7 Common Foods Toxic To Dogs – Number 3 Is Surprising!

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Unfortunately, our homes and kitchens can sometimes contain seemingly innocent foods which are toxic to dogs. Even foods that are completely harmless to us can be incredibly dangerous for your dog especially if they are eaten in large amounts!

We looked at 7 of the most common foods that are toxic to dogs, but of course, there are many other products that are also dangerous. So, if your dog ever displays symptoms of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive panting, weakness or collapse, please contact your vet immediately!

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains caffeine as well as another stimulant called theobromine. People can easily digest and pass these stimulants through their bodies in about 2 – 3 hours. However, dogs are far more sensitive to theobromine and caffeine because their absorption is a lot slower – it can take about 18 hours to fully metabolize in dogs (source: NCBI – Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs).

Although theobromine is found in all chocolate, dark chocolate and unsweetened cooking chocolate contain the highest concentrations and are therefore the most harmful.

The amount of toxic theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Common milk chocolate only contains about 44-58 mg/ounce.

VCA Hospitals

Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs

Theobromine and caffeine affect a dog’s central nervous system, respiratory system and cardiovascular system. It is also a diuretic. Common signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme thirst
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive Panting
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Lack Of Co-Ordination
  • Irregular Heart Rate

If left untreated your dog could eventually begin having seizures which could lead to death. It is therefore extremely important to seek help from your vet as soon as you suspect your dog may have eaten some chocolate.

How Much Chocolate Is Toxic To A Dog?

The toxicity of chocolate will depend on the size of the dog and the amount of chocolate eaten. If your dog eats a small amount of chocolate it can lead to restlessness, hyperactivity, vomiting and diarrhea.

However, if large amounts are eaten, it can lead to seizures, tremors, irregular heart rate, heart attack and internal bleeding.

The lethal dose of theobromine is reported to be 100-500 mg/kg of body weight in dogs.

However, not all types of chocolate contain the same amount of theobromine: cocoa powder and plain chocolate contain the highest concentrations (20 mg/g and 15 mg/g), milk chocolate has much less (2 mg/g), and white chocolate has the lowest concentration (0.1 mg/g).

Thus, less than 100 g of plain chocolate may be fatal for a 10 kg dog.

NCBI – Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs

My Dog Ate Chocolate! What Do I Do?

In this video, Ultimate Pet Nutrition gives an excellent overview of why chocolate is toxic to dogs and what to do if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.

2. Cooked Bones

Isn’t it sometimes tempting to toss your dog a cooked bone especially when they look at you with those big, loving puppy dog eyes? While it is tempting, it really isn’t a good idea!

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Bones?

No, the cooking process makes cooked bones brittle and they can easily splinter into jagged, sharp pieces when your dog chews them. If your dog eats cooked bones, it can cause him to become constipated. In severe cases, the bones can cause a blockage or even cut and perforate the stomach or intestines which can cause internal bleeding.

Because the cooked bones become so brittle they can also be a choking hazard and cause mouth injuries.

Is It Better To Give Dogs Cooked Bones Or Raw Bones?

As mentioned above, giving your dog cooked bones is a no-no! However, raw bones can be very beneficial.

Always feed your dog raw bones. Raw meaty bones (such as raw chicken wings or lamb flaps) help to keep teeth and gums healthy, provide added nutrition and help cleanse your dog’s digestive tract. Never feed cooked bones to your dog, as these can splinter and cause internal injury.


Dog Bones: Which Are Safe For Dogs?

Dr. Gary Richter from Ultimate Pet Nutrition gives us the low-down on cooked bones for dogs versus raw bones.

3. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and they really should be avoided at all costs.

Veterinarians and researchers have not identified what causes this particular food to be toxic to dogs; it’s perfectly safe for humans and has not been seen to affect cats.

As with grapes and raisins, we just do not know the specific toxin or mechanism of biological action that causes the signs of poisoning. But what we do know is that even a small amount of the nuts can cause severe symptoms. A dog can show symptoms from eating as little as 1/10 of an ounce per roughly 2 pounds of body weight.

American Kennel Club

Symptoms Of Macadamia Nut Poisoning

When dogs eat macadamia nuts they most commonly experience these symptoms:

  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of Muscle Control
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Fever

Although vets don’t know exactly what causes macadamia nuts to be toxic to dogs, it is thought that they contain a toxin that affects the dog’s muscles and nervous system. Even eating just a small number of nuts has been found to affect muscle strength.

Macadamia nuts are a common ingredient in many human snacks such as trail mix so it is best to keep these safely away from your dog.

