Foods that Can Cause Dog Seizures

Foods that are safe for human consumption can be poisonous to pets, and some can even cause dog seizures. Foods that are left on countertops, tables or open garbage receptacles pose a high risk because they are accessible to pets and may not be recognized as a poison by their owners. Many of these poisonous substances can cause seizures in dogs, and they can also affect the central nervous system to cause muscle tremors or paralysis.

Foods that are poisonous to dogs and that may cause these effects include:

  • Chocolate
  • Apple seeds
  • Fruit pits (cherry, peach, apricot, plum)
  • Foods containing Xylitol sweetener
  • Tomato (plant and fruit)
  • Nutmeg
  • Raw fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Hops
  • Caffeine
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Rhubarb
  • Grapes

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Poisoning from foods can cause multiple symptoms in dogs and can develop anywhere from minutes to hours after ingestion. The symptoms depend on what food was ingested and the quantity. A seizure is just one of the effects of an ingested food poison. Accompanying symptoms to a seizure from food poisoning may include difficulty breathing, vomiting or drooling, restlessness, weakness, fever or increased heart rate.

Signals of an oncoming seizure are called an aura phase in which the dog is restless, vocalizing, agitated, staring and seeking privacy or attention. This is followed by:

  • Collapse
  • Extended rigid limbs
  • Unconsciousness
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Uncontrollable 'paddling' of legs
  • Involuntary urination and defecation
  • Abnormal jaw movements

Upon regaining consciousness, a dog in a post-seizure state may be disorientated and unstable for minutes or hours.


Dogs can injure themselves from their involuntary movements during a seizure. Using a towel or blanket, move the dog to a safe place. Noise, movement and touch should be minimized to reduce stimulation that could prolong the seizure. Dogs cannot swallow their tongue during a seizure, so do not attempt to hold the tongue out. Seizures burn calories and can cause a dog to overheat. Keep the dog in a well-ventilated or cool environment. Seizures that lost longer than five minutes or repeated seizures in which the dog does not regain consciousness are a medical emergency, and immediate veterinary care is necessary.

If an owner is certain that their dog has recently ingested a poisonous food product, inducing vomit can expel the toxin. Inducing vomit to expel a toxin should be done within an hour after ingestion. The dog must be fully conscious or there is risk of inhaling the vomited substance and suffocating. The dog should be offered a small meal or treat to delay absorption of the poison. If the poisonous food ingested was small in size or amount, having food in the stomach will also make it easier to induce vomiting. Administer 1 to 2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every 10 pounds of weight. If the dog does not vomit after five minutes this can be repeated, but no more than three times before seeking veterinary care.

Some food poisons can be severe enough to cause the dog's breathing or heart to stop. Administer CPR and seek immediate veterinary care.