Vets Rank Their Top 5 Foods To Never Feed Your Dog

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

September 16, 2015

If you ask the average dog owner what foods are toxic to dogs, most of them will say chocolate, some will say grapes, and fewer still may say Xylitol, which recently made news in the tragic death of Golden Retriever, Luna. It is important to know which common food items are potentially harmful to your pets, and even more important to know what symptoms to look for should a case of accidental ingestion occur. Below are the top five common foods that could be potentially fatal for your pooch.

1. Chocolate


Chocolate tops the list not because it is the most toxic, but because it is one of the most common accidentally ingested food due to its mass appeal. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? The holiday season definitely sees an increase in chocolate toxicity cases. One of my own dogs nearly died from ingesting an entire bag of Halloween candy.


The chemicals in chocolate that cause the toxic effect are caffeine and theobromine. The concentration of these chemicals increases with the darkness of the chocolate; baker’s chocolate being especially toxic. White chocolate carries the lowest risk, and milk chocolate requires a certain amount of ingestion per body weight to cause intoxication and fatality (like a whole bag of Halloween candy into a ten pound Lhasa Apso!).


If you suspect your dog may have ingested chocolate, an immediate visit to your vet is the best course of action. Even non toxic amounts of theobromine can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Signs that your dog is suffering from chocolate intoxication include restlessness, pacing, muscle tremors, seizures, extreme thirst, rapid heart rate, and fever. Speed of treatment definitely matters, so do not wait to seek veterinary attention if you see any of these signs!

2. Grapes & Raisins


There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to grapes and raisins and the effects they have on dogs. Grape ingestion has definitely been linked to acute kidney failure and even death in many dogs, yet others seem to be able to enjoy the fruit without incident. Also a mystery is that some dogs can eat grapes without issue once, then become extremely ill on another occasion. Of course, it’s best not to find out which category your precious pup falls under and avoid these foods at all costs!


Symptoms of dogs suffering from grape toxicity are usually present within 12 hours of ingestion. They include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. As acute kidney failure progresses dogs will refuse food, drink excessively, and experience an increased need to urinate. Some patients may continue to deteriorate and die from kidney failure, others who survive the acute illness may live with chronic kidney disease for the rest of their lives.

3. Hops 


The severely poisonous effect of hops on dogs has become more widely known recently with the popularity of home beer brewing kits. Both raw and cooked hops have toxic principles, and dried hops plugs are more dangerous than hops pellets. The exact poisonous component within the plant is unknown at this time.


The Pet Poison Helpline website lists the major symptom of hops intoxication as hyperthermia — high fever exceeding 105 Degrees. Dogs may also experience racing heart rate, increased respiration, vomiting, and abnormal blood clotting. Immediate veterinary care is required to prevent death in severe cases. Although any breed can be affected, certain breeds seem to be more susceptible to the extreme fever aspect of hops toxicity. St. Bernards, Dobermans, Border Collies, Springer Spaniels, Pointers, Labs. and Greyhounds top the list.

4. Xylitol


The heartbreaking story of Luna, the gorgeous two-year-old Golden Retriever who died from ingesting a pack of Ice Breakers gum, broke this April. The case has helped raise awareness of the extreme danger artificial sweeteners pose for our pets. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free gums, candies, and baked goods, but may also be in your brand of toothpaste.

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The chemical causes canine blood sugar to rapidly plummet, leading to seizures and disorientation as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion. Some dogs, like poor Luna, will develop acute liver failure that can cause death quickly, even with veterinary attention. If you even suspect your pet may have gotten into a sugar-free product, seek help immediately.

5. Garlic & Onions


Garlic and vegetables from the onion family, including shallots and scallions, are rarely ingested in large enough quantities to cause toxicosis. The reason for this is obvious 00 you have to be pretty gangsta to eat an entire onion or bulb of garlic! However, concentrated onion and garlic products like soup or dip mixes and garlic and onion powders can have the same effect.


Dogs who ingest large enough amounts of these products can experience severe damage to their red blood cells, which can take days to become evident. Symptoms include lethargy, tiring easily on walks, pale mucous membranes, and dark orange or red urine. Destruction of the red blood cells leads to anemia requiring blood transfusions to avoid death. If you suspect your pet may have eaten these vegetables or a dehydrated garlic or onion product, seek veterinary care immediately — do not wait for symptoms to appear days later.


The five foods above can lead to tragedy for our dogs, but there are several other food items that should also be avoided. Some of these can have toxic effects to certain dogs in large quantities, but all of them have the potential to cause some level of illness, organ damage, or pain. They are:

  • Caffeine
  • Avocados (only the skin and pit)
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy Products
  • Fatty Meats & Bones
  • Raw Meat, Eggs & Fish
  • Yeast Dough
  • Peach, Plum & Persimmon Pits
  • Excessive Salt & Sugar
  • Moldy/Expired Foods

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Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

September 16, 2015

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