25 Human Foods Dogs Should Never Eat

Some foods that humans consume can be poisonous, or even fatal in some cases, for dogs. Here we look at some common human foods that dogs should avoid.

Those who suspect their pet has eaten any harmful foods are advised to note the amount ingested and to contact their veterinarian or the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

Coffee, tea, other caffeine products

Coffee grounds and coffee beans, tea as well as soda and energy drinks can be dangerous for dogs.

The Pet Poison Helpline, a national licensed animal poison center, explains: "Pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are. While one to two laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats."

Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include "mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) seizures, and collapse," within one to two hours of exposure, the center notes.

Chocolate

Chocolate, as well as coffee and caffeine, contain methylxanthines. They are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, as well as in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas, the ASPCA explains.

The ingestion of methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death for dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association notes: "Although some types of chocolate are not as toxic as others, it's safer to keep your pet away from all types of chocolate."

Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate contains the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate has the highest, the ASPCA adds.

Alcohol

"Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol," the ASPCA warns.

Beverages and food containing alcohol can potentially be fatal for dogs. They can also cause "vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma," it notes.

Liquor store Miami Florida 2021
Bottles of liquor displayed at a store in Miami, Florida, pictured on February 3. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Apples

The seeds of apples are toxic to dogs because they contain cyanide. The seeds can be "particularly toxic in the process of wilting," the ASPCA warns.

Cherries

With the exception of the fleshy part around the pit, cherry plants also contain cyanide. "Cyanide disrupts cellular oxygen transport, which means that your dog's blood cells can't get enough oxygen. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing as well as red gums," the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes.

Peaches

Like apple seeds and cherry pits, peach pits also contain cyanide and are poisonous for dogs.

The AKC also notes: "Don't share canned or preserved peaches with your dog. They contain high amounts of sugar and may also be treated with preservatives or artificial sweeteners that can seriously upset your dog's digestive system."

Citrus

Varying amounts of citric acid and essential oils are found in the stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants. They can cause irritation as well as "possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts," the ASPCA notes.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants are toxic to your dog. Ingestion of even a small amount of these can result in severe, acute kidney failure, the Pet Poison Helpline warns.

"All grapes and raisins, seeded and seedless, organic and conventionally grown, can cause toxicity. The exact way these foods cause toxicity is still unknown and toxicity does not necessarily appear to be dose-dependent. This unknown toxin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and acute renal (kidney) failure," it notes.

Most products containing grapes or raisins may be toxic for your dog, from grape or raisin juice and pastes to breads, cookies and cereal bars.

Grape juice New York shop 2016
Bottles of grape juice seen at a supermarket in New York on March 22, 2016. Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Avocados

The pit, skin and leaves of avocados contain persin, "a fungicidal toxin, which can cause serious health problems—even death—in many animals." It can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, the AKC warns.

"The fleshy inside of the fruit doesn't have as much persin as the rest of the plant, but it is still too much for dogs to handle," the AKC adds.

Onions

Onions are toxic to dogs as they contain N-propyl disulfide, a compound that causes a breakdown of red blood cells, leading to anemia in dogs.

The AKC explains: "The toxin causes oxidative damage to your dog's red blood cells by attaching to the oxygen molecules in your dog's red blood cells," reducing the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen.

All parts of the onion plant, including the flesh, leaves, juice and processed powders, are toxic to dogs.

"Onion powder is in a surprisingly wide range of foods, from soups to baby food. It only takes 100 grams of onion (about the size of a medium onion) per 20 kilograms of a dog's weight to cause toxic effects," the AKC notes.

Garlic

Garlic, as well as onions, chives and leeks, are part of the allium plant family and are poisonous to dogs. Garlic is about five times as potent as onion and certain dogs are more sensitive to it, including Japanese breeds such as the akita and shiba inu, the Pet Poison Helpline notes.

Symptoms of ingestion can include pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness and collapse. "Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you think your dog may have eaten some, monitor him or her for a few days, not just right after consumption," the AKC notes.

Garlic at California ranch 2019
Heads of garlic seen at Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, California on June 26, 2019. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Coconut water

The ASPCA notes: "Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.

"The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods," it adds.

Gums and mints

Chewing gums, mints and other products containing xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener, are toxic to dogs.

"Xylitol can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days," the ASPCA explains.

