We’ve all been there — those puppy dog eyes begging us for a mere scrap of steak, pulling at our heartstrings.
But there are hundreds of vet horror stories about dog owners unknowingly feeding their pets with toxic food. We want to avoid this at all costs. Hopefully, this article will help.
There are some foods dogs can’t eat, that might seem tasty to our dogs, but are very toxic and dangerous for their health. Making informed choices when offering your dog food is essential for all dog owners.
In this article, we talk about what foods your dog can and can’t eat, but also how you can prepare their food to be tasty and safe at the same time:
Foods To Avoid When Feeding Your Dog
The food you eat on a daily basis might be very toxic for your pup. From symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach problems, to kidney failure, seizure, and even death, some foods should best be avoided when feeding your dog.
To help you avoid such problems, we’ve compiled a list of things dogs cant have in their diet, so you can be well informed. We also think that it’s a good idea to write this list up somewhere and put it on your fridge just in case.
Fruits That Your Dog Can’t Eat
Some of the listed foods may be a bit confusing. Fruits contain lots of vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health. Surely, if they’re healthy for us, they should be for our furry friends? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and some fruit can be extremely harmful to your dog.
Avocados are a great addition to a human’s diet, but can dogs eat avocado? The short answer is no. Avocados contain levels of persin that can be poisonous to dogs. The toxin, found in the pits and leaves, can make its way into the actual fruit.
The side effects of persin poisoning aren’t pleasant. Your dog may experience diarrhea and vomiting, but they mind end up with heart muscle damage as well. Avoid giving your pup avocados and opt for something better. Read on to find out what.
Do not give your dog grapes. It’s a deadly fruit for your dog. Scientists discovered that tartaric acid, an acid usually found in grapes and raisins is the real culprit behind the toxicity. So the answer to the question “can dogs eat grapes?” is no, but why is that. Well, even a handful of grapes lead to severe grape poisoning. Grape poisoning might start with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and could lead to kidney failure. If you suspect your dog has eaten grapes, call your vet immediately.
Cherries may seem like a tasty snack, especially during the summer, but they are more dangerous for your dog than you think. The stems, leaves, and pits of the cherry contain cyanide, which is extremely dangerous for dogs. So we said no to the question “can dogs eat cherries?”, but how many cherries are too much. Well, one or two might be fine, but a few more cherries can lead to cyanide poisoning which can cause symptoms such as labored breathing, bright red gums, and dilated pupils, and it can also lead to death.
Vegetables That Your Dog Can’t Eat
Vegetables are the basis of every healthy diet. But sometimes even we don’t enjoy eating veggies and it’s so easy to slide some veggies under the table for our pup. That said, knowing which are safe is essential to avoid getting your pet sick.
Onions and Garlic
Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are all part of the Allium family of plants. All of them are also considered toxic food for dogs as they may cause anemia by causing the destruction of the red blood cells of your dog. This might not be instant and the side effect can occur much later from digestion.
Symptoms like pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, and collapse are only a part of what these veggies can do to your pup.
So, potatoes may be a bit controversial when included in a dog’s diet. Raw potatoes contain solanine, which is toxic to your dog and may cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. The raw potatoes themselves can also be the culprit behind intestinal blockage.
But the question “can dogs eat potatoes?” can’t be answered with a no. This is because cooking potatoes decreases the amount of solanine they contain, and ingested in small amounts, they are perfectly safe for your pup. So if you decide on giving your pup some potatoes, cook them well and remove the skin, but pay attention to their health afterward just in case.
Tomatoes are technically fruits that we usually count as being veggies. They are delicious to eat as fresh and cooked but they might not be safe for your dog.
The leaves, stem, and green parts of the tomato contains lots of solanine that is toxic to dogs. This substance causes stomach upset in dogs and may induce vomiting and diarrhea. But if we remove these parts, can dogs eat tomatoes? Well, yes. If the tomato is fresh and ripened they are technically safe for your dog to eat. You should still be careful when offering this fruit to your dog though.
