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Unsafe Foods for Dogs

A number of foods are unsafe and even potentially fatal to pets. These are the more common ones you may or may not be aware of.

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine

These products all contain methylxanthines found in the cacao seeds, which produce the fruit of the plants used to make coffee. When pets ingest chocolate, the methylxanthines cause can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate has the highest. Toxicity is based on how much was ingested, the type of chocolate and weight of pet.

Grapes and Raisins

We do not know what the toxic agent is in grapes/raisins. We do know these fruits can cause kidney failure. Pets with pre-existing kidney disease are at high risk.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives

These vegetables & herbs cause vomiting, diarrhea, and Heinz body anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Ingestion of low amounts of onions will likely not cause a problem. Ingestion of large amounts of onions can certainly lead to anemia, which is diagnosed by a blood test.


Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products including, gum, candy, baking goods, and toothpaste. It causes an increase in insulin release by the pancreas. The increase in insulin results in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Initial signs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, and progress to coma/death due to liver failure.

Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs, and Bones

Raw meat and eggs may contain bacteria, such as, E. Coli or Salmonella, which may be harmful to pets and result in vomiting and diarrhea. Feeding raw bones can also lead to the same thing. I recommend cooking the meat and eggs or boiling bones before giving them to your pets.


Pets don’t possess a significant amount of lactose, which breaks down the lactose in milk. The result is lactose-intolerance diarrhea!

Macadamia Nuts:

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in cookies and candies. If ingested by dogs, they can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. The signs usually appear within 12 hour of ingestion and last for 12-48 hours.

Salt/Salt Water

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst, urination, and sodium ion toxicity in pets. Pets eating excessive salty foods or ingesting excessive salt water can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, hyperthermia, seizures, and even death.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and accumulate in your pet’s intestinal tract. This can be painful and lead to gastric dilatation and potential rupture.


Alcoholic beverages or food containing alcohol can cause all the same sign as we see with people who have had too much to drink: vomiting, diarrhea, CNS depression, incoordination, tremors, and even death. Unfortunately, it takes a lot less alcohol to get toxicity in pets than it does in humans.


The leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the above foods, please note the amount of food ingested and contact your regular veterinarian, contact your local 24 hr. emergency hospital, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline at (888) 426-4435