Foods dogs should never eat. Some are very toxic!

We enjoy certain foods and may be tempted to give them to our dog. So, next time your best friend is lurking under the dinner table and has that wide-eyed look on her face, remember that some human food is not good for your canine companion. In fact, some foods can be absolutely toxic. Here is a list of foods dogs should never eat.

4 glasses of different kinds of alcoholAlcohol

Alcohol is toxic for your dog. Here’s why. While humans have built up a tolerance over millennia of alcohol consumption, dogs haven’t. A dog’s kidneys are not designed to filter or process alcohol. Also consider this; when you give alcohol to a dog there’s a good chance you aren’t considering the size difference. You might weigh 200 pounds and your dog only 10 pounds. So, it’s pretty likely you’re overdosing her because you’re not stopping to do the math.

Also, the main ingredients in alcoholic beverages are among the plants that are most toxic to dogs (I’ll talk about these below). For example, Beer contains hops. Wine IS grapes.

Furthermore, dogs have displayed symptoms of alcohol poisoning and ethanol toxicity from eating rum cake and when alcohol has been absorbed through the skin after it’s been spilled on a carpet.

Yes, people can drink to the extreme and often suffer no more than falling asleep and waking up with a splitting hangover. But the consequences for a dog can be much more severe. These might include digestive upset, vomiting and diarrhea. In large enough quantities they can suffer potential comas, kidney failure and heart failure. Severe indications of alcohol poisoning manifest quickly.

Apple SeedsHalved apple with seeds showing

The casing of apple seeds are toxic to dogs because they contain a natural chemical called amygdalin and this releases cyanide when digested. It becomes an issue if a large amount was eaten and chewed. Go ahead and feed your dog apples but make sure you have extracted the core and all its seeds.

When seeds are ingested they can cause dilated pupils, bright red mucus membranes, difficulty breathing and shock. The seeds are most potent when the apple is rotting

Apricots with pit showingApricot stems, leaves and pits

The fruit of the apricot is healthy for your dog because it contains fiber, potassium and beta-carotene, which help fight cancer.

But it’s the other parts you have to be careful with.

The stems, leaves and pits contain cyanide and this is toxic.

If you suspect your dog may have been grazing in the apricot orchard, look for these symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Panting
  • Shock

AvocadosAvocado sliced to show pit

Avocados are great for humans but not for many animals. They contain persin which can cause mastitis, heart failure and death. And, unlike the previous mentioned fruits, all parts of this plant can be dangerous. However, for dogs, less so then for other animals. As a matter of fact, most dogs will only experience stomach upset if they eat too much. One of the biggest risks is the size of that pit. It can be really dangerous as a chocking hazard.

As a matter of fact, some dog foods contain avocado. These foods should have had their avocados tested for persin levels and those should remain below the level of detection. One particular brand of food that uses avocados has been particularly successful as it has improved skin and coat issues with dogs and cats. In this brand, only the fruit is used and not the leaves, bark, skin or pit.

Coffee beans and cup from aboveCaffeine

This one should be a no-brainer to anyone with a brain! Besides coffee, you will also find caffeine in tea, soda, energy drinks and some supplements.

According to, it can be potentially life-threatening. A couple licks of coffee or soda likely will not do harm. However, ingestion of unused coffee grounds or beans, tea bags or supplements can be very toxic to your dog. If you think your dog has ingested caffeine, look for these symptoms:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Collapse
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Cherry stems, leaves and pits

The fruit of the cherry is fine but not the stems, leaves and pits as these contain cyanide! Also, the pits can get lodged in your dog’s intestinal tract. And, even though the pits are removed in maraschino cherries, don’t feed them to her because they’re loaded with sugar.

A single cherry pit won’t poison your dog. However, you should still look for signs of intestinal blockage like vomiting, decreased appetite and constipation.

wide assortment of chocolatesChocolate

When you ask someone what their favorite treat is, most people are likely to put chocolate at or near the top of their list. For a dog however, chocolate in a large enough quantity could possibly cause death.

Dogs are most likely to consume chocolate during those times when a lot is available – Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. It’s during these times that you need to be especially vigilant.

Not all chocolate is created equal. Theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that’s toxic to dogs and the amount used depends on the type of chocolate.

White chocolate has the lowest level of this ingredient. If your dog ingests this, there’s still need for concern. It could cause vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis.

Milk chocolate contains theobromine as well but in lower levels than darker chocolates.

Dark chocolate can be harmful in small amounts and the symptoms can be severe. These can include irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and possible death.

