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Slideshow: Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

Dangerous Foods for Dogs

Who can resist those big brown eyes and cute doggie grin? Can a little reward from the table really hurt your dog? Well, that depends on what it is and what's in it. A chip with guacamole can cause your dog some real problems. In fact, there's a lot of "people food" your dog should never eat. And, it's not just because of weight. Some foods are downright dangerous for them -- and some of these common foods may surprise you.

Avocado

No matter how good you think the guacamole is, you shouldn't give it to your dog. Avocados contain a substance called persin. It's harmless for humans who aren't allergic. But large amounts might be toxic to dogs. If you happen to be growing avocados at home, keep your dog away from the plants. Persin is in the leaves, seed, and bark, as well as in the fruit.

Alcohol

Beer, liquor, wine, foods containing alcohol -- none of it's good. That's because alcohol has the same effect on a dog's liver and brain that it has on humans. But it takes far less to do its damage. Just a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, even death. And the smaller the dog, the greater the effect.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic in all forms -- powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated -- can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. That can happen even with the onion powder found in some baby food. An occasional small dose is probably OK. But eating a large quantity just once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause poisoning. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, dullness, and breathlessness.

Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine

Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal. And there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, fits, and bleeding. In addition to tea and coffee -- including beans and grounds -- caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It's also in some cold medicines and pain killers.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins have often been used as treats for dogs. But it's not a good idea. Although it isn't clear why, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. And just a small amount can make a dog ill. Repeated vomiting is an early sign. Within a day, she'll become lethargic and depressed. The best prevention is to keep grapes and raisins off counters and other places your dog can reach.

Milk and Other Dairy Products

On a hot day, it may be tempting to share your ice cream cone with your dog. But if he could, he'd thank you for not doing so. Milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive upset, as well as set up food allergies (which often show up as itchiness).

Macadamia Nuts

Dogs shouldn't eat macadamia nuts or foods with them because they can be fatal. As few as six raw or roasted macadamias can make them ill. Symptoms of poisoning include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, possibly leading to death.

Candy and Gum

Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol. It can cause more insulin to circulate through your dog's body. That can cause his blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Eventually, he may have seizures. Liver failure can occur within just a few days.

Chocolate

Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs. The toxic part is theobromine. It's in all kinds of chocolate, even white. The most dangerous kinds, though, are dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating it, even just licking the icing bowl, can cause a dog to vomit, have diarrhea, and be excessively thirsty. It can also cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.

Fat Trimmings and Bones

Table scraps often contain meat fat that a human didn't eat as well as bones. Both are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, he can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog's digestive system. It's best to just forget about the doggie bag.

Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums

The problem with these fruits is the seeds or pits. The seeds from persimmons can cause inflammation of the small intestine in dogs. They can also cause intestinal obstruction. Obstruction is also a possibility if a dog eats the pit from a peach or plum. Plus, peach and plum pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both humans and dogs. The difference is humans know not to eat them. Dogs don't.

Raw Eggs

There are two problems with giving your dog raw eggs. The first is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli. The second is that an enzyme in raw eggs interferes with the absorption of a particular B vitamin. This can cause skin problems as well as problems with your dog's coat if she's been eating them for a long time.

Raw Meat and Fish

Raw meat and raw fish, like raw eggs, can contain bacteria that causes food poisoning. In addition, certain kinds of fish such as salmon, trout, shad, or sturgeon can contain a parasite that causes "fish disease" or "salmon poisoning disease." If not treated, the disease can be fatal within 2 weeks. The first signs of illness are vomiting, fever, and big lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking the fish will kill the parasite and protect your dog.

Salt

It's not a good idea to share salty foods like chips or pretzels with your dog. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death.

Sugary Foods and Drinks

Too much sugar can do the same thing to dogs that it does to humans. It can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly the onset of diabetes.

Yeast Dough

Before it's baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that's exactly what it would do in your dog's stomach if she ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch a dog's abdomen and cause severe pain. In addition, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it makes alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Your Medicine

Reaction to a drug prescribed for humans is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs. Just as you would do for your children, keep all medicines out of your dog's reach. And, never give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless your vet tells you to. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are often in pain relievers and cold medicine. And they can be deadly for your dog.

Kitchen Pantry: No Dogs Allowed

Many items found on kitchen shelves can harm your dog. For instance, baking powder and baking soda are both highly toxic. So are nutmeg and other spices. Keep food items high enough to be out of your dog's reach and keep pantry doors closed to help protect your dog from serious food-related illness.

If Your Dog Eats What It Shouldn't

Dogs explore with their mouth. And, no matter how cautious you are, it's possible your dog can find and swallow what it shouldn't. It's a smart idea to always keep the numbers of your local vet, the closest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center -- (888) 426-4435 -- where you know you can find them in an emergency. And, if you think your dog has gotten into something toxic, call for emergency help at once.

What Dogs Can Eat

Ask your vet to recommend a quality dog food to be sure your dog has a healthy, well-balanced diet. A well-designed food gives your dog all the nutrients it needs for an active and healthy life. But that doesn't mean you can't sometimes give your four-legged friend human food as a special treat -- as long as you limit portions, and the foods are cooked, pure, and not fatty or heavily seasoned. The next few slides have some tasty suggestions. If you're looking to human food as a meal replacement, talk to your vet about how much and how often.

Safe: Lean Meats

Most dogs are fine eating lean cuts of meat that have been thoroughly cooked. Be sure to remove all visible fat -- including the skin on poultry. Also be sure there are no bones in the meat before you give it to your dog.

Safe: Some Fresh Fruits

Slices of apples, oranges, bananas, and watermelon make tasty treats for your dog. Be sure to remove any seeds, stems, and leaves first, because they can cause serious problems.

Safe: Some Vegetables

Your dog can have a healthy snack of carrot sticks, green beans, cucumber slices, or zucchini slices. Even a plain baked potato is OK. But don't let your dog eat any raw potatoes or any potato plants it might have access to in your garden.

Safe: Cooked White Rice and Pasta

Dogs may enjoy plain white rice or pasta after it's cooked. A serving of plain white rice with some boiled chicken can also provide welcome relief from gastrointestinal upset.

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on March 18, 2014

This tool does not provide medical advice.