We love our dogs, and we love to share our food with them as a special treat. Who can resist those big brown eyes! But not all of our foods are safe. Some human foods are dangerous to dogs and can result in stomach upsets, breathing problems, panic attacks, tremors, coma, and even death.
Read on for the comprehensive list of 30 human foods that are dangerous to dogs and why.
Quick Links To The Foods Covered:
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Under no circumstances should you give your dog alcohol. Alcohol has the same effect on a dog as it does on a human. However, due to the size and weight difference, the result could be deadly. If a dog ingests even small amounts of alcohol, it can cause; vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, breathing problems, panic attacks, tremors, coma, and even death.
Long-term exposure will cause; liver failure, heart and blood pressure problems, abnormal blood acidity, central nervous system problems, coordination, and brain problems. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Avocados contain persin, a toxic compound that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. The most dangerous part of an avocado is the pit. This is because it is both a choking hazard and it is full of persin. Persin can be found in the skin and leaves of avocados, whilst significantly less persin is in the fruit’s fleshy inside.
If your dog ingests a small amount of the flesh, he should be ok. However, it is still more than his digestive system may be able to handle.
3. Blue Cheese
Unlike some low-lactose, low-fat cheeses, blue cheeses are particularly dangerous to dogs. This is because fungi in the genus Penicillium, particularly P. crustosum, produce tremorgenic mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins are produced by specific fungus and Penicillium produce tremorgenic mycotoxins which are found in blue cheeses and moldy food. (do not let Fido into the trash can). One of these mycotoxins, Penitrem A is especially dangerous to dogs.
The clinical signs of Penitrem A poisoning include; vomiting, convulsions, tremors, ataxia, lethargy, excessive panting, incoordination, and tachycardia, all of which are indicators of intoxications affecting the nervous system
If you think your dog has eaten blue cheese and is suffering from any of these clinical signs then you should seek emergency veterinary advice.
Bouillon stock cubes are very popular in today’s society. Therefore, you might be tempted to add it to your dog’s regular food to enhance its flavor. However, bouillon contains relatively high amounts of sodium, and the ingestion of bouillion may lead to low-level hypernatremia.
Low-level hypernatremia can be observed as gastrointestinal upset and severe watery diarrhea. This will result in a significant loss of free water and a higher sodium concentration in the blood. Too much sodium in the bloodstream can also occur from drinking seawater or soy sauce.
5. Caffeine, Coffee, Tea & Other
Caffeine is extremely dangerous to dogs. It is so toxic that within 1-2 hours of ingestion, your dog could experience; mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, increased and abnormal heart rate, increased blood pressure, tremors, seizures, collapse, and even death.
Coffee beans contain high caffeine levels, so eating coffee beans may immediately trigger symptoms of caffeine toxicity in dogs. This is because dogs are far more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than humans. Although a few teas or coffee laps may not cause them immediate problems, larger amounts of caffeine will.
Therefore, if your dog consumes even moderate amounts of coffee grounds, used tea bags, or soda, veterinarian advice must be sought immediately.
6. Cobs of corn
Corn: Corn is one of the most common ingredients in dog foods. Fresh corn on the cob, however, is hard to digest. This means that excessive amounts could cause an internal blockage and so should be given in moderation.
However, the corn cob is the most dangerous part as it is very tough and can become a choking hazard. Once in the gut, it can be hard to digest and flow through to become an intestinal blockage. This blockage could be very painful for your dog, and if left untreated, it could prove fatal.
All parts of the cherry plant except the fleshy pulp around the seeds are toxic to dogs and contain cyanide. Cyanide disrupts an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport. This means that your dog’s blood oxygen supply drops, and the depleted cells begin to die off.
The signs of cherry poisoning are:
- Dilated pupils
- Breathing difficulties
- Bright red gums
- Cherry red blood color
Chives belong to the Allium family, which also includes onion, garlic, and leeks. All of them are poisonous and very dangerous to dogs. Although minimal amounts of these foods can be ok for some dogs to ingest, medium to large amounts is not.
Moreover, the clinical symptoms may not appear for days but can be very damaging to the dog.