Baking chocolate contains the most theobromine and therefore is the most harmful, even in small amounts.

If your dog has ingested chocolate, the symptoms may not occur for up to eight hours. You must determine how much your dog has actually eaten and also consider your dogs weight. If she has eaten a small amount of milk chocolate, a call to the veterinarian is probably not needed. But, if she’s ingested quite a bit of dark or baking chocolate, get her there right away!

Also, keep in mind that if you have an older dog or one with a heart condition, she may have a more negative reaction to chocolate.


Garlic is great for humans in many ways but not so for dogs. Even a small amount can be toxic for your dog. Garlic is part of the Allium family which includes onions, shallots, leeks, chives and rakkyo (Chinese onion). Ingestion of these causes a condition known as hemolytic anemia which is a bursting of the red blood cells. Ingestion can also lead to gastroenteritis which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Even a small amount, like one glove, can be toxic. If you suspect that your dog has ingested garlic look for these symptoms and call your veterinarian:

  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Collapse

Grapes and raisinsGrapes & Raisins

Grapes and raisins are toxic! Currently, we don’t understand the reason behind this toxicity but grapes and raisins can cause anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea and potential kidney failure. Symptoms can result from even a small ingested amount.

I love to mix raisins in with my oatmeal and I am careful to make sure none drop on the floor (my wife is always there to make sure as well). If you think your dog has ingested them look for these signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Oliguria (complete cessation of urine)
  • Foul breath
  • Oral ulcers
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if she has eaten any amount of raisins or grapes. She may give your dog a gastric lavage or administer activated charcoal to deal with the toxins and may also start treatment to protect the kidneys. However, if you can’t get there right away, you should induce vomiting. A teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 5 pounds of dog should do the trick. Do not repeat this more than 3 times in 30 minutes. If your dog is not treated, kidney failure could result in 1 to 3 days.


Unless you’re really weird and like to eat raw hops, the only opportunities your dog will have to ingest them is if you share your beer or if you’re a home-brewer. As most of us know, hops are one of the main ingredients in beer; especially in my favorite type of beer, the IPA (India Pale Ale).

Anyway, we don’t know what causes this toxicity but it may be related to the plant’s essential oils, resins, phenolic compounds or nitrogenous constituents. Any breed of dog will be affected but breeds predisposed to malignant hyperthermia are at higher risk for toxicity. These include Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, St Bernards, Pointers, Dobermans, Border Collies and English Springer Spaniels.

The signs of hop poisoning include:

  • Agitation
  • Panting
  • Excitement
  • Flatulence
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevation in body temperature

Death can occur within hours and an immediate visit to the veterinarian is a must. If your dog’s rectal temperature exceeds 105 degrees, start cooling measures such as dousing her with cool water, wrapping her in ice packs and running the air conditioner on the way to the veterinarian.

Macadamia nuts in a scoopMacadamia Nuts

As you may have experienced, macadamia nuts are among the tastiest nuts there are. But, your dog shouldn’t eat them! Researchers have not identified what causes them to be toxic to dogs. However, even a small amount can cause severe symptoms. A dog can show symptoms after eating just 1/10 an ounce per roughly 2 pounds of body weight.

The consequences of eating these include vomiting, ataxia (loosing control of body movements), weakness, hyperthermia and depression.

Your veterinarian may recommend activated charcoal or a cathartic to help the nuts move through the digestive system. Dogs will generally recover from macadamia nut poisoning if treated.

Onions2 onions one sliced open

Onions carry a toxic principle called N-propyl disulfide. This compound breaks down red blood cells and will cause anemia in your dog.

All parts of the onion are toxic to dogs. It takes only a medium onion to cause toxic effects for a 45 pound dog. While your dog may not go directly for that raw onion on the counter, she probably would go for that stack of fried onion rings.

If you think your dog has ingested onions, look for these symptoms of anemia:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Fainting
  • Reddish urine
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panting

Onion toxicity can be fatal so a trip to the veterinarian is a necessity! However, if you’re slicing some and a slice falls on the floor and your dog woofs it down, you probably shouldn’t panic. However, still be vigilant about the possible signs of anemia.

two persimmons one sliced openPersimmon, peach and plum leaves, pits and seeds

Persimmon seeds are not poisonous but can cause inflammation of the small intestine and blockages. More so in smaller dogs.

