Dogs

10 Human foods that are bad for dogs (and what to give them instead)

Do you like to give your pup your kitchen leftovers? If your dog loves everything he sees on your plate, you need to know there are some human foods that are bad for dogs and can cause serious health problems.

However, I know how hard it is to resist those big brown eyes when you are eating your lunch. So at the end of this article, you will find 10 safe alternatives you can give to your pup as a nice snack instead. 

Which human foods are bad for dogs?

There are 10 most common types of human foods that are bad for dogs. They are similar to foods toxic to cats, but for some reason, the effects on dogs are more researched and better documented.

The treatment is mostly symptomatic since there are usually no antidotes available.

In the case of solid foods, if you manage to get your dog to a vet under ca 1.5 – 2h after the ingestion, he can induce vomiting. This will remove the dangerous food from your pup’s stomach and stop the toxin absorption. However, after those 2 hours inducing vomiting is no longer effective because the stomach content has moved into the small intestines.

So please call your vet as soon as possible if you have a suspicion that your dog ate something he shouldn’t have.

So let’s dive in, here are 10 human foods that are bad for dogs, and can be found in most pantries.

#1 Onion, garlic, chives

Not many people are aware of this, but onion, garlic, and chives are toxic to dogs even when cooked. They contain organosulfoxides, which can cause blood hemolysis after metabolization. This means that they can destroy red blood cells. Signs of onion or garlic poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and apathy. Anemia can cause pale gums, rapid heart rate, rapid respiratory rate, and dark urine. 

#2 Grapes and raisins

Grapes and their dried products are nephrotoxic. They can cause kidney failure in dogs, although the exact mechanism is not known (yet 🙂 ). There also seems to be an individual susceptibility.

Kidney failure is a serious health condition, so please call your vet if your dog ate grapes.

#3 Chocolate

Chocolate is also one of those human foods that are bad for dogs. However, I can tell you every vet had a chocolate poisoning patient. Dogs loove chocolate…and being a chocoholic myself, I can’t really blame them 😛

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which contain methylxanthines, especially theobromine, and a small amount of caffeine. Theobromine and caffeine are toxic to dogs. 

The amount of methylxanthines in different types of chocolate varies. The darker the chocolate, the greater the danger to your dog. 

Clinical signs usually occur within 6-12h after ingestion and may include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, and seizures. Chocolate poisoning is potentially life-threatening. If your dog ate chocolate, you should call your vet immediately. 

Dogs love chocolate, so please be extra careful and keep your pup safe during Halloween and Christmas! Always make sure all your chocolate products are safely stored out of your pet’s reach!

#4 Xylitol 

Xylitol is used as an artificial sweetener and can be found in many products including gum and candy. It can cause insulin release and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). Signs of xylitol poisoning may include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and later seizures. 

#5 Raw dough

Yeast was #1 in the Top 10 Pandemic Pet Poisoning Increases between March 2020 and February 2021 done by Pet Poisoning Helpline. Remember all the sour bread craze? Turns out, dogs like it too…

The raw dough contains yeast, which metabolizes sugars to ethanol. So your dog acts alcohol poisoning when eating too much. 

Furthermore, yeast can cause extensive gas production in the stomach and abdomen, which can cause the stomach to bloat and twist. This is a painful and life-threatening emergency situation, so please call your vet immediately if you notice your dog has eaten raw dough or something with yeast in it. 

#6 Macadamia nuts

The exact mechanism is not known, but macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and hind limb weakness. Furthermore, the high oil content can cause pancreatitis in dogs

#7 Coffee and caffeine

Everyone knows that caffeine is a stimulant, that’s why we drink so much coffee ☺️ However, if you have ever drunk too much coffee, you know that scary and extremely unpleasant feeling. I managed to “poison” myself with caffeine twice during my university studies, and it wasn’t fun I can tell you. Your hands start shaking, you get restless, your heart starts to race, and you can get nauseated and vomit or get diarrhea.

Dogs have similar symptoms. The most common signs of caffeine poisoning in dogs are vomiting, hyperactivity, restlessness, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even collapse.

