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What Foods Are Bad For Dogs? 5 Human Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Pug dog staring at cupcakes

[Written by Star LaBranche]

When it comes to your dog, you want to share everything with them, which sometimes include your food. However, a dog’s physiology can’t handle all of your favorite foods the same way you can. Today, we are going to take a look at foods you should avoid feeding your dog, and some fun alternatives to use instead.

Dogs can be sneaky, and what they eat isn't always planned. One time I left some chicken breasts out on the kitchen counter for just a second while I took care of some laundry and my rescue dog decided to help herself to the freshly cooked chicken. From then on, I made sure to put anything I didn’t want her getting far back on the counter or inside the microwave.

If your dog does ingest something they shouldn’t, be on high alert for the signs of toxicity and ready to call either your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680). The call isn’t free, but it’s a great resource to help you take care of your pet in the instance they ingest something that could be toxic to them. Remember, treating your dog early could be the key to keeping them healthy and alive.

Let’s take a look at some foods you should never feed your dog.

dog staring at a loaf of bread

1. Chocolate

The Facts

Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But not a lot of people know how toxic. Dogs have to ingest a certain amount of chocolate in order to be deadly, based on their weight. Where an 80 pound labrador could eat a small amount of chocolate without feeling any ill effects at all, a Pomeranian might not be so lucky. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate or cocoa powder, which are highly concentrated, are the most dangerous.

While it is true that a dog might be able to eat some chocolate with no ill effects, this definitely does NOT mean that chocolate should be willingly given to dogs or used as a treat. Although these confectioneries are tasty for humans, keep your pup safe by keeping any chocolate locked up and out of their reach.

Tasty Dog Treat Alternatives

Instead, try giving your dog an egg with their dinner. Not only are they delicious, but eggs are also full of important nutrients that your dog needs. There’s even evidence that you can feed your dog the egg shells, too. Discuss this addition to their food with your veterinarian and see if eggs could be a great way to help your dog stay healthy.

chocolate chunks

2. Alcohol

The Facts

It might seem obvious to never give a dog alcohol, but most people don't realize just how toxic it is to them. Although dogs are not generally attracted to alcohol, it is important to know that even small amounts of a beverage that contains ethanol can be deadly.

You might think that putting away all of your spirits will totally prevent accidents, however, alcohol (and deadly ethanol) can be found in common household items such as mouthwash and hand sanitizer.

As with chocolate, how deadly the consumption is, depends on your dog’s weight and size. If your dog ingests any amount of ethanol, immediately start looking for signs of toxicity and seek medical attention.

Tasty Dog Treat Alternatives

One food that dogs absolutely love that might surprise you are green beans. Pups are big fans of this vegetable and see it as a special treat. Plus, they can also help with weight control if your dog has put on a few extra pounds. Green beans can be used to replace some of the higher fat kibble in their bowls. Not only will they believe they’ve earned a prize, but it could help them shed a few pounds and get back to a healthy weight. Be sure to consult your vet about how to keep your pet at a healthy weight.

Alcohol in a bark

3. Macadamia Nuts

The Facts

The good news is that a dog who consumes some macadamia nuts isn’t at risk of death, as these nuts are non-lethal. This doesn’t mean, however, that your dog is free to chow down! 

Although scientists aren't sure why dogs react to macadamia nuts, they all agree on one thing: Macadamia nuts are very toxic to dogs. Some of the symptoms dogs might experience after consuming macadamia nuts include vomiting, weakness, and muscle tremors, among other signs of toxicity. 

Tasty Dog Treat Alternatives

If you’re looking for a safe nut to feed your pup, check out unsalted cashews. They are filled with calcium, antioxidants, and even proteins. However, just a few cashews for your dog. They are also high in fat and that can lead to weight related issues.

macadamia nuts

4. Grapes and Raisins

The Facts

Like macadamia nuts, the exact reason why grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs is unknown. And yes, seedless or peeled grapes can still be highly dangerous for your pup.

What makes these sweet berries so dangerous is that dogs react in a variety of ways to them. Some dogs can ingest small amounts of grapes or raisins and experience dire consequences, including kidney failure and death, while others have been recorded eating large amounts and experienced no such issues. There’s no way to know if you dog is at risk from the toxins in grapes or raisins, so it's best to be safe and never give either to your pup.

Tasty Dog Treat Alternatives

Instead, give your dog some coconut. Not only can its lauric acid help combat bacteria and viruses, the fruit (or nut, or seed; it’s all three) can help with bad doggie breath and soothe irritation caused by skin conditions. When giving your dog coconut, make sure you cut off the furry part of the shell as this can be a choking hazard.

Concord Grapes

5. Garlic

The Facts

This yummy seasoning that humans love is highly toxic to dogs. It can cause anemia, weakness, or collapse. Worse yet, signs of garlic toxicity can take days, not hours, to appear.

If you think your dog has consumed garlic, or any of garlic’s family members (such as onions), be sure to get veterinary care and watch them closely for several days to ensure all is well.

Tasty Dog Treat Alternatives

Peanut butter is a much-loved doggie treat, and for good reason! It’s a great source of protein for your pup and contains vitamins B and E, as well as niacin. One word of caution about peanut butter: not all are created equal. An ingredient called “xylitol,” a sugar substitute, is toxic for dogs. Make sure this ingredient isn’t on the label next time you go to pick out peanut butter.

Garlic bulbs

Know of other toxic foods that dogs shouldn't consume? Leave a comment below!

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