Peach pits, stems and leaves are poison because they contain amygdalin (touted as a cancer cure for humans). This can cause kidney failure and death within a few days. Your pooch can also choke on the pits

Here are some of the symptoms to look for if you think your dog has consumed peach pits:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Bright red gums and mucous membranes
  • Convulsions
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Shivering
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Peach pits are really poison so even if you get your dog the veterinarian right away after the symptoms have started, it may be too late. So be very, very, very careful and don’t leave peaches within reach of your dog!

Plums contain hydrogen cyanide which is extremely toxic for dogs. The highest concentration of this is in the pit and there is also a substantial amount in the leaves and roots. In addition to hydrogen cyanide, there are other toxic substances: amygdalin, prunasin and cyanogen. All these can cause respiratory arrest.

If you suspect your dog has ingested plums, look for these symptoms:

  • Reddened gums, tongue and mouth
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dilated pupils
  • Panting
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Collapse

If your dog has eaten plums, an immediate trip to your veterinarian is absolutely vital because death can occur quickly! If you’re able to get timely treatment, your dog has a chance for survival.

Rhubarb leavesrhubarb

All parts of the rhubarb plant contain soluble calcium oxalate crystals and these are most concentrated in the leaves. These crystals can cause intense pain and swelling when chewed or swallowed. The swelling can result in breathing difficulty. When the calcium oxalate is in the blood system, it binds with and causes a drop in calcium. This can result in kidney damage.

The leaves are also unpleasant to the taste so hopefully your dog will abstain or eat just a little. However, if she eats larger amounts, it’s time to go to your veterinarian as renal failure is a possibility.

If you think your dog has eaten rhubarb leaves, symptoms will present immediately unless the leaves are swallowed whole. In this case, it will take up to two hours for you to notice them. Look for these symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Coma
  • Dilated eyes
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Drooling
  • Hoarse barking
  • Labored breathing
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Call your veterinarian. He will likely conduct a blood count, biochemistry profile and urinalysis. He may also administer fluids intravenously to flush out toxins. Before you go, you can do some preliminary treatment at home by rinsing your dog’s mouth with cool water to remove as much of the plant as possible and soothe the pain. Since dogs will generally not eat too many rhubarb leaves because they’re unpalatable, the chances for recovery are quite good.

spilled salt shakerSalt

As you know, too much salt is not healthy for humans. One of the conditions that we associate with salt is high blood pressure and that’s definitely not a good thing.

In most cases, if your dog ingests too much salt, she’ll drink water to combat the effects and there will be no damage. However, if there’s no water available, it could be a different story. If there’s an extreme amount in her body, this could result in brain cell destruction that can cause dizziness, headaches and seizures. It can cause the muscles to loose moisture and become stiff and this will result in shaking and jerking. Death could occur in extreme cases.

Don’t give her salty food and also watch out for other potential sources such as play dough, soy sauce, ornaments and rock salt.

XylitolXylitol Chewing gum with leaves

Although it has health benefits for humans, xylitol is extremely toxic and even deadly to dogs. It is a naturally occurring substance that’s used as a sugar substitute and is found in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce and some fruits.

Commercially, most xylitol is extracted from corn fiber, birch trees, hardwood trees and other vegetable material.

Recently, the use of xylitol in commercial products has increased. It’s found in sugar-free gum, breath mints, candy, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, chewable gummy vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste. Thus, it’s in many of the products that you would normally buy and have around the house and you should therefore exercise caution.

If dogs ingest it, they risk going into hypoglycemic shock and liver failure because their bodies can’t metabolize it in the same way humans do. Their pancreas releases too much insulin and toxicity can occur with even just a small amount.

If your dog has ingested xylitol, symptoms can occur within 30 minutes. Here are the signs:

  • Vomiting is usually the first sign
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia (Lack of coordination of muscle movements)

Fast and aggressive treatment is necessary. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting, give intravenous fluids and liver protectants. Prognosis is good for dogs who are treated before clinical signs develop.

Yeast MagnifiedYeast

If your dog eats yeast it can lead to life-threatening complications. These are bloat and alcohol poisoning.

Bloat: Yeast rises in a warm environment (like your dog’s stomach). When she eats yeast, it expands and this leads to bloat (also known as GDV). Think about this. If you let dough sit for a couple hours its size can easily double. So imagine the threat created if it doubles in size within your dog!

So, what exactly happens when your dog gets bloat? As the pressure in the stomach increases it can reduce blood flow, rupture the stomach lining, damage the cardiovascular system and make breathing harder.

