suffer from hyperactivity, excessive thirst and urination, diarrhea, vomiting, abnormal heartbeat, tremors, seizures, and fatality.

Essential oils

Rosemary herbal essential oil on the wooden background
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Citrus essential oil can cause irritation and central nervous system depression in dogs if they ingest a large amount. Keep in mind that dogs may lick areas where essential oils are used in cleaning products. These oils may also irritate the skin if used topically. Other essential oils to avoid include: cinnamon, clove, tea tree, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, sweet birch, hyssop, ylang ylang, and pennyroyal.

Garlic, chives, leeks, and onions

Garlic isolated on white background
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These foods are known for their sharp flavors, but what’s less known is that they contain N-propyl disulfide, which can cause GI irritation, anemia, and blood cell damage. However, that’s only if it’s eaten in large amounts. “While garlic is sometimes an ingredient in pet foods and treats, its toxicity is dependent on dose,” says Dr. Linder. So, foods with some onion powder may be safe unless the pup eats many portions.

Grapes and raisins

grapes of light and dark, berry background, screen saver
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It’s not exactly known why large amounts of grapes can cause lethargy, stomachaches, and kidney injury in animals. However, some experts point to the tartaric acid found in grapes and grape products. Keep in mind that the amount of acid can depend on the type of grape, the ripeness, and the grapevine from which they were picked.

Macadamia nuts and other nuts

Various nuts isolated on white. nut, walnut, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts. Top view or flat-lay. Copy space
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Nuts are high in oils and fats that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis in dogs. Moreover, macadamia nuts are the most harmful of them all. They can cause depression, weakness, tremors, vomiting, and hyperthermia. Therefore, dogs shouldn’t eat foods that contain large amounts of nuts.

Moldy food

Mold on cakes in a plastic container
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Most people wouldn’t dream of feeding their dogs moldy foods, but they’re not just unhealthy; they can also be poisonous. So it’s important to dispose of these products carefully so that dogs won’t be able to reach them. “The mold that grows on some foods, especially nuts, dairy products, and some grains can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which cause stomach upset and severe tremors and seizures in pets,” says Tina Wismer, D.V.M., senior director of ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Read More: 10 Foods That Could Cause Bloating and What to Eat Instead

Milk

White on white milk bottle, milk carton and milk glass with splash.
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Milk and other dairy products can lead to digestive issues like diarrhea for pups. They can also trigger food allergies, which can cause itchiness and rashes. 

Wild mushrooms

White mushrooms edible close-up isolated on white background. Natural background with copy space
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Mushrooms from the grocery store are usually safe for animal consumption. However, wild mushrooms growing out in parks and forests can be toxic. So pull out any fungi you notice growing in your yard and exercise caution when taking your pet for a walk in nature.

Xylitol

Chewing gum brand Xylitol. Displayed on shelf in supermarket to buy sell. Various flavors fresh mint bubblegum. Colorful pack. Selective focus, blurred aisle background. Java, Indonesia - Feb 5, 2023
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This artificial sweetener comes in many sugar-free products, including gum, protein shakes, candy, toothpaste, supplements, peanut butter, and more. For dogs, xylitol foods are poisonous, causing stomach pain and vomiting, followed by seizures, then liver failure, and within a week, death.

What to do if your dog ingests poisonous food

Golden retriever eat human food but not good health and dirty.
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Prevention is the best medicine. Keep these foods out of reach, and don’t leave them on tables, counters, or in purses, where your pets could get into them. Additionally, make sure trash cans are lidded and bags are knotted once you’re done with them. If your dogs ingest something they shouldn’t call your veterinarian or pet poison hotline as soon as possible. Don’t try to treat or medicate the animal unless under professional guidance. “Time can be of the essence and getting to the ER as quickly as possible, preferably before the food can leave the stomach, is best,” says Dr. Linder.

Read More: There Are Foods In Your Cupboard That Can Kill You, Even If You Eat Small Amounts

Sources

  1. 9 Human Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs.Prevention. Arricca Elin Sansone. July 27, 2022
  2. “29 foods that are poisonous to dogs.Stacker. Rachel Cavanaugh. October 26, 2021
  3. “Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?PetMD. Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP. July 31, 2023
  4. “Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat.WebMD. Poonam Sachdev, MD. March 22, 2024
  5. “7 Human Foods That Can Be Fatal to Dogs.Healthline. Kayla McDonnell, RD. February 9, 2022