The 'Do Not Feed' List (Canine Edition)
There is nothing wrong with sharing food with our dogs from time-to-time. But we have to remember that there are a number of foods that can be toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, dogs do not understand this and they certainly cannot identify these foods for themselves. As dog owners, it is our responsibility to ensure that our dogs never have access to the foods on this list.
Because our dogs are not aware of the dangers of some foods, it is important to train them never to raid counter tops or garbage bins.
Alcohol - Just like in people, in dogs, alcohol can cause intoxication. While some people may think a 'drunk dog' is laugh-worthy, in addition to intoxication and lack of coordination, alcohol can cause poor breathing, abnormal acidity and even coma or death in dogs 1.
Hops - Canine consumption of hops has been linked to Malignant Hyperthermia 2. Unlike hypothermia which involves a drop in body temperature, hyperthermia involves an increase in body temperature. This can result in excessive panting, increased heart rate, seizures and even death 1.
Tobacco - The nicotine in tobacco products can affect a dog's digestive and nervous systems, resulting in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma or even death 3.
Items such as cigarette butts, which can often be found littered on the ground are a great reason to teach our dogs "no" or "drop it".
Chocolate - Most people know that dogs should never eat chocolate. Toxic doses of chocolate can cause abnormal heart beats, kidney failure and death 4.
Caffeine - Dogs should never consume caffeine. Caffeine can damage vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys, as well as the central nervous system 5. Some of the first signs of toxicity are restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting 5.
Xylitol - Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that is found in many products including sugarless chewing gum and candy, toothpaste, baked goods and some diet foods 6. When ingested, even in small amounts, it can result in low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and death 4 . Immediate action is required.
Avocado - Some people consider avocado to be a 'super-food' for humans, but because the leaves, seed/pit, fruit and bark contain persin, for dogs, avocado can be toxic, usually causing vomiting and diarrhea 3. In severe cases, consumption of avocado could result in pancreatitis or death 7.
Did you know that avocados could make dogs ill?
Apple seeds - While apple slices can make a delicious and healthy snack for our dogs, efforts should be taken to ensure all seeds have been removed. Apple seeds contain cyanide, and although a dog would have to consume a considerable amount of apple seeds for this to be a concern, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Grapes & raisins - Although many dog owners argue that their dog(s) have been eating grapes and/or raisins for years without any problems, these foods are linked to severe liver and kidney damage 1. This damage or failure can be permanent and/or life threatening 4.
Pits from peaches and plums
Persimmons - Persimmons, especially the seeds, can cause inflammation of the intestine. Symptoms may include a fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Milk and dairy products - Many dog owners incorporate yogurt into their dog's diet or treat their pooch to an ice cream on a hot summer day, but did you know, most dogs have some degree of lactose-intolerance? Fortunately, milk and dairy products are less dangerous than most items on this list, but just like lactose intolerance in humans, canine consumption can result in gas, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Remember, every dog is different. Some dogs eat dairy products (ex: yogurt) on a daily basis with no problems at all.
Salt - When consumed in excess, raw salt can be dangerous for dogs, causing vomiting, dehydration and tremors 8. In addition to not feeding raw salt, salty foods in general should be avoided. Too much salt can not only make our dogs sick, it can be fatal.
Because of the high levels of fat and salt, ham and bacon should not be fed to a dog.
Moldy or rotten foods - With the exception of green tripe, the rule in our house is if it's not fit for human consumption, it's not fit for canine consumption.
Yeast - Yeast can expand in the digestive system producing gas that can result in pain and possibly rupture the stomach or intestines 3.
Do you feed your dog a grain free diet?
Mushrooms - Mushrooms can contain toxins that can make our dogs quite ill and potentially kill them.
Table scraps - The odd table scrap here or there is probably fine. Just remember, table scraps are not nutritionally balanced 3 and should not be fed in large amounts.
Human vitamins - Because our dogs have different requirements than we do when it comes to vitamins and minerals, human vitamins are not recommended. If consumed, human vitamins can potentially cause health problems. Fortunately, if you wish to provide your dog with vitamins or supplements, there are plenty on the market designed just for them.
Cat food - Cat food may not be toxic for dogs, but because the two species have different nutritional needs, cat food is not healthy for dogs 8.
Tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts)
Nutmeg - In addition to tremors, seizures and nervous system abnormalities, toxic doses of nutmeg can be fatal for a dog 9. Unfortunately, nutmeg's rich-spicy scent is appealing to dogs 9, so if this is something you keep in your house, be sure that it is out of your pup's reach.
Rhubarb and tomato leaves
Baby Food - Even if the baby food does not contain onion powder or any other ingredient that poses a risk to your pup, it is not meant to meet the nutritional needs of a dog.
Fruit and vegetables - While many fruits and vegetables are perfectly safe for our dogs to eat, it is important to remember that dogs do not digest fruits and vegetables the same way we do. Instead of giving your dog large chunks or whole pieces, consider offering dog-safe fruit and vegetables in puree form.
Baking soda/baking powder - Toxic doses of baking soda can lead to electrolyte abnormalities, muscle spasms and/or congestive heart failure 6. Fortunately, most dogs do not seem to find these types of leavening agents very appealing 6.
Can you think of other foods our dogs should never eat? Share them as a comment below.