Products that are harmful to dogs


Harmful products

What to avoid

Reasons to avoid

Alcoholic beverages

Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.

(fruit, pit, & plant)

Can cause difficulty breathing; fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart; or pancreatitis.


Can splinter and tear a dog’s internal organs. Can cause obstruction.

(from coffee, coffee grounds, tea, or tea bags)

Stimulates the central nervous and cardiac systems, and can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitations, and even death within hours.

Cat food

Generally too high in protein and fats.

Chocolate, coffee, tea, & other caffeine

Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous systems. Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, but any chocolate, in large enough amounts, can kill a dog.

Egg whites

Raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which can deplete your dog of biotin, one of the B vitamins. Biotin is essential to your dog’s growth and coat health. The lack of it can cause hair loss, weakness, growth retardation, or skeleton deformity. 

Fat trimmings

Too much fat fed regularly or fried foods can cause pancreatitis.

Fruit pips, seeds

Apple seeds, cherry pits, and peach pits, pear pips, plums pits, peaches, and apricot pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous. 

(large amounts)

Grains should not be given in large amounts or make up a large part of a dog’s diet. Rice is generally safe in small amounts. 

Grapes & raisins

Can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill him. If the dog doesn't eat enough at one time to be fatal, he can be severely damaged by eating just a few grapes or raisins regularly.


Unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron

Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Macadamia nuts

Contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle. Can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis. These symptoms are usually temporary.


Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhoea. Lactose-free milk products are safe. Products such as yaourt, kefyr or cottage cheese are generally safe as well.


Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death. Wild mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions, coma, or death. 

Onions & garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)

Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.

Potato, rhubarb, & tomato leaves; potato & tomato stems

Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock. Potato peels and green potatoes are dangerous.


If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances and kidney problems. Large breeds of dogs that eat salty food may then drink too much water and develop bloat, which is fatal unless emergency treatment is given very quickly.

Sugary foods

Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.

Table scraps (in large amounts)

Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be a regular source of dog’s diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; cooked bones should not be fed.


Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.


Can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe. (All parts of the plant except the tomato itself are also poisonous to humans.) 


Walnuts are poisonous to dogs.


Diet products containing the sweetener Xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. Unless treatment is given quickly, the dog could die. 


Medicines foreseen for use in humans can be toxic and dangerous to dogs. NEVER use drugs foreseen for human use for dogs without consulting a veterinarian beforehand. 

Harmful foods - easy to remember!

Illustrations by Lili Chin