The Pet Poison Helpline warns: "If enough xylitol is ingested it can cause life-threatening low blood sugar (even within 10-15 minutes of ingestion) and acute liver failure."

Other foods that can contain xylitol include other candies, baked goods, pudding, gelatin snacks, sauces, syrups and jams, as well as oral rinses, toothpastes, vitamins and supplements and even some pieces of clothing, it notes.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Symptoms will show within 12 hours of ingestion and can last around 24 to 48 hours, the ASPCA notes.

Almonds

Almonds are dangerous for dogs as they can block the esophagus or even tear the windpipe if not chewed completely. "Salted almonds are especially dangerous because they can increase water retention, which is potentially fatal to dogs prone to heart disease," the AKC notes.

Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds can be poisonous for dogs, the Humane Society of the U.S. warns.

They contain "toxic compounds that can lead to gastroenteritis, the inflammation of the stomach and/or intestinal tract," according to Rover.com, the "world's largest network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers."

Mushrooms

While only a small percentage of mushroom species in the U.S. is considered toxic, those that are toxic can cause some severe symptoms and even death.

The Pet Poison Helpline explains: "Depending on the type/species of mushroom ingested, several general organ systems can be affected: gastrointestinal (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea), central nervous system (e.g., ataxia, tremors, seizures, visual disturbances, aggression, disorientation), liver (e.g., vomiting, black-tarry stools, increased liver enzyme blood tests, liver failure), kidney (e.g., anorexia, vomiting, inappropriate thirst or urination, kidney failure).

"Some mushroom toxins will affect pets very rapidly (within 15-30 minutes of ingestion) while others will not produce signs for many hours (up to 24 hours)," it adds.

Veterinarians generally recommend all mushrooms should be treated as poisonous for dogs due to it being difficult to decipher which ones are toxic, the AKC notes.

Raw, undercooked meat and eggs

Raw meat and raw eggs may contain bacteria such as salmonella and e. coli, which can be harmful to dogs. Raw eggs also contain an enzyme known as avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can result in skin and coat issues, the ASPCA notes.

Salty foods

"Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning," the ASPCA warns. So salty snacks like potato chips, pretzels and salted popcorn should be avoided.

Signs of excessive salt consumption in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death, the ASPCA notes.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains soluble calcium oxalates and can be toxic to dogs.

The Pet Poison Helpline explains: "Soluble calcium oxalates are present in varying degrees in all parts of the plant. When soluble oxalate salts are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, they bind with body's calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals.

"Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination," it adds.

Tomatoes

The leaves and green parts of tomatoes can be dangerous for dogs. The AKC notes: "Tomatoes are in the nightshade family of vegetables, which means the plants contain a few components that are harmful to certain animals, including solanine. Solanine, a substance found in the stem and leaves of the tomato and related plants, is harmful to dogs in large quantities.

"The leaves, stems, and young, green tomatoes contain higher amounts of solanine than ripe fruit, which means that ripe tomatoes are generally safe to feed to dogs," the club adds.

tomatoes Florida farm February 2021
A basket of tomatoes at a farm owned and operated by Pacific Tomato Growers in Immokalee, Florida, pictured on February 19. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Potatoes

Raw potatoes and potato plants can be dangerous for dogs because they also contain solanine.

Potatoes are part of the solanaceae family. Plants in this family are "considered toxic and immature fruit that has not yet ripened contain the highest concentrations of the toxins and should be avoided," the Pet Poison Helpline notes.

Yeast

The ingestion of yeast, found in unbaked bread dough, can lead to a life-threatening situation for dogs.

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate inside your dog, causing the stomach to bloat and potentially twist. "This is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency abdominal surgery before the walls of the stomach die due to poor blood supply. As the yeast ferments in the stomach, it releases alcohol which may lead to alcohol poisoning," the Pet Poison Helpline explains.

Signs of yeast poisoning include bloating as well as "distended abdomen, unproductive vomiting and retching, lethargy, weakness, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), collapse and shock," it adds.

Milk and other dairy items

Milk can be safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. However, "because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset," the ASPCA notes.

Medicine for humans

Medication intended for people or other pets should not be given to dogs unless directed by your veterinarian, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

"For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for people, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may not be right for your pet and may even be harmful," the FDA notes.

California dog park feeding 2012
A person feeding dogs raw chicken leg quarters at a park in Costa Mesa, California in December 2012. Some foods that humans eat can be harmful for dogs to ingest. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images