A dog begs for some pasta. Photo by Susan Schmitz | Shutterstock
You know how it goes. You’re sitting at the table, about to enjoy a delicious meal when you feel a wet nose nudging at your side. There, looking at you with the biggest, saddest eyes, your dog is begging for a bite of whatever you’re having.
I, unfortunately, am one of those people who will share their food with their dog- how can you say no to a face like that? If you’re like me, it’s important to know which foods research finds harmful to dogs so your generosity doesn’t put them in the emergency room.
Let’s start with the most common and well-known food that’s toxic to dogs: Chocolate. In the last few years, chocolate was noted in the 10 most common cases of toxicosis involving dogs. Chocolate, especially unsweetened baking chocolate, contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to our doggos (yes, I said caffeine, that means you shouldn’t give your dog coffee, tea, or soft drinks either)! Ingesting chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, polydipsia (increased thirst), abdominal discomfort, lethargy, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, seizures and death in dogs.
Other foods toxic to dogs include:
Grapes (and raisins, sultanas, and currants): Grapes and their dried products have been known to cause kidney problems in dogs. If ingested, grapes can cause long-term kidney disease or death from kidney failure within days. Clinical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, and abdominal pain.
Onions and Garlic: Anything related to onions (scallions, shallots, chives, leeks, etc.) either raw or cooked contains organosulfoxides, which can cause gastroenteritis, anemia and serious damage to the red blood cells in dogs. Symptoms may not occur for several days and may include lethargy, weakness and orange to red-tinged urine.
A chihuahua wants some hamburger. Photo by Bhitakbongse Lee | Shutterstock
Macadamia Nuts: Humans consume macadamia nuts plain or as ingredients in cakes, cookies or candy. For humans, they’re an excellent source of manganese and thiamine. While the mechanism of their toxicity in dogs is currently unknown, ingestion of as little as 0.7 g/kg of nuts
can cause clinical signs including hind limb weakness, vomiting, ataxia, tremors, hyperthermia, abdominal pain, and more.
Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as an artificial sweetener in many products that humans consume daily including candy, bread, cookies, and other baked goods. In dogs, it can cause dramatic decrease in blood glucose levels and liver failure. Clinical signs of xylitol toxicity in dogs may be related to hypoglycemia or hepatopathy, including vomiting, lethargy, ataxia (impaired balance), seizures, etc..
Alcoholic Beverages: Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, which is suspected of inhibiting important receptors in dogs’ brain cells. Ethanol is also found in rotten apples, sloe berries, and raw bread/pizza dough. Consumption can cause symptoms including ataxia, lethargy, sedation, hypothermia, and metabolic acidosis. It can lead to comas, severe respiratory depression, and death.
Hops: Hops are used for beer brewing. If you have a brewery in your basement (which is becoming more and more popular these days), keep your dog out of there. Ingestion of both fresh and spent hops can cause hyperthermia, anxiety, tachycardia, tachypnea, panting, vomiting, abdominal pain, and seizures in dogs.
Be careful to keep the aforementioned foods out of your dog’s reach! Pro tip: your dog can’t eat your chocolate if you eat it all first. So finish that candy bar, it’s for the safety of your dog. If your dog does ingest any of these toxic foods, be sure to take him or her to the vet immediately! It could save your dog’s life!
Cortinovis, C., & Caloni, F. (2016). Household Food Items Toxic to Dogs and Cats. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 3, 26. doi:10.3389/fvets.2016.00026
Article by: Alexandra Harbour
Contributor for Maynard Dog Training Solutions