Toxic Foods for Dogs

Toxic Foods for Dogs

Dogs are primarily carnivores, and most of their diet must comprise of animal protein for them to maximize nutrient absorption and stay healthy. However, over time they have adapted to eat certain human foods and have become omnivorous creatures.

There are many human foods that cause severe toxicity in dogs, and in worst-case situations can even result in death. Some of these human foods include chocolate, macadamia nuts, xylitol products, raisins, onions and several others.

As a responsible dog parent, you must make sure you are not offering anything toxic to your dog which can lead to life-threatening consequences. In partnership with our small animal veterinarian, we have put together a non-comprehensive list of the most toxic human foods for dogs along with their signs, so read on.

Toxic Foods for Dogs

Following are some of the human foods that are toxic to dogs and shouldn't be fed to them:


Chocolate is a very common food that is highly toxic for dogs. Chocolate contains chemical compounds such as theobromine, caffeine, and methylxanthine which cause toxicity in dogs. The condition is medically known as chocolate toxicosis in dogs. All types of chocolate, either dark or white and chocolate products such as cakes, cookies, and others should not be fed to dogs.

According to scientific data about one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is enough to kill a dog. Signs of chocolate toxicosis in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, and restlessness. In severe cases, nervous signs such as tremors and seizures can occur.

Dogs usually exhibit signs of chocolate toxicity after 6-12 hours following consumption. Death usually occurs due to cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, or hyperthermia. If your dog has consumed a large amount of chocolate immediately take him to the veterinarian.

Grapes and raisins

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), grapes and raisins both contain unknown toxic chemicals that if consumed by a dog can cause kidney failure and other health problems. That is why you should avoid giving this fruit to your dog in any form, dry or fresh.

Onions and garlic

Onions belong to the Allium family and all members of this family including garlic, chives, shallots, leeks, etc are toxic for dogs. All these vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that are very harmful to dogs.

If a dog consumes any Allium vegetable it will suffer from digestive upsets (vomiting and diarrhea) along with abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, increased respiration, increased heart rate, and weakness.

In worst cases, toxic compounds in onions can cause hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells RBCs) leading to bloody urine in dogs. Loss of red blood cells can make dogs anemic and they are at risk of getting jaundice. To be safe, make sure to not feed dogs any food that might contain onions or any other vegetable from the allium family such as onion soup or garlic bread.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are a very popular human snack and people often feed it to their dogs without realizing the risk. Macadamia nuts contain unknown toxins that cause central nervous system (CNS) depression, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, incoordination, tremors, and hyperthermia.

Signs usually occur 12 hours after ingestion. Fortunately, macadamia toxicity in dogs is not lethal and signs are self-limiting. No treatment is required for most dogs.

Xylitol products

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener present in several human foods such as biscuits, gums, candies, peanut butter, and several others. It might be safe for humans but for dogs: it is very toxic.

Signs of xylitol toxicity in dogs include vomiting, weakness, incoordination, liver damage, seizures, coma, and death. Proper medical attention is required to treat the dog if it has consumed any food containing xylitol.


All types of alcohol and alcoholic beverages are toxic for dogs. Signs of alcohol toxicity in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, and depression of the central nervous system making dogs lethargic. Dogs can also become intoxicated after consuming alcohol like humans. Breathing difficulties, coma, and death can also occur in severe cases.

Caffeinated products

Human foods that contain caffeine should not be fed to dogs. Caffeine if consumed by dogs can cause increased heart rate, increased breathing, increased body temperature, tremors, seizures, and death. Products such as coffee contain methylxanthine, the same toxic compound found in chocolate.


Although humans can safely consume certain kinds of mushrooms it is best not to feed them to dogs, especially wild mushrooms. Firstly, mushrooms are not a natural part of their diet and secondly, certain kinds of mushrooms can be toxic to dogs. Amanita phalloides or death cap mushrooms can kill an adult dog if consumed.


Present in almost every salad, avocado is present in most kitchens around the world due to its variety of health benefits for humans. However, it is not beneficial for dogs and can actually harm them if consumed.

All parts of an avocado including the flesh, pit, leaves, and skin are toxic for dogs because they contain a chemical compound known as persin. Moreover, given the high fat content of avocado flesh, it can cause gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. In fact, if a dog consumes avocado, he can suffer from upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and in rare cases heart damage.

Moldy Food

Many people feed moldy food such as moldy bread to dogs instead of throwing it in the garbage. This is not something you should do because fungus or mold can cause a variety of serious health issues for dogs, and it can be very hard to treat.

Signs of Toxicity in Dogs

Below you will find some common signs of food toxicity in dogs:

  • Lack of appetite or loss of appetite;
  • Drooling;
  • High body temperature;
  • Increase heart rate and respiration;
  • Increased thirst;
  • Digestive upset (diarrhea and vomiting);
  • Nervous signs (tremors, convulsions, etc);
  • Staggering gait;
  • Lethargy.

Human Foods that Are Safe for Dogs

Many human foods are safe for dogs to consume, but this does not mean you should offer them to your dogs on a daily basis. Even safe human foods should be offered in moderation as treats and should not represent more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric requirements. Below you will find a non-comprehensive list of human foods considered safe for dogs:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter (containing only peanuts)
  • White rice
  • Unseasoned meat
  • Eggs
  • Blueberries
  • Green beans
  • Watermelon
  • Cucumbers


  1. People foods to avoid feeding your pets. (n.d.). ASPCA.
  2. Plants and food that can be poisonous to pets. (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States.
  3. Sissons, B. (2023, September 28). Which people foods are safe for dogs?
  4. Toxic food for dogs. (2021, February 22). Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
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