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August 12, 2019

What foods should my dog *never* eat? (and why are they so bad?)

What foods should my dog *never* eat? (and why are they so bad?)

As pet parents, we already share our lives and our love with our dogs, so giving them a bite of whatever we’re eating doesn’t seem like a big deal. If you’ve found yourself locked in a staring contest with your dog over dinner, we get it. Nothing is a match for puppy eyes. But there are numerous human foods that aren’t safe for dogs, and if eaten, can result in potentially life-threatening emergencies.

Let’s discuss some of the foods that dogs should never eat, and why they’re dangerous for your pup. It’s important to note that this is not a definitive list of prohibited foods. If you have any doubts about feeding your dog something or if you suspect that they’ve already eaten a potentially toxic ingredient, seek emergency care immediately.

Chocolate

Most pet parents know that chocolate in any form — cocoa powder, candy bar, baked goods, and more — is an absolute no-no for your dog. Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines that are extremely toxic for dogs and stop their metabolic process. Even a small amount of chocolate can cause diarrhea and vomiting; larger portions can have much more severe consequences like seizures, irregular heart function, and even death. Never leave chocolate or chocolate products where your dog can access them. If your dog does ingest chocolate, immediately contact your vet for emergency care or call a pet poison control hotline.

Macadamia nuts

Generally speaking, high-fat nuts of any kind are difficult for your dog to digest. Macadamia nuts take this a step further and are actually highly poisonous for dogs. If eaten, they can cause vomiting, increased body temperature, lethargy, tremors, and loss of limb control. Because they can also impact your dog’s nervous symptom, macadamias are particularly dangerous and should never be fed to your pup.

Grapes

Grapes and their wrinkly relatives, raisins, are highly toxic to most dogs…but we haven’t yet identified what exactly makes them so poisonous. What we do know is that in serious cases, eating grapes or raisins can damage their kidneys and cause sudden renal failure. You may have caught that “most dogs” bit in the first sentence. While it’s true that kidney failure does not occur in every dog that eats a grape, all dogs still have adverse reactions to them, even if it’s not readily apparent. Since we’re still determining what component of grapes and raisins makes them so dangerous to dogs, it’s essential to keep your pup away from any food or beverage containing the fruit.

Garlic and onions

Garlic and onions are members of the Allium family, and both are unsafe for dogs. Garlic is five times more toxic than other Allium plants, which can be particularly dangerous since it’s a mainstay of many cuisines. Whether raw, cooked, or dehydrated into spices, both garlic and onions contain a substance that dogs can’t digest and are considered toxic, depending on the amount ingested. Eating garlic or onions can lead to liver damage, anemia, diarrhea, and heart issues.

Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that can be found in many sugar-free products like gum and candy, baked goods, and even certain brands of peanut butter. It’s also a surprisingly common guest star in personal care products like toothpaste, mouthwash, select medications, lotions, and deodorant. If eaten, even small quantities can trigger a significant insulin release in your dog’s body, leading to weakness, vomiting, coma, and even liver failure. Be sure to keep products containing xylitol well out of the reach of your dog, and always double-check the label for ingredients.

Emergency response

Even the most vigilant pet parent can’t prevent their dog from getting into foods that they shouldn’t be eating. If your pet eats something that you suspect may be toxic, call your vet immediately or contact a pet poison control helpline (the FDA recommends Pet Poison Hotline: 855-764-7661) for expert, emergency advice and care.

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