February 19, 2015

Toxic Foods for Dogs

Hello DoggyBaggers!!

I thought it would be great to share with you some of the foods that are dangerous and toxic to dogs and cats. Dogs and cats have very different metabolisms to our own. They have a different population of enzymes that are responsible for the metabolism of ingested foods. Some foods, which are perfectly fine for us humans to eat, are unable to be effectively metabolised in our pets and their accumulation in the dog or cats system can lead to toxic effects. 

Remember this list is not exhaustive, and if you are unsure about whether a food that your dog or cat has ingested is toxic please contact your veterinarian. If your pet has ingested a toxic substance, time is of the essence and veterinary evaluation should be sought immediately. Gastric emptying, or movement of ingested material from the stomach to the intestines, occurs approximately 3-4 hours after consumption. The stomach can be flushed out and vomiting induced if an animal is brought into a veterinary hospital during this 3-4 hour window. Once this time has passed the ingested toxin will move into the intestines and absorption into the animals system will occur. At this point only supportive treatment can be employed to mitigate the effects of the toxin. These patient typically have a poorer prognosis compared with those that are brought in for immediate treatment. 

This is not an exhaustive list; so if you suspect that your dog or cat may have eaten any food that might be toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Ingestion can lead to injury, disorientation, vomiting, urination problems or even coma or death from alcohol poisoning. Some dogs may be attracted to alcoholic drinks so don't leave one setting where a dog can reach it. 

Apple and Apricot
The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which can result in cyanide poisoning. 

Avocado contains a toxic element called persin, which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in many animals. Avocadoes are high in fat content and can trigger an upset stomach, vomiting or even pancreatitis. The seed pit is also toxic and if swallowed can become lodged in the intestinal tract where it may cause a severe blockage which will have to be removed surgically. Since avocado is the main ingredient in guacamole be sure and keep your dog out of the dip. 

Baby Food 
Many baby foods contain onion powder that can be toxic to dogs. Additionally feeding baby food in large amounts may result in nutritional deficiencies. 

Bread Dough 
When bread dough is ingested your dog's body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. During the rising process alcohol is produced as the dough expands. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression. A pet needs to eat only a small amount to cause a problem, because bread dough can rise to many times its size. 

The seed pit contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause cyanide poisoning. 

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine 
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. 
Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. When affected by an overdose of these products, a dog can become excited and hyperactive. Due to the diuretic effect, it may pass large volumes of urine and it will be unusually thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common. The effect of theobromine on the heart is the most dangerous effect. Theobromine will either increase the dog's heart rate or may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially with exercise. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, hyperactivity, irregular heartbeat and seizures. 

Larger quantities of chocolate can even lead to death. 60-100 grams of chocolate may not seem like much but it can be lethal to a small dog that weighs 5 kg. The signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours following ingestion, with death following within twenty-four hours. 

Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog sick. The next most dangerous forms are semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. 

Citrus Oil Extracts 
Citrus oil extracts have been known to cause vomiting. 

Cooked Bones 
Cooked bones can be very hazardous for your dog. Bones become brittle when cooked which causes them to splinter when broken, The splinters have sharp edges that have been known to become stuck in the teeth, caused choking when caught in the throat or caused a rupture or puncture of the stomach lining or intestinal tract. 

Symptoms of choking are: 
Pale or blue gums 
Gasping open-mouthed breathing
Pawing at the face 
Slow, shallow breathing 
Unconscious, with dilated pupils 

Corn Cobs 
Many dogs have suffered and, in some cases, died after eating corn-on-the-cob, because the corncob caused a partial or complete intestinal obstruction. Never allow your dog access to corncobs. 

Dairy Products 
Most dairy products are digested poorly by dogs and cats who have little or none of the enzyme required to digest the lactose in milk. Just like lactose-intolerant people, lactose-intolerant pets can develop excessive intestinal gas (flatulence) and may have foul-smelling diarrhoea. It is best to avoid most dairy products altogether, although small amounts of cheese or plain yogurt are tolerated by most pets, since these products have less lactose than most. 

Eggs (Raw) 
Raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which can deplete your dog of biotin, one of the B vitamins. Biotin is essential to your dog's growth and coat health. Additionally, raw eggs are often contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella, and you could end up giving your dog food poisoning in addition to biotin deficiency. 

Symptoms of biotin depletion are hair loss, weakness, growth retardation and skeleton deformity. If your dog is suffering from these symptoms the situation is urgent, and veterinary treatment is needed. Cooked eggs are high in protein and make an excellent treat. It is only the raw eggs that should not be given to your dog. 

Fatty Foods 
Rich, fatty foods can be very dangerous to dogs susceptible to attacks of pancreatitis. Often you may not know that your dog is susceptible until he is very sick with his first attack. It is best to avoid these foods altogether: turkey skin, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, fruit cake, plum pudding, deep-fried foods.

Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting (sometimes with diarrhoea) and abdominal pain, which may be evidenced as a hunched posture or "splinting" of the abdomen when picked up. The dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy. 

Food Preparation Items 
When chewing food remnants from: 
Inadvertent ingestion of food preparation items can lead to abdominal discomfort, intestinal blockage, internal bleeding and in some cases, death. Aluminum foil or pans, candy wrappers, paper plates and cups, plastic forks, spoons, knives, plastic beverage rings from six-packs, roasting bags and BBQ skewers are all such examples. Dispose of food preparation items in a manner that your dog cannot get to it. 

Avoid these foods at all costs!                    Source: http://www.doggiedrawings.net/

Grapes, Raisins and Sultanas  
Grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs when ingested. The symptoms are gastrointestinal signs including vomiting and diarrhoea, and then signs of kidney failure with an onset of severe kidney signs starting about 24 hours after ingestion. 

