8 Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs
For many humans, the spring season means Easter egg hunts and baskets full of chocolates and candy. The summer brings picnics and barbeques with great food at every turn. But for dogs, it's a time where the chances of eating something toxic is a huge possibility.
Holidays and get-togethers in general are times when dogs are most exposed to things they shouldn't have. Your dog might get a serious tummy ache from getting into some goodies or be fed something they wouldn't normally eat by an unaware guest. But these incidents aren't confined to the holidays by any means. There are lots of unassuming foods we eat everyday that can be potentially fatal to our best furry friends.
Pet owners uninformed about the dangers to dogs of many human foods is a very real issue. In 2009, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled 2,175 cases of dogs poisoned by household chemicals, 2,329 related to fertilizers—and 17,453 for dogs poisoned by eating human foods.
The Best of Intentions
The vast majority of dog owners love their pets and would do almost anything to keep them safe from harm. Unfortunately, it’s that very love which often leads them to do the exact opposite—giving in to their dogs’ begging for dangerous human foods. From chocolate to grapes to many varieties of nuts, some of our favorite foods are not safe for dogs. Here are the 9 that you should keep away from your dog:
Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines, which are safe for people but dangerous to dogs. (Note that these same chemicals are found in caffeine.) In smaller amounts, chocolate can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, and excessive thirst and urination. In larger amounts, chocolate can lead to tremors, seizures, an abnormal heart rhythm, and even death.
Generally, the darker and more expensive the chocolate the more methylxanthines it contains. How much chocolate your dog can tolerate depends on his size and the type of chocolate he ingests. For example, for a dog which weighs 10 pounds, as little as 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate can be toxic. For a dog which weighs 30 pounds, 10.5 ounces of milk chocolate is toxic.
2. Citrus Fruits
Citric acid, found in the fruit, stems, leaves and seeds of citrus fruits, can irritate your dog’s digestive tract and cause depression of his central nervous system, especially if ingested in large amounts. It’s important to keep dogs away not only from citrus fruits, but also any food in which citric acid is an ingredient, like cakes and pies.
Coconut and coconut products contain oils and high levels of potassium that can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Although not as dangerous as chocolate, coconut is not good for your dog, and you should not give it to him or her.
Grapes and raisins if ingested in large amounts can lead to kidney failure. It’s not clear precisely what chemical in grapes and raisins is toxic for dogs, but they are dangerous and you should avoid giving them to your dog.
The oils and fats in nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and even pancreatitis in large amounts. The most dangerous nuts are those which contain the largest concentration of fats and oils, like pecans, almonds and walnuts. Macadamia nuts are particularly problematic—these can lead to depression, weakness, vomiting and tremors.
This may not initially sound familiar, but xylitol is a very common chemical found in sweeteners and many other everyday products like gum and toothpaste and foods like peanut butter, baked goods and candy. When a dog ingests xylitol, it causes insulin to release in the body which can cause complete liver failure in just a few days. Seizures and hypoglycemia are other common issues which can result from an increased level of insulin. Lack of coordination, lethargy and vomiting are all symptoms your dog may exhibit if they've injested too much xylitol. Needless to say, it is extremely important that you be aware anything containing xylitol.
7. Milk and Dairy Products
Dogs don’t produce as much lactase as humans—this is the enzyme which breaks down the lactose contained in milk and dairy products. Feeding these to your dog can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. You should avoid feeding your dog milk and dairy products for this reason.
8. Onions and Garlic
These are more dangerous for cats, but dogs can also suffer from gastrointestinal problems and in some cases, red blood cell damage from eating onions, garlic or chives.
9. Raw Meat and Eggs
You might assume that because dogs in the wild eat raw meat that it’s safe to feed these to your domesticated dog, but meat which is either raw or undercooked can contain dangerous Salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Raw eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that impedes the absorption of certain B vitamins, leading to potential skin and coat problems.
The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, keep it out. Unless you know for a fact that a certain food or food product is safe for your dog, why take a chance, especially when your dog’s health, or even his life, could be in danger? If you suspect your dog has been poisoned by something he ate, call your vet immediately and get help. If you need advice on any foods that are unsafe for your dog, contact us today.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.