Look for these signs:

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Drooling
  • Anxiousness
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy or rapid panting
  • Shallow breathing

Alcohol poisoning: Yeast produces ethanol during fermentation and that can absorb into the blood system.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Disorientation

So, for all you bakers out there – be very careful and don’t leave yeast where your dog can eat it!


Well, as you can see, there are many foods dogs should never eat because they’re toxic to them. My advice is, before you give your fury friend a human food, check and see if it’s on this or some other list.

We love comments so be sure to leave yours below!


10 comments on “Foods dogs should never eat. Some are very toxic!

  1. Renton

    This list is absolutely shocking and important too! I know that apple seeds basically have cyanide in them which apparently ly is not that great for humans either but I had no idea so many other fruits have cyanide as well! It is no wonder so many of these fruits and vegetables are harmful for dogs If you  really think about it.

    Like in your example with alcohol go mentioned humans are much larger than dogs meaning our tolerance for poisons of certain types is higher as well. Dog are small so what seems like a “small” amount of something to us is actually a large amount to them.

    It is crazy that grapes are so toxic for them and I am glad I haven’t accidentally given my dogs grapes befor reading this post. I think it is important to I remind people of what a big responsibility having pets is because it can be easy to take it for granted.

    I will definitely be watching out for all of these dangers!

     Thanks for sharing this vital information I will be sure to pass it on to everyone I can!

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Renton:

      Yes, it’s surprising just how many foods we need to be aware of. I think many people believe that if it’s good for a human, it must also be good for an animal. So many things about humans and dogs are similar, but there are differences too, and that’s what we must be aware of.

      Thank you for your comments!

  2. Henry

    Hi! Thank you very much for writing this post. I’m grateful I read it before it was to late. It is scary because some of these foods are really toxic. 

    I’m guilty of chocolate. Not that I have intentionally given it to him, but in those festive days when there is a lot of chocolate in the house I have found my dog chewing some. I’m grateful nothing happened but I’ll be more careful for next time.

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Henry:

      Thank you for your comments!

      I’m glad to be of help. I love dogs and other animals deeply and want to do everything I can to impart any knowledge that will benefit them.

      Just make sure to keep that chocolate out of reach!

  3. RoDarrick

    Oh my God! So I have been ignorantly exposing my dog to all these dangers. I’m very grateful for the information on this post. Not only do I feed her chocolates but it has become more of a treat to which she looks forward to every time whenever she behaves very calmly and run errands. also, I do feed her almost all foods I eat ranging from avocados, apples, persimmons and so on. I never knew it could have this kinds of effects on her. Thanks for sharing this post, i appreciate a ton.

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi RoDarrick:

      I’m so glad I could be of help. BTW, has she had any adverse reactions to these foods?

      It’s very easy for people to assume that if it’s healthy for them, it’s healthy for their dog. I was the same way. Of course, there are so many foods that we can safely share with our canine companions!

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. Sylvia

    Your article on which foods one should never give to a dog is a wealth of information, and I am very grateful to have this information.

    I was aware of the part about chocolate, but more in general, therefore I am glad that you have outlined each chocolate variety and their content. I am furthermore stunted that so many fruits are also a no-no to give to dogs. 

    I remember that my Mother has given an apple to our dog once in a while but not the seeds, so I am glad she did it right. I have saved your article for further reference and to keep on top of things the right way when it comes to feed our dog.

    I am also wondering though if animal food manufacturer will keep these in mind as well when they create the foods they then sell to us, the owners of dogs/cats? You can read a lot about the “wrong” ingredients in dog or cat food and it certainly frightens me.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, appreciated.


    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Sylvia:

      Thanks you for your comments!

      It’s really quite a surprise to people when they learn that some foods we think are harmless, can do damage to animals.

      That’s great your mother gave your dog apples without seeds. Who would ever think that seeds could be harmful?

      I hope all food manufacturers are mindful of their ingredients and have done the proper research before placing their products in the market.

  5. Mahin Al Banna

    Hey Mitchell,

    Firstly I will like to thank you for writing such an informative and helpful article. I have come to know many things from your article. I had to ideas that rhubarb leaves, avocados, cherries can be harmful to our dogs because I thought they only contain goodness like other herbals. But I knew that alcohols can be harmful to our pets as some alcohols are bad for humans also. I love my dog and I always wish for his good health. And your tips will help many others like me in taking care of our pets.

    Again thank you for this helpful article.

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Mahin:

      Thanks for your comments.

      I’m so glad you love your dog! I’m happy that I was able to give you useful information. After all, the more you know the better care you can give your best friend.


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