What Does Toxic Mean?
Toxic foods can cause medical issues with your dog ranging from stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea to even death. The amount that will cause a medical issue will depend both on the food as well as the size of your dog. Some dogs may be more sensitive to some foods than others as well.
Toxic Foods Your Dog Must Never Eat
Some foods may cause a severe medical reaction no matter the amount your dog eats. These are the foods you should be very careful with that your dog never has access including:
- Grapes and raisins
- Xylitol (a sugar substitute that is often found in candy and gum)
- Chocolate, especially dark and baking chocolate
- Macadamia nuts
- Cooked bones
- Coffee, tea, and caffeinated foods
- Fruit seeds and pits including apple, apricot, peach, and cherry
- Alcohol and drugs (prescription or otherwise)
Will your dog have a reaction every time they eat these things, or if they eat a really small amount? It’s possible they won’t—but do you want to take that chance?
Any of these foods has the potential to cause some very serious reactions in your dog. For example, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, even in small amounts. Bones can get stuck in the GI tract and cause damage. Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar in dogs which even in small doses can cause death.
Some foods can cause choking hazards. Things like fruit seeds and pits can get stuck, and they are dangerous if they chew them up as well. Other things can be dangerous as well, like giving your dog an ear of corn. While corn itself is fine, if your dog tries to eat the entire piece, it could easily get stuck.
Always Check Food Ingredients
Before you feed your dog any human foods, it’s important to check the ingredients. There may be things in the food that you’re not aware of.
A great example is Xylitol as it’s in a lot of sugar-free products. It can even be in peanut butter. Sometimes it’s even called birch sugar, so you have to be especially careful. It’s important to read labels to make sure it’s not in any food you give your dog.
If you put onion in your meatloaf, you shouldn’t give it to your dog. There’s a lot of hidden ingredients in foods so if you’re going to give your dog a human food snack, be really careful.
Another food that people will often give their dogs when they are sick and are not feeling well to stimulate their appetite is baby food. Though meat baby foods are generally ok to give a dog in small amounts (as they can be high in fat), you should check the label as they sometimes have onion or onion powder as a flavor enhancer.
Sometimes it’s very clear but often it’s not. So, it’s important to read labels for any foods you give your dogs to make sure they don’t contain toxic ingredients that could accidentally hurt your dog.
Foods That May Be Ok in Small Amounts
There are many foods that may be ok in small amounts, however, they have the potential to make your dog sick in large amounts. And, of course, you don’t really know exactly how much will make them sick, so it’s best to avoid these foods or keep the amounts very small.
- Cat food
- Fat trimmings
- Human vitamins
- Milk and dairy
These foods can cause stomach upset and some may cause vitamin deficiency or pancreatitis. Some dogs are lactose intolerant and so milk and dairy products may cause issues.
Human vitamins and supplements should only be used under the guidance of your veterinarian. Though these foods are usually not a problem in small amounts, it’s hard to know what the line is between what your dog can tolerate, and what may be too much. Caution is advised.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Food They Shouldn’t?
Even if you’re careful, your dog might get into one of these toxic foods. Maybe you accidentally fed something to your dog or perhaps your child dropped something on the floor. Or, some dogs “counter surf” where they go up on the kitchen counter and grab things. It happens.
If your dog ate something in the first group above of foods that your dog should never eat—things like grapes, macadamia nuts, and chocolate, call your vet immediately or an emergency vet hospital. Or, you can call either the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) for a fee. You may need to take your dog to the vet or to an emergency vet if it’s after hours.
If your dog ate food in the second grouping, it’s a good idea to call your vet as well to see what to watch out for in terms of signs of toxicity. If it’s a small amount, chances are your dog will be fine. If it’s a larger amount or if your dog is exhibiting clinical signs, your vet will likely want to see them right away.
It’s important to know what foods are ok for your dog to eat. Most dogs will eat just about anything, so it’s up to us to make sure to keep them safe. Learn what’s on the list and if you think you may forget, put a copy up on your fridge or something you can easily refer to just in case.