Foods That Are Dog-Gone Dangerous

Walk into a room to the warm smell of freshly baked bread. Your taste buds tingle, your mouth salivates. Eagerly your eyes scan for the source and they land on your beloved family around the table enjoying those thick slices as soft, melted butter drips onto the plate. Quickly you join them. Evening snacks with your favorite people. Laughing as you sit, your hand brushes the plate of sliced avocado as you reach for your favorite beverage. You momentarily pass up the freshly-baked bread for your favorite chunk of chocolate and sink into luxury with your drink. A little slice of heaven shared with those you love.

Our dogs respond similarly when they see us eating. They, like us, love food and appetites are whetted when they see it being consumed. But watch out! Whereas some foods are wonderfully enjoyed by us homo sapiens and even considered “superfoods”, these can potentially damage your canine’s health, even resulting in their death. The following foods are a recipe for disaster. Take care to keep these out of your faithful friend’s diet:

Raw Bread Dough

The same yeast that causes bread to scrumptiously rise in the oven, multiplies inside the dog’s stomach where the warm, moist environment is ideal for yeast to thrive. This results in stomach expansion, causing difficulty breathing as the stomach presses against the diaphragm, and can lead to stomach tissue death due to decreased blood flow. Talk about gorging! Additionally, as the yeast multiplies it produces alcohol which is dangerously absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream. (See Ethanol – Alcohol below.) If you are concerned your dog has consumed raw bread dough and shows signs of a severely distended stomach or signs of intoxication (again, see Ethanol – Alcohol below), close veterinarian’s supervision is recommended.

Ethanol – Alcohol

While we may find it relaxing to sit down for a glass of wine, your pet can find it deadly. Dogs are enormously more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than we humans are and even a “small” amount can have significant impacts. Mild signs of intoxication include stumbling, vomiting, and loss of coordination. Extreme cases of intoxication can result in coma, seizure, and even death. If you are concerned your dog is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning, she/he should be monitored by your veterinarian until she/he recovers.


Hops (both fresh and cooked) used for brewing beer should not be consumed by your dog. Raising their body temperature from a normal 101.5 degrees to an uncontrollable 108 degrees or greater, organ damage and system failure can occur. Signs of hops poisoning in dogs include muscle tremors or seizures, excessive panting, and anxiety or restlessness. If you are concerned your dog has consumed hops, prompt veterinary care is recommended to prevent death.


Fact – most of us love chocolate, but our dogs? Vomiting, abdominal pain, increased thirst, severe agitation, muscle tremors, seizures, high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, and even death are signs of what chocolate can do for a dog. Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine (part of a group of chemicals called methylxanthines) which are the toxic ingredients to dogs. White chocolate has very low methylxanthine levels and is therefore not as toxic. Dark baker’s chocolate has higher levels, and the dry, unsweetened cocoa powder contains the highest concentration. Generally, the darker it is, the more dangerous. Be careful of not only food products that contain chocolate but also certain mulches that are cocoa shell-based. The veterinarian’s office is no place to spend the holidays. If you are concerned that your dog is exhibiting more serious signs of chocolate poisoning (anything more than mild restlessness), veterinarian care is recommended.


Along with dark chocolate, avocados are commonly known to be superfoods for us humans. However, avocados are known to be poisonous foods to a number of animals, including the possibility of dogs. Avocados contain a compound called persin which can lead to heart failure in some animals and inflammation of the mammary glands in others. One case report indicated two dogs that died from heart failure after ingesting large amounts of avocados, but most dogs who eat avocado suffer no serious injury. Until more is known about the safety of persin and dogs, it’s a good idea to simply just avoid feeding avocado to your furry friends. Why risk it?

Onions and Garlic

Another human superfood – onions and their relative, garlic, have been known to fight diseases, even in the battle of cancer. As good as they are for us, all close members of the onion family can damage dogs’ red blood cells. Generally, the stronger it is, the more toxic it is for dogs. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions. Be careful of dehydrated forms as well (soup mixes, garlic or onion powder). Signs of damage to red blood cells can take three to five days to manifest. Affected dogs may tire easily or seem lethargic and reluctant to move, and their urine may be discolored (orange-tinged or dark red). Prompt veterinary care is recommended if your dog exhibits these signs, and in severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

Grapes and Raisins

Kidney failure in some dogs has recently been discovered to be associated with consumption of grapes and raisins. Curiously, some dogs can ingest them without complications, and for others, it can be life-threatening (even after eating only a few). In addition, while some dogs have consumed them without incident in the past, they can develop toxicity to them at a later time. Until more is known on this matter, it is safe just to avoid feeding them to your dog. Signs of poisoning are usually evident within 12 hours of ingestion and include increasing lethargy and dehydration, no interest in food, and an early increase in urination followed by a decrease in later stages. Death as a result of kidney failure may occur within three to four days, or long-term kidney damage may persist. Veterinary care is recommended if you suspect your dog is experiencing grape or raisin toxicosis.

Moldy Foods

We don’t serve moldy foods to our dinner guests, neither should we offer it to our furry friends. This pretty much is a no-brainer. However, our dog’s appetite doesn’t seem to be as selective, and moldy roadkill, fallen nuts and fruit and other food debris in the environment can be appealing to your pet. Try to keep her/his environment clean of these potentially life-threatening mold Petri dishes. Not all molds produce the tremorgenic mycotoxins that can cause serious injury or even death, but it is not possible for us to determine which molds do. So, it’s safest to avoid it altogether if possible. Signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning appear as tremors that begin as fine muscle twitches to very coarse, full body shakes, and finally convulsions, which in severe cases can lead to death. Tremors can last for several weeks if left untreated but usually respond well to treatment. If you are concerned your dog is exhibiting tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning, veterinary care is recommended.

Macadamia Nuts

While we may enjoy these rich nuts as an occasional treat, they can cause pain and sickness to our dogs. Macadamia nut toxicosis isn’t likely to be life-threatening, yet it can cause weakness in the dogs’ rear legs, pain, tremors, and a low-grade fever. Symptoms that don’t subside over 48 hours should be treated by veterinary care.


This is a sugar substitute widely used as a sweetener in sugar-free gums, candies, and some sugar-free baked goods. The FDA has recognized the dangers of xylitol ingestion by dogs (and ferrets) and has stated the following from their website: “The FDA reports included clinical signs such as a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures and liver failure. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, some signs to look for are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting. The signs of illness may occur within minutes to days of ingesting xylitol. Owners should consult their veterinarian or pet poison control center immediately for advice if they know or suspect that their pet has ingested a human product containing xylitol.” Source 

In closing, let us remember to practice our good manners when it comes to food … we don’t: pick from others’ plates, beg for handouts, steal, frantically raid the kitchen counters (well, those of us who aren’t teenagers) or scour the floor for scraps, scoop roadkill on a plate, spit gum out onto the ground, or dig wildly through the trash for tasty morsels. Let us not only watch what we eat, but watch what our dogs eat as well. Although our beloved pets have our heart, they do not have our body. Our dogs are a part of our family. Let’s feed them well. For, as we like to say, “Our best friend deserves the best treats.”

Pampered Pets USA™ is proud to offer natural, healthy, oven-baked treats that are made in America with the same high-quality ingredients you use for your family. Choose from a variety of flavors that your dog will absolutely love, and love you for them.