13 Things You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Dogs might like to eat everything, but not all food is good for them. Find out which foods to avoid feeding Fido.

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    Food for Thought

    Left to their own devices, our canine companions will eat almost anything that falls in front of their noses. But sadly, that's often what gets them into trouble because there are foods that can cause them harm. Here are 13 things you should never allow your dog to eat.

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    The cocoa butter in chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is very similar to caffeine. If eaten in excess, this chemical can sicken or kill your pet. The key is the type of chocolate (dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate is worse for dogs than milk chocolate because they contain more of the chemical) and the size and weight of the dog. To be safe, always keep your children’s trick-or-treat bags or Easter baskets out of reach of your pooch’s indiscriminate palate. If you suspect your dog has eaten more than its fill of chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

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    Onions, Shallots, Garlic, Leeks, and Chives

    All members of the onion family are toxic to dogs. These vegetables contain organosulfides which react with your pet’s red blood cells, making them explode and potentially causing anemia. Keep in mind that both raw and cooked onions are equally dangerous to pets. And, that the toxic compounds in these crops can build up over time, so keep your pet away from even small amounts. As little as a quarter cup can cause problems for a 20-pound dog.

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    Macadamia Nuts

    Although not usually fatal, macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and can result in vomiting, high temperature, depression, weakness, muscle tremors, and loss of stability of the back legs. Generally, the effects of macadamia nut toxicity are seen around 12 hours after the dog consumes the nuts. Symptoms are even more severe if the macadamia nuts are in chocolate candy. If your pet bolts down a bag of macadamia nuts that Grandma sent you, get it to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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    If your dog sneaks into your Mexican fiesta and devours a bowl of guacamole, it probably won’t feel so good afterwards. Avocados contain a chemical called persin that can cause your dog to vomit and/or have severe diarrhea. (Some dogs, however, have shown no reaction at all from eating avocados and experts disagree about how toxic they are.) However, the wise choice is to prevent your dog from eating avocados in any form. Avocados offer another danger; the large hard seed can become stuck in a dog’s digestive tract.

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    Grapes and Raisins

    No one is sure why grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, but these small fruits can cause big problems for your pet. Consuming grapes and raisins can result in vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration, and eventually sudden, acute renal failure. If you discover that your dog has devoured a package of raisins, get it to a veterinarian for a full examination.

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    Peaches and Plums

    When it comes to peaches and plums (as well as apricots and pears), it’s not the fruit that’s the big problem, it's the pits. The pits of these fruits contain cyanide that can ultimately cause your pet to die. Cyanide poisoning symptoms include dilated pupils, dizziness, seizures, and excessive salivation. So, if you are canning a lug of peaches this summer, make sure your pet isn’t left unattended with a big volume of fruit.


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    The only way a dog should be around liquor is if it's pictured on the label. Otherwise, dogs cannot tolerate liquor and can easily get alcohol poisoning. Liquor will depress your pet's nervous system, slow its heart rate, and damage its liver. A small dog could die from as little as one shot of hard liquor. The higher the alcohol content, the more dangerous it is for your pet. So, when the cocktail hour rolls around, keep your pet away from the bottle.

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    Cow's Milk

    Although not toxic, cow's milk should not be part of your dog’s diet because most canines are lactose-intolerant and can’t digest the sugar contained in milk. And, just as in lactose-intolerant humans, milk can cause stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea in your pet. Avoid ice cream for the same reason.

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    Raw Eggs

    Experts don’t agree on the matter of feeding dogs raw eggs. Some believe the possibility of salmonella poisoning and a biotin deficiency potentially caused by a substance in the egg whites are two reasons to avoid raw eggs. Cook the eggs and avoid any problems completely.

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    Like their owners, dogs should avoid salt as much as possible. In fact, salt is much more toxic to our pets than it is to us. Salt poisoning can result in vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, seizures, muscle tremors, kidney damage, coma, and death. Don’t add salt to your pet’s food, and always keep the salty snacks out of your pup’s reach.

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    Gum and Candy

    Many pet owners are surprised to find out that gum and candy (and other sugarless treats) can be highly toxic to their furry friends. These products contain a sweetening compound called xylitol that will quickly put your dog into insulin shock and cause weakness, seizures, and death. Just three to four pieces of gum for a 22-pound dog will require immediate medical attention. Always read the label on all snacks you bring in the house and if they contain Xylitol, don’t let your dog near them.

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    Meat Fat and Bones

    What’s more natural than giving your dog a bone or some tasty fat trimmed from your steak dinner? Allowing your dog to eat too much fat can ultimately cause it to develop pancreatitis. So, if you have leftovers, offer them in limited quantities. And, as far as bones go, they can easily splinter and get stuck in your dog’s intestinal tract. If you want to give your dog a bone, buy a sterilized knuckle or leg bone at your local pet store.

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    Taking your dog to the local coffeehouse is a great way to socialize it with other canines, but don't order anything for it! Caffeine is poisonous to dogs and can cause a variety of problems including abnormal heart rhythms, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, seizures, tremors, and death. Be sure to keep coffee grounds, tea bags, diet pills, and caffeinated sodas away from your dog. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has swallowed any caffeinated product.

  • Next Slideshow Recipes to Share with Your Pet

    Recipes to Share with Your Pet

    Television personality Rachael Ray shares her favorite recipes you can share with -- or make for -- your pet. Note: It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian about which foods are best for you to share with your pet.
    Begin Slideshow »

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