Sharing snacks with your furry companion can be a lot of fun, but it can be dangerous, too, if you aren't aware of foods to avoid. Before assembling a smorgasbord for you and Fido, check out this list of what not to serve your furry friends. (Please note this is not a complete list. Got questions about which foods not to feed your dog? Ask a vet now through live chat.)
Avocados belong on many foods, but dog kibble isn't one of them. These tasty green fruits contain persin, a toxic compound that can cause serious respiratory and gastrointestinal problems in canines.
Never give your dog any part of an avocado, but especially not the seed. The ball-like appearance of avocado seeds make them enticing to dogs, and they're just the right shape and size to obstruct the airway.
Some nuts contain neurotoxic compounds and fungi (like tremorgenic mycotoxins and juglone), which can make dogs seriously ill. Although non-toxic, almonds still carry risks, since their shape poses a choking hazard, and some dogs have difficulty digesting them. Fido should also avoid walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, hickory nuts, and nuts with a lot of salt or sugar.
Don’t fret, Fido — there are safe options for pooches who are nuts about nuts. Peanuts, cashews, and hazelnuts offer a healthy dose of protein without the risk. Small dogs are at higher risk for choking on whole nuts, so you may need to opt for a low-sodium and xylitol-free nut spread instead.
Foods from the Allium family
Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks are all doggy no-gos. These pungent bulbs contain a chemical that attaches to canine's red blood cells and destroys them. High concentrations of these foods can decrease blood oxygenation and elicit an immune response against the dog's own blood cells.
Sweets and artificial sweeteners
Many dogs have a sweet tooth, but you should refrain from giving Sparky sugar and artificial sweeteners. Though tasty, these treats can cause severe problems and even death for canines. Like humans, long-term sugar consumption can cause dogs to develop tooth decay, weight gain, and diabetes. Short-term side effects of excessive sugar intake are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and excitability.
The common sugar alternative xylitol can cause a dog's blood sugar to plummet dangerously low, resulting in potentially fatal liver damage. The scary thing about xylitol is that it's hidden in a lot of foods, so pet parents should carefully scan nutrition labels before giving food to their dogs. Xylitol is an additive in many prescription and over-the-counter liquid medications, so make sure you check the ingredient labels on these too.
Chocolate or cacao
Chocolate (particularly kinds with large amounts of cacao) can also spell trouble for sweet-loving pooches. Theobromine, an alkaline in chocolate, can cause gastrointestinal problems, elevated heart rate, dehydration, and seizures in dogs.
Low-quality or cooking bones
All dogs love bones, but Fido should steer clear of any that aren't raw. Cooking denatures the bones, causing them to splinter into pieces that can puncture the intestines. Poor-quality raw bones carry the risk of food-borne bacteria, which can cause stomach upset and dental infections. Avoid large, round bones, since the shape makes them more likely to damage teeth and gums.
Grapes and raisins
Several of the most toxic foods for canines belong to the Vitaceae family, including grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas. Scientists are unsure which chemical compounds in these foods are responsible for its toxicity in canines, but they know the potential effects. This mysterious culprit can cause the liver to shut down and even be deadly. Symptoms of grape toxicity are difficulty urinating, excessive drinking, upset stomach, changes in behavior, and discomfort.
Well, what can I feed Fido?
Some Fido-friendly fruits and vegetables include apple slices, blueberries, watermelon, green beans, carrots, and pumpkin. Other high-protein and nutrient-rich foods doggies love are oats, eggs, cheese, fish, and meat. If your dog has dietary restrictions, check out our list of hypoallergenic treats for dogs with sensitive tummies.
What should I do if my pet eats something toxic?
If you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn't, call the ASPCA Poison Control line immediately. A poison control operator can tell you exactly what to do since the recommendations vary by the substance. Don't induce vomiting unless a professional instructs you to — this can sometimes worsen the problem.