Other Food That Your Dog Can’t Eat
Besides fruits and veggies, the food choices are wide and some of them can be really bad for your dog. From nuts to chocolate, to artificial food or alcohol, some human foods can cause a lot of harm and should be avoided at all costs. Here are a few things to avoid:
Almonds are a delicious and nutritious snack for us, but can dogs eat almonds? Well, no. Almonds by themselves don’t contain anything specifically toxic, however, they can be the reason for lots of gastric problems.
They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, loss of appetite, and lethargy, but they can also cause obstruction in your pup’s gastrointestinal system, which is an urgent situation. Almonds can also be coated in lots of salt, and this can cause salt poisoning in dogs.
Never feed your dog macadamia nuts. These little tasty treats are deadly to all dogs even in small amounts. The symptoms that macadamia nuts cause are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, hyperthermia, ataxia, muscle tremors, and muscle weakness, specifically on the back legs. In the end, this toxicity can end fatally.
These are one of the most famous foods harmful to dogs, and if you suspect your dog has eaten some, immediately contact your vet.
The sweetest treat that humans have is unfortunately very toxic to our fluffs. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, substances that stimulate the nervous system and the heart rate but are slowly metabolized so they build up in your dog’s system. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, arrhythmias, seizures, and can end fatally.
Usually, the darker the chocolate, the worse the outcome. The most fatal are cocoa powder and dark chocolate, and the least fatal is white chocolate. So can dogs eat chocolate? That’s a definite NO. If your dog ingests any chocolate, immediately contact your vet.
So mushrooms are a wide group and contain all kinds of safe and very unsafe mushrooms. When talking about store bought mushrooms that are washed and cleaned properly, yes, your dog can eat a few. If they are meant and prepared for human consumption, they generally don’t contain anything toxic that may cause problems.
This is not true for some other mushrooms, however. Toxic mushrooms, especially those found randomly in the garden, may cause some serious damage to your dog. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, ataxia, seizures, and they may end fatally. So can dogs eat mushrooms? Well, some mushrooms yes, but we recommend avoiding them altogether just to be safe.
Do not give your dog alcohol. Any drink that contains high levels of ethanol, be it beer, wine, or brandy can be very toxic to your dog. Alcohol can cause vomiting, discoordination, troubled breathing, seizure, and can end fatally.
Be careful with where you store alcohol at home, and don’t let your dog get to the hand sanitizer or the wet wipes that have alcohol in them. If you’ve noticed your dog ingesting alcohol, immediately contact your vet.
This sugar substitute is a part of lots of foods dogs can’t eat. It is usually a part of all the “sugar-free” products, like chewing gum, candy, but also some peanut butters, yogurts, puddings, toothpastes, many more.
Even in small amounts, ingested xylitol can be very toxic for your dog. It can cause hypoglycemia, vomiting, diarrhea, discoordination, weakness, tremors, seizures, and even liver failure. To avoid this from ever happening, be careful of the foods you give to your dog, especially if they are artificially made. If you see your dog showing these symptoms after eating some suspicious food, immediately call your vet.
Safe Human Foods for Dogs
There are many human foods that dogs can and can’t eat. It is usually recommended to feed dogs with well-balanced dog food. That said, give your pooch a treat every once in a while. In order to provide all the essential vitamins your dog needs, throw in some healthy veggies or fruits that are perfectly safe, but also very delicious.
Fruits Your Dog Can Eat
Since ice cream is an absolute no-no for your four-legged friend, fruit can be a delicious snack on a hot summer’s day. Fruits are filled with fiber and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy diet. But which ones are dog-friendly?
Can dogs eat apples? Yes. Apples are an excellent treat with many health benefits for your pupper. They’re nutritious and good for their teeth. Always make sure to cut the apple into slices and avoid giving your pet the core seeds. The seeds may contain cyanide and a small amount won’t do anything, but it’s easier and healthier to cut the apple beforehand. Moderation is key, so don’t overfeed your doggo with apples.
Bananas are a nutritious and delicious snack for your dog. They’re a fantastic source of vitamins, fiber, and magnesium. Bananas are also available throughout the year and are an inexpensive snack. As usual, be aware of the amount. They have lots of sugars so too much of this delicious fruit can cause some problems. Vets recommend half a banana a day for large dogs.
