Caution: Top 10 Dangerous Human Foods for Dogs

Food & Nutrition | Safety | Dog

Let’s face it: many of us feed our dogs from our plates even though we know we shouldn’t. While it’s tempting to give leftover scraps to our canine friends, the reality is there are many human foods that are unhealthy and even dangerous for dogs. Feeding table scraps to your dog can be a bad habit that can harm your pet.

The High Cost of Table Scraps

Every year, there are more than 17,000 pet emergencies pertaining to human food consumption. Those visits aren’t cheap, either. According to a sampling of typical costs associated with pet emergencies, toxin ingestion can cost pet owners anywhere from $250-$5,000 and more.

Other stomach related issues like food bloat, stomach bloat, and intestinal obstructions are equally as expensive. And let's not forget the high cost of secondary food-related diseases and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

And the highest cost of all? Many frantic vet calls and visits end in tragedy. A hefty vet bill may be all you bring home. Lower your vet bill and help your pet live longer by keeping these dangerous human foods away from your dog: 

Top 10 Dangerous Foods for Dogs

Just because you love a three course dinner doesn’t mean your dog should indulge as well. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to understand which human foods are dangerous to dogs. Here is a list of the top ten foods to avoid feeding your pets:

1. Chocolate and Coffee.

Top 10 Dangerous Foods for Dogs

As the statistics mentioned, toxin ingestion is an expensive and potentially fatal mistake for your dog. Chocolate and coffee, as well as other caffeinated foods, contain substances called methlyxanthines.

Caffeine in coffee and theobromine in cacao (cocoa) beans are both highly toxic to pets. At the very least, methylxanthines can cause diarrhea, vomiting, panting, dehydration, and excessive urination in dogs. At their worst, symptoms can manifest in tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and even death.

While no chocolate should ever be given to dogs, it is worth noting that the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while typical baking chocolate contains an extremely high level.

The smaller the dog, the less toxin it takes for adverse symptoms to appear. 

2. Alcohol.


When enjoying an alcoholic beverage, avoid placing it on a table or surface that your dog can easily reach. Alcohol contains ethanol, which can cause damage to a dog’s respiratory and central nervous systems.

Ethanol is especially threatening to dogs because of how rapidly it can be absorbed in your dog’s bloodstream. Food and beverages containing alcohol can cause diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, decreased coordination, abnormal blood acidity, tremors, unconsciousness, and even death in dogs. 

3. Yeast Dough.

Yeast Dough

Many people understand the process that takes place when making your own bread or pizza dough. Before it can be baked, the dough needs to rise to the appropriate level. It is that rising property that makes yeast dough especially dangerous for canines.

If your dog ingests bread dough, it will continue rising in its stomach and can stretch the abdomen. This can be extremely painful and even cause intestines to rupture. Also note that just like alcohol, yeast contains ethanol. Large amounts of yeast dough can induce the negative side effects related to alcohol consumption.

Never leave your pet unattended with rising yeast dough on the counter. The smell can be irresistible to dogs, so don't take the chance. 

4. Grapes and Raisins.

Grapes and Raisins

This one may come as a surprise for some pet owners. Grapes and raisins are often used as treats for dogs, but it is best to avoid feeding these seemingly harmless fruits to your little friend. The exact toxic substance within grapes and raisins is not yet clear, but one thing is for sure: it can be deadly.

Even small amounts can lead to kidney damage or failure in dogs. Other side effects include vomiting, lethargy, and depression. For pets with existing medical conditions, the side effects of grapes and raisins may be more pronounced.

5. Onions and Garlic.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are commonly added to human foods to give them flavour and spice. However, onions, garlic, chives, and other similar vegetables and herbs can cause major gastrointestinal irritation in dogs.

They have also been connected to red blood cell damage, weight loss, and lethargy. While onions and garlic are significantly more dangerous to cats, dogs should avoid any vegetable in the onion family.

