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31 Foods That You Should Avoid Feeding to Your Dog

  • 10 min read

You might be a little too familiar with those puppy eyes that stare at you every time you’re enjoying a delicious meal. While sometimes you give in and share a bite with your dog, you might wonder whether the food you are giving them is safe for them to eat.

To help you find an answer to this lingering question, we have compiled a list of 31 foods that you should avoid feeding to your dog. This detailed guide can serve as your go-to reference whenever you find yourself uncertain about what is safe to share with your furry friend.

List of 31 Foods That You Should Avoid Feeding to Your Dog

1. Chocolate

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is a stimulant that mainly affects the central nervous system and cardiovascular systems. It’s particularly concerning for dogs because their bodies are unable to metabolize this substance efficiently. As a result, theobromine gets accumulated in their system, leading to potential toxicity.

The initial signs of theobromine toxicity in dogs include bloody vomiting, increased thirst, elevated blood pressure, muscle twitching, and restlessness. Remember that in most cases of theobromine toxicity, your dog will need medical attention.

2. Grapes 

You should never feed grapes to your dog, as they can be highly toxic. Now, even though the specific compound in grapes that causes the toxicity is still unknown, it’s certain that eating this fruit can potentially lead to kidney failure in dogs.

3. Raisins

Raisins are dried grapes that pose similar health risks for dogs as they can cause kidney failure within 48 hours of eating.

4. Onions 

Onions contain N-propyl disulfide, which is a chemical compound that can lead to the breakdown of red blood cells in dogs, resulting in a condition known as hemolytic anemia. The presence of this compound in onions is the reason why this vegetable and other parts of this plant (onion leaves and stalk) are considered toxic to dogs.

5. Garlic

Garlic belongs to the same plant family as onions, and thus, they share similar characteristics and compounds like N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. Both of these compounds can be toxic to dogs and can cause various health issues.

It's important that you keep your dog away from products that might contain garlic. If you suspect your dog has accidentally eaten one of these vegetables or is showing any signs of toxicity, consult a veterinarian immediately.

6. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are considered extremely toxic for dogs. However, it’s still unknown which compound in these nuts causes such negative effects on dogs' health. What we do know is that even a small amount of these nuts can cause severe symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, tremors, fever, and incoordination.

In some cases, these symptoms are temporary, and they resolve themselves within a few days. But it's still advised to visit a veterinarian if your dog has eaten macadamia nuts.

7. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect your dog’s nervous system and cause restlessness, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, and tremors. While your dog probably won’t be drinking coffee directly, you should still be cautious of food items that might contain caffeine.

8. Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains myristicin, a naturally occurring compound that can be toxic to dogs. The toxicity level will vary depending on your dog’s size and the amount consumed, but when eaten in large quantities, it can cause high blood pressure, increased heart rate, hallucinations, and seizures.

9. Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that’s added to baked goods, peanut butter, toothpaste, and sugar-free desserts. It’s safe for human consumption but highly toxic for our dogs because it gets quickly absorbed into their bloodstream, leading to a sudden and rapid release of insulin. This causes a dangerous drop in their blood sugar levels, resulting in symptoms such as vomiting, seizures, loss of coordination, and even liver failure.

To ensure your dog’s safety, you should make sure they aren’t eating any packaged food like peanut butter that contains xylitol.

10. Yeast dough

You should never feed your dog yeast-based bread dough simply because the dough continues to ferment and produce carbon dioxide gas in the stomach. This fermentation process causes the dough to expand, leading to bloating and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), which is a life-threatening condition.

Furthermore, yeast fermentation produces alcohol as a byproduct, which can cause alcohol poisoning in dogs. Baking the yeast bread dough might reduce the risk of carbon dioxide and alcohol production, but it doesn’t eliminate the risk completely.

Active yeast used for baking isn't the same as yeast extract and doesn't carry the same risks. Yeast extract is a common ingredient found in some pet food recipes and is considered safe for dogs.

11. Alcohol-infused food

A dog’s body cannot metabolize alcohol effectively, which makes it toxic for them. If they consume alcohol or alcohol-infused foods, it will impact their central nervous system; depending on how much is consumed, it will result in symptoms like disorientation, lack of coordination, and lethargy.