#8 Alcohol

Alcohol can be found in surprising places, not just in alcoholic beverages. Think about uncooked cakes or rum-soaked desserts, but also mouthwash, paint, or medication. However, alcohol poisoning usually occurs after the ingestion of alcoholic beverages. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, disorientation, and trouble breathing. They can later progress to loss of consciousness, coma, and even death. 

Now, I have to tell you a story but feel free to skip this part if you need only facts ☺️ Once when we were at work, our dog managed to destroy (yes, not just open, but destroy) the doors of our fridge. He took out 2 cans of beer, bit a hole in them, and drank them. When we came home he was sound asleep on the sofa, snoring like a bear. Luckily he slept it off while we were at work and nothing bad happened (except the destroyed fridge and a huge pee puddle at the door). To this day I don’t understand what has gotten into him. And the worst part? No one believes me because he’s a small Maltese! 🤦‍♀️

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#9 Peaches, and Plums

The pits of peaches, plums, and other members of the Prunus family can contain cyanogenic glycosides, which when ingested by a dog can lead to cyanide toxicity. Symptoms usually occur within minutes of ingestion and may include vomiting, panting, dilated pupils, shock, and even death. 

They also pose a potential choking hazard for your dog

10# Fat Trimmings and Bones

Not many people know this, but higher amounts of fats can cause severe pancreatitis in dogs

Bones also pose a choking hazard. 

Birds have hollow bones to be able to fly. These bones, when ingested, can splinter easily and cause digestive tract perforations. A stomach or intestine perforation is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate surgery to save the animal. So please never give your dog chicken or turkey bones. 

Other bones can cause injuries to the gastrointestinal tract. They can also get stuck in the stomach or cause severe constipation or even a blockage in the intestines. Bone fragments in the stomach, a blockage in the intestines, and sometimes even constipation require abdominal surgery. 

If your dog ate bones or something fatty, contact your veterinarian and watch out for signs of abdominal pain, lethargy, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. 

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So, these were the most common human foods that are bad for dogs. Please try to keep them out of your pup’s reach. And if your dog ate something he shouldn’t have, always call your vet.

Now that you know which human foods are bad for dogs, let’s talk about safe human food alternatives ☺️

10 Human foods dogs can eat safely

First, you need to make sure that your dog is getting the right nutrition and minerals they need. However, human food can be a great treat for dogs when chosen carefully. Here are 10 human foods dogs can eat safely, you can give to your pup for a healthy snack 😊

Please remember that too much of anything is bad, you should always give your pup only small amounts! 

Small amounts (!) of these 10 foods are ok for most dogs (unless they have a food sensitivity or intolerance):

  1. Unseasoned cooked lean chicken or turkey meat
  2. Carrots
  3. Cooked sweet potatoes
  4. Apples
  5. Bananas
  6. Small amounts of unsalted Peanut butter without sweeteners (watch out for Xylitol!)
  7. Small amounts of cottage cheese, mozzarella, or plain yogurt (be careful if your dog cannot digest lactose)
  8. Cucumbers
  9. Cooked rice
  10. Watermelon

Remember, human food should be an occasional treat and not the main meal! It’s supposed to be a small snack, not a big portion. Your pup should be getting all the nutrition he needs from balanced, premium-quality dog food. 

If you want to cook for your dog, it’s always better to consult his diet (and your recipes) with a veterinarian or a certified veterinary nutritionist. Dogs have different nutritional needs and you can really harm your pup by feeding him an inappropriate diet. 

Human foods bad for dogs

So next time you are about to give your kitchen leftovers to your pup, remember that some human foods can be toxic to dogs. It’s always better to give him a healthy snack than leftovers. You can even bake him homemade dog-safe treats or cookies to make him feel extra special! ☺️❤️

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am and want to get more pet health tips, subscribe to my newsletter! Today you will get a free pet planner as a bonus 🤗


While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.




2 Comments

  • Julie

    I knew about 3 of these but the others I didn’t know. We rarely give our dog human food. We’ll have to check his peanut butter ingredients.

  • Tina

    That’s so good to know! I never thought about having a dog, but my boyfriend really wants one. So, I still need to read up on a lot of things about dogs before we get one.

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