Chives cause damage to the red blood cells leading to nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In high toxicity levels, the signs could include; lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, and may be followed by death.
If your dog ingests a medium to a high amount of chives, seek veterinarian advice immediately.
Commercial chocolate is very toxic to dogs.
Therefore, only chocolate specifically manufactured and labeled “safe for dogs” should be given to them.
This is because normal chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines—specifically, theobromine and caffeine. And it is these chemicals that can prove fatal for dogs, even in small amounts.
However, the level of toxicity depends on the type of and amount of; chocolate ingested, plus the dog’s size. This means that one or two chocolate drops may affect one dog but not greatly affect another.
That being said, whenever a dog ingests the methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine, problems can occur. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest methylxanthines level, whilst white chocolate contains the lowest, but none are completely safe.
Small amounts can cause diarrhea, vomiting, excessive thirst, and urination. In contrast, a larger dose can cause hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, and even death.
Due to its varying degree of toxicity, chocolate remains high on the list of human foods dangerous to dogs.
If your dog does ingest human-grade chocolate, it may be wise to contact a veterinarian for advice.
Do you know that it takes 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle of lemon oil!
I think we all know the effect on the body when we bite into a lemon. The strong citrus smell may offend their sensitive noses and the citric acid their stomachs.
Additionally, the peel and the pips are very rough on their digestive systems. This, in turn, may cause blockage problems, so maybe this is one food group to give a miss.
11. Currants ( Zante )
Dried currants can be from either Corinth or Champagne grapes or actual currants from the plants’ Ribes genus. True currants are not considered toxic to dogs in small amounts. However, currants labeled as “Zante” are.
This is because the ingestion of even a small amount of grapes; (including Zante currants) can result in severe, acute kidney failure.
Clinical signs of grape (Zante currants) poisoning include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially acute renal failure. If you suspect your dog has eaten Zante currants, you must seek veterinary help immediately.
12. Fatty Foods ( Table Scraps )
You may not immediately associate fatty table scraps as dangerous to dogs but think again. High-fat foods can quickly upset the digestive tract, causing vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration, anxiety, and more.
Do you really want to put your dog through all that just for a few pieces of leftover bacon?
We are specifically talking about table scraps here. If you feed your dog fatty food scraps like bacon, gammon, cold cuts, and jerky, you are not being nice to him. These foods have high fat and sodium content and, if fed regularly, will lead to unnecessary weight gain and sodium poisoning problems.
Consistently feeding high-fat content foods can also cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas which causes abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Furthermore, pancreatitis can cause severe illness and even death if left untreated.
The pancreas lies in front of the abdomen next to the stomach. If you see your dog consistently stretching into the prayer position, it could be a sign of pancreatitis. This is because his abdomen is inflamed and causing him pain.
Like chives, onions, and leeks, garlic is part of the Allium family, and all of them are poisonous to dogs. However, garlic is far more potent. It is widely considered to be five times more toxic to dogs than its distant cousins. Only minimal amounts of garlic are considered safe for dogs, and larger amounts can prove fatal.
Toxic doses of garlic can cause damage to the red blood cells in dogs. This will lead to stomach upsets and then anemia. Anemia is a condition where you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Early signs of garlic poisoning include nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea.
It may take several days for the physical signs of anemia to surface. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your dog for a few days, not just right after consumption. Signs of toxic garlic poisoning and amenia include; lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse.
If your dog ingests a nominal amount of garlic, seek veterinarian advice immediately.
Although the toxic substance within grapes is unknown, these fruits are so toxic that they can cause severe acute kidney failure. This is true no matter the size, breed, age, or health of the dog or the amount ingested! All grapes and raisins (dried grapes), seeded and seedless, organic and conventionally grown, can cause toxicity.
The signs of grape poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and acute renal (kidney) failure.
If you suspect your dog has eaten grapes or raisins (dried grapes), you must seek veterinary help immediately.
Grapes are very high on the list of human foods dangerous to dogs.
Hops is an ingredient used in the home brewing of beer that can be toxic to your dog if ingested. The exact toxin is unknown but may be related to the essential oils of the plant.
