5 Foods That Can Be Toxic for Your Dog

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Nov. 1, 2013
Image: chaoss / Shutterstock

Dangerous Foods

By Jessica Remitz


While we may consider dogs to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your dog, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Image: n7atal7i / Shutterstock

1. Chocolate

Unlike their feline friends, most dogs don’t have an “off” button when it comes to finding food, says Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. While the amount of chocolate your dog consumes will also determine the toxicity, symptoms of chocolate poisoning to look out for can include vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. According to Dr. Wismer, the darker the chocolate is, the more serious the poisoning can be — making baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder more dangerous than milk chocolate.


Check out petMD's Dog Chocolate Poisoning Meter.

Image: GVictoria / Shutterstock

2. Xylitol

An artificial sweetener found in sugarless gum, candy, and baked goods, Xylitol may be approved for people but can cause liver damage and a life-threatening drop in blood sugar in dogs. According to the Pet Poison Helpline (PPH), a 10-pound dog would only need to eat a single piece of sugar-free gum to reach a potentially toxic dose. Low blood sugar can develop within 10 to 15 minutes of ingestion, in addition to vomiting and loss of coordination, says PPH.

Image: MichaelJayBerlin / Shutterstock

3. Grapes

Both grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, with vomiting, increased urination and increased thirst potential symptoms of poisoning. Help your dog stay out of trouble by keeping grapes and raisins out of reach at all times. Dr. Wismer also recommends talking to your vet about a list of things you and your children should or shouldn’t feed your pets.


“Pets have different dietary requirements and metabolize things differently [than people],” says Dr. Wismer. “Dogs have amazing noses and when it comes to food, they can get themselves in trouble.”

Image: ruzanna / Shutterstock

4. Onions/Garlic

If eaten in large amounts, onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in dogs, Dr. Wismer says. Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

Image: Gayvoronskaya_Yana / Shutterstock

5. Alcohol

Beer, wine and cocktails aside, alcohol can also be found in desserts and can be created in your dog’s stomach if they ingest homemade or store bought yeast dough used in making bread, rolls and pizza. Even small amount of alcohol, both ingested through alcoholic beverages and produced in the stomach, can be life threatening, making it important to call your vet before you notice any serious poisoning symptoms like seizures. Dr. Wismer suggests teaching your dogs how to “leave” or “drop” things to prevent them from consuming dangerous foods both at home and outdoors and training young children not to leave things where dogs can get into them.


If you believe you pet has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-213-6680. Both phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.