For us dog owners, our pets are more than just animals. They are beloved members of our family and their health is of paramount importance to us. However, it’s amazing how many of us are unaware of the potential dangers lurking in our dogs’ food. Some seemingly innocuous ingredients can actually be toxic to our canine companions. This lack of awareness is not due to negligence, but to a lack of accessible, understandable and concise information. Our guide aims to uncover the topic of toxic dog foods and provide you with all the knowledge you need to make sure your dog’s food is safe, nutritious and beneficial to their lives.
Toxic Foods what are they?
Do you spend hundreds on dog food and then “treat” your dog to foods that can endanger his health?
North Americans spend billions every year on dog food.
Yet, every year, thousands of dogs become sick due to everyday foods that you and I keep around the house.
You can protect your dog from these toxic foods by:
- not bringing them home
- keeping them locked up or out of his reach
- being firm and refusing to give him any
- keeping your trash or garbage out of his reach.
Below is a list of toxic foods that can put your dog at risk of physical and emotional/behavioral problems.
Some of these toxic foods are due to their chemical makeup.
Others are dangerous due to incomplete cooking or improper/non-secure storage.
Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plum
These five fruits aren’t usually thought of as toxic foods.
However, they contain a type of cyanide compound that can poison your dog if he eats enough of the stems, seeds and leaves.
This can result in dilated pupils, breathing difficulties, hyperventilation, shock, and apprehensiveness.
Chocolate is toxic for two reasons: the chemicals theobromine and caffeine, and its high fat content.
Theobromine and caffeine are nervous system stimulants.
They are toxic to your dog if he eats too much chocolate.
Noticeable effects of overeating include hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle twitches, increased urination and excessive panting.
Internal symptoms include increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Seizures may occur in the most severe cases of poisoning.
These chemical levels increase as the color of the chocolate gets darker.
White chocolate has the lowest amount of theobromine and caffeine, followed by milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa beans are increasingly dangerous to your dog.
The high fat content of chocolate also makes it hard on your dog.
Vomiting and diarrhea may result from overeating.
See below for more information about fatty foods.
Keep your dog protected by keeping all chocolate out of his reach. Do not feed him little chocolate snacks.
Coffee Grounds and Beans
Some dogs will eat anything, especially if they’re enjoying a forbidden treat from a trash can.
Coffee grounds and beans have caffeine in them, and dogs that eat them can suffer from caffeine toxicity.
The symptoms of coffee toxicity are similar to the symptoms of chocolate toxicity, and just as serious, if not more so.
Also beware of leaving out bowls or packages of chocolate-covered coffee beans.
These amount to the worst of both worlds in terms of chocolate and coffee poisoning.
Also known as the Australia Nut and the Queensland Nut, Macadamias are one of the mystery toxic foods when it comes to dogs.
Although researchers still have not determined what causes their toxicity, as few as six nuts, running as high as 40 nuts, can cause severe poisoning.
The symptoms that your dog can develop by eating macadamias include abdominal pain, vomiting, pale gums, stiffness, lameness, difficulty walking, tremors, weakness, and depression.
The toxicity usually dissipates in 12 to 24 hours.
Please note that the macadamia nut tree itself is also toxic to dogs.
Nutmeg is a popular spice at Christmas time, especially for egg nog.
It shouldn’t be popular with your dog, however.
High levels of nutmeg can result in his death.
Symptoms include seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems, and death.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic contain thiosulphate, the chemical that makes them toxic foods for dogs.
If you feed onions or garlic to him regularly, his red blood cells may weaken and literally fall apart.
The thiosulphate can reach toxic, even deadly levels, if he eats too much of either food.
Without treatment, severe anemias and death can result from overeating these toxic foods.
Humans have an enzyme that allows us to digest onions and garlic (although some people do have digestive problems with them).
All dogs (and cats) lack that enzyme.
This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, gas or gastrointestinal pain and distress.
These symptoms might not appear for a few days, which makes it much harder to pinpoint the poison.
To avoid this problem, be sure to keep these toxic foods away from your dog.
Keep them well up from floor level.
If he likes to open cupboards with his snout, use child protection latches on the inside of the cupboard doors to keep him out.
Grapes and Raisins
Yes, grapes and raisins can be toxic foods to dogs.
The ASPCA has received about ten reports of grape and raisin poisoning of dogs.
All the dogs in these reports ate from 9 ounces (250 grams) to two pounds (900 grams).
They developed kidney failure.
Scientists and vets still do not know why the kidneys fail, or the amount of raisins or grapes that causes toxicity.
If your dog ingests these toxic foods, he will need aggressive, possibly long-term, treatment for the kidney failure.
Lack of treatment can result in death. If you catch him eating grapes or raisins, call your vet immediately for advice and direction.
Yeast Dough (Unbaked Bread)
If you bake bread, you know that the dough needs a warm, moist environment to expand.
Your dog’s stomach is a nice warm, moist environment, and so, the dough can expand to many times its size when first ingested.
This distends his abdomen and can cause pain.
Another issue with raw dough is the rising process itself.
The dough rises because the yeast ferments it. The fermentation results in alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity (see below).
Avoid these problems by always keeping unbaked dough out of your dog’s reach. Leave it on the stove top, or on the counter or a high table.
Alcohol is a poison that happens to produce enjoyable side effects in humans, in moderation.
Short-term overindulgence can kill by poisoning you, and long-term overindulgence can kill by destroying the liver and interfering with important body functions.
Your dog is much smaller than you, and so is much more susceptible to the poisonous effects of alcohol, including death.
Some of the signs that your dog has been drinking alcohol include its odor on his breath, slow respiratory rate, increased urination, staggering or a wobbly gait, excitement, depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, hypothermia, seizures and cardiac arrest.
To protect your dog, keep all alcohol containers (liquor and wine bottles, beer cans and bottles, glasses and tumblers) out of his reach.
Train your dog not to approach any of these containers, especially if they are on a low table. Be particularly aware of plastic liquor bottles, which he could easily chew through.
There’s enough alcohol in a “mickey” to kill a small dog.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Although not really foods, baking powder and baking soda are common items found in the kitchen. They are both leavening agents, used in baked goods to create a gas, which causes doughs and batters to rise.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder combines baking soda with an acid of some kind, usually cream of tartar, sodium aluminum sulphate or calcium acid phosphate, or a combination of the three.
If your dog eats a large amount of either of these powders, he can suffer from electrolyte changes, muscle spasms and congestive heart failure.
Keep baking soda and baking powder out of your dog’s reach. If you spill some on the floor, clean it up immediately.
Dogs love rich and fatty foods, just like we do. They find these foods in the trash, or receive them as treats or leftovers.
Excessive amounts of fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Miniature and toy poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers are especially prone to pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis signs include abdominal pain, acute onset of vomiting, and diarrhea. The pain can show through a hunched posture when you pick up your dog.
You can easily avoid pancreatitis by not feeding your dog oily or fatty “human” treats and leftovers, and by keeping your trash bin securely fastened.
We all like to think of our dogs as part of the family. While being part of the family can have its joys, eating the family’s food can leave your dog less than joyful. Avoid giving him scraps.
Avoid feeding him from the table. And avoid leaving possible toxic foods out where he can get into them, and into trouble.
Your dog may not like your cutting him off, but he will be around a lot longer to pester you.