While we consider dogs to be members of our family, feeding them the same food we eat can cause injury to them. Dogs are not used to eating the oily, fatty foods that we do, and they can get diarrhea and upset stomachs from them. It’s important to know what foods are toxic to dogs and avoid them.
Chocolate and Caffeine
It’s a pretty well-known fact that chocolate is harmful to dogs. Unlike their feline friends, most dogs don’t have an “off” button when it comes to finding food. The amount and type of chocolate your dog consumes determines the symptoms and toxicity level he will experience. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, seizures and death. The darker the chocolate is (for instance, baker’s chocolate or cocoa powder), the more dangerous it is to your puppy. They contain a higher concentration of caffeine and theobromine, both of which cause toxicosis in dogs. Keep your dog away from caffeinated beverages as well. Learn more about the dangers of your dog consuming chocolate here.
Grapes and Raisins
While grapes and raisins are not harmful to some dogs, they have been associated with kidney failure in others. Simply put, it’s not worth the risk to find out! Vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea can occur within 12 hours of ingestion. If the symptoms are not treated, they can lead to dehydration, decreased appetite and increased urination followed by decreased urination. If your dog has consumed grapes or raisins and these signs occur, take her to a vet immediately. Your dog can develop long-term kidney disease or even die from kidney failure within three to four days.
Alcohol and Raw Bread Dough
Small amounts of alcohol found in drinks, syrups and raw bread dough can be poisonous to dogs. These products contain ethanol, and beer also contains hops, both of which can cause alcohol intoxication. Signs of intoxication include vomiting, disorientation, high body temperature, restlessness, excessive panting, muscle tremors and seizures. Dogs who show signs of alcohol intoxication should be monitored by a vet until they recover, as it can cause failure of the organ systems and even death. The yeast in raw bread dough can also cause stomach expansion, which can result in tissue damage and difficulty breathing.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in foods like sugarless gum, sugar-free candy and baked goods. It can also be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, chewable vitamins and cough drops. Ingestion can cause a life-threatening drop in your dog’s blood sugar, as well as liver damage. Symptoms include vomiting, seizures and loss of coordination, which can occur anywhere from a few minutes to several hours after ingestion. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, a 10-pound dog would only need to eat a single piece of sugar-free gum to reach a potentially toxic dose. Dogs that ingest large amounts of xylitol can also develop liver failure. If you suspect that your dog has consumed anything that might contain Xylitol it is important that you contact your vet immediately.
Onions and Garlic
Anything in the onion family–from garlic to shallots to scallions to chives–is toxic to dogs. They contain compounds that can cause gastroenteritis, anemia and serious damage to the red blood cells. Garlic is considered to be five times as potent as onions. Signs of onion or garlic poisoning often do not appear for several days after ingestion, but include lethargy, weakness and orange- to dark red-tinged urine. Japanese breeds of dogs such as Akitas and Shiba Inus tend to be more sensitive to garlic and onions.
Other Foods Harmful to Dogs
Dairy products can upset your dog’s digestive system and cause diarrhea as well as food allergies. Ingestion of just a few macadamia nuts can cause weakness, paralysis and lack of coordination. Avocados contain persin, which can cause mild stomach upset in dogs. The bones in meat, chicken and fish can also be very hazardous to your dog. They can splinter and stick in the throat, break teeth or cut the intestines.
If you are unsure if you can feed a food to your dog, always consult your veterinarian first. As a general rule of thumb it is best to avoid feeding your dog human food anyways. While it can be hard to ignore those puppy dog eyes looking at you at the dinner table, feeding your dog can often result in weight gain among other more serious issues. To keep your dog out of harm’s way, it is best to stick to a diet of food specifically formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs.