What foods are toxic to dogs?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 3, 2024

As a responsible dog owner, it's crucial to be aware of foods that are toxic to dogs. Different foods can have various effects on dogs, from mild stomach upset to severe poisoning and even death. This article covers a comprehensive list of foods that are harmful to dogs, detailing the toxic components and their effects.


Chocolate is perhaps the most well-known toxic food for dogs. Theobromine and caffeine, found in chocolate, are stimulants that dogs cannot metabolize efficiently. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are particularly dangerous due to their high theobromine content.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can be toxic. Symptoms typically include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite, progressing to kidney failure. The exact toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, making it essential to avoid them entirely.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic, whether raw, cooked, or in powdered form, are part of the Allium family and contain compounds that can damage dogs' red blood cells, leading to anemia. Symptoms include weakness, vomiting, breathlessness, and a reduced appetite. Even a small amount can be harmful, especially if consumed over several days.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs. Ingesting even a small amount can cause symptoms such as vomiting, increased body temperature, inability to walk, and lethargy. The exact mechanism of toxicity is not well understood, but the effects are severe and can last up to 48 hours.


Avocados contain persin, a fungicidal toxin that, while relatively harmless to humans, can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. The seed poses an additional risk, as it can cause gastrointestinal obstruction if swallowed. It's best to keep avocados out of reach of your furry friends.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in many sugar-free products like gum, candies, and baked goods. Xylitol can cause a rapid release of insulin in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms include vomiting, loss of coordination, and seizures. In severe cases, xylitol ingestion can lead to liver failure and death.


Alcohol and products containing alcohol are highly toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, and even coma. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal.

Raw Dough

Raw dough containing yeast can expand in a dog's stomach, leading to bloating and potentially life-threatening gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Additionally, the fermenting yeast produces alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, disorientation, and unproductive retching.

Cooked Bones

While raw bones can be a healthy treat for dogs, cooked bones are dangerous. Cooking makes bones brittle and more likely to splinter, causing injuries to a dog's mouth, throat, and intestines. Ingesting splintered bones can lead to choking, internal bleeding, and blockages.

Fat Trimmings and Grease

Feeding dogs fat trimmings or grease can lead to pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic and often requires veterinary treatment.


Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some medications, is a stimulant that can be toxic to dogs. Even a small amount can cause symptoms such as restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding. In severe cases, caffeine ingestion can be fatal.

Tomatoes and Tomato Plants

While ripe tomatoes are generally safe for dogs, the green parts of the plant, including the stems and leaves, contain solanine, which is toxic to dogs. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include drooling, stomach upset, lethargy, and confusion. Unripe green tomatoes also pose a risk and should be avoided.


Excessive salt intake can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. In severe cases, salt poisoning can be fatal. Be cautious with salty snacks and ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.


Nutmeg contains myristicin, a compound that can cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, disorientation, and seizures in dogs. While nutmeg poisoning is rare, it's best to keep it out of reach and avoid feeding your dog foods that contain this spice.

Moldy Foods

Moldy foods can contain mycotoxins, which are highly toxic to dogs. Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning include muscle tremors, seizures, and liver damage. Always dispose of moldy foods safely and ensure your dog cannot access the trash.

Milk and Dairy Products

Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme lactase needed to digest lactose in milk and dairy products. Consuming dairy can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea and gas. Some dogs may tolerate small amounts, but it's generally best to avoid feeding them dairy.

Blue Cheese

Blue cheese contains roquefortine C, a substance that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially life-threatening symptoms such as muscle tremors and seizures in dogs. While other cheeses are less risky, moderation is key to avoid digestive issues.

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, and Peaches

The seeds, pits, and stems of apples, apricots, cherries, and peaches contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when ingested. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and shock. Always remove seeds and pits before offering these fruits to your dog.

Raw Eggs

Raw eggs can pose a risk of Salmonella or E. coli infection, which can be harmful to dogs. Additionally, raw egg whites contain avidin, an enzyme that interferes with biotin absorption, potentially leading to skin and coat problems. Cooked eggs are a safer option.

Raw Meat and Fish

Raw meat and fish can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, posing a risk of infection. Certain types of fish, like salmon and trout, can carry parasites that cause "salmon poisoning disease," which can be fatal if untreated. It's safer to cook meat and fish before feeding them to your dog.

Being aware of these toxic foods and taking preventive measures can help ensure your dog's health and safety. While it's tempting to share human foods with your furry friend, it's crucial to remember that not all foods are safe for dogs. Always consult your veterinarian if you're unsure about a particular food and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your dog has ingested something harmful.

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