Foods Dogs Can’t Eat

And What You Can Replace Them With

For most dog owners, our pups are family and should be treated as such.

Food, however, is something you should be very careful about handing out freely to your pets.

There are some foods dog can’t eat, and feeding these to them could result in an emergency vet visit.

Fruits Dogs Can’t Eat

1) Grapes and Raisins

Experts haven’t quite figured out what exactly is in grapes and raisins that causes problems for dogs, but it’s a  fact that they can cause kidney disease, failure and even death.

Grapes and raisins are so bad, in fact, that it’s recommended that you induce vomiting as soon as possible if you see your pup eat one. 

2) Citrus

Citrus fruits, while not as toxic as grapes and raisins in small doses, can also cause some digestive upset in dogs.

They contain citric acid, which is actually used as a preservative in some dog foods, but in very small amounts.

They are also quite high in natural sugar, which can upset your pup’s tummy. 

3) Avocado

You’ll most likely find this one near the top of most lists of toxic foods for dogs.

The particular component of avocado that is a problem for dogs is a toxin called persin.

This is found mostly in the leaves of the avocado plant (which your pup is not likely to eat), and the pit (which your dog might chew on), but is also present in the flesh of the fruit. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and large doses of it can cause heart problems.

4) Apple Seeds

You may be surprised to know that apple seeds contain a chemical that releases cyanide during the digestive process.

I’m pretty sure none of us want cyanide in our pups’ systems! The apple itself is no problem for a dog to eat, and can actually be a healthy, breath-freshening treat.

5) Nuts

While certain nuts are okay for dogs to eat, some of them are quite toxic, so it’s recommended that you leave nuts out of your pup’s diet entirely.

Varieties that are toxic are macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, muscle tremors, and an increase in body temperature, and even death. 

Replace them with:

  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe (flesh only)
  • Cranberries
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

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Vegetables Dogs Can’t Eat

1) Garlic

Although garlic may keep the vampires and mozzies away from your pet, it can be quite toxic to their red blood cells.

In very small doses it can be beneficial, but as you never know where that threshold is for your dog, it’s a good idea to keep the garlic away from them altogether.

Ingestion of garlic has been shown to cause anemia in dogs, which means it destroys their red blood cells and can cause vomiting, a rapid heartbeat, weakness and fatigue, and breathing trouble.

2) Onions

Onions are part of the same family as garlic, and as such, have a similar effect on the body when ingested in large amounts.

You may have noticed that some dog foods contain onion, but there’s nothing to worry about here – the amounts are so small that it shouldn’t have any negative effects on your pet.

If, however, your pup gets hold of a whole onion and chews on it, this can have a slightly more pronounced effect on their health.

3) Hot Peppers

Many humans can’t handle hot peppers, so it goes without saying that dogs’ systems wouldn’t be able to either!

You might be wondering why it’s even necessary to say it, but we’d rather be safe.

Hot and spicy foods will wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system – from his mouth to his intestines.

Replace them with:

  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli (in small doses)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots Cauliflower
  • Cucumber (great for hydration)
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

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Drinks Your Dog Can’t Have

1) Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant, and it may be great to help us humans wake up in the mornings, but it can have some non-desirable effects on your pup. 

Hyperactivity, muscle shakes, panting, agitation, rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure are all symptoms and effects of an overdose of caffeine.

This can happen with coffee, tea, and even with chocolate. If your dog exhibits any of these after ingesting caffeine, a dose of activated charcoal is a good idea before whisking them off to the vet.

2) Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressive and can have some nasty effects on your pets.

It’s also absorbed into your dog’s body very quickly, so this can get out of hand rapidly.

Alcohol effectively shuts down your pet’s central nervous system, causing a loss of coordination, confusion, loss of control of their body movements, liver failure, and eventually unconsciousness.

Wine is especially toxic due to the presence of grapes! 

3) Store-Bought Fruit Juice

While most fruits are quite healthy for your pup to snack on, juices you find in the store are often laced with sugar or artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives.

While freshly made fruit juice can be great for your pet, it’s a good idea to avoid anything that has additives.

4) Fizzy Drinks

Sodas usually have high volumes of sugar in them, as well as caffeine.

If you spill a little fizzy drink and your dog laps it up, don’t worry about it. But if you give your dog a taste every time you have one, it can become a problem.

In addition to the bad effects of sugar and caffeine, fizzy drinks can destroy your dog’s teeth and lead to a host of dental issues.

Replace them with:

It’s essential to make sure that your dog has a constant supply of fresh water. If, however, you want to treat your pup to something other than water, here are some things that are safe for them to drink.

  • Freshly made fruit juice (as long as the fruit is one they can eat)
  • Vegetable juice
  • Green tea

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Herbs & Spices Dogs Can’t Have

1) Salt

Apart from the fact that a lot of our salt is overly processed, feeding your dog salty things can throw off their electrolyte balance.

It can contribute significantly to dehydration, and if your pup can’t get enough water in, the body starts releasing its own water to balance things out.

This can lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, an increase in body temperature, seizures, confusion, fainting, and even death.

2) Sugar

While the natural sugars found in fruits are quite alright for dogs to eat, processed, granulated sugar is not.

There are various problems that can arise from eating processed sugar, including dental problems (just like humans!), weight gain leading to obesity, canine diabetes, and hormonal imbalances.

Not feeding your dog sugar means that you need to avoid feeding your dog things like ice-cream, candy, & bread. 

3) Nutmeg

The culprit within the nutmeg spice is a toxin called myristicin.