When ingested by dogs, the signs of poisoning include malignant hyperthermia, increased breathing, abnormal heart rate, anxiety, vomiting, and collapse.
Although hops are not necessarily human food. I thought it prudent to include it due to the popularity of home brewing.
16. Ice Cream
Ice cream can contain substances poisonous or very unhealthy for dogs. The chocolate flavor and rum and raisin flavors are the two most obvious ones. However, it should be noted that ice cream also contains a lot of dairies.
For dogs lactose intolerant, this can be a problem, but the other dangers include sugar and hidden additives. My advice is to give this one a miss.
Dad’s tip: Feed frozen chunks of watermelon (seeds removed); to your dog on a hot day to keep him hydrated as it is 92% water.
This food is a firm favorite for dogs and has many health benefits when fed regularly to a dog; however, these benefits are vastly outweighed by the problems.
This is because the liver has high concentrations of vitamin A.
If a dog’s vitamin A intake is too high, it can cause toxicity or hypervitaminosis in dogs. If your dog eats raw liver or consumes three cooked liver servings a week, it could cause bone problems.
Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A:
- Bone pain or swelling
- Deformed or excessive bone growth
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, get them checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If left unchecked, hypervitaminosis A has in some cases caused death.
18. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are one of the most poisonous foods for dogs. The toxin is still unknown, but ingesting even small amounts of macadamia nuts can cause long-term problems or even be lethal to your dog.
Depending on the number of nuts ingested the signs of poisoning include:
- severe lethargy
- increased body temperature
- joint stiffness
- inability to walk (due hind limb weakness)
- decreased nerve and muscle function
Some dogs may also develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to these nuts’ high oil content.
Macadamia nuts are very high on the list of human foods dangerous to dogs.
If you suspect your dog has eaten macadamia nuts, you must seek veterinary help immediately.
Are Other Nuts Dangerous To Dogs?
Nuts are very high in fat, and so all “safe nuts” should be fed in strict moderation without exception.
Nuts are not to be recommended when it comes to your dog’s regular and established diet. For example, Do not feed Black Walnuts: Black Walnuts, native to Northeastern U.S. and Canada, are toxic to dogs.
Although some nuts contain toxins that can be highly dangerous to dogs, the shells of these nuts can be even more deadly. Most nutshells are undigestable. Therefore they will rip and tear at a dog’s digestive tract. Blockages are also a problem as they work their way through the dog’s system.
Many commercially available nuts are also covered in additives, flavorings, salt, or chocolate. Chocolate is especially toxic to dogs and can very quickly kill a dog if eaten in quantity. The same is true for nut and raisins mix, where the raisins are the problem here.
Old nuts can contain mold, which can cause various problems, including seizures, neurological distress, and liver problems for dogs.
19. Milk & Dairy
Some dogs have no problems digesting milk, cheese, or other dairy products; however, others can experience acute gastrointestinal upset. This is because dogs do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk).
Without lactase, a dog simply cannot digest dairy products, and acute gastrointestinal problems begin. So if your dog suffers from; vomiting, gas, loose stools, or diarrhea after having dairy, he may be lactose intolerant. However, not all dairy products contain the same amount of lactose.
Milk, for instance, has 11 grams of lactose per cup, cottage cheese has 6 grams per cup, and American cheese only has 1 gram per ounce. So, it may be OK to offer low-lactose or lactose-free products to your dog, depending on the food.
There are thousands of mushrooms worldwide, but only a relatively few of them are dangerous to dogs. The main problem is that only an expert can identify the dangerous ones. Whilst the white mushrooms found in most shops should be fine, the safest thing to do would be to avoid the fungi altogether.
This may sound excessive; however, the fungi that are poisonous display a vast array of symptoms and can really hurt your dog. These symptoms range from; vomiting and diarrhea to tremors, seizures, visual disturbances, aggression, kidney and liver failure, and even death.
If you see your dog eat wild mushrooms, contact your veterinarian immediately and take a mushroom with you for identification.
