Top 11 Toxic Foods for Dogs

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Find out the top 9 toxic foods that dogs get fed and get into.

1. Foods Not To Feed Your Dog

2. Symptoms of Toxicity

3. Garlic and Onions

4. Grapes and Raisins

5. Macadamia Nuts

6. Avocados

7. Xylitol

8. Alcohol

9. Caffeine and Chocolate

10. High-Fat Foods

11. How to Prevent Ingestion of Toxic Foods for Dogs

Foods Not To Feed Your Dog

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Vet Tech Tips

We all love giving our dogs treats or special snacks, but did you know some of the foods we regularly eat can be harmful to dogs? Foods that can be toxic to dogs and likely to require veterinary care include onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocado, xylitol, alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate. Small amounts of these foods, especially raisins and macadamia nuts, can cause a lot of harm. The sensitivity to these foods varies from dog to dog with some showing extreme symptoms to no symptoms.

Symptoms of Toxicity

Symptoms of toxicity include upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. The size of the dog and the amount of toxic food consumed will impact the severity of the symptoms. This is important information to communicate to the veterinarian when seeking help. The standard treatment performed by veterinarians is making the dog vomit. Vomiting the food is ideal because the foods are not harmful to the esophagus and prevent the side effects from the food being digested.  If your pet is having severe symptoms hospitalization, fluids, blood work, and other treatments may need to be done to help the dog overcome the symptoms.

Garlic and Onions

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Vet Tech Tips Garlic Onion

Garlic and onions are common foods found in many of our meals, therefore, it can be tricky to determine what foods can be harmful to our dogs. Raw garlic and onions are the most toxic. Garlic and onion powders should also be considered, commonly found in dinner-type baby food. Garlic and onions can cause changes in the red blood cells, which can cause anemia and weakness. Continued consumption can cause damage to organs, including the kidneys.  Treatment may include hospitalization, blood transfusions, and blood work.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can quickly cause kidney damage. Raisins are more concentrated and are therefore more toxic than grapes.  For some dogs, it only takes a few of either to cause harm.

Macadamia Nuts

Just a few macadamia nuts can cause weakness and a racing heart.


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Vet Tech Tips Avocado

Avocado trees contain a substance called persin, which can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. The fat content in avocados can cause pancreatitis, which usually requires hospitalization to get it under control.  If a pit is consumed it can cause intestinal blockage (nothing can get through the intestines) and could require surgery to have it removed.


Xylitol, which is used mostly in gum and toothpaste, is now found in a lot of sweeteners and even peanut butter. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, which can cause weakness, seizures, and liver failure.


Alcohol can cause issues with the central nervous system, coordination, and breathing.  Furthermore, it can decrease blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Water is the only drink your dog should be given, that’s all they need.

Caffeine and Chocolate

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Vet Tech Tips Coffee Chocolate

Caffeine and chocolate contain theobromine, which causes increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, restlessness, and excessive urination.  The darker the chocolate the more concentrated it is and the more toxic it can be to the dog. Chocolate with macadamia nuts can be even more toxic. The amount of chocolate and caffeine consumed depends on how toxic it can become.

High-Fat Foods

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Vet Tech Tips Dog Getting Fluids After Eating Toxic Food for Dogs

Foods that are high in fat including bacon, bacon grease, skin, droppings from meats, barbecue droppings, highly processed meats, etc, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia (not wanting to eat), stomach pains, and/or lethargy (not wanting to move much).  These foods can cause pancreatitis which is inflammation of the pancreas and normally requires hospitalization.  A blood test can quickly let you know if your dog has pancreatitis or not.  While at the hospital the dog will need medications, fluids, repeated blood work, and sometimes radiographs (X-rays) to get the dog better.  It is important to know that if your dog gets pancreatitis once it is very likely that it will get it again so staying away from these kinds of food is important.

How to Prevent Ingestion of Toxic Foods for Dogs

It is important to read the labels of the food you are feeding your dog to ensure that they are not getting something that might be harmful. If you think your dog got into something potentially harmful, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian can provide guidance to prevent side effects and help monitor the severity of the toxicity.  When your dog comes home from the vet hospital they will normally need to be on a bland diet that can be a prescription diet or plain boiled chicken, white rice, potatoes, cooked scrambled eggs, oatmeal, etc.  Bland is the key, no seasonings, broth just plain food for a few days and small frequent meals are better than large meals to allow the stomach and intestines to not have to do much work to be able to recover from the toxic food they did eat.


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