Toxins that should never reach your pup.

We are often asked, what is toxic to dogs? Some we know about, however, there are many others we are not aware of that are just as dangerous and poisonous to your companion friend.

Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death.  This list is, of course, incomplete because we can not possibly list everything your dog should not eat.

There is a lot of food that your dog should never eat.  You may find the below information and some of the items on this list rather surprising.

In alphabetical order:


Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark may contain a toxic principle known as persin. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found in stores, appears to be the most problematic. Other varieties of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential. Birds, rabbits, and some large animals, including horses, are especially sensitive to avocados, as they can have respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death from consuming avocado. While avocado is toxic to some animals, in dogs and cats, we do not expect to see serious signs of illness. In some dogs and cats, mild stomach upset may occur if the animal eats a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel. Ingestion of the pit can lead to obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a serious situation requiring urgent veterinary care.

Baby foods:

Some baby food contains onion powder which can be toxic to dogs. Although baby food without onion or garlic in it is fine, it is actually low in nutritional value for dogs, and may result in nutritional deficiencies.

Bones from fish and chicken and other meat sources:

Bones from fish and chicken can cause obstruction and laceration of the digestive system. If they get lodged in the intestines, they may need to be surgically removed.

Bread Dough:

Raw bread dough made with live yeast can be hazardous if ingested by dogs. When raw dough is swallowed, the warm, moist environment of the stomach provides an ideal environment for the yeast to multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach. Expansion of the stomach may be severe enough to decrease blood flow to the stomach wall, resulting in the death of tissue. Additionally, the expanding stomach may press on the diaphragm, resulting in breathing difficulty. Perhaps more importantly, as the yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can be absorbed, resulting in alcohol intoxication. Affected dogs may have distended abdomens and show signs such as a lack of coordination, disorientation, stupor and vomiting (or attempts to vomit). In extreme cases, coma or seizures may occur and could lead to death from alcohol intoxication. Dogs showing mild signs should be closely monitored, and dogs with severe abdominal distension or dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.


Chocolate intoxication is most commonly seen around certain holidays like Easter, Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, but it can happen any time dogs have access to products that contain chocolate, such as chocolate candy, cookies, brownies, chocolate baking goods, cocoa powder and cocoa shell-based mulches. The compounds in chocolate that cause toxicosis are caffeine and theobromine, which belong to a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. The rule of thumb with chocolate is “the darker it is, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate has very few methylxanthines and is of low toxicity. Dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines, and plain, dry unsweetened cocoa powder contains the most concentrated levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, the signs seen can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures and death. Dogs showing more than mild restlessness should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Citrus oil extracts:

Can cause vomiting.

Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine:

Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog. And, there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, fits, and bleeding. In addition to tea and coffee  including beans and grounds, caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It’s also in some cold medicines and pain killers.

Ethanol (Also Known as Ethyl Alcohol, Grain Alcohol or Drinking Alcohol):

Dogs are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Dogs may be exposed to alcohol through drinking alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine or mixed drinks (those with milk, like White Russians and “fortified” egg nog), alcohol-containing elixirs and syrups, and raw yeast bread dough (please see the above section on bread dough). Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur. Dogs showing mild signs of alcohol intoxication should be closely monitored, and dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.


Fat trimmed from meat both cooked and uncooked can cause pancreatitis in dogs. It is also not healthy for them as it promotes weight gain.

Fruit Pits and Seeds:

Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, and plum pits contain the toxin cyanide. Signs of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, apnoea tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, skin irritation. In some cases, antidotes are available. Other treatments include oxygen therapy, fluids and supportive care.

Grapes and Raisins:

Grapes and raisins have recently been associated with the development of kidney failure in dogs. At this time, the exact cause of the kidney failure isn’t clear, nor is it clear why some dogs can eat these fruits without harm, while others develop life-threatening problems after eating even a few grapes or raisins. Some dogs eat these fruits and experience no ill effects, but then eat them later on and become very ill. Until the cause of the toxicosis is better identified, the safest course of action is to avoid feeding grapes or raisins to your dog. Dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicosis usually develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion. As signs progress, dogs become increasingly lethargic and dehydrated, refuse to eat and may show a transient increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages. Death due to kidney failure may occur within three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may persist in dogs who survive the acute intoxication. Successful treatment requires prompt veterinary treatment to maintain good urine flow.


Cultivated hops used for brewing beer have been associated with potentially life-threatening signs in dogs who have ingested them. Both fresh and spent (cooked) hops have been implicated in poisoning dogs. Affected dogs develop an uncontrollably high body temperature (often greater than 108 degrees Fahrenheit), which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Dogs poisoned by hops become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent death in these dogs.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron:

Can damage the lining of the digestive system, and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidney.

Jimson weed:

Jimson weed is not only toxic to dogs but at some level toxic to humans as well. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause rapid breathing, pulse, dilated pupils, twitching and diarrhea amongst dogs. It can also lead to convulsions, coma or death.


Lantana is a common perennial flowering plant found in most gardens. The leaves and berries of this plant are toxic to most dogs, and can cause sluggishness, weakness, bloody diarrhea, and in some severe cases even death within 2-4 days if not treated properly.