6. Fat and Bones.

Fat and Bones

Many dogs will wait patiently for a taste of your turkey or roast dinner, but feeding fat trimmings and leftover bones to your dog can be dangerous and unhealthy. Fat trimmings and other greasy foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs.

Bones, particularly cooked bones and many poultry bones, are a leading factor in intestinal lacerations and choking. Stick to edible, raw bones, or those ground bones in a raw diet, and your pet will be much safer.

7. Most Nuts.

Nuts are a healthy and nutrient-dense snack for us, but can be dangerous for dogs. These high-fat foods can put your dog at risk for pancreatitis, or at the very least cause gastrointestinal upset or bowel obstructions.

Nuts, including black, Japanese, and English walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and hickory nuts should all be avoided. While no nuts are best, be especially wary of moldy walnuts, which can contain mycotoxins that cause adverse neurological symptoms.

Macadamia nuts are very high in fat and also contain an unknown toxin for dogs that can has neurological effects.

Wondering about Fido's favourite, peanut butter? Peanut butter is high in fat and should be fed sparingly to your dog, but is unlikely to cause any unwanted symptoms.

Why? Peanuts aren't true nuts, but rather, seeds! Choose natural peanut butter to avoid feeding your dog excess sugar, and check for other ingredients that could be toxic to your dog, like this next one:

8. Xylitol and Artificial Sweeteners.

These toxic sweeteners are a rising star in pet poison calls and vet visits. Once only found in dental gum and diabetic candies, xylitol and other artificial sweeteners are now abundant in processed foods in our homes and are used as sugar alternatives in baking.

Products such as gum, candies, children's medicines, cough drops, baked goods, diet foods, ice cream, peanut butter, and even yogurt can contain these artificial sweeteners - and these are just a few. 

So what's wrong with artificial sweeteners? While artificial sweeteners are safe for humans (often only producing a mild laxative effect), they can be very toxic for dogs. Xylitol and other artificial sweeteners can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. 

Just like you and me, dogs are drawn to sweet tastes. Read your labels carefully, avoid sharing, and keep pantries and trash secure and off-limits to dogs. 

9. Fast Food.

Fast food is not good for us. We know this, but most of us still indulge from time to time. However, fast food is not safe for your dog to snack on. Fast food contains high levels of fat, salt, and sugar, and can even contain hidden artificial sweeteners.

This can mean all sorts of unpleasant side effects for your dog including gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, dehydration, excess urination, seizures, and pancreatitis to name a few. There are so many healthy dog treats and nutritious whole food alternatives to feed your dog. If you must indulge in fast food, leave your pet out of it.

Also avoid giving your pet deep-fried foods, high-fat foods such as gravy, and most heavily processed foods (i.e. frozen dinners and entrees, restaurant leftovers, and people snack foods like chips, pretzels, and buttered popcorn). 

10. Sugar.

Many dogs have a sweet tooth just like we do, and while sugar is not good for you, it can be even worse for your furry friend. Sugar is not toxic to dogs, but over time, feeding your dog sugary treats can result in obesity that can shorten their lifespan and cause multiple secondary diagnoses, including diabetes. 

Avoid giving your dog sugary treats of yours, but also check your dog treats for sugar and its many monikers: caramel, glucose, fructose, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, corn syrup, cane juice, beet sugar, sorghum, and more. 

Healthy Dog Treat Options

Feeding your dog doesn't have to be rocket science. Avoid these dangerous foods and feed your dog a variety of healthy, less-processed, whole food alternatives. 

Whole foods such as carrots, apples, broccoli, blueberries, pumpkin, banana, and many more are safe to share with your dog in moderation.

While there are some veggies and fruits that your dog should not be eating, there are countless more that provide antioxidants, nutrients, and delicious energy. Try many and find your dog's favourites (always remove pits and peels, they pose an obstruction risk and can contain toxins).

Shop Dog Treats

What are your favourite pet-safe human foods to share with your dog? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted by Amy Dyck

Want to read more pet blogs?

Be a better pet owner with fresh content delivered to your inbox once a week.