What Can Dogs Not Eat: 25 Foods to Avoid

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Two dogs licking sweet cream. What can dogs not eat?

Whether you want to give your pet an extra treat or your dog has found their way into food that does not belong to them, it is vital to know more about how certain foods will affect your dog.

Some common foods are toxic for dogs, and many other foods have negative, long-term effects on your pet’s health. 

The best way to keep your pet safe and healthy is to know what can dogs not eat and what happens when dogs eat foods they aren’t supposed to.

Also, some types of food can cause allergic reactions in dogs.

You can read more about dog food allergies here.

25 Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is not healthy for humans, let alone for your pet. Alcohol contains ethanol, which is toxic to dogs in large quantities.

The level of danger from alcohol consumption depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. If you believe that your dog has had a large amount of alcohol, take your pet to the vet immediately.

If your dog ingested a small amount of alcohol, you should keep an eye on your pet for several hours to check for the following signs and symptoms:

2. Avocado

As a general rule of thumb, dogs cannot eat fruits with pits because the skin and pits of the fruit are poisonous. The poisonous nature of pits applies not only to avocados but also to cherries and peaches. [1]

The pits of most fruits contain cyanide and are very toxic for dogs. Avocados are especially bad for dogs because even the fruit’s flesh is toxic. Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can upset a dog’s stomach and cause diarrhea.

3. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are bad for dogs because they contain eugenol.

In small doses, eugenol will not visibly affect your dog. However, in large doses, the eugenol in bay leaves severely affects your dog’s health.

The symptoms of eugenol poisoning in dogs are:

  • Decreased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased mobility

While eugenol can be fatal to dogs in extremely large quantities, it is unlikely that dogs will get the dosage needed from Bay Leaves for their lives to be at risk.

4. Bones

Unlike most other foods on this list, bones are not dangerous to your dog’s health because of any ingredients.

Bones pose a risk to dogs because dogs like to chew bones into pieces before eating them, and these pieces can splinter inside your dog’s digestive system.

While the thick dog bones bought from your local pet store are generally safe, cooked bones are especially prone to splintering and hurting your furry friend.

You can read more about raw diet for dogs here.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is very bad for your dog. You can find caffeine in coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks. Caffeine is a poison that humans have evolved to tolerate, but the effects can be quite dangerous for dogs.

Symptoms of caffeine overdose in dogs include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Heart flutters

6. Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most well-known foods humans love, but that is very toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine which is a methylxanthine similar to caffeine.

The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine is, and higher concentrations of the toxic chemical increase the harmful effects.

Depending on the size of your dog and the amount and type of chocolate consumed, there are a variety of severe digestive and neurological problems, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Heart Attack
  • Seizures
  • Death

Studies show that long-term exposure to small doses of theobromine can be equally fatal as a one-time large dose.

You can read more about why chocolate is bad for dogs here.

7. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are quite healthy for dogs in moderation, but it’s important to separate the good parts of the fruit from the dangerous parts.

The skin and rinds of citrus fruits contain psoralen, which is bad for a dog’s digestive system. The oils in the peels of many citrus fruits can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

The flesh of citrus fruits (with the seeds removed) is good for dogs because it is high in fiber and Vitamin C.

Even after ensuring your dog only gets the peeled insides of citrus fruit, only give them to your dogs in moderation. The fruit’s acidity can upset your dog’s stomach, even though it isn’t toxic.

8. Dairy

Dairy contains a sugar called lactose, and most dogs are lactose intolerant. 

While the symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs present much like lactose intolerance in humans and are not very dangerous, they are still unpleasant. Excessive dairy gives dogs stomach aches and diarrhea.

That isn’t to say you cannot give your dog the occasional pup-cup or puppuccino as a treat, but dogs should consume dairy very infrequently.

9. Garlic

Garlic is a type of sulfoxide which is bad for dogs.

The amount of exposure your dog has to garlic changes the effects that garlic will have on your dog’s health.

Infrequent, small doses of garlic may give your dog diarrhea and stomach pains.

Frequent exposure to sulfoxides in dogs can decrease your dog’s red-blood-cell count. A decrease in the red blood cell count can have a variety of negative effects, including:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased liver function
  • Death

You can read more about spices good for dogs here.

10. Gum

There is no one reason that gum is bad for your dog. Any type of gum is bad because it is hard to digest for dogs and can give them stomach aches.

Gum often contains large amounts of sugar, which is bad for you, and your dog’s health.

Some types of gum contain Xylitol, which is harmful to dogs.

11. Grapes

A surprising example of what can dogs not eat is grapes. While dogs can eat most fruits without pits, grapes contain tartaric acid, which some veterinarians believe to be the cause of Grape and Raisin Toxicity in dogs.

Regardless of the cause, Grape and Raisin Toxicity can impact dogs in several ways. Aside from irritating the digestive system to cause diarrhea and vomiting, grapes can impact the kidneys and reduce urination while increasing thirst. Ultimately, grape and raisin toxicity can lead to kidney failure and death.

Of course, raisins are bad too for your dog.

12. Licorice

Licorice is dangerous for dogs because it contains glycyrrhizin, which is toxic to dogs in large quantities.

Glycyrrhizin impacts the gastrin levels in a dog’s body, which ensures proper digestion and potassium regulation. Improper potassium regulation can lead to vomiting, increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, and liver damage.

13. Menthol

Menthol is harmful to dogs. You can find menthol in mint, mint-flavoring, and cough drops.

Menthol restricts breathing in dogs and irritates the linings of their mouths.