Large amounts of liver:

Can cause vitamin A toxicity which affects muscle and bones.

Macadamia Nuts:

Although macadamia nut toxicosis is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care, which may include intravenous fluid therapy and pain control.


Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting and changes in the heart rate.

‘Meat’ :

With today’s highly industrialised fast form conveyor belt factory farming methods, from farm, to slaughter facilities to shelves, you risk feeding your dog with high concentrations of chemicals used in the process, which may be responsible for shortening his life. Fish today carry a variety of levels of mercury as well as other toxins. Toxins from these pollutants weigh heavy on ones health and is a major contributor to many of today’s rising illnesses and concerns including cancer.  One also has to question the moral ethics of supporting an ever growing industry of farmed torture while we silently kill our ‘domesticated companions’.  Whilst wild dogs may naturally hunt in the wild, domesticated canines bread into today’s society can exceed on healthy, well balanced vegan diets. In fact the oldest dog documented to date thrived on a healthy vegan diet and passed at the age of 27.

Milk and dairy food:

Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea.

Moldy Foods:

A wide variety of molds grow on food. Some produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine whether a particular mold is producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, so the safest rule of thumb is to avoid feeding dogs moldy food. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, neither should your dog. Promptly remove any trash or moldy debris (road-kill, fallen walnuts or fruit, etc.) from your dog’s environment to prevent him from eating it. The signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning generally begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to very coarse total-body tremors and, finally, convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. Left untreated, these tremors can last for several weeks. Fortunately, they usually respond well to appropriate veterinary treatment.


Mushroom toxicity does occur in dogs and it can be fatal if certain species of mushroom are eaten. Amanita phalloides is the most commonly reported severely toxic species of mushrooms but other amanita species are toxic. Symptoms include abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma and death.

Mustard seeds:

Should be avoided.

Onions and Garlic:

All close members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. A rule of thumb is “the stronger it is, the more toxic it is.” Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions, on an ounce-for-ounce basis. While it’s uncommon for dogs to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk of toxicosis. The damage to the red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn’t become apparent until three to five days after a dog eats these vegetables. Affected dogs may seem weak or reluctant to move, or they may appear to tire easily after mild exercise. Their urine may be orange-tinged to dark red in colour. These dogs should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed.

Other Foods to Avoid:

Certain foods, while not considered toxic, can still be unhealthy for your dog. Avoid any foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. These foods can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and more. Dairy products may be difficult for dogs to digest. Corn cobs and bones can cause GI obstruction. Cooked bones may splinter and break easily, risking GI damage. Like people, too much junk food can cause poor condition and decreased energy. Remember that your dog is smaller than you and may be sensitive. What seems like “just a bite” for you is more like a small meal for your dog.


Peaches are not themselves poisonous to dogs, although they can potentially cause diarrhea or loose stools. Much more dangerous however are the peach pits, which contain a chemical called cyanide. Cyanide is extremely toxic and can result in hyperventilation, shock, coma, and even deaths in dogs. Cyanide is also poisonous to humans, and ought to be avoided. The seeds of peaches also have the potential to cause obstruction in the throat or intestinal tract.


Seeds can cause obstruction and enteritis.


Similar to peaches, plums contain chemicals in their pits, that can prove toxic to your companion friend. In fact plum pits contain the same toxic chemical as peach pits cyanide. If consumed this can be poisonous to dogs and humans alike.

Potato, rhubarb and tomato leaves: potato and tomato stems:

Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous and urinary systems.


One of the most popular holiday plants, it is easily recognisable by their large red, white, pink and mottled leaves. These plants also contain a thick, milky irritant sap. In general it would take ingestion of a large amount of this plant to see possible clinical signs in your dog. Signs can include vomiting, anorexia and depression. The symptoms are generally self limiting and treatment is rarely needed. Your vet may recommend limiting food and water intake for 1-2 hours.

Raw eggs:

Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain salmonella.

Raw fish:

Raw fish can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in sever cases death.


Raw salt can cause vomiting, dehydration and tremors when consumed in excess. You dog should have neither salty foods nor salt on it’s own.  If your dog consumes enough salt, he may suffer the effects of sodium ion poisoning, which includes seizures, coma and death.

Sugary foods:

Can lead to obesity, dental problems and possibly diabetes mellitus.


Contains nicotine which affect the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma and death.


Walnut and macadamia nut toxicosis is not likely to be fatal for dogs, but it can affect digestive, muscle and nervous systems. Dogs with more than mild symptoms need veterinary care, including intravenous fluids and pain control medication.

Your Medicine:

Reaction to a drug commonly prescribed for humans is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs. Just as you would do for your children, keep all medicines out of your dog’s reach. And, never give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless told to do so by your vet. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine. And, they can be deadly for your dog.


Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely used in sugar-free gum, as well as in sugar-free baked products. In humans, xylitol does not affect blood sugar levels, but in dogs, ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels. Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of ingesting xylitol-containing products, or signs may be delayed for several hours. Some dogs who ingest large amounts of xylitol develop liver failure, which can be fatal. All dogs ingesting xylitol-containing products should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

~ Active Vegan ~

Have you had any other experiences with other ‘foods’ that have had ‘negative’ impact on your pup. Please do let us know.