If you pet manages to get hold of a large amount of it this can be quite dangerous.

Small amounts can cause digestive trouble, but ingesting a lot of it can cause myristicin toxicity, which manifests itself in typical poisoning symptoms – increased heart rate, high blood pressure, disorientation, hallucinations, and seizures.

4) Cinnamon

Small amounts are okay for your pet to ingest, but anything more than a teaspoon can cause a spike in heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood sugar, and in serious cases, liver failure.

The other danger with the spice is the possibility of inhalation, which can cause choking and difficulty breathing.

Cinnamon essential oils are more dangerous for dogs than the spice, though – this can irritate the skin and set off allergies, leading to discomfort and can even cause burns to the skin in some cases.

5) Chives

Chives fall into the same family as garlic and onions, and as such, they share common properties.

Whether they’re raw or cooked, they cause nausea and vomiting, excessive drooling, diarrhea, weakness and lethargy, rapid breathing and heartbeat, loss of consciousness, and even death.

6) Chamomile

There are also different variations of the chamomile plant, and some are better than others.

The garden plant, specifically, can be chewed on and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and contact dermatitis.

There is a chance of internal bleeding and even death if lots of it has been ingested. Some dogs are also allergic to it, so it’s recommended to seek other ways of relieving your pet’s anxiety or inflammation.

Replace them with:

  • Basil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Ginger
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric
  • Green Tea

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Other Foods Dogs Can’t Have

1) Chocolate

As much as dark chocolate has reported health benefits for us humans, it doesn’t offer the same to our beloved pets.

The main toxic ingredient in chocolate is called theobromine, which is a stimulant and blood vessel dilator.

The more bitter the chocolate is, the worse it is for dogs, although the sweeter chocolate is also bad for your pooch because it contains more sugar.

2) Nicotine

Nicotine acts very quickly once ingested, so symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, breathing trouble, tremors, lack of coordination, and seizures may develop within an hour.

Smoking is a relaxant for humans, so imagine the effects of it on a pet – even death can occur if the dose is high enough.

Nicotine gum can be even worse due to the presence of artificial sweeteners. 

3) Xylitol

This popular sweetener can cause extreme low blood sugar in dogs, and can also cause liver failure. 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that feeding your dog something sugar-free is okay – xylitol is a very common sugar-replacer, and is actually a worse toxin than sugar for your pup.

A large percentage of xylitol poisoning cases are caused by the pup eating sugar-free chewing gum. 

4) Raw Eggs

While some advocate the feeding of raw eggs to give your pup’s coat a shine, others worry about the risks of high cholesterol.

Raw eggs are packed with amino acids and essential fats, but too many raw eggs can lead to a deficiency of a certain B vitamin called biotin. There’s also the risk of salmonella poisoning.

5) Yeast

Whether dry or in dough form, yeast is a serious danger for dogs.

The main property of yeast is that it rises. It grows when it’s placed in warm and moist places – like a dog’s tummy.

This releases gas, which means that your dog is highly likely to suffer from bloat, which is rapidly-progressing and life-threatening.

This is a veterinary emergency. It’s also fatal in up to 30% of cases, even with treatment.

6) Cooked Bones

While gnawing on a bone can be helpful for dogs’ jaws and teeth, this really only works with raw bones.

While it might be tempting to throw your dog a bone (literally) after cooking a meal, cooked bones have a far higher tendency to splinter, which can cause severe injury and even death. 

7) Cannabis Products

While cannabis may have great healing properties for humans, it’s not such a good idea for dogs to try it.

Unless you are using CBD oil for your dog for healing purposes, keep all cannabis-related edibles far out of reach of any pets.

Replace them with:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Cheese
  • Popcorn (unsalted, unbuttered)
  • Plain rice cakes
  • Frozen fruits in summer

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What If My Dog Eats A Food On This List?

But what happens if your pet does eat something that’s toxic for them?

1) Monitor them

If your pet has swallowed a grape, a macadamia nut, or something else that’s on this list of most deadly foods for pets, it may be a good idea to skip straight ahead to the vet.

If you don’t have activated charcoal or some kind of poison antidote at home, then get your dog to a vet as soon as you can.

Rather take your pet to the vet for something small, than keep your dog at home only to find out it was more serious than you realized.

2) Buy activated charcoal

This is a very worthwhile thing to have at home. It’s really a fantastic poison antidote.

While it doesn’t necessarily fix the problem, it draws the poison to itself, preventing it being absorbed by the body until the animal can be treated properly.

There are a few exceptions, though – it’s not effective for alcohol poisoning, fluoride poisoning, heavy metals, nitrates, nitrites, sodium chloride, and fertilizers.

Give your pup is 1-3 grams per kilogram of body weight. It’s most easily given mixed with water and injected into the mouth with a syringe.

3) Visit the vet

In many cases, a vet’s visit is a good idea even if your pet hasn’t started displaying symptoms yet.

Some symptoms take a few hours to set in, so if you’ve noticed your pet chewing on something poisonous, taking them to the vet is a good idea to get ahead of the problem.

If you know what your pup ate, let the vet know. If you aren’t sure, do a quick search around the area and see if you can spot anything. 

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Wrapping Up

As pet owners we all want our pups to live a full, free, and fun life.

Our pups’ bodies are designed differently to ours and can react negatively to many things that we eat and drink every day.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t treat your dog occasionally, but as long as you steer clear of these 31 foods that dogs can’t eat, your pup will be happy, healthy, and not miss out on the joy of a tasty snack.

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.