It’s hard to resist sharing food with your dog, especially when she looks up at you with those, well, puppy dog eyes. But, while some human snacks are safe in small doses, others are downright dangerous for dogs. Keep cabinets closed and counters clean, and get some help keeping an eye on your dog if you’re going to be away for long periods. Finally, have a pet first aid kit on hand in case of accidents.
Surprisingly dangerous foods for dogs
Plain, air-popped, unsalted, unbuttered popcorn may be okay in small amounts. But let’s be honest: how often are you enjoying plain, unsalted, unbuttered, un-delicious popcorn? For dogs, high levels of fat and sodium typically found in popcorn can lead to dehydration in the short term, and obesity in the long term. In addition, the hard, un-popped kernels can hurt teeth and gums on the way in.
Instead, try: low-calorie dog treats for a safe, crunchy snack
The true issue with avocados? The skin and leaves, which contain persin, an oil-soluble toxin that can be dangerous to non-human mammals. The ASPCA says that pets sensitive to persin may experience “respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death.” Avocado is safe if you avoid the skin and leaves—so it’s ok as an ingredient in dog foods, for example. In general, dogs are not as susceptible to persin poisoning as animals like horses, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Instead, try: dog treats or grain-free dog food with added avocado for a healthy, shiny coat
3. Macadamia Nuts
Instead, try: mini peanut butter chews for a healthy, nutty dog snack
Grapes are among the people foods most toxic to dogs. Of all the dangerous foods for dogs, they are among the worst, which surprises many people. In dogs, grapes can lead to kidney failure and even death. According to the lead medical officer at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, “what is most dangerous about grapes and raisins is that not every pet who eats them will suffer, but there is no way to know in advance.” Raisins and grape juice can be even more dangerous because they’re in a more concentrated form.
Instead, try: blueberry dog treats for an antioxidant-rich treat
5. Onions and Garlic
Onion and garlic can damage dogs’ red blood cells, decreasing oxygen flow, and can also lead to anemia.
Instead, try: dog-safe brewer’s yeast supplements with garlic for extra nutrition (and some say, flea-fighting properties)
6. Tomato Plants (Raw Potatoes, Too)
Ripe tomatoes themselves aren’t on the list of dangerous foods for dogs, but if your dog ingests a green, unripe tomato or the leafy green part of the plant (including stems), watch out. According to the Pet Poison Hotline,unripened tomatoes and tomato plants contain a toxin called solanine that can cause gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness, and confusion.
Green potatoes can cause the same problem, so while it’s okay to sneak your dog a spoonful of mashed potatoes here and there, don’t let her gnaw on a raw one!
Instead, try: sweet potato jerky for a healthy starch
7. Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeinated Substances
We all know chocolate is toxic for canines, but did you know that caffeine is also one of the most dangerous foods for dogs? Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and according to the ASPCA, it can cause “vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, restlessness and an increased heart rate” in pets. Early treatment is key to preventing more serious problems, so if you know that your your dog has ingested coffee, tea, or an energy drink, don’t wait for symptoms to show up. Get to the vet right away.
8. Dairy (Yes, Even Cheese)
Instead, try: Himalayan dog chews made with hard yak’s cheese for a long-lasting cheesy treat
9. Sugar-Free Gum (and Anything Sweetened with Xylitol)
Xylitol is a naturally-occurring substance in popular use as an alternative sweetener for gum, candy, and other foods…and it’s deadly to dogs. As noted by VCA Hospitals, xylitol ingestion causes life-threatening hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar). Be extra-careful about where you store your gum.
Some people food is safe for your pup, such as lean meats, carrot sticks, and many fruits and veggies. If your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, then plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese can be enjoyed in small amounts, too. It’s okay to treat your dog to a nibble of your food on occasion, but steer clear of the stuff with noted dangerous effects (this list from the ASPCA is a great resource). As always, when in doubt, consult your vet.
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