We all do it!
Preparing, or eating our meals and seeing our beloved hound sitting near us, gazing intently at everything we’re doing. Awwww! They’re so good, not begging or getting under our feet. I know, I’ll give them a treat! Something close to hand, while my hands are still mixing, chopping or cutting. They deserve it for being so good. Don’t they?
10 Foods That Are Bad For Dogs
There are some foods that your dog should never eat. Foods that are great for human health may not be so good for hounds. Dogs metabolize certain foods differently than we do, so biological and chemical reactions occur that can be dangerous to their well-being.
The problem is, you sometimes have to search the labels of products to see what’s in them. First on the list is a substance that is regarded to be the most dangerous to dogs.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in many products. It is a popular product for people with Diabetes, who need to consume a low-calorie, low sugar diet. When ingested by dogs it stimulates excessive insulin secretion leading to severe loss of blood sugar, and left untreated, may progress to acute liver failure and death.
Unfortunately, as society is favoring low, or non-sugar products more and more, xylitol and other sweeteners are used increasingly in the manufacture of many food and health items.
Xylitol is known, among other things, to reduce plaque build-up on our teeth. For that reason it is found in many dental care products. Therefore we should never clean our dog’s teeth with human toothpaste.
There are hundreds of xylitol-containing products available. These include baked goods, cookies, desserts, jams, chocolate, nut butters, sugar-free honey, ice cream, breath mints, chewing gum, cough drops, gummy vitamins, dental care products, shampoos, moisturizers, deodorants and much more.
See this comprehensive list to identify numerous products containing xylitol.
It takes very little of this substance (a lot less than other foods toxic to dogs) to cause a potentially devastating health crisis in a dog.
Toxic xylitol dose:
- More than 0.1 g per kg body weight puts your dog at risk for hypoglycemia
- More than 0.5 g per kg body weight puts your dog at risk for liver necrosis
That means if your dog is 15 kg (or 33lb in weight), more than 1.5 grams (or 1/20th of an ounce) of xylitol is highly toxic.
1.5 grams is enough to sit on the very tip of a teaspoon. Less than a ‘pinch’.
Always read ingredient labels before giving any product to your hound. If you suspect your dog has eaten xylitol, get them to a vet as soon as possible. Early symptoms can include vomiting, lethargy, staggering and other problems with coordination.
Chocolate contains two methylxanthines, which are toxic compounds called theobromine and caffeine. These substances are stimulants and are highly toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate has the highest amounts of these elements.
Initial signs of chocolate toxicosis include:
- Excessive thirst
Progressive symptoms include:
- Lack of balance
- Excessive urinating
- Heart arrhythmia’s
Based on ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experience, mild signs occur in animals ingesting 20 mg/kg of theobromine and caffeine, severe signs are seen at 40-50 mg/kg, and seizures occur at 60 mg/kg (ASPCA/APCC Database: Unpublished data).
That means if your dog is 15 kg (or 33lb in weight), more than 300 grams (or 10 ounces) of chocolate is mildly toxic. In the same dog, twice that amount is severely toxic, and three times that amount will cause seizures, and possibly death.
3. Grapes and Raisins
The active toxin in these fruits is still not known. Grapes and raisins in any form, whether fresh or baked into cakes, are known to cause liver and kidney failure in dogs. If your dog is particularly sensitive to these foods, even a small amount can cause continuous vomiting.
Renal injury to dogs caused by grapes, is estimated to be 32g/kg.
That means if your dog is 15 kg (or 33lb in weight), 480 grams (or 17 ounces) is enough to be toxic. Raisins can be a lot less, depending on the dog’s sensitivity.
4. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that can cause dogs to develop leg weakness, pain, tremors, panting and fever. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 24 to 48 hours.
Macadamia and other nuts are often found in cookies, so beware of these products. Walnuts and peanuts should also be avoided, as the high fat content can cause inflammation of the pancreas.
An audit of macadamia poisoning cases found that the amount of macadamia nuts ingested was estimated to be a mean weight of 11.7g/kg.
That means if your dog is 15 kg (or 33lb in weight), 175 grams (or 6 ounces) is enough to be toxic.
5. Onions and Garlic
Onions, leeks, and garlic are part of the Allium family. These foods contain thiosulfate, and this is five times more toxic to dogs than the rest of the Allium plants. Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, and collapse. Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you suspect your dog has eaten these things, keep an eye on them.
Dogs eating as little as 15-30g/kg of onion has resulted in significant harm.
That means if your dog is 15 kg (or 33lb in weight), 225 grams (or 8 ounces) is enough to be toxic.
Garlic is considered to be slightly less toxic to dogs, but should also be completely avoided.
Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called Persin, which is toxic to dogs as well as many other animal and bird species. Persin is in the leaves, seed and skin of the avocado, so it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t scavenge from your trash.
An interesting fact about Persin is that it has been shown to kill breast cancer cells. More research is needed to officially approve its development as a cancer drug.
If your dog eats avocado, it can cause fluid accumulation in the lungs and chest, leading to death by oxygen deprivation. It is not known how much avocado would need to be ingested to cause harm.
Dogs cannot tolerate even small amounts of alcohol. It is highly toxic, and serious health issues have been known to occur. Dogs are quite happy to drink alcohol, so it’s important that the owner keeps it well out of reach.
Ethanol is the alcohol in alcoholic drinks, and is also found in some mouthwash products. Uncooked yeast dough also contains significant amounts of ethanol.
Ethanol toxicosis causes balance and coordination problems, lethargy, hypothermia, vomiting, diarrhoea, poor breathing, liver failure, coma, and death.
There are no data to describe the amount needed to cause harm, however it’s probably fair to conclude that any alcohol at all is dangerous to your dog.
8. Lemons and Limes
The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of a substance called psoralen. This can cause digestive upsets in dogs (vomiting and diarrhea) or even depression and neurological problems if ingested in large amounts.
9. Yeast Dough
Yeast cells produce ethanol as a by-product, which is alcohol. So as the dough is rising, not only is alcohol present, but if a dog eats uncooked bread dough, it will continue to rise in their stomach. This can cause severe bloating and pain, and in some cases, the dog’s stomach will rotate or twist, a condition that vets call gastric dilatation volvulus.
If this occurs, it is a medical emergency which, if left untreated will lead to unbearable pain and death. Even small amounts can cause problems, so be careful not to leave any in reach of your hound.
10. Moldy Food
Some molds that grow on foods produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins. These can cause serious or even life-threatening problems in dogs, such as muscle tremors, vomiting and diarrhea, fever and seizures.
It’s extremely important to keep your hound out of the trash can and the compost pile. If you think your dog has eaten moldy food, get them to your vet as soon as possible.
These are the 10 most dangerous foods for your dog. There are many other foods which are toxic for dogs, some of which will be hidden in cooked or baked goods. It’s vital that we check package labels, so we know exactly what we’re feeding our best mate. Little treats are very welcome to a dog, but it’s our job to make sure they’re safe snacks.
Be sure to check out my In-Depth Guide To The Wonderful Foods Your Dog Can Eat.