Toxic foods for dogs

toxic food for dogs

There are a number of toxic foods for dogs that we must be careful they don’t get their paws on, especially during those times we love to celebrate with our friends and family such as Christmas, Easter, Thanks Giving and in general.

Here’s a list of toxic foods for dogs to keep well away from your pooch.

Caffeine, Coffee, Tea

Caffeine contains the same ingredient contained in chocolate – theobromine. Therefore, you should not allow your dog to drink anything containing caffeine. Even some decaffeinated coffee and tea will contain some amounts of theobromine. The symptoms are very similar to those of chocolate toxicity so the same caution and response applies.

Fatty & Salty Foods

Rich and fatty foods, meats, pork crackling and salty, processed meats like ham, are favourites of dogs but they are also on the list of toxic foods for dogs and those to avoid. They often get them as treats, leftovers or from getting into the trash.

These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which is a very painful and serious condition for dogs that can kill them.  Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, and abdominal pain (they will have a hunched posture or pain when touching their stomach) after digesting fatty foods, so ignore those pleading eyes and keep your dog safe.

Cooked Bones

Whilst raw meaty bones are great for your dog’s diet and teeth, cooked bones are a definite no-no for dogs. Once cooked, bones easily splinter and can cause damage to your dog’s throat, stomach and bowel.  Especially chicken bones, turkey bones and other smaller bones but, to be safe, keep all cooked bones away and stick to raw.

Inappropriately sized raw bones can also cause damage to your dog’s teeth or can prove to be a choking so it is important to check with your Vet as to the ideal size and type of bone for your individual dog, particularly with puppies.


Dogs love to sniff out chocolate treats and I am still surprised at how many people leave chocolates within easy reach of dogs. Chocolate is a big one in the list of toxic foods for dogs and depending on the type and amount of chocolate consumed, and the weight of your dog, it could cause a serious medical emergency.

The darker the chocolate the more toxic it is, as it has higher levels of Coca Powder. Chocolate also contains both theobromine and caffeine which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system of dogs so keep sweet treats well out of reach of dogs.


No pet should be exposed to alcohol, even small amounts that might be found in other food hanging around over Christmas such as brandy custard, puddings etc.

Ethanol in alcohol is toxic and as pets are much smaller than us, they can be highly affected by even just the smallest amounts and may even result in death.

When a dog or cat is exposed to alcohol it causes depression of their central nervous system, which can slow their breathing and heart rate and alter their blood chemistry. It can also have dangerous drops in their blood sugar levels causing seizures and, even worse, brain damage.

Grapes and Raisins

While the exact cause isn’t yet known, when dogs consume grapes or raisins, it can lead to sudden acute kidney failure and also cause anuria which is a lack of urine production in some dogs. It’s best not to give your dog any raisins or grapes at all.

Puddings & Fruit cakes

Dogs should not have any kind of access to the traditional Christmas Pudding or Fruit Cake as both are toxic minefields containing a cocktail of dangerous ingredients for dogs. From grapes, sultanas and raisins, to nuts – including the extremely toxic macadamia nuts, and in some cases alcohol.  Not even a tiny tidbit should cross their lips.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia’s are a big no no in the toxic foods for dogslist.  Symptoms may not show up for up to 12-hours following ingestion and are similar to those of alcohol intoxication. You may notice your dog having trouble standing, wobbling when they walk, become lethargic or weak, have muscle spasms or tremors, and an elevated body temperature and heart rate. Take them to your vet at the first sign of any one of these symptoms.

Onions, leeks & garlic

Toxic foods for dogs includes those within the Allium species. This includes onions, garlic, leeks, and chives  that can be toxic to dogs in excessive amounts, or over time.

There is some benefit to giving your dog very small amounts of garlic, which is why you may find it in some dog foods, but do speak to your vet or a pet food nutritionist if you are thinking of adding it to your dog’s diet yourself as it is a toxic food for dogs in the wrong amounts.

Definitely avoid the others in the Allium species and avoid giving any amounts of onions, leeks or chives.

Xylitol (sugar sweetener)

Xylitol is a sugar-alcohol sweetener found in sugar-free human food products such as chewing gum, some peanut butter, as well as other products. Dogs that eat significant amounts can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, which can cause weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures.

Stones/Large seeds and skin in fruits 

While some fruits like apples, apricots, advocado and others can provide an array of vitamins and minerals, you need to ensure any seeds, stems and leaves are not given to your dog.

Not only can they cause an obstruction in the digestive tract, but ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds and leaves of these fruits can be toxic. They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation and shock. Skip plums and cherries altogether to be safe.

The flesh of the apple is fine and many dogs do love them, just make sure you remove all of the seeds, likewise with watermelon and for the likes of pineapple, you have to remove the skin, stem and even the core.

The toxic component in the avocado is persin. It is not known in what quantities the skin or flesh of the avocado might be toxic for dogs, but the large seed found in the middle of avocados can get stuck in the dog’s digestive tract, so only small amounts of advocado should be given and always speak to your vet or pet food nutritionist first.

Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure or muscle spasms.

Warning Signs to look out for:

• Vomiting
• Diarrhoea
• Excessive drooling or frothing
• Restlessness
• Increased urination
• Tremors or seizures
• Wobbling on their legs or collapse

To help you deal with any accidents and injuries that may occur check out our video here, including how to induce vomiting should you suspect your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have.

And, always take them straight to the Vet or emergency pet hospital if you suspect they have snuck in a toxic treat or ingested a foreign object to avoid injury or death from toxic foods for dogs.


About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive a FREE copy of the E-Book “How To Keep Your Dog Happy And Healthy”

"*" indicates required fields

Looking for more dog tips and fun facts?

Get your paws on Lara Shannon’s best selling books ‘Eat, Play, Love (your dog) and World of Dogs.

Available in Australia, USA, UK and Canada.