If you’re asking the question “can dogs have pineapple?” know that pineapples are perfectly safe for your dog. They’re filled with lots of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, B1, and B6, and minerals, like manganese. They also contain lots of water, so they can keep your dog hydrated during the summer, but also an enzyme called bromelain, that helps your dog absorb more protein. You can give it as a fresh or frozen snack but remove the skin and core first.
Watermelon is a great source of vitamin C and A. The fruit is 92% water, making it a healthy choice for a summer’s day snack. But you should always remove the seeds to combat blockages and consider cutting out the skin, too, as it can be difficult for dogs to digest.
Can dogs eat blueberries? Of course, they can. Blueberries are low-calorie fruit that’s a fantastic antioxidant for you and your doggo. The vitamins and minerals also support the overall immune system. Frozen blueberries are a delicious treat for your pupper.
Strawberries are a great addition to your dogs’ diet, especially during the summer days when they are fresh. They contain large amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. Strawberries also contain an enzyme that whitens your dogs’ teeth to give them that perfect smile. You can give them as fresh cut-up fruit, you can puree them, or you can give them as frozen treats.
So can dogs eat peaches? Yes, they can. Feel free to give your furry friend some peaches. They’re full of vitamins and nutrients that are great for dogs. That said, peaches have more sugar than other fruit, so stick to the recommended portion advised by your vet.
Vegetables Your Dog Can Eat
Your dog’s diet should include vegetables. When preparing them for your puppy, make sure they’re cooked through and without any spices or sauces. Each doggo is different, so test what they like and how they respond to a specific vegetable before giving them a full portion.
Can dogs eat broccoli? Yes. Broccoli is a great occasional treat for your pup. The leafy veggie boasts many vitamins and minerals that help the dog’s digestive system. Make sure not to season it, and don’t cook it in oil, as this could hurt your pet’s tummy.
Cooked kidney beans, lima beans, black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, and garbanzo beans are great for your dog. They contain lots of fiber and protein, but also some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Beans that you should avoid giving your dog are fava beans, raw kidney beans, baked beans, refried beans, canned beans, and chili beans.
So can dogs eat carrots? Of course. Carrots are a substantial source of nutrients for puppers. Feel free to give them the entire veggie — from the carrot itself to the leaves on top. Vets recommend it as one of the more favorable snacks for your furry friend, and most dogs love them.
Other Foods Your Dog Can Eat
The key thing to giving any food to your dog comes down to moderation — test foods to see if they’re a good fit for your pooch. If you’re unsure, ask your vet about serving sizes. Be aware of the natural sugar in foods which is easy to overlook. We talked about what can dogs not eat, but also what they can eat, so here are some other fantastic food choices for your doggo:
- Cooked white rice
- Cooked eggs
Peanut butter is a great snack option for your dog. It contains a lot of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins essential for your dog’s health.
There are many options of peanut butter to choose from the store, so there are a few things you need to keep an eye on. Some peanut butter products contain xylitol, which is a very toxic ingredient for dogs. Another thing is having salted peanut butter which has a lot of salt that can also be toxic. Other than these few things, peanut butter makes an amazing treat for your fluff.
Can dogs eat honey? Yes. Honey is a great sugar alternative because it’s naturally sweet. What’s more, you can safely give it to your doggo in moderation. It contains a lot of vitamins and minerals that are great for your dog. However, be sure to brush your dog’s teeth after giving them honey to prevent decay from the sugar.
Dogs adore cinnamon, which is why you’ll find it in many dog treats. The spice has anti-inflammatory properties that help with neurological disorders and reduce blood sugar, which is great news for diabetic dogs. Studies also show it can improve your pup’s heart health. So the answer to the question “can dogs eat cinnamon?” is yes, just don’t give cinnamon as a powder, as it can irritate your dog’s mouth and nose and cause breathing difficulties, coughing, or choking.
How to Prepare Food for Your Pup
Many dog owners don’t know how to cook food for their pups properly. It is much easier to just buy canned dog food, but your dog needs fresh food from time to time. Sometimes it can be the preparation that harms your pet and not the food. The general rule is, if you’re not sure, cook it.
