Return to Main Page  




Feeding human food to your dog:

The good, the bad and the really ugly


At this point, we are sure that most people know that feeding chocolate to dogs is a really bad idea. But what about broccoli, onions or salmon? The list below will provide you with a glimpse of what human food products are potentially dangerous if fed to a dog. This list certainly is not all inclusive - Always ask your veterinarian if you are unsure about what to feed your dog.


IMPORTANT: If you think your dog ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center which can be reached at 1-800-548-2423 or 1-888-426-4435. Expect a short wait before you are connected to an operator. There is a fee of $60 (as of May 2008) for this service. I have used them after Andy chewed on a pack of ant bait and they were very knowledgeable and helpful!

Andy in 2019


You should have your credit card handy, and if your dog ingested a potentially toxic product such as a cleaner or snail bait, have the packaging material ready so you can provide the label information if requested. If you can think of another food item that should be mentioned here, please contact me at info[at]


Human food products that are dangerous for dogs:


Alcoholic beverages



A drunk dog displays behavior analogous to that of an intoxicated person. Ingestion can lead to injury, disorientation, sickness, urination problems or even coma or death from alcohol poisoning. Only evil or stupid people offer alcohol to their dogs.





Avocado leaves, wood, bark, pit and skin contain a toxic principle known as Persin which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in dogs. Furthermore, the seed pit (if swallowed) can become lodged in the intestinal tract of the dog where it may cause a severe blockage which will have to be removed surgically. The Avocado fruit flesh however is not toxic for dogs.


Baby Food



Certain varieties of baby food contain onion powder which can be very toxic to dogs. Before you feed your dog any baby food, check the label to ensure it contains no ingredients that may harm your dog.





Adding moderate amounts of broccoli to your dog's diet will help prevent cancer, (the leading disease killer of dogs) and help promote optimum antioxidant activity. However, broccoli contains isothiocyanate which is toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. While even small amounts have the potential to cause stomach upset in sensitive dogs, it is unlikely to be harmful unless fed in large amounts (i.e. more than 10% of your dog's daily diet).





Why would you want to feed your dog candy? Candy can lead to obesity and severe dental problems for your dog. It can even lead to diabetes. Even sugarless candy is dangerous if the candy contains xylitol, which can cause liver damage and death in some dogs.






A chocolate bar can be enough to make a small dog extremely ill or even kill it. Chocolate contains the chemical stimulant theobromine which can not be metabolized by dogs. If your dog eats chocolate, the theobromine can remain in its bloodstreams for up to 24 hours. The result is a fast heart rate, hallucinations, severe diarrhea, epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually even death. Due to its high coca content, baker's chocolate is the most dangerous.


Coffee or coffee grounds




Coffee (or any other beverage with caffeine) carries the same risk as does a dog's consumption of chocolate. Because dogs metabolize caffeine very slowly, it can have serious effects on the dog's heart, kidneys and central nervous system.


Fat trimmings

or fried food




Dogs that are fed fatty foods such as poultry skin, bacon, fat trimming or any other type of greasy "junk food" seem to have a high incidence rate of pancreatitis inflammation. If the inflammation is severe, organs surrounding the pancreas could be "digested" by pancreatic enzymes released from the damaged pancreas and become permanently damaged.






While most fruits are generally a great addition to your dogs diet, you should know that the peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants ( lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits) contain varying amounts of citric acid, limonin and volatile oils that can cause gastrointestinal irritation such as vomiting or diarrhea if ingested by your dog. The stems, leaves and seeds of peaches, apricots, apples, cherries and some other fruit varieties contain cyanogenic glycosides that can potentially cause vomiting and loss of appetite, and in severe cases weakness, incoordination, difficulty in breathing, hyperventilation, shock, coma and even death. However, these severe effects are limited to very large ingestions of the aforementioned fruit items. The ingestion of only a few pieces of citrus fruit, an apple or two or a few cherries would usually not be expected to cause problems. Steve feeds Andy all of the above in moderate amounts as part of his diet (and without pits, stems or peel)..


Fruit pits




Fruit pits contain the poisonous substance cyanide - Also, pits can become lodged in the dogs intestines and kill within 24 hours with no warning.





Garlic contains thiosulfate (see "Onions" for details below) but in smaller amounts which are less dangerous (while still a risk especially for smaller dogs). Garlic has some benefits in regards to your dog's cardiovascular health. For that reason, Steve feeds Andy about 1-2 garlic cloves per week (his weight is about 105 lbs).



(incl. raisins)



As little as a small serving of grapes or raisins can make your dog ill. When consumed in larger amounts, they can cause acute kidney failure in dogs which can lead to their death a few days later.






When fed in small amounts, liver is good for your dog. However, keep in mind that liver has a very high vitamin A content, and letting your dog consume it in large amounts (i.e. more than 2-3 servings per week) can lead to an excessive accumulation of a vitamin A (hypervitaminosis A). Feeding your dog vitamin A supplements in addition can make this problem worse.


Macademia nuts




Many nuts have been found to be dangerous for dogs. In particular, Macadamia nuts and walnuts can cause stiffness, tremors, hyperthermia, and abdominal pain which is often displayed Affected dogs are usually panting and sometimes unable to rise. Most dogs recover with supportive care when the source of exposure is removed. The high phosphorus content of Macadamia nuts may also contribute to bladder stones.






