By this point, most of us know that chocolate can be fatal for our furry friends, but there are a host of other foods your dog should never be eating. Some of them may surprise you. Keep in mind that canine digestive systems are significantly less developed than human ones and rather ill-equipped to process certain modern foods.
There’s a reason dogs eat the same food every day: it contains all their necessary nutrients, and human food can actually cause health problems past an upset stomach. While human food in general won’t poison your dog, every pooch is different and just because one loves steak it doesn’t mean another will be able to handle it as well. Additionally, small dogs tend to have more sensitive stomachs than large ones.
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine recently compiled a list of the top people foods and ingredients that you should never feed your dog.
1. Chives, Garlic and Onions
These staple veggies — as well as garlic powder and onion powder — and any foods seasoned with them are not good for dogs. They have been associated with a disorder called hemolytic anemia, says Martine Hartogensis, the deputy director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine, which can damage a dog’s red blood cells.
If your pup eats garlic or onion, here are the symptoms to look out for: disorientation, fatigue and listlessness, rapid heartbeat and darkened urine or vomiting as the disease progresses.
2. Spoiled Food
While it’s common knowledge that dogs are not picky eaters, they should not be fed any human food that you wouldn’t eat yourself, including moldy bread. Anything with mold on it or that smells questionable should go straight into the trash and protected from your dog. The FDA says that if you keep a compost heap, your pup should not be able to dig around in it for rotten scraps.
3. Fried foods
Extremely fatty foods like fried chicken or french fries are very toxic to dogs, FDA veterinarian Carmela Stamper, D.V.M. says. Eating fried foods can cause pancreatitis, which in turn can cause damage to your pet’s other intestines. This can be life-threatening. If you’re worried that Fluffy got into the curly fries, take her to the vet ASAP, as pancreatitis can cause extreme vomiting and requires immediate emergency care.
This is a puzzler for vets. They’re not sure what it is in grapes that makes dogs so sick, but there is a strong correlation between grapes and kidney failure in the species. This also includes raisins and dried currants, which are even more dangerous because the dried fruit is more concentrated. Also, the smaller the dog, the fewer grapes it takes to make one very sick.
If your dog eats a grape, even one, watch for signs of kidney failure. Symptoms include: diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, low urine output and weakness, according to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
5. Macadamia Nuts
Dogs seem to be the only animal around that simply can’t tolerate macadamia nuts, and again, vets just aren’t sure why.
While it’s unlikely you’ll leave these expensive nuts lying around (and a dog would have to eat a good number of them to get sick), results can be very serious. Symptoms include depression, fever, muscle weakness and vomiting. Really, you should never feed your dog nuts of any kind, says Hartogensis, but especially not macadamia nuts.
6. Salty snacks
Just like humans, dogs shouldn’t eat too much salt. In fact, foods with excessive sodium levels can cause sodium ion poisoning. While a singular pretzel or potato chip isn’t cause for the emergency room, dogs have been known to devour entire bags of snack food if they have the chance (who hasn’t?).
Symptoms include depression, diarrhea, high fever, excessive thirst, kidney damage, seizures and vomiting. Make sure Mr. Woofers has a full water bowl all the time, but especially if he’s snuck a salty snack.
This is a low-calorie sugar substitute frequently added to a number of processed foods and other products like gum, breath mints and toothpaste. Even just a small amount of xylitol can cause a huge spike in a dog’s insulin levels, which could cause dangerously low blood sugar levels later on.
“Even just a few pieces of gum can be pretty toxic,” says Hartogensis. Little dogs are especially vulnerable to xylitol poisoning, so make sure to keep gum and mints well out of reach. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning initially include vomiting, and can later progress to fainting, seizures, staggering and weakness.
If you’re wondering about some people foods that can safely be given to your dog, check out our list of veterinarian-approved fruits that can be used as treats.