Begging puppy eyes can make dog owners melt. Every now and then, it’s perfectly common to slip your dog a few scraps of human food – how could you resist? But did you know that some foods that are healthy for humans can be toxic to dogs? Next time you drop your dinner into the mouth of your favorite mealtime opportunist, make sure you aren’t feeding Fido the following harmful foods:
1. Grapes and Raisins
Studies have shown that there is a compound in grapes and raisins that is extremely toxic to dogs. Although the exact substance that causes the reaction is unknown, it can cause rapid kidney failure in dogs. How your dog responds to ingesting these foods will depend on size, breed and health issues, but it’s important to avoid grapes and raisins altogether as they can be harmful or even fatal.
There are a multitude of products that contain grapes or raisins – including breads, trail mix, and cereal. Make sure to keep these foods out of your dog's reach to avoid a hospital visit.
2. Peaches and Plums
It’s not the peach or the plum itself that is inherently toxic to dogs; it’s the pit. The pit contains cyanide which, if ingested by humans or dogs, can be very toxic. Not only is the compound in the pit harmful, but if your dog swallows the pit whole, it can cause intestinal blockage. If you have peaches or plums in your household, or on trees in your yard, make sure they are not in an area that your dog can reach.
Caffeine is in your morning cup of joe, but also found in sodas and energy drinks. Caffeine contains substances called methyxanthines, which can be harmful to dogs if ingested. Methyxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, excessive panting, increased levels of thirst and urination, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and even death.
In the simplest form, caffeine is poisonous to dogs, and should always be avoided. If your dog accidentally slurps something down that contains caffeine, call your vet immediately and watch for symptoms.
Chocolate is the answer, who cares what the question is, right? Well, not exactly. Just like caffeine, chocolate contains methylxanthines which cause dangerous side effects in dogs. Be cognizant of all the foods that contain chocolate – including cookies, breads, trail mix, protein bars, shakes, and more. It does not matter if it’s dark chocolate, semi-sweet or unsweetened, they all contain this substance in some form and can severely harm your dog.
5. Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic can break down red blood cells in dogs. If you cook with these staples often, it’s best to avoid feeding leftovers to your pup. These vegetables are part of the allium plant, and can cause anemia in canines. Anemia can be characterized as vomiting, muscle weakness, being turned off to food, and difficulty breathing. Your dog can have a reaction if they ingest large doses of allium-based foods, or small doses over a long period of time.
Yeast is extremely toxic to your dog before it’s baked. If your dog happens to ingest pizza dough, for example, the yeast will continue to rise in their tummy. This causes gas, which can be an uncomfortable experience, but can also cause distention in the organs that can lead to intestinal blockage.
As an added harmful side effect, yeast also produces ethanol, which causes your dog to become drunk. This is not healthy for you dog by any means, so if you are baking bread or pizza from scratch, keep your dog out of the kitchen.
Ethanol is made using a process called fermentation – when yeast breaks down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. We already know that yeast and ethanol are poisonous to your dog, so it’s important to keep your furry friend away from the fun juice, as well.
Be extra careful around fruity drinks where the alcohol smell is disguised, or around red wine, which contains grapes. Alcohol will damage a dog’s liver in the same way it can hurt a human’s liver – but it takes much less to do the harm. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death in dogs.
8. Macadamia Nuts
Ingestion of macadamia nuts in dogs causes dangerous, non-fatal symptoms.
It’s not clearly known what is in macadamia nuts that is harmful to dogs, but it should be taken very seriously. If even a small amount of these nuts are eaten, it can cause vomiting, tremors, and even paralysis in dogs. Keep these nuts out of your dog’s reach to avoid accidental consumption.
Avocados may be the superfood of the times, but we should keep it on our toast and away from our dogs. Avocados contain a compound called persin, which can cause diarreaha, vomiting and heart congestion in dogs.
Similar to plums and peaches, the avocado pit is harmful, too. The avocado pit contains persin as well, and if swallowed, can cause intestinal blockage.
10. Corn on the Cob
Corn is in everything these days – including packaged dog food (as it can be used as fillers). But if you happen to grill corn on the cob in your home, be careful not to let your dog chomp on the cob. Many dogs have been known to ingest parts of the cob, and it can lead to blockages and digestive issues.
Keeping this list of harmful foods in your mind can help save your dog's life. But even the best dog owner knows that canines can be sneaky when it comes to food. If your dog ingests any of the above food items, what should you do? Call your vet immediately to seek expert advice, or call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.