As pet parents, our most important duty is to keep our dogs safe and healthy. In the line of duty, you may need to perform a kitchen clean-up to keep all the things dogs can’t eat out of reach. 

But, what can dogs NOT eat?

We've split our list into two categories: 

  • Foods dogs absolutely cannot eat: These foods are toxic and can cause serious harm to your pet.  If they do eat one of these foods, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or take your dog to the vet right away.
  • Foods that most or some dogs should avoid: These are unlikely to cause an immediate veterinary emergency.

Use this list to dog-proof your kitchen and keep your furry friend safe from injurious eats:

How to Dog-Proof Your Kitchen

What can dogs not eat: dog trying to get something off the counter

Dog-proofing your kitchen is easy — you don't need to get rid of any of your favorite snacks just because your pup can't eat them. (Thank Dog! We can't imagine our lives without chocolate or coffee.) 

Instead, choose a special place for dog-unfriendly foods. This can be in a high cupboard, on the top shelf of your pantry, or inside your refrigerator. Just make sure your dogs can’t reach the spot. Keep the counters clear of food if you have a dog who likes to surf these areas for snacks. 

Next, let everyone in the house know about your dog-proofing procedure. Tell them which foods are dangerous for dogs and where they should store those foods. 

If you have a house with young children, you may need to cover this information more than once. But, once everyone understands and is onboard, you can keep your dog safe from the most dangerous foods.

What Can Dogs NOT Eat? The 7 Most Dangerous Foods

What can dogs not eat: person chopping onions

If your dog eats one of these foods, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or take your dog to the vet immediately. Ingestion of any of these foods can be toxic. 

1. Chocolate 

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are methylxanthines, a type of chemical compound that acts as a stimulant. Dogs can't effectively metabolize methylxanthines, so they can remain in your pet's system for a long time. 

Methylxanthines inhibit adenosine receptors, which make us feel sleepy. As a result, hyperactivity is one of the first side effects you'll notice if your dog eats chocolate. 

Eating chocolate in any of its forms — dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa butter, or cocoa powder — can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased thirst, frequent urination, elevated heart rate, seizures, and death. The severity of your dog's symptoms will depend on the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten

2. Coffee and Other Caffeinated Beverages 

Another type of methylxanthine, caffeine has the same effects in dogs that we listed for chocolate. But, because caffeine has a shorter half-life than theobromine, your dog can likely consume more coffee than chocolate before it becomes toxic. 

Still, you should avoid giving your dog any coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages. Not only is caffeine dangerous to them, but our dogs have enough energy without a morning pick-me-up!

3. Grapes

Dogs cannot eat grapes or products made from grapes like raisins, sultanas, currants, grape juice, or jams sweetened with grape juice. Grapes cause intermittent toxicity in dogs, meaning they are life-threatening poisonous to some dogs while other dogs will have no reaction at all. 

And while veterinarians aren't sure what the toxic substance is in grapes, they do know that consuming grapes can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Signs of grape poisoning include pain or sensitivity in your dog's stomach, especially when touched, plus vomiting, lethargy, excessive thirst, panting, pacing, or difficulty breathing

3. Xylitol 

Xylitol, or birch sugar, is a sugar replacement. It's a natural chemical compound, not an artificial sweetener, found in many plants, including dog-friendly plants like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, oats, and corn. But, in its extracted form, xylitol becomes toxic to dogs. 

Xylitol is often used in sugar-free, low-sugar, and low-carb recipes, including peanut butter, candies, baked goods, and ice cream. Before sharing any processed food with your dog, carefully check the label to make sure it doesn't contain any xylitol

If your dog consumes xylitol, it can cause their blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels, and it can lead to permanent liver damage or liver failure.  

4. Alliums 

Alliums are a family of plants that includes garlic, onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots. These plants contain a phytochemical called thiosulfate that's toxic to dogs. 

It takes a large amount of garlic and onions to cause thiosulfate poisoning — about 2 cloves of garlic per pound of body weight. However, one medium onion contains enough thiosulfate to poison a 40-pound dog.

While this may be more garlic and onion than you'll typically find in a bite or two of a dish of people food, some dogs are more sensitive to alliums than others. Plus, thiosulfate can build up in a dog's system over several days of repeat consumption. 

Thiosulfate damages your dog's red blood cells, causing anemia. If your dog is suffering from thiosulfate poisoning, they'll show signs of lethargy, low appetite, and fainting. They may also have pale gums and urine with a reddish tint.   