While menthol does not generally cause long-term harm, consuming menthol can be very upsetting and uncomfortable for your dog.

14. Mushrooms

There are many types of mushrooms, and some of them are harmful to dogs.

While most store-bought mushrooms are fine for dogs to eat, wild mushrooms are generally highly toxic.

The type and amount of mushrooms have a huge impact on the effects. Some mushrooms may only give mild discomfort, while others may be deadly. Wild mushroom consumption can trigger:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Organ damage
  • Decreased mobility
  • Seizures
  • Death

15. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is harmful to dogs because it contains myristicin, which can lead to nausea, confusion, and increased heart rate in canines. Eventually, the myristicin can impair a dog’s mobility.

16. Nuts

Similarly to mushrooms, there are a wide variety of nuts, and the effects that they have on dogs vary greatly depending on the type of nut and the amount consumed.

Almonds, cashews, and peanuts have vitamins and are high in proteins that are good for dogs; however, their high fat content makes them a less effective way to get vitamins and proteins into your dog’s diet.

While they are not toxic for dogs, they can still cause stomach pains and diarrhea in large quantities. 

Some of the worst nuts for dogs are macadamia nuts and acorns. Acorns contain tannin, and macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin, both of which are linked to a variety of digestive and neurological conditions, including vomiting, decreased appetite, mobility problems, and tremors.

You can give your dog peanut butter as a treat but check the label first – if it consists Xylitol then avoid it because that is a sugar substitute.

17. Onions

Onions, like garlic, are a sulfoxide that is toxic for dogs. The toxicity concentration in onions is higher than that of garlic, however, and it only takes one medium-sized onion to cause a 50-pound dog to have harmful side effects. Dogs may experience intense vomiting, difficulty moving, discolored gums, and fainting.

18. Peaches and Plums

It’s okay to feed your dog slices of peaches and plums but don’t let them get a hold of the whole piece. Your pup won’t know to avoid the pit in the middle which is toxic since it contains cyanide. 

19. Poppy Seeds

Poppies can negatively impact more than characters from The Wizard of Oz. Poppies are an opioid and are extremely toxic to dogs because they depress the central nervous system, slowing down normal bodily function.

Poppy seeds are very small, and it is easy for dogs to ingest enough to be dangerous to their health- even just a few poppy seeds from a salad dressing can have extremely harmful effects, like:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased coordination
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Death

20. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is bad for dogs because it contains oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is a mild toxin that does not break down, even when cooked. Rhubarb impacts a dog’s digestive system and then their urinary tract. It may present as vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation, but eventually evolves into kidney failure.

21. Salt

Salt, like all other electrolytes, is essential for body function. However, dogs can have too much salt and develop hypernatremia

When dogs consume too much sodium, they can experience dehydration, water retention, and difficulty with urination. In extreme cases, dogs develop liver failure and brain edema.

22. Sorbitol 

Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener found in many low-calorie or sugar-free foods and beverages.

Sorbitol is a laxative and can cause many digestive problems for your dog, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

It’s important to note that Sorbitol is not considered toxic for dogs. However, it can be problematic for puppies because it fills their sensitive digestive tracts with water and causes diarrhea.

23. Spicy Food

Spicy food is a very broad category. That being said, your dog should not eat any spicy foods. Sometimes spice comes from oils and ingredients that are toxic to dogs, but even spicy foods that are not toxic are bad for your dog’s health.

Dogs have digestive systems that cannot digest as many spices as humans. Because of this, even spicy foods that aren’t toxic to dogs can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Increased thirst

Of course, there are spices your dog can eat, you can check that list here.

24. Tomatoes

While fully ripe tomatoes are generally safe for dogs to consume, you should avoid feeding tomatoes to your dog.

Unripe tomatoes contain solanine, a mild toxin that negatively affects a dog’s digestive system. Solanine is present in the green parts of a tomato plant. Solanine poisoning presents with:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased energy

25. Yeast Dough (Bread Dough)

Yeast is dangerous for two reasons. The first is that, like with bones, it causes a risk of physical harm. The second is that as yeast is expanding, it releases ethanol, which can give your dog alcohol poisoning.

You can find active yeast in many grain-based foods where the dough is left to rise, like bread, pizza dough, or cinnamon rolls.

The risk of physical harm occurs because yeast is supposed to expand. When dogs eat foods with yeast, the expansion continues in their stomach. Because of this expansion, obstructions in the digestive tract can develop and cause stomach pain, bloating, and nausea.

When ethanol forms in the stomach and moves into the bloodstream during the digestion of bread yeast, things progress differently. Dogs may experience a range of issues, making it challenging to treat, including:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Increased breathing
  • Decreased coordination
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Coma

What Can Dogs not eat – bottom line:

It is essential to watch what types of food you are feeding your dog and what types of food your dog is getting into.

You can read our list of the best dog foods here.

If your dog manages to get into any of the foods that are toxic to them, it is necessary to keep an eye on them to see if there are any harmful effects. If you notice ANY changes in your dog’s behavior after consumption of potentially toxic foods, take them to the vet immediately.

With proper veterinarian care, dogs can be easily treated for most types of poisoning. A vet will either induce purging of the dog’s stomach or will treat them with hemodialysis depending on the severity of the situation.

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Cliff is the co-founder and chief editor at DogFoodPoint.com. He and his Yorkie Boza are always together - even at work. Cliff is a passionate dog lover and has 15+ years of experience in dog training. His mission is to provide the best dog feeding tips that help dogs live longer and happier.

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