Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?

Every Fido, Rover, and Spot chows down on hamburger that is days old and they never seem to get sick. In fact, dogs tend to eat all kinds of old foods and never seem to miss a beat. Is it possible that dogs simply don’t get food poisoning?

Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?

The reality is that dogs are actually more prone to food poisoning than humans. But, in part, this may be because far too many humans like to feed human foods to their four-legged friends, foods that are meant for other animals, or foods that are known to be harmful to dogs.


Food poisoning in humans is rough. Remember the last time you spent the night hanging over the side of the toilet? Well, Rover is likely to have similar side effects of food poisoning but is more likely to spend his time laying in the corner whimpering in pain.

More severe cases of food poisoning in dogs can cause seizures, severe dehydration, muscle spasms, disorientation, and he may even collapse.

In the event you suspect your dog may be suffering from food poisoning, you can't afford to waste time, he needs to be taken to see his vet immediately.

Does My Dog Have Food Poisoning?

Rover can get food poisoning, but you should be careful as he might only have an upset stomach.

The best way to determine if Rover has food poisoning is to make sure you can recognize the various symptoms:

  • Increased drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of appetite along with a decreased interest in eating

  • Lethargy

  • Diarrhea/loose stools

  • Changes in behavior including aggression

  • Shivering uncontrollably

  • Whimpering in pain


Just like people, there are many different causes of food poisoning in dogs, including:

  • Eating spoiled foods that are high in bacteria

  • Eating foods known to be poisonous to dogs such as chocolate, onions, and grapes

  • Eating contaminated foods


Diagnosis of food poisoning in dogs is similar to that used for humans and typically involves noting the above symptoms. Since the body's way of reacting to the presence of toxins that cause food poisoning is to try and flush them out, your is likely to have a bad case of diarrhea and/or vomiting. 

How Do I Treat My Dog's Food Poisoning?

For the most part, the best thing you can do for your poor dog is to purge his system of any food products. Since he is vomiting and pooping, this should get rid of the vast majority of any toxins. However, he is likely to become dehydrated rather quickly. You need to make sure he gets nothing but water and plenty of it for the next 24 hours.

Chances are good that poor old Rover will recover quite nicely on his own, much like you would. However, depending on the severity of the poisoning and whether he shows signs of recovery, you may want to take him in to see his vet for a checkup and further diagnosis.

How is Food Poisoning Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Whether we are talking about you or your four-legged vacuum cleaner, the symptoms of food poisoning are very similar. Both will experience:

  • Stomach cramping and pain

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

How is Food Poisoning Different in Dogs and Humans?

There are not many ways in which food poisoning in dogs is different from that experienced in humans. However, there are a few, including:

  • Dogs may get food poisoning from foods that do not affect humans

  • Dogs can get food poisoning from eating nonfood items such as shrubbery, dead animals, rotten foods

  • Food poisoning in dogs has a higher fatality rate

Case Study

In 2006, several well-known dog foods including Diamond, Professional, and Country Value were recalled after they were found to contain aflatoxins that are highly toxic to dogs. According to Cornell University veterinarians, over 100 dogs died of food poisoning eating foods intended for them.

The University team used a used a new type of test modified from one used for humans to discover the cause of the food poisoning. But, unfortunately for many dogs and their owners, the discovery of the aflatoxin came too late. Many of the dogs would not have been subjected to this food poisoning if their owners had paid attention to the wave of media attention given this recall.

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