Curious Dog Eats Toxic Macadamia Nuts | Bondi Vet

In this episode of Bondi Vet, a 3-year-old American bulldog named Cash was brought into the veterinary surgery. Cash found and ate a 130g bag of macadamia nuts while his parents were out and they were extremely worried about him.

Dr. Pete Ricci explains the dangers of macadamia nuts and treats Cash. Luckily, Cash’s parents got him to the vet quickly so most of the macadamia nuts hadn’t been digested. Dr. Ricci induced vomiting and managed to get most of the macadamia nuts out of Cash’s stomach before he became really sick. Luckily Cash made a full recovery!

4. Onions & Garlic

Onions and garlic, along with all other members of the onion family, are toxic to dogs. This includes shallots, chives and leeks.

It is important to note that onions and garlic are toxic to dogs in all forms including raw, cooked, fried and even powdered. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, onion and garlic powders are even more toxic than fresh onions! VCA Hospitals notes that 1 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to about 8 cloves of fresh garlic.

These vegetables contain a toxin called N-propyl disulfide which can cause a breakdown of red blood cells in your dog resulting in anemia.

The potentially deadly part of Allium spp. damages red blood cell membranes. This makes the red blood cell fragile and causes them to burst. Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen throughout the body. When these cells are destroyed, important organs do not get enough oxygen. A low red blood cell count (anemia) results in increased heart rate, elevated respiratory rate and effort, weakness, discolored urine, kidney damage, collapse and even death. Certain breeds, especially dogs of Japanese descent (Akita, Shiba Inu), may have a higher risk for toxicity.

VCA Hospitals | Onion, Garlic, Chive, and Leek Toxicity in Dogs

How Much Onion Will Harm A Dog?

Onions are extremely toxic to dogs and even small amounts are dangerous.

It only takes 100 grams of onion (about the size of a medium onion) per 20 kilograms of a dog’s weight to cause toxic effects, which means that a 45-pound dog would only have to eat one medium-to-large-size onion to experience dangerous toxicity levels. Since most dogs would happily devour a bag of unattended onion rings or an onion casserole, given the opportunity, this is a serious concern.

American Kennel Club | Can Dogs Eat Onions?

What Are The Symptoms Of Onion Poisoning In Dogs?

The first symptoms you will notice if your dog has eaten onions are the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • Tummy pain
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Panting
  • Pale gums
  • Red-colored urine

How Long Does It Take For Onion To Affect Dogs?

In most cases, symptoms will appear within 1 to 3 days of the onion being eaten. Usually, you will notice that your dog has an upset tummy and this will be followed by vomiting, tummy pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy. It is incredibly important that you contact your vet as soon as you notice these symptoms!

Garlic & Onion Toxicity In Dogs | What To Expect & Do If Your Dogs Eats Garlic Or Onions

Dan The Veterinarian, explains how toxic onions and garlic can be for dogs. He explains why onions and garlic are so dangerous and what to do if you notice any onion toxicity symptoms.

5. Grapes & Raisins

Can dogs eat grapes and raisins? No, both grapes and raisins are very toxic to dogs. Even in small amounts, they can cause rapid kidney failure in dogs so it is important to get your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect they may have eaten either of these fruits.

How do I Know If My Dog Has Grape Poisoning?

If your dog has eaten grapes or raisins he will start vomiting or having diarrhea within a few hours. Thereafter, he will start developing the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Tummy Pain
  • Dehydration
  • Panting
  • Dry Nose
  • Pale Gums
  • Increased Thirst
  • Kidney failure

How Many Raisins Will Hurt A Dog?

As with most of the toxic foods we have listed, toxicity will very much depend on the size of the dog versus the amount of the food they have eaten.

Toxic dose: The dose that can cause serious problems is 0.7 ounces per kilogram of grapes and 0.1 ounce per kilogram of raisins.

This means that 3 grapes (or 3 raisins) could be fatal for a 2.5 pound puppy, and 12 grapes (or 12 to 15 raisins) could potentially kill a 10-pound animal. The toxic element is also present in grape stems.

Amarili Small Amimal Emergency Clinic

How Long After Eating Grapes Will A Dog Get Sick?

Raisins and grapes will usually cause vomiting within 24 hours of the fruit being eaten but your dog may start getting sick as early as 1 to 3 hours.

Symptoms & Treatment For Grape Toxicity

Dan The Veterinarian gives a complete overview of just how toxic grapes are to dogs. He explains how important it is to get to a vet urgently if your dog eats grapes or raisins so that severe health complications can be avoided.