Certain species of mushrooms contain toxins that can potentially cause liver or kidney damage, while others may produce severe gastrointestinal or even neurological effects. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises keeping all wild mushrooms out of the reach of pets, and recommends that all wild mushroom ingestions should be treated very seriously.


Milk, Cheese




Dogs lack the enzyme required to digest the lactose in milk. Yes, dogs are lactose-intolerant which causes them to develop excessive intestinal gas (flatulence) that leads to diarrhea. Don't feed your dog large amounts of dairy products, small amounts of cheese (i.e. cottage cheese) or plain yogurt are tolerated by most dogs.






Onions (cooked or uncooked) contain thiosulfate. Even small amounts of this substance cause hemolytic anemia via destruction of your dog's red blood cells. Never feed your dog anything that contains onion (not even table scraps or left-over pizza). Thiosulfate poisoning usually occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion and can be fatal.






Potatoes contain solanine which can be primarily found in green sprouts and green potato skins. Peeled potatoes have been found to contain 30-80% less solanine than unpeeled potatoes, and green potatoes should always be peeled if they are to be used at all. If fed in large quantities, solanine poisoning can cause death. There is research that suggests that doses of 1 to 2 mg per pound of body weight can cause toxic symptoms, and doses of 2 to 3 mg per pound of body weight can be fatal. Commercial varieties of potatoes are screened for solanine levels, and most have a solanine content of less than 0.2mg/g. Steve sometimes mixes potatoes in Andy's food, they are quite nutritious and digestible for dogs if fed in moderation. Always make sure to peel and cook potatoes before you feed them.






At first we were undecided on whether or not to add pork to the "bad for dogs" section. You can probably compare it to the junk food issue with humans: If consumed in moderation, junk food does no harm, but if you make it the main component of your diet it can have serious effects on your health. There are a couple of issues with pork that dog owners should know about. Pork in itself is not dangerous to dogs, but if you let your dog eat raw or undercooked pork, there is a risk of a trichinosis infection which is food-borne disease caused by an intestinal roundworm. If you feed pork to your dog, you should always thoroughly cook it and it is even recommended that you freeze the pork for at least 3 weeks before you use it to kill any potential parasites. Another problem with pork products is that they are usually very fatty and high in sodium (which can lead to pancreatitis). If you feed pork to your dog, use only lean cuts. Last but not least, NEVER feed your dog pork bones as they can easily splinter, and if swallowed, cause serious injury to a dog.


Raw eggs



Raw eggs are very nutritious for dogs, but they also may be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella. Even though dogs have a much shorter digestive track than humans which makes them much more resistant to salmonella and other bacteria, it is advisable to use only fresh eggs preferably from an organic (free range) source.


Raw fish




It is good to feed raw fish in moderation to your dog as part of a fully balanced diet. However, avoid raw fish as the primary ingredient in your dogs diet. Raw fish contains an enzyme that breaks down Vitamin B2, so if raw fish is fed regularly in large amounts it can result in a vitamin deficiency. You can cook raw fish before you add it to your dog's diet, as the cooking process deactivates this enzyme and also reduces the risk of any parasitic infections being passed onto your pet from the raw fish (see also Salmon Poisoning Disease below). In addition, we would always remove all fish bones as they can cause an obstruction in your dog's digestive system. Don't feed your dog blow-fish, these contain a tetrodotoxin which can be fatal to your dog.






Excessive salt intake over longer periods of time can cause kidney problems in dogs. There is however another, more immediate risk associated with feeding your dog salty foods. As a result of drinking too much water immediately after eating salty foods, large breed dogs can develop a life threatening condition called Bloat (or Gastric dilatation-volvulus, GDV) during which the "bloated" stomach fills with gas and twists on its long axis. This is an emergency situation for the dog and the dog will die a painful death in a matter of hours if emergency treatment is not received immediately. Always remember, never exercise or allow your large breed dog to run around for a couple of hours after feeding!






Salmon Poisoning Disease is a potentially fatal condition seen in dogs that eat certain types of raw fish that swim upstream to breed. Usually, clinical signs of poisoning appear within six days of a dog eating an infected fish. These signs include vomiting, lack of appetite, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and dehydration. If untreated, death usually occurs within fourteen days of eating the infected fish. Always cook salmon thoroughly before you feed it to your dog. And don't let your dog raid other people's trash!


Spoiled or moldy foods




Spoiled or moldy foods can cause food poisoning in your dog. Symptoms of food poisoning are severe vomiting, diarrhea and shock that can even lead to death.


Tee or tea bags




see "Coffee"






Tomatoes contain atropine which can cause dialated pupils, tremors and irregular heartbeat. The highest concentration of atropine is found in the leaves and stems of the tomato plant. The amounts found in ripe tomatoes are smaller but still unsafe for some dogs.


Yeast Dough




Even if consumed in small amounts, yeast dough can cause serious problems for your dog. The ingested amount of dough will expand to many times its size and produce gas in the dog's digestive system. The result is abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and even a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.




Now that you have learned about all the bad stuff, check out what actually is good for your dog here.