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May 19

What can Dogs not eat? A list of 24 foods that dogs cannot eat

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Home / Dog Food / What can Dogs not eat? A list of 24 foods that dogs cannot eat

Updated: May 19, 2021

In our previous article, we touched on the foods that dogs can eat with us.

In this one, we're covering on what can dogs NOT eat, and SHOULD NOT eat, for various health reasons.

This list is a living, evolving list - it will either expand or shrink depending on the research by vets and medical researchers.

This list is also supported by actual scientific evidence. The numbers you see at the end of some of the foods contain a link to an actual PubMed research article for you to read.

The Table of Contents to your right is provided for quick access and reference!


Fruits


Not all fruits are safe for dogs sadly. Some fruits contain compounds that humans can ingest safely, but is incredibly dangerous for dogs to have.


Raisins/Grapes, Sultanas, Currants

A definite NO at all times.

Sultanas, grapes and currants are all part of the same family of grapes, and are all equally toxic to dogs. (Raisins are just dried grapes)

Even small amounts of any of these fruits can mean kidney failure and death for your dog!

Grapes and its family of fruits contain very toxic compounds to dogs, and will kill if they ingest enough of it (1)

Make sure that when you're eating grapes, you don't drop any, and keep them in a very secure location where your dogs can't get to it.


Oranges

The flesh of oranges in general are actually fine for dogs to eat, but we shifted the Oranges into the category of what dogs can't eat for a few reasons:

  • The skins and white film of oranges may contain certain compounds that are toxic to dogs, and removing them all is quite difficult
  • Oranges have quite a high sugar content, which can cause them to gain weight quite easily.
  • The citric acid in oranges is known to cause stomach upsets in a lot of dogs
  • Not all dogs enjoy the smell of the citrus in oranges

All in all, while dogs can eat the flesh of oranges, it's generally not recommended due to the number of issues dogs can face from it. (2)

It's far easier to choose a fruit that has none of these problems, but all of the nutrients instead.


Lemon or Lime

Quite similar to oranges, dogs can definitely eat small quantities of Lemon flesh, but they don't necessarily enjoy it.

Plus, the same issues apply from the oranges section - making lemons a fruit that is not ideal for dogs, and its just better to choose a fruit that is healthier with less drawbacks.

In short, dogs can eat lemon or lime, but its not recommended. (3)


Avocado

Avocado is great for human consumption, but a definitely no for dogs.

It contains persin, a compound toxic to dogs, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. This can lead to fluid accumulation in their lungs, which eventually will kill them by suffocation. (4)

Avoid giving to your dog at all costs, and don't let them lick that spoon!



Fungi


Not all mushrooms are beneficial for a dog's digestive system sadly - especially the wild ones that can kill even humans easily.

Wild Mushrooms

In the previous article on mushrooms, we stated that it was preferable to not let your dogs eat wild mushrooms, and with good reason!

There are many types of wild mushrooms, and many are deadly to dogs, causing severe mushroom poisoning (5, 6)

Some of the more deadly ones include:

  • Amanita phalloides (death cap)
  • Galerina marginata (deadly Galerina)
  • Amanita gemmata (jeweled death cap)
  • Amanita muscaria (fly agaric)
  • Gyromitra species (false morel)
  • Inocybe species and Clitocybe dealbata mushrooms


In general, when a dog ingests a toxic mushroom, it can cause seizures, liver failure, uncontrolled urination and salivation. All of these, if untreated in time, will cause death in dogs.

So, be careful when your dog goes on treks with you in the wilderness - wild mushrooms are no laughing matter if they ingest any.


Spices


Spices add flavor and taste to our lives. They however, don't always apply to our beloved canine family members.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon by itself is not a toxic spice for dogs, but if you've seen some Youtube videos, even when humans ingest a large quantity, it severely irritates their body and their breathing.

The same is true for dogs.

In large enough quantities, it can cause irritation in their mouths and digestive system, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and possibly liver damage.

Cinnamon powder inhalation can cause respiratory issues like coughing, choking and breathing difficulties (7)


As a caveat, any baked bread with cinnamon is also a no go for dogs.


Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a dangerous spice for dogs, as it contains a compound myristicin, which is toxic to dogs in large amounts.

It can cause disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth and even seizures in dogs (8)


Also, nutmeg in bread for dogs is a definitely no.  


Nuts


Generally dogs don't eat nuts because they're hard and usually give dogs some digestive trouble, or present as choking hazards. 

All the more reason not to give them nuts and choose healthier alternatives!

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts is something to NEVER give your dogs.

They contain an unknown toxin that can cause vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors and even hyperthermia (overheating) in dogs, even in very small quantities. (9)

Any higher in quantity and they can die, even with medical intervention.



Stimulants


Some stimulants may work for us humans better for our work or pleasure, but they're completely dangerous for dogs to consume. Avoid at all costs!

Caffeine

Any caffeine is bad for dogs, as it contains methylxanthines, which is very toxic to dogs.

Caffeine stimulates your dog's nervous system, which can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and even seizures (10)

Even small amounts can cause adverse effects in dogs, so make sure you keep the coffee and tea containers away from where your dogs can reach it! (11)

If your dog takes too much caffeine, it can cause their heart rates to spiral out of control and eventually lead to their deaths (12, 13)


Alcohol

We as humans might be able to enjoy alcohol, but when ingested by dogs, it can cause severe effects, first of which would be vomiting and diarrhea (14)

Alcohol in larger quantities will kill your dogs very quickly.

It's extremely dangerous for dogs, so never give your dogs any form of alcohol to drink!


Beer Hops

The plant that produces beer hops can cause extreme hyperthermia in dogs (overheating).

Yes, the fruit of the beer hops plant (the hops itself) can also be very dangerous to your dog if they ingest it.

Make sure you avoid letting your dog munch on it if you brew your own beer!


Processed Foods


Processed foods in general is not great for dogs - it's also not very good for us humans actually. 

Better to choose foods that are healthier for dogs to snack on!


Chocolate

Chocolate has been the food that is long been agreed on that is super toxic to dogs. It still is.

It contains methylxanthines, which is super toxic to dogs, and can cause abnormal heart rates, seizures and death quite quickly. (15)

Chocolates also contain theobromine and caffeine(!), which are stimulants dogs cannot metabolize (16)


Yes, there are modern day `chocolate` treats for dogs that is not chocolate at all, but a substitute. However, be very cautious around any product that is marketed to resemble chocolate.

Its better to err on the side of caution rather than not with your dog's life, yes?


Coconut products

In general, the flesh of coconuts are safe to feed your dog in small quantities (see the article on what can dogs eat)

However, the byproducts of coconut are not as healthy.

Coconut water in general is not something encouraged to give your dog, due to the high levels of potassium inside, which can cause potassium poisoning in dogs.

Coconut oil is also discouraged for your dog, due to the very high fat content for your dog.

As occasional treats, it can be given but there are far healthier alternatives to give your dogs, with far less downsides as well.


Bread Dough

While plain baked bread is fine for dogs in small amounts, bread dough is not.

The yeast in bread dough will continue expanding in the dog's stomach, which can cause bloating and lead to very life threatening conditions for the dog! (17)

Worse still, the yeast will produce alcohol as it ferments, which will also cause ethanol poisoning in dogs, quickly causing a very bloated, painful death for dogs (18)


Cat Food

While there isn't a very big problem if your dog eats your cat's food occasionally, care must still be taken.

Cat food is formulated very differently from dog food, since their metabolisms are different from dogs.

Cat food in general is very high in fat, calories and protein, which is not ideal for dogs in the long run.

Dogs with sensitive stomachs can also suffer a stomach upset thanks to the amount of fat in cat food!

In general its not a big deal if it happens once in a while, but daily feeding of cat food for dogs is definitely not something that should be allowed.


Dairy


Interestingly, dogs are also lactose intolerant, same as a large population of humans. If your dog is lactose intolerant, its better to just skip these at all.


Ice Cream

Not strictly a food dogs cannot eat, but it's definitely something that is discouraged for dogs to have for a few reasons.

Ice creams are extremely high in sugar content, which makes them get fat really easily.

Plus, a lot of dogs are actually lactose intolerant, so this can cause some stomach upsets in dogs.