21. Nicotine ( Chewing Tobacco )
Nicotine poisoning can occur anywhere that a dog can chew on cigarette butts, chewing tobacco, nicotine gum/patches, or e-cigarettes. The good news is that; nicotine must move past the stomach into the small intestine for absorption for poisoning to occur.
Fortunately, nicotine entering the gut will stimulate the brain to induce the vomit impulse. Dogs ingesting small amounts of nicotine will therefore often vomit spontaneously and may self-decontaminate.
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning must be treated. Furthermore, they may start from 15 minutes to a few hours after ingestion. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, constricted pupils, hallucinations, seizures, abnormal heart rate, and high blood pressure. This may result in long-term problems or even death.
Note, an e-cigarette with a full cartridge can contain up to 36 mg of nicotine, and for small dogs, ingesting 20 mg of nicotine can be lethal.
This means that e-cigarette juice is highly dangerous to dogs if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
Poisoning from e-juice exposure requires Immediate veterinary care.
Nutmeg is toxic to pets due to a compound in the nutmeg called Myristicin. However, it is unlikely that a dog will ingest enough nutmeg to cause serious harm. If a dog gnaws through raw nutmeg or devours the contents of the larder, then you may have a problem.
Nutmeg at high levels can cause; vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, hallucinations, increased heart rate and blood pressure, gastrointestinal pain, and even seizures.
Onions are part of the Allium family and are poisonous to dogs. However, onion poisoning may have a delayed onset; and the signs of poisoning may not be apparent for a few days. Dogs that eat onions may initially suffer from; vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea and must be seen by a veterinarian.
Onion in all its forms, raw, cooked, powdered, bits, etc., can also cause red blood cell damage (anemia), which can be fatal for dogs. Signs of anemia include lethargy, pale gums, racing heart, abnormally fast breathing, shortage of breath, weakness, and death.
If you suspect your dog has eaten onions, you must seek veterinary help.
The jury is out on this one as it is still heavily debated as safe or unsafe. I tend to be cautious and have included what I know so that you can decide for yourself.
Persimmons are rich in vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and manganese but are also rich in natural sugar. This high sugar content could lead to excess weight gain and diabetes if fed regularly or in large amounts.
Unlike apple and papaya seeds/pits, which contain cyanide, the seeds/pit of the persimmon is not poisonous. However, they can cause intestinal inflammation due to chemical that tends to react with stomach acid, and most seriously, intestinal blockage. This is why I believe that persimmons are dangerous to dogs.
Intestinal blockage is a potentially fatal condition that may require emergency surgery to correct.
If you feed your dog the persimmon’s flesh, be aware that persimmons can have a laxative effect in dogs.
Raisins are very toxic to dogs, and even a small amount of ingested raisins could cause severe acute kidney failure. This includes products that have raisins within them as part of their ingredients. This list includes bread, cookies, trail mix, protein bars, and possibly even wine.
The exact toxic element of raisins is still unknown. However, it does not seem to be dose-dependent or limited in its effects by dog size. This unknown toxin can quickly cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and acute renal (kidney) failure.
Raisins are very high on the list of human foods dangerous to dogs.
If you suspect your dog has eaten raisins (dried grapes), you must seek veterinary help immediately.
26. Raw Fish ( Salmon )
Parasites become a concern when dogs eat raw or lightly preserved fish such as sashimi, sushi, ceviche, and gravlax.
Raw or undercooked salmon may contain parasites, and these parasites can make dogs very sick. For small, weak, or older dogs, these parasites can cause problems. These problems can be severe enough to be life-threatening or even fatal in some cases.
The symptoms include severe diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, and dehydration, and veterinarian advice must be sought.
Fish that have been stored frozen are the exception, as taking the internal temperature of the fish down to -4°F, for at least 7 days will kill any parasites that may have been present.
You can find more information on salmon poisoning disease on the Washington State University website.
The salt present in many human snacks and foods can cause a dog problems. If the dog has access to fresh drinking water, he will be able to flush it from his system, and no damage will be done. Unfortunately, if this is not the case, then salt poisoning will occur, and the dog’s life may be at risk.
