Human Food Dogs Can't Eat

Although most human food is safe for dogs to eat, there is some human food dogs can’t eat safely.  Foods that are safe for us to eat can sometimes make our dogs sick. In large-enough quantities, it may even kill a dog. We’ll discuss three human foods that are dangerous to dogs and what symptoms can let you know when your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t.

By knowing which foods are dangerous to your dog, you will be able to make smarter choices when it comes to sharing food with your pet, and you’ll also know which symptoms require urgent veterinary attention in the event of accidental poisoning.

Chocolate: Not a Tasty Canine Treat

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that dogs cannot digest properly, so it acts as a poison to their system. Theobromine acts as a stimulant to your dog’s nervous system, and it also has a diuretic effect on his kidneys, causing him to excrete large quantities of urine.

Other symptoms of theobromine poisoning include

  • diarrhea
  • drooling
  • heartbeat abnormalities
  • hyperactivity
  • seizures
  • tremors

Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine concentration. An ounce of milk chocolate 42 milligrams of theobromine, while an ounce of baking chocolate contains about 450 milligrams of theobromine. Your dog can potentially die simply by licking chocolate icing off a large cake, since a fatal dose of theobromine is between 0.67 and 1.3 ounces of baking chocolate per 2.2 pounds of your dog’s body weight.

No antidose exists for theobromine poisoning. Supportive treatment (e.g., fluid therapy, inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal)  by your veterinarian can help some dogs recover. Theobromine takes about 72 hours to pass through your dog’s body, so treatment can take several days to complete successfully.

Grapes and Raisins Can Cause Kidney Damage

Even small amounts of grapes and raisins can cause problems for your dog’s kidneys. As few as 4 or 5 grapes or raisins can poison a 20-pound dog and, if left untreated, grape poisoning can cause death.

Symptoms of grape poisoning can include

  • abdominal pain
  • appetite loss
  • decreased urinary output
  • diarrhea
  • stumbling gait
  • weakness

Supportive treatments can include inducing vomiting, pumping the dog’s stomach, fluid therapy and medications as prescribed by your veterinarian. If your dog’s kidney damage is serious, he may be started on dialysis to clean his blood and support his kidneys during treatment.

Hold the Onions for Your Dog

Like chocolate, onions contain a chemical that dogs cannot properly digest. Onions contain thiosulphate, which causes the hemoglobin in red blood cells to clump rather than travel freely through the bloodstream. These clumped cells are referred to as Heinz bodies. The Heinz bodies then cause the cells to deteriorate more rapidly than normal. This loss of red blood cells is called anemia, and the specific form of anemia caused by onion toxicity is called Heinz body hemolytic anemia. If enough red blood cells are lost, the dog's body becomes deprived of oxygen. Onion toxicity can also cause kidney damage.

Symptoms of autoimmune hemolytic anemia include:

  • bloody urine
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • pale gums
  • rapid heartbeat
  • vomiting
  • weakness

Treatment can include blood transfusions, fluid therapy, oxygen and medications your veterinarian prescribes.