How to Safely Prepare Meat and Fish
Now that you know the foods dogs should not eat, you can be much more confident in the food you prepare for your doggo. All meat and fish products need to be cooked. Raw meat and fish can contain parasites that may harm your pup. Steaming is the most healthy option, while using butter and oil isn’t recommended. What’s more, chicken and rice are a great option for dogs if they struggle with an upset stomach. Always avoid spices like salt, as they cause dehydration.
How to Prepare Vegetables
Some veggies, like carrots, are perfectly fine raw. That said, vets recommend you cook all veggies and meats before serving them to your dog. To avoid choking, cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
Boiling is easy and takes approximately 15 minutes. Keep the water as it’s filled with nutrients for your pup.
How to Prepare Fruits
Now we know what fruits can dogs not eat, but we also know what they can eat. Fruits like cherries, grapes, and avocados are off the table, but apples, pineapples, bananas, blueberries, and many more are perfect for your dog.
You can serve them fresh and chopped up, after washing them thoroughly of course. It’s mostly recommended to remove the stems, leaves, pits or seeds of any fruits you plan to serve to your dog.
Another great way to serve fruits is to freeze them beforehand. They are perfect as a cooling treat during the hot summer days.
Pros and Cons of Cooking Your Pup’s Food
By avoiding the foods dogs can’t eat, you already skip over most of the cons that cooking your pup’s food comes with. Here are a few more pros and cons to consider before you start making homemade dog food.
Cons of Making Your Own Dog Food
- Homemade dog food can be time-consuming.
- It takes a lot of research to ensure you meet your pup’s dietary requirements.
- Finding good sources can be difficult. You should consult your vet, especially when making drastic changes in your pet’s diet.
- You need to stay informed on the common human foods dogs can’t eat.
Pros of Making Your Own Dog Food
- You can control and monitor what your dog’s eating, which is helpful for specific medical issues.
- Some dog owners enjoy making food for their four-legged friends and see it as a bonding experience.
- Many pups are fussy eaters, which can be a hassle for owners. Homemade dog food allows you to experiment and find what your pup will enjoy.
- You widen your dog’s diet and introduce them to new foods that make eating a tasty new adventure they can look forward to.
How to Avoid Mistakes With Homemade Meals
- Speak to your vet. Ask your vet about all the foods dogs can’t eat at the next vet appointment and ask them for recommendations on other foods.
- Don’t use pre-made recipes that came from a “specialist.” Most don’t have the right training to offer advice on your pup’s diet.
- Keep a list of the dangerous dog foods in plain sight. Make sure everyone in the house is aware of it, even the kids.
- It’s best to keep things simple for those looking after your pup if you are going away. Don’t make long lists; instead, provide vet-recommended dog food.
- If you are not sure if your dog gets all the needed materials in its diet, include some additional dog probiotics and other supplements, so you keep them healthy.
Final Thoughts: How Healthy Your Dog Is Depends on the Ingredients It Eats
Knowing all the foods dogs can’t eat is crucial in keeping them healthy and happy. Dogs will often ask for a bite of our food, and we always want to give some, but it is very important to have restraint when needed.
Foods like grapes, cherries, onion, garlic, almonds, macadamia nuts, chocolate, and a few more, are foods that you will have to hide from your dog just because of the nasty complications they can make if your dog eats them.
But foods like apples, blueberries, carrots, cucumbers, honey, and many more, are completely safe and perfect for times when you want to treat your dog to a healthy and delicious snack.
- Piscitelli, Christopher M et al. “Xylitol toxicity in dogs.” Compendium (Yardley, PA) vol. 32,2 (2010): E1-4; quiz E4.
- Finlay, Fiona, and Simon Guiton. “Chocolate poisoning.” BMJ : British Medical Journal vol. 331,7517 (2005): 633.
- Hansen, S R et al. “Weakness, tremors, and depression associated with macadamia nuts in dogs.” Veterinary and human toxicology vol. 42,1 (2000): 18-21.