Alcohol poisoning can also lead to difficulty in breathing, abnormalities in heart rate, vomiting, and diarrhea. In most cases, it requires immediate medical attention.

12. Leeks

Leeks, along with garlic and onion, belong to the plant family called Allium. It also contains N-propyl disulfide, the same compound that causes damage to a dog's red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia.

Therefore, just like onion and garlic, you should avoid feeding leeks to your dog.

13. Human medicines

You should always store your medicines in locked cabinets that are out of reach of your dog. These medicines are formulated and dosed for humans, and they can have some adverse reactions and side effects on our dogs.

14. Lemons and limes

While lemons and limes are not toxic for a dog, it’s still not recommended to feed them these citrus fruits in large amounts. The acidic nature of these fruits can irritate a dog's digestive system and potentially cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Lemon and lime fruit and trees also contain psoralen compounds that can cause skin irritation and photosensitivity in dogs.

15. Ice cream

Dogs shouldn’t eat ice cream made for human consumption due to its high sugar content and the potential inclusion of additives and artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs. Plus, eating sugary treats like ice cream regularly can contribute to obesity, dental issues, and diabetes.

If you have a lactose-intolerant dog, you should be extra careful and keep them away from ice cream to avoid any digestive problems.

16. Wild mushrooms 

Store-bought mushrooms made for human consumption are generally safe for dogs. However, wild mushrooms can be highly unpredictable as some toxic mushrooms closely resemble edible ones. 

Accidentally eating toxic mushrooms can lead to mushroom poisoning and result in symptoms like digestive distress, seizures, liver failure, and acute kidney injury. 

17. Fried foods

Fried foods can be really unhealthy for a dog. While a small bite of fried food might not cause harm, it should be avoided in their regular diet. This is mainly because excessive fat consumption leads to obesity, and it even puts a strain on your dog's pancreas, increasing the risk of pancreatitis.

Furthermore, fried foods generally contain excessive salt, which can also lead to health problems and sodium toxicity in dogs.

18. Salty snacks

An occasional bite of a salty snack like potato chips, crackers, or pretzels will probably not harm your dog, but it's still not an ideal choice for their diet. If eaten regularly, the high amount of salt in these snacks can lead to sodium ion poisoning, dehydration, and kidney problems.

Additionally, salty snacks may contain added ingredients, seasonings, and preservatives that can also be harmful to dogs.

19. Fat trimmings 

Fat trimmings, whether cooked or uncooked, aren't healthy for a dog. It’s okay if they eat a small amount of these fat trimmings by accident, but regular consumption can cause digestive issues and increase the risk of pancreatitis.

20. Raw or green potatoes

Boiled and unseasoned potatoes can be a healthy treat for a dog. But it’s not true for raw potatoes as they contain a high amount of solanine, a natural toxin that can be harmful to dogs. Green potatoes, in particular, contain higher levels of solanine, and you should avoid feeding them to your dog.

21. Rhubarb

All parts of the rhubarb plant contain oxalates that can have many undesirable effects on dogs. In small amounts, the oxalate content can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. But when eaten in large amounts, it can lead to swelling and severe pain, followed by heart problems and kidney failure.

22. Fruits with pit

Dogs can eat fruits like peaches and cherries, but you should be cautious about their pits. These small but hard pits can present a choking risk or lead to intestinal blockages if swallowed whole. 

Additionally, some fruit pits, like those found in cherries, contain trace amounts of cyanide, a chemical compound that can be toxic for dogs if consumed excessively. Thus it’s recommended to always remove the pits and only feed the flesh of the fruit to a dog.

23. Popcorn 

While dogs can eat small amounts of plain, air-popped popcorn, it’s best to avoid giving them store-bought popcorn as they usually contain high amounts of oil, butter, salt, and spices. These ingredients might not cause any harm in small amounts, but when eaten regularly, they can wreak havoc on your dog’s health.

24. Whole Almonds 

Almonds aren’t toxic for dogs, but they do have high-fat content and a hard texture, which makes them difficult to digest. They can also pose a risk of obstruction to a dog’s esophagus, intestines, or windpipe.

If you want to offer one or two almonds to your dog as an occasional treat, it's crucial to do so under proper supervision so they’re safely consumed. Alternatively, you can offer them dog-friendly almond butter as an occasional treat.

