15 Foods You Should Avoid Giving To Your Dog

Feeding your dog a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for their health, but some common foods can be harmful or even toxic to them. Here are 15 foods you should avoid giving to your dog:


Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. Dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans, making it toxic to them. Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, restlessness, and in severe cases, seizures and death. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have higher levels of theobromine compared to milk chocolate, making them more dangerous.

Grapes and Raisins:

Even small amounts of grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The exact toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, but ingestion can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain within a few hours. Without treatment, kidney failure can occur, leading to decreased urine output, increased thirst, and potentially death.

Onions and Garlic:

These contain thiosulfate, which can damage dogs’ red blood cells, leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia. This condition reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Symptoms of onion or garlic poisoning include weakness, lethargy, reduced appetite, and pale or yellowish gums. Garlic is more potent than onions, but both can cause significant harm even in small quantities, especially if consumed regularly.


Avocado contains a fungicidal toxin called persin, which is mostly concentrated in the leaves, bark, and seed but is also present in smaller amounts in the fruit. While dogs are more resistant to persin compared to other animals like birds, ingestion can still cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea. The large pit also poses a choking hazard and can cause intestinal blockages.


Alcohol affects dogs similarly to humans but much more severely due to their smaller size. Ingesting even a small amount of alcohol can lead to ethanol poisoning, which affects the central nervous system and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, and even coma or death. Products like alcoholic beverages, unbaked dough, and certain syrups and extracts can contain alcohol and should be kept away from dogs.


Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, certain sodas, energy drinks, and even some medications. Dogs are much more sensitive to caffeine than humans. Ingestion can lead to caffeine poisoning, which causes symptoms such as restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and seizures. In severe cases, it can lead to death. The toxic dose for dogs is around 70 mg per pound of body weight, but symptoms can occur at much lower doses.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, and some peanut butters. When dogs ingest xylitol, it causes a rapid release of insulin from the pancreas, leading to a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and in severe cases, liver failure and death. Even small amounts of xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs.

Macadamia Nuts:

Macadamia nuts can cause a toxic reaction in dogs, though the exact substance responsible is unknown. Symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning include weakness (especially in the hind legs), depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia (elevated body temperature). These symptoms typically appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last for 24 to 48 hours. While rarely fatal, the effects can be very distressing and require veterinary care.

Cooked Bones:

While raw bones can be a safer treat for dogs, cooked bones are dangerous. Cooking makes bones brittle, causing them to splinter easily. Splinters can cause blockages, tears, or punctures in a dog’s digestive tract, leading to severe injury or death. Symptoms of complications from ingesting cooked bones include choking, difficulty passing stool, blood in the stool, and abdominal pain. Immediate veterinary attention is required if a dog ingests cooked bones.

Raw Meat and Fish:

Raw meat and fish can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can lead to food poisoning in dogs (and humans who handle the food). Symptoms of bacterial infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Additionally, certain types of raw fish can contain parasites that can infect dogs, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Raw salmon, for example, can contain a parasite that causes “salmon poisoning disease,” which is potentially fatal if not treated promptly. Proper cooking kills harmful bacteria and parasites, making the food safe for consumption.

Dairy Products:

Many dogs are lactose intolerant, which means they lack the enzyme lactase necessary to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. Consuming dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream can lead to digestive upset, including symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. While some dogs may tolerate small amounts of dairy, it’s generally best to avoid giving them these products to prevent gastrointestinal issues.

Fat Trimmings and Bones:

High-fat foods, including fat trimmings from meat, can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. It can be a severe and sometimes life-threatening condition. Bones, particularly cooked ones, can splinter and cause blockages or tears in the digestive tract, leading to choking, internal injuries, and infections. Even raw bones, while safer, should be given under supervision to avoid similar risks.

Yeast Dough:

Yeast dough can be particularly dangerous for dogs if ingested. As the dough rises, it can expand in the warm environment of a dog’s stomach, causing severe pain and potentially leading to gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat) or rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, fermenting yeast produces alcohol as a byproduct, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Symptoms of yeast dough ingestion include bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain, disorientation, and difficulty breathing. Immediate veterinary attention is necessary if a dog consumes yeast dough.

Salty Foods:

Excessive salt intake can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs. Foods high in salt, such as chips, pretzels, and certain processed foods, can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. In severe cases, it can lead to death. Dogs typically need much less salt in their diet compared to humans, and it’s essential to keep salty foods out of their reach.

Corn on the Cob:

While the corn kernels themselves are not harmful to dogs in moderation, the cob poses a significant risk. Dogs often try to swallow large pieces of the cob, which can cause a complete or partial intestinal blockage. Symptoms of an intestinal blockage include vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and difficulty passing stool. If a dog swallows a piece of corn cob, immediate veterinary attention is required to prevent severe complications.

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