5. Macadamia Nuts 

Veterinarians aren't sure why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, but this can be one of the worst foods to feed dogs. If a dog eats even a small amount of macadamia nuts, it can cause vomiting, tremors, lethargy, hyperthermia, fever, and weakness in their back legs.  

Because these are some of the highest fat nuts, they can also lead to pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas. This condition could resolve after your dog is treated for macadamia poisoning, or it could become chronic and affect your pet throughout their life.  

6. Alcohol 

Much like in people, alcohol affects dogs' central nervous systems. But because dogs metabolize alcohol differently from people, they can experience the effects of alcohol poisoning much more easily. In dogs, alcohol poisoning can lead to a loss of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, and even death.  

7. Raw Yeast-Leavened Dough 

While most dogs can safely eat cooked bread, a raw yeast dough, like a bread dough, still contains live yeast. That yeast releases gasses in your dog's digestive system, which can make your dog's stomach bloat and twist. The yeast also produces ethanol, a type of alcohol. 

Eating a raw dough made with yeast could lead to enough alcohol in your dog's system to cause alcohol poisoning. The symptoms will look the same as if your dog has actual alcohol.  

7 Other Foods to Watch Out For 

Cooked lentils in white bowl

While the foods on this following list aren't toxic to dogs, they can cause short or long-term health problems. Some of these foods are bad for all dogs and should be avoided no matter what. Others are fine for most dogs but can negatively affect sensitive dogs. Here are a few foods to think twice about before feeding to your pet:

1. Sugary Foods

Too many sugary snacks can lead to obesity and diabetes in dogs. Added sugar may also be lurking in many dog treats, so keep your eyes on food labels to avoid including too much added sugar in your dog's diet. 

2. Raw Meat and Eggs 

The raw food movement has taken off, but raw eggs and meat can be contaminated with E. coli and salmonella. While these bacterial infections may pose a risk to all dogs, these foods are especially dangerous for immuno-compromised dogs. 

If you have a healthy dog and want to feed them raw food, you can reduce the risk of bacterial contamination by using stainless steel bowls and washing them with hot water and soap immediately after every meal. This will prevent bacteria from growing in the bowl between meals. It also helps to choose a frozen raw diet and thaw the food in the fridge no more than 48 hours before feeding time. Freezing helps kill bacteria, but it's not guaranteed to kill all the potentially harmful bacteria on a food.   

3. Dairy Products 

Many dogs can drink milk and consume other dairy products. But, some dogs are lactose intolerant. When these dogs consume dairy, they'll experience bloating, upset stomach, and diarrhea. 

4. Nuts

While most nuts aren't toxic like macadamia nuts, they can build up in your dog's gastrointestinal tract and cause a blockage — especially if your dog is a gulper instead of a chewer. Nuts are also a high-fat food, which can contribute to pancreatitis

5. Avocado 

Feeding your dog avocado can be good for them in small doses. But, avocado contains a chemical called persin, which is toxic to dogs in large amounts

There's a lot of persin in the avocado skin and pit but a much smaller amount in the flesh. So, it is safe to give your dog a few bites of avocado flesh — just don't feed them too much, and be extra careful with the pit since it can be a choking hazard.

6. Pulses and Legumes

Many grain-free dog foods contain pulses and legumes, like peas, chickpeas, and lentils. The FDA is investigating a link between these foods and an increased risk of heart disease in dogs. It has named pulses — the dried seeds of legume plants (think beans) — as the most likely suspect in their investigation, but more research is needed. 

To be safe, avoid feeding your pet peas, beans, and lentils at home until the FDA has concluded its investigation. 

7. Foods They're Allergic To 

In addition to the foods that affect all dogs, every dog is unique. Two in every 1,000 dogs suffer from food allergies, and they can be allergic to nearly any food — although the most common allergies are to chicken, beef, and dairy. If you think your dog might have food allergies, you can conduct a dog food allergy test to find the ingredients that are negatively affecting your furry friend. 

Keep Your Furry Friend Safe From Dangerous Foods

Couple feeding their dog

So, what can dogs eat? And what can dogs NOT eat? There are plenty of healthy human foods that are safe and nutritious for our furry friends. 

But, when you know which foods pose a threat, you can create a safer home for your pet. Take any foods that contain chocolate, caffeine, grapes, xylitol, garlic, onions, chives, scallions, macadamia nuts, alcohol, or activated yeast, and place them out of reach of your dog. 

For more ideas on healthy and safe snacks to share with your furry friend, check out the Native Pet blog.

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