25. Avocados

Avocados contain persin, a compound that can be toxic to some animals. While dogs can handle small amounts of persin in avocado flesh, it's best to avoid making this fruit a regular part of their diet.

It’s also advisable to remove the avocado pit, skin, and leaves, as they have higher concentrations of persin and they also pose a risk of choking.

26. Raw or undercooked meat

While some dogs can tolerate small amounts of raw meat, there are certain potential risks you should be aware of. For example, raw or undercooked meat might contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, which can lead to food poisoning, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort in dogs. In severe cases, these bacteria could cause dehydration and organ failure in dogs.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not only dogs but humans are also at risk of bacterial contamination from handling raw meat. Thus, it's essential to handle and prepare raw meat with caution to minimize the risk of potential health problems. 

If you choose to feed your dog a raw diet, consult with a veterinarian and take appropriate safety measures to mitigate the risks associated with raw meat consumption.

27. Raw eggs

Similar to raw meat, raw eggs also carry a risk of bacterial contamination, particularly with Salmonella or E. coli. These bacteria can disrupt your dog’s digestive system by causing food poisoning, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.

Additionally, raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that prevents the absorption of biotin. This could result in severe biotin deficiency, leading to various skin problems, hair loss, and other health issues.

28. Bones (especially cooked)

Dogs love bones, and they’re also a suitable option for providing them with mental stimulation and dental benefits. However, you should exercise caution when feeding bones as they most often pose a risk of choking. Cooked bones, in particular, are dangerous for dogs as they can splinter easily, causing serious injuries in their mouth, throat, or digestive system.

29. Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob also poses a choking hazard, especially for smaller breed dogs and puppies. They can eat small amounts of cooked corn kernels, but they should never eat corn on the cob. There is a big chance that they’ll get too excited and try to gulp it all down, which can make them choke or lead to digestive obstruction.

30. Edible cannabis

Dogs should never eat edible cannabis or any product that contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It can be highly toxic for them and, even in small amounts, can cause symptoms such as disorientation, vomiting, seizures, and respiratory problems.

Also, note that it's important to distinguish between THC and CBD. There are some hemp-labeled products containing CBD available for dogs; these are considered safe for them as CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. The emphasis should be on avoiding THC.

31. Pecans

Pecans contain a compound called juglone, which is harmful to dogs. It can cause various digestive issues like severe vomiting and diarrhea. These nuts are also susceptible to growing a particularly dangerous mold called mycotoxins. And if your dog accidentally eats a moldy pecan, they might experience seizures and tremors.

Summing Up

Phew! That was indeed a long list of foods that can be harmful to our dogs. But you should be vigilant and mindful of what your dog is eating throughout the day. There are some foods like chocolates and grapes that should be strictly avoided to prevent any serious health issues, but there are other foods like almonds and avocado that can be given to dogs in small amounts.

We understand that it can get overwhelming quickly, so don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian to better understand what’s best for your dog.


Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about a dog’s diet:

1. What are the 10 most toxic foods for dogs?

While dogs have different sensitivities, there are some common foods that are known to be potentially harmful to them, including chocolates, grapes, raisins, onion, garlic, macadamia nuts, caffeine, xylitol, nutmeg, and alcohol-based products.

If you’re confused regarding what’s safe for your dog, you should consult with a veterinarian to fully understand their nutritional needs and health conditions.

2. What fruit can't dogs eat?

Dogs shouldn’t eat grapes (and raisins) as they are considered highly toxic for their health.

Apart from that, you should be cautious about fruits with pits (like cherries and avocados) as they can pose a risk of choking and intestinal blockage. You should properly remove the pits and only feed the flesh of such fruit to your dog. But remember that even though these fruits aren’t toxic, they should still be fed in moderation as a supplement to a well-balanced diet.

3. What should I do if my dog has eaten something they aren’t supposed to eat?

In case your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have, you should take prompt action to ensure their safety. 

First, you should assess the situation to determine what your dog has eaten and how much they have consumed. If the amount ingested is small, and depending on the food, it could be appropriate to monitor the closely for any adverse reactions.

However, if they have consumed a known toxic substance or questionable food in larger quantities, you should either contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control helpline and follow their instructions carefully.

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