However, in recent years there have been dog food companies that have formulated a special type of dog ice cream with better nutritional formulation.

That said, it's best to give ice cream to your dog very sparingly.

Ice cream with toxic dog flavors (chocolate ice cream, raisin flavored ice cream) is a definite no-go for dogs at all!



Animal Products


In the wild, dogs generally eat all raw meat and other organ meats, but they will suffer the effects of bacterial infections and parasite invasions all the same.

Thankfully, our dogs no longer have to combat these!


Raw meat

Unless your dog has had a raw meat diet for most of its life, it's not recommended for dogs to switch over to a raw meat diet from a cooked or kibble diet, as their stomachs might not be able to adapt,

However, if you do intend to feed your dogs raw meat eventually, care must be taken that the meat is taken from a reliable source, to prevent any parasites from entering your dog, or causing any serious viral infections in your dogs.

Make sure to feed it to your dogs in very small quantities at first to get them used to it!


Raw Eggs

Raw eggs are also generally not recommended for dogs as they can also contain Salmonella and E.Coli bacteria, which can cause severe stomach issues in dogs.

Plus, raw eggs also contain an enzyme called avidin, that can decrease the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin which can lead to skin and coat problems in dogs.

Just by hard boiling the eggs, it would make eggs a far better snack and treat, and a lot safe for your dog's stomachs too!


Bones (cooked)

Most raw bones from animals are fine, especially if your dog is pretty used to eat these raw bones.

However, cooked bones are a different story - once boiled, the bones can potentially splinter in a very dangerous way, which can slash the insides of your dog if they're not careful!

Ensure that if you're planning to give your dog any bones from poultry/meat sources, it's not cooked or in any way heat treated. That way, it'll be quite safe for dogs to chew on and digest the bones.


Seafood and Fish


As a general rule, even for humans, we won't eat raw seafood caught straight from the ocean - in fact, we won't even eat it unless its from a reliable source.

The same rule applies - it's best to not give our dogs raw seafood or raw fish as well.

 

Raw Seafood

Raw seafood contains a ton of parasites, especially if freshly caught from the sea itself.

As such, feeding your dogs fresh, raw seafood (crab, lobster etc.) is definitely something you shouldn't do at all!


Long lived fish

In general, most long lived fish are not particularly poisonous or bad for dogs - but the longer a fish lives, the more mercury is accumulated in its body.

Dogs are also easily affected by mercury in its body, and it can quickly cause a massive deterioration in your dogs health, and lead to a painful death (19)


Roots and Tubers


Most roots and tubers contain some kind of compound that is deathly dangerous to our dogs - avoid at all costs!


Onions, Garlic, Chives, Leeks

Onions, garlics, chives and leeks are all part of the Allium family, which is very toxic to dogs in large doses.

These tubers contain organosulfoxides and thiosulfates, compounds that are highly toxic to dogs and can cause severe anemia and damage their red blood cells. (20)

As such, never ever let them near any of these foods, including any sauces or seasonings that contain them!



Artificial Products



Artificial products are neither healthy for us, nor for our dogs. It would be good to avoid giving to our dogs at all!


Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is used in place of sugar in some products like candy, chewing gum, and toothpaste.

While safe for humans to consume, it's incredibly deadly for dogs to ingest into their bodies - it will cause a rapid drop in their blood sugar, and cause severe seizures.

The worst part is that even small ingested amounts can cause severe long term complications like liver damage, or death in high enough doses. (21)

Xylitol is also found in some brands of peanut butter - be EXTRA careful when giving peanut butter to your dog as a treat; make sure it is xylitol free first!


Other


This is the category where the rest won't fit into.


Moldy/ Rotten Food

While we know that you won't give moldy or rotten food to your dogs willingly, some dogs are masters of... digging through what should not be eaten in the trash.

Some foods that have gone bad can produce toxins like tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause serious and life-threatening debilitations that will kill your dog very quickly if ingested.

As much as possible, seal your moldy or rotten food into bags that your dogs cannot tear open easily (or double bag them for extra safe measure!)


Conclusion


The next question to ask yourself would be how much should I feed my dog, in what quantity.

Stay tuned!


about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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