The signs of salt poisoning in dogs are much the same as in a human. It will start as increased thirst, headache, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pain. Too much salt in the blood; (hypernatremia) can cause the muscles to lose moisture, shrivel, and become stiff, which will create shaking and jerking.
Without fresh water to drink, dehydration will set in, and more serious signs will occur. These include decreased appetite, lethargy, incoordination, excessive thirst or urination, and in severe cases, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death.
28. Tomatoes (unripe)
Ripe tomatoes are nontoxic to dogs and can be eaten in moderation. Unripe “green” tomatoes and the actual tomato plant are poisonous to dogs and should be avoided.
This is because the stems, leaves, and unripe green tomatoes of the plant contain a substance called solanine, a glycoalkaloid. Glycoalkaloids are typically bitter-tasting and produce a burning irritation in the back of the mouth and side of the tongue. When eaten in large enough quantities, solanine is harmful to dogs.
Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Keep dogs away from tomato plants by fencing off your garden area or supervising your dog when in the garden.
In an emergency, when you cannot reach your veterinarian, immediately contact your local animal emergency clinic or call the animal poison hotline at 888-232-8870. You can also try the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute often found in the “sugar-free,” “low sugar,” “no sugar added” type of products. It has recently gained popularity, and it can be found in a range of household products; a few essential oils and many human foods. It can also be an additive in foods that are not labeled as sugar-free or low sugar.
Examples of this would be peanut butter, toothpaste, sugar candies, chewing gum, and mints. Xylitol works by confusing the dog’s pancreas into thinking it is real sugar; it then releases insulin to store it. The insulin removes the real sugar from the dog’s bloodstream, which then drastically drops the dog’s blood sugar levels.
Xylitol is so effective at doing this that the dog can become; weak, lethargic, have tremors, and show a loss of coordination within 15 – 30 minutes of ingestion. If left untreated, these symptoms will quickly escalate to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver failure, and death.
Furthermore, the amount of xylitol in each product varies dramatically and can take up to 8 hours to show up. However, even a very small amount of xylitol can be fatal. So if you suspect your pet has eaten a product containing xylitol, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for assistance as soon as possible.
The popularity of xylitol in sugar-free items like gum and baked goods; keeps this item near the top of the list of top 10 food poisons for the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Be aware that accidental poisoning from xylitol, due to its being a food additive, is rising, making xylitol especially dangerous to dogs.
30. Yeast Dough
Expand within the dog’s stomach. The expanding dough will cause painful pressure, distention of the stomach, gas, and painful cramping.
However, the real problem is that the yeast in the activated dough is producing ethanol (Alcohol) as a by-product.
The levels of alcohol can very quickly become life-threatening for a dog, and veterinarian advice must be sought immediately. Please refer back to “Alcohol” at the top of this list for further warning signs.
When In Doubt About Any Human Foods Safe For Dogs To Eat, Ask A Veterinarian For Advice
What If You Cannot Reach Your Veterinarian?
In an emergency, when you cannot reach your veterinarian, immediately contact your local animal emergency clinic or call the animal poison hotline at 888-232-8870. You can also try the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Final Thoughts – 30 Human Foods Dangerous to dogs
If you are unsure about what human food you can feed your dog, always consult your veterinarian first. Never feed our dog anything which contains xylitol, and always check the ingredients list first.
Whilst it may be hard to ignore those puppy dog eyes looking at you, feeding your dog treats can disrupt his diet and often result in weight gain or other more serious issues.
If your dog is acting strangely or experiencing minor symptoms of weakness, lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., and you think they may have consumed something they shouldn’t have, seek a veterinarian’s attention immediately. If you wait too long, your dog might not make it.
Disclaimer: Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. The only clear option for ensuring your dog’s health is to feed commercial-grade dog foods and treats only. Feeding human foods of any sort can be dangerous to dogs and carries some degree of risk that is not under this website’s control.
Mark Aspland is a proud father of two boys and an amateur actor and green living enthusiast. He has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.
He now has an army of like-hearted individuals passionate about the environment and how to affect positive change through peaceful action.