Spent hops as used in making beer. 

Liver – large quantities
Many dog treats and prepared foods contain liver so it may surprise you to find liver on the bad foods list. In small amounts liver is good for your dog, but if the liver intake is too high it can cause nutritional problems because liver has a high content of vitamin A. Consumption of this vitamin in large amounts can lead to vitamin A toxicity. 

Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A are deformed bones, excessive bone growth on the elbows and spine, weight loss and anorexia. If left unchecked, hypervitaminosis A has in some cases caused death. 

Macadamia Nuts 
The toxic compound is unknown but eating as few as six nuts without the shell has been known to cause elevated body temperature, accelerated heartbeat, tremors in the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs have difficulty or are unable to rise, are distressed and usually panting. Some affected dogs have had swollen limbs and showed pain when the limb was manipulated. 

Many types of garden plants and flowers 
Dogs and cats can become extremely ill or even die from eating poisonous plants. Keep all unknown types of plants and any plants suspected of being poisonous out of reach of your pet.

Mouldy or Spoiled Foods 
The common mould found growing on many foods contain toxins. Symptoms of poisoning include severe tremors and seizures that can last for hours or even days. 

Spoiled foods can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning are severe vomiting, diarrhoea and shock. 

Prevention is the best course, don't feed your dog mouldy food left in the refrigerator and don't allow him to raid your garbage cans or compost bin (or your neighbour's). 

Mushroom poisoning can be fatal if certain species of mushrooms are eaten. They can cause severe liver disease and neurologic disorders. 

Nutmeg is reported to be a hallucinogenic when ingested in large doses. Nutmeg has been known to cause tremors, seizures and in some cases death. 

Nuts in general are not good for dogs as their high phosphorus content may lead to bladder stones. 

Onions, Garlic and Chives
Theses vegetables cause haemolytic anaemia, which means that the red blood cells break down leaving your pet short of oxygen.  Poisoning can occur with a single ingestion of large quantities or with repeated meals containing small amounts. The poisoning may occur after a few days. Animals affected by poisoning show gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea, weakness and show little or no interest in food. 

The red pigment from the burst blood cells appears in an affected dog's urine making it dark coloured. The dog will experience shortness of breath because the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body are reduced in number. Other symptoms are elevated body temperature, confusion, and increased heart rate.

The quantity of these vegetables, raw or cooked, required is high enough that dogs can generally tolerate small doses without any problem and moderate amounts without apparent signs of poisoning. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. 

While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness. 

Source: http://www.safemadepet.com/

Other Species Pet Food
Each animal species has it's own unique and individual dietary requirements. Despite cats and dogs being both carnivores, they each require different quantities and types of various nutrients, such as amino acids. Feeding a dog cat food and vice versa, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and ultimately nutritional diseases.

Peaches, Pears, Plums
The seeds of these fruits contain cyanogenic glycosides which can cause cyanide poisoning.   

Plastic Food Wrap 
Dogs have been known to ingest pieces of plastic wrap while trying to eat food remnants left on its surface. Plastic food wrap can cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Dispose of plastic wrap in a manner that your dog or other animals cannot get to it. 

Potatoes (Green in Colour)
Toxic alkaloids can be found in green sprouts and green potato skins, which occur when the potatoes are exposed to sunlight during growth or after harvest. Cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible. 

Salt - Large quantities
Salt and salty foods can cause stomach ailments and pancreatitis. Some dogs, especially large breeds, have been known to gulp too much water after eating salty foods and developed a life threatening condition called bloat during which the stomach fills with gas and twists, leading to a painful death unless emergency treatment is received immediately. 

Stagnant Water & Toilets
Stagnant water in ponds, bogs, small lakes, canals, seasonal creeks and other places where water sets still may contain harmful bacteria and parasites such as Giardia.  Toilet water with freshener or cleaners in the tank or bowl may contain toxic chemicals. 

Table Scraps
Table scraps are not a nutritionally balanced diet for a dog. If fed at all scraps should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat and all cooked bones discarded. Also see "Fatty Foods" above. 

Tobacco Products 
Cigarettes and cigarette butts, cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine patches, nicotine gum and chewing tobacco can be fatal to dogs if ingested. Signs of nicotine poisoning can appear within an hour and include hyperactivity, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhoea. Advanced signs include muscle weakness, twitching, collapse, coma, increased heart rate and cardiac arrest. If anyone who lives in or visits your home smokes, tell them to keep tobacco products out of reach of pets and to dispose of butts immediately. 

Tomatoes and Tomato Plants 
These contain atropine which can cause dilated pupils, tremors and irregular heartbeat. The highest concentration of atropine is found in the leaves and stems of tomato plants, next is the unripe (green) tomatoes and then the ripe tomato. 

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days. 

Dr Oliver Conradi graduated from the University of Sydney with 1st Class Honours and currently works as a Vet in Lindfield, NSW.  He grew up with dogs and cats, and had a love and keen interest for science and biology as a child. He decided to become a veterinarian and discovered his passion after seeing the great work veterinarians carry out during a two month backpacking trip through Africa.


  1. VitaLife knows dogs choose their food first by smell. You choose good food, right for their health. This is why we use quality ingredients that entice with their aroma, satisfy with their taste and nourish with their composition. Buy Vitalife Dog Food

  2. All of VitaLife Natural Diets formulas made with natural ingredients. These all-natural products contain real chicken and no fillers for the highest quality treats and snacks you can give to your pet. In fact, VitaLife core mission is to produce the finest natural and wholesome treats, for your dog at any life stage! Buy Vitalife Dog Food