Dangerous Foods for Your Dog: Is Your Pet’s Diet Safe?

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Tony Maples Photography


Do you know your pet’s diet? When it comes to your companion’s diet, knowing what’s best for them can be complicated: Should I feed them raw food? Should I feed them with grain-free food or not? It’s common knowledge that chocolate is a no-no for dogs and cats. But do you know what it does to their body?  Chocolate is like hard liquor, and in dogs it creates a form of cirrhosis of the liver among other serious problems like diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors, even collapse and death. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine in different amounts depending on the kind of chocolate. The darker chocolates are much more toxic.

If you suspect your pet has invaded a bag of chocolate, call your vet, and if symptoms develop they can be treated.  Usually, after a couple of days, the biggest dangers have passed if the dog survives.

One of the hidden dangers for our pets is cocoa bean mulch, which is a common topping for many flower beds.  Dogs love to get in it and munch around.

Dangerous Foods for Your Dog: Is Your Pet's Diet Safe?

Photo: Donna Smith

Other “red flag” foods are grapes and raisins.  The toxicity from either of these foods can be fatal and sudden.  The kidneys fail and there is nothing to do.  If you suspect your dog has eaten grapes or raisins contact your vet immediately.  They may want you to induce vomiting unless your fur baby is having trouble breathing or, of course, unconscious. Some of the symptoms are loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, a tender stomach, dehydration, dry nose and mouth, pale gums and, of course, kidney failure.

Avocados???  They contain an element called persin, which can cause mastitis and heart failure.  Especially the pits.  Keep them away from your pets, including horses, cows, goats,  birds, and fish.  Small bits of the flesh are not so toxic, but if your dog eats an entire avocado, you might want to give your vet a call.

Dangerous Foods for Your Dog: Is Your Pet's Diet Safe?


Onions are an overlooked danger, many times, especially when they are cooked in different dishes.  Onions are members of the allium family as are garlic, leeks, and chives.  There is a sulphur compound in alliums that causes anemia in dogs, a very deadly condition, and all parts of the plant are toxic to dogs.  Certain breeds of dogs are also more sensitive than other breeds. Lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and fainting are common symptoms, but the telltale sign is a red urine.  Contact your vet if your dog is showing these signs.

PLEASE NOTE:  Garlic is just as toxic as onions and any product or food that includes garlic should be avoided.  The given sigh of relief with garlic is that it does take a large amount, such as five big cloves, to produce a toxic reaction.  Therefore, a piece of steak rubbed and cooked with garlic is ok, but not the whole cloves.

Dangerous Foods for Your Dog: Is Your Pet's Diet Safe?


Cherries carry a double whammy.  The seeds, as well as the entire plant, contain cyanide, and they can cause an intestinal blockage if too many are eaten.  Dogs like cherries and will eat them when given the chance.  One or two cherries probably won’t do a dog any harm.  Maraschino cherries, already pitted, can be eaten, but beware of all the high sugar content. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include labored breathing, bright red gums, and dilated pupils.

Avoid Fava beans, baked beans, refried beans, and any canned bean due to additives or preservatives that can definitely injure your dog.

Most breads are great for feeding as a treat or additive to a meal.  Never feed your dog bread dough. Exotic breads, such as raisin bread, should never be fed, neither should bread with onion and garlic added.

Dangerous Foods for Your Dog: Is Your Pet's Diet Safe?


Always check what you are feeding your dog for Xylitol, which is highly toxic.  This artificial sweetener can be slipped into peanut butter, jellies, and drinks.

Nuts that are not safe include hickory nuts, macadamia nuts (extremely dangerous), pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. These all contain toxins, except pistachios which are so high in fat that they can cause pancreatitis in dogs by overeating.

Most importantly, use common sense.  If in doubt, don’t feed it to your dogs.  Read more on various websites such as Well Pet Coach and learn which foods are safe for dogs, or better yet ask a qualified vet. And always keep good records of everything that goes on with your beloved fur baby!