6. Coffee

Coffee is potentially toxic to dogs because it contains caffeine. Caffeine has a similar effect on dogs as it has on us. But because our pets weigh so much less than what we do these effects are multiplied for them which can be very dangerous. Even a small amount of caffeine can potentially cause a big problem for your dog.

What Products Contain Caffeine?

Other common products that contain caffeine include:

  • Tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Soda
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee grounds
  • Diet pills
  • Painkillers
  • Cold & flu medications

Symptoms Of Caffeine Poisoning In Dogs

Most symptoms of caffeine poisoning in dogs begin within about 1 to 2 hours. Symptoms include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • vomiting
  • restlessness & jitters
  • racing heart / abnormal heartbeat
  • high blood pressure
  • tremors
  • high temperature
  • seizures
  • collapse

How Much Coffee Is Toxic To Dogs?

Toxicity again depends on the size of the pet versus the amount of caffeine they have ingested.

The degree of toxicity is determined by the amount of caffeine ingested as well as the size and health status of the pet. A large, young, healthy dog will likely have a better outcome than a small, old dog with kidney problems. But, regardless of age or size, caffeine can damage major organs like the liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system.

VCA Hospitals | Caffeine Toxicity in Pets

Is Caffeine Safe For Pets? What To Do If Your Pet Has Caffeine

7. Artificial Sweeteners (Xylitol)

Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and even in small amounts, it can cause your dog’s blood sugar levels to drop quickly which can lead to seizures, liver failure, blood clotting disorders and even death.

According to VCA Hospitals, this is what happens when your dog eats xylitol:

In both humans and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. Xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas in humans. However, when dogs eat xylitol, the xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin causes a profound drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur as quickly as 10-60 minutes after ingestion. If untreated, hypoglycemia can be life-threatening. The process by which xylitol can cause liver failure in dogs is poorly understood.

VCA Hospitals | Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs

Symptoms Of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Xylitol causes your dog’s blood sugar level to drop suddenly which can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Collapse/trouble walking
  • seizures

Products That Contain Xylitol

While most people think of those little sugar replacement pills when they hear Xylitol, there are actually lots of common products that contain it. Here are a few:

  • Baked goods
  • Certain peanut butters
  • Chewable vitamins
  • Chewing gum,
  • Cough syrup
  • Protein bars
  • Sugar-free puddings and deserts
  • Certain ice-creams
  • Sugar-free yogurts
  • Mouthwash/toothpaste

Chewing Gum seems to be one of the biggest culprits when it comes to xylitol poisoning in dogs.

Xylitol poisoning in dogs most commonly occurs as a result of dogs eating chewing gum, specifically the sugar-free variety. Some brands reportedly contain as much as one gram in each piece. That means it could take just three pieces of xylitol gum to leave a 30kg dog, such as a Labrador, seriously ill.

Vets Now | Xylitol poisoning in dogs. What should I look out for?

How Much Xylitol Is Toxic To Dogs?

As you can see from the above list, there are many products that contain xylitol. And because each of these products contains different amounts it isn’t always easy to give exact estimates of which products are more dangerous than others. Again, the size of your dog will play a big part in just how toxic xylitol is. Vets Now gives the following estimates:

Regardless of the amount of xylitol dogs eat, serious health issues can occur. As a rule of thumb, it’s estimated that 50-100mg of xylitol per kilogram of body weight, can cause hypoglycemia. If that’s accurate, then xylitol is even more toxic to dogs than the stimulant theobromine, which is found in chocolate.

Vets Now | Xylitol poisoning in dogs. What should I look out for?

Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs: Sweeteners Can Kill

Dr. Alex from Our Pets Health explains why xylitol is toxic to dogs and what to do if you think your dog has eaten a product that contains this dangerous chemical.

What To Do If You Think Your Dog Has Eaten Something Toxic

If you know your dog has eaten something toxic or if he is displaying any of the above symptoms, please contact your vet immediately! Don’t try to make your dog vomit or use any at-home remedies without speaking to your vet first.

Be prepared to give the vet the following information:

  • The symptoms your dog is displaying
  • A list of medications and supplements your dog is taking or if he is on a special diet
  • His approximate weight
  • Medical history
  • Any details you have on what your dog may have eaten. Keep any labels or product information you have. If possible let the vet know when the toxic product was eaten and how much your dog consumed.

All this information will help your vet make the best treatment decisions for your dog. Remember, the sooner you get professional advice the sooner your dog will be back to his normal happy self!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or condition your pet may have. Please always consult a qualified veterinarian for professional advice if you suspect your dog is sick.

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