The dog may be the four-legged kid in the family, and it is tempting to slip him a treat from the dinner table now and then. However, there are some things that a dog shouldn’t eat. Foods that are perfectly good for humans can be poisonous for dogs, sometimes fatally so. Here is a list of thing a dog shouldn’t eat and what to do if they eat it anyway:


It is tempting to think that the saddest thing about being a dog is that he can’t eat chocolate. The dog’s system can’t handle a chemical called methylxanthine, which is found not only in chocolate but in coffee and other foods that have caffeine. A dog who eats chocolate will suffer from diarrhea and vomiting, excessive thirst, abnormal heart rate, frequent urination and convulsions that can lead to death.

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The grape, innocuous and celebrated by human beings for thousands of years, can destroy a dog’s kidneys. So can raisins. Interestingly, scientists still haven’t isolated the chemical that causes this to happen.

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Macadamia Nuts

The buttery macadamia nut from Hawaii makes the dog weak, depressed and nauseated. It also causes tremors and causes his body temperature to spike. Signs and symptoms usually don’t appear until about 12 hours after the dog eats the nuts and last from 12 hours to two days. Indeed, nuts, in general, are not suitable for dogs. Even if they don’t lead to severe symptoms, they can cause diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, they can cause inflammation of the pancreas.


These are garlic, onions, chives and other members of the onion family. Eating an onion irritates the dog’s GI tract and can damage his red blood cells. Onions cause what is called Heinz bodies, which are red blood cells made of corrupted hemoglobin. These bodies can be seen through a microscope.

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If too much alcohol is bad for humans, even a little alcohol can be deadly for a dog, especially if he’s tiny. The dog vomits, experiences diarrhea, staggers, has the shakes and may become comatose and die. Alcohol is a dangerous central nervous system depressant for dogs, and it’s no laughing matter to get a dog drunk.

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Avocados are worse for horses, but dogs should stay away from them too. They have a chemical called persin that is toxic to dogs. Not only is the compound found in the fruit, but it’s in all parts of the plant. A person who has an avocado plant in their home should make sure their dog stays away from it. Persin can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and the large avocado seed can get caught in the dog’s GI tract.

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Dairy Products

A grown-up dog does not need to drink milk. He no longer produces lactase, which is the enzyme that helps him digest milk. Milk and dairy just upset his GI tract and can lead to diarrhea. Though it may be tempting to share the ice cream cone on a hot day, give the dog some water ice cubes instead.

Raw Animal Protein

Some people may be surprised by this. Don’t dogs eat raw animal protein in the wild? It is true that wolves and wild dogs eat raw animal protein in the wild, but domesticated dogs are not wild animals. Raw meats can have pathogens such as E. coli that are bad for both dogs and humans. Raw eggs interfere with the dog’s absorption of vitamin B7 which can lead to problems with his fur and skin. On top of this, domesticated dogs can choke on or be injured by bones. Their jaws don’t have the crushing power of a wolf.

Yeasty Dough

The yeasty dough that rises to become a wholesome loaf of bread once it is cooked is dangerous for a dog. The gas from the yeast can cause bloat, which is another medical emergency. A bloated stomach is not the same thing in a human as it is in a dog. The bloated stomach in a dog can twist, leading to a condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus, or GDV. When the stomach twists, it chokes off its blood supply. During GDV the dog is apparently in pain, and its stomach is distended. The dog may also go into shock.

Another problem is that even if GDV doesn’t develop, the yeast can ferment into alcohol, which as we’ve discussed, isn’t good.

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Too Much Salt

Avoid the temptation of tossing the salty foods that humans love to the dog. Too much salt can make the dog extraordinarily thirsty and force him to urinate frequently, which may dehydrate him. He may even get sodium ion poisoning. If a dog has eaten too much salt, he’ll experience vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, depression, hyperthermia, and seizures. He may even die from too much salt.

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This is a sweetener that’s found in lots of candies and dessert foods. Though it won’t hurt humans, it can destroy a dog’s liver and cause his blood pressure to crash. Symptoms are lethargy, clumsiness, and vomiting.

Fat Trimmings

As people are surprised to know that dogs shouldn’t be fed raw meat, they shouldn’t be fed fat trimmed from bones either, whether it is cooked or raw. It can damage the dog’s pancreas.

Things You Can Do If It Happens

Though responsible dog parents try to keep dangerous foods out of the reach of their pet, dogs are curious and sometimes get into things they shouldn’t. Some well-meaning person might not even know that they’re not supposed to feed a dog a bunch of grapes. Besides looking for symptoms, which may not show up for some hours, look for signs of boxes or containers being opened up.

If there’s a suspicion that the dog ate something poisonous, the owner should keep him away from the food so he can’t eat any more of it, then call the veterinarian immediately. If it’s late at night, call an emergency animal poison control center or the ASPCA at 1-888-426-4435.

The owner shouldn’t try to make the dog vomit unless the vet tells them to do so, and they certainly shouldn’t wait to see if the dog passes something. The vet may say to the owner to give the dog activated charcoal and bring the dog into the animal hospital for further treatment.


When it comes to preventing a dog from eating what it shouldn’t, it is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Dogs don’t know what they shouldn’t eat. It’s up to the owner (and anyone else who are overlooking their care) to protect them and keep them healthy for years to come. Make sure you’re aware of how your dog acts when it’s happy, and when it’s sick so you can take the best care of it as you can.

With Lucy’s Pet Care, you can trust that your dog will be in good care walking and caring for your pup.