30 foods that are poisonous to dogs
As man’s best friend, dogs do everything with us: walk around town, ride in the car, play in the yard, and snuggle on the couch. It’s natural, then, given how much time we spend with our four-legged companions, to assume they can eat with us, too. However, human food can be dangerous for dogs, even types of food that are completely safe for us.
Part of the reason we can eat foods that they can’t is that dogs are so much smaller than us. They also weigh far less, which means their bodies can’t absorb things as quickly. “Foods that are perfectly suitable for human consumption, as well as other animals, may be toxic and even poisonous to your dog, posing a serious threat to their health and well-being,” Michelle Schenker writes for “Canine Journal.” “Why? Because all animals have very different rates of metabolism.” Another problem is that dogs have voracious appetites and don’t always know when to stop. Although some foods are not toxic in small doses, larger quantities can be fatal.
Signs of food poisoning in dogs can vary widely but key symptoms include things like vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, loss of appetite, restlessness, staggering, and disorientation. If you suspect your dog has eaten something toxic, VetsNow recommends never induce vomiting unless a poison control expert has instructed you to do so. Certain substances can actually cause more damage coming back up and are best left in a dog's stomach. To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet’s phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.
Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.
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Garlic is an allium, a family of foods that can be fatal to dogs due to a compound called thiosulfate that damages red blood cells. It takes a lot of garlic to cause toxicity but some breeds, particularly Japanese ones (such as akitas and shiba inus), are particularly susceptible. “Signs of garlic poisoning can be delayed and not apparent for several days,” explains the Pet Poison Helpline. “While tiny amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large amounts can be very toxic.”
Avocados are dangerous to many animals, not only dogs, partly due to a fungicidal toxin called persin. They are only dangerous to dogs in large quantities; however, veterinarians recommend keeping them away due to the large pits, too, which can get lodged in their throats. The high fat content is also dangerous because it can inflame their pancreas. “Exactly what amount of persin is lethal isn’t known, but in large amounts, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, myocardial damage, and its high fat content can lead to pancreatitis,” the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains.
Eating unbaked bread dough can be extremely dangerous for your dog because the fermenting yeast gets rapidly absorbed in the bloodstream, where it produces enough ethanol to cause alcohol poisoning. Additionally, yeast dough can rise as it moves through the digestive system, potentially twisting the stomach—a situation that can lead to death. Even if the yeast doesn’t cause a life-threatening emergency, it can severely bloat your pup’s stomach, causing intense pain and discomfort.
Chocolate is one of the most commonly recognized toxins for dogs. The culprit is theobromine, an alkaloid that can cause cardiac arrhythmias and central nervous system dysfunction in dogs. Dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and unsweetened baker’s chocolates are the most dangerous, while milk and white chocolates have smaller amounts (though they can be toxic, too). “While chocolate is a sweet treat that humans can enjoy, it’s something dogs should never have,” explains PetMD. “Depending on body weight, even a small bite of chocolate can make a dog sick—in a large enough quantity, death is a possibility.”
Although humans love rhubarb pies, the sweet treat can cause kidney failure in dogs due to an antinutrient called oxalic acid. The substance creates crystals in the urinary tract and can cause the kidneys to shut down. Signs of rhubarb poisoning can include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, bloody urine, changes in thirst, and other symptoms.
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While oranges are typically fine for your dog to eat, citrus oil—often used medicinally—is not. This is because of the insecticidal properties of the oil, which can lead to liver failure in dogs. In addition to preventing your pup from ingesting it, you should never rub it on your dog’s skin medicinally because they are likely to lick it off. Note that many essential oils contain citrus, not just citrus oil itself.
Many nuts are not good for dogs; however, macadamia nuts rank among the most toxic. The reason for this is not fully understood by vets, but it’s known that it leads to vomiting, weakness, hyperthermia, and loss of bodily functions. Weakness, particularly behind the hind legs, is one of the most common symptoms. “If you suspect your dog may have eaten even a small amount of macadamia nuts, consult your veterinarian immediately,” the AKC advises.
Although cat food won’t poison your dog immediately, it can lead to pancreatitis and other health complications over time, causing organ damage and potentially sudden death. Every now and then it’s OK if you’re in a pinch but you should never feed cat food to your pup on an ongoing basis.
Grapes and raisins
No one knows what ingredient or compound in grapes and raisins makes them so poisonous to dogs, but they rank among the most serious food threats. Even small amounts can cause sudden kidney failure, often signaled by your dog ceasing to urinate. Other symptoms include foul breath, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some dogs are extremely susceptible to grape and raisin poisoning while others can eat them with no problem—another thing that confounds experts.
Spinach is the subject of widespread debate among veterinarians and other dog experts. It contains a high amount of oxalic acid, a substance known to interfere with dogs’ abilities to absorb calcium, causing kidney damage. That said, some experts say they’d have to consume a very large quantity for this to occur. Generally speaking, it’s probably OK for your dog to have a small amount of spinach every now and then, but regular consumption can lead to serious health problems.
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