Never Feed Your Dog These Foods

Never Feed Your Dog These Foods

Last week, I sat typing away at my weekly blog, enjoying a slow Sunday morning. I’d just finished a delicious piece of homemade breakfast cake. I mindlessly left the plate on the coffee table as I worked. Wally waltzed up, licked the plate off and trotted away, satisfied with his sneakiness and his prize.

An alarm bell went off in my head; there were raisins on that plate!! Never feed your dog these foods! Raisins are highly toxic and even deadly to dogs! Even one raisin can cause irrepairable damage. I silently kicked myself for being so mindless!

One of my favorite professors in college had told the class she’d just lost her dog to kidney failure because the dog had gotten into a container of raisins. After a valiant (and likely expensive) effort, the family still had to euthanize the dog as there was no hope of recovery. Raisins are a bad deal to dogs!

Poor Wally had to suffer through a quick, but distressing peroxide treatment. (We learned that a small amount of hydrogen peroxide will induce vomiting in dogs from our vet during the “Franklin eats everything days”). Don’t give your dog peroxide without veterinary guidance first.

I felt terribly irresponsible and guilty for what I’d put poor Wally through. Raisins, and a whole host of other foods are toxic to dogs. Many people are not aware these seemingly innocent foods can bring great distress, illness, or worse to our pets. Following are some of the worst offenders.

Never Feed Your Dog These Foods

Raisins and Grapes

person holding grapes
NEVER feed your dog raisins or grapes!
Photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash

The substance in grapes and raisins that makes them toxic to dogs is unknown, however it’s best to avoid feeding these to your dogs at all costs. Whatever the toxic substance is, it can cause swift kidney failure in dogs. Even one raisin or grape can cause problems; hence the swift and seemingly harsh response in Wally’s situation.

Many people unknowingly feed their dogs grapes as treats. I had a woman want to argue with me over this at the farm market when I mentioned to her that grapes were poisonous to dogs, and she should consider a different treat. Just don’t.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute used in sugar-free gum, candies, nut butters, mouthwashes, toothpastes, and a host of other things. It is popular and widely used because it has a low glycemic index and does not raise blood sugar in humans, particularly diabetics.

In humans, xylitol does not promote insulin production, so it doesn’t have much effect on us. However, in dogs and other animal species, xylitol puts the pancreas into insulin production overload. This rapid release of insulin results in a devastatingly quick drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-60 minutes of eating. If left untreated, this can be life threatening.

The most common cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs have resulted from curious, food-vacuum dogs eating sugar free gum. Be sure to keep your gum far away from where your dog can get it!

Finally, as many of our Best Friends adore peanut butter and other nut butters, be sure to check the label for xylitol. I recommend using only natural nut butters for your dogs, as there’s less likelyhood of it containing something toxic.


Onions contain a toxic substance called N-propyl disulfide. In dogs, it causes a breakdown of red blood cells which can lead to anemia. This makes it difficult for the red blood cells to do their job and carry oxygen, as well as tricking your dog’s body into thinking the red blood cell is an invader, therefore launching an immune attack. The red blood cells are destroyed, resulting in anemia.

Anemia is dangerous to your dog because vital organs may suffer if left untreated. It is most commonly spotted by checking your dog’s gums. They will be pale in color and indicate an emergency that needs to be treated by a veterinarian.

Garlic falls into the same alum category as onions, although I’ve heard mixed debate as to whether garlic is OK for dogs. In many of the recipes that I’ve tried on my dogs, a small amount of garlic is recommended, and have read that garlic has anti-cancer benefits for dogs.

In those cases, I personally omit the garlic. My best recommendation is if you are unsure, just avoid it. There are so many other healthy foods that your dog CAN enjoy.


I’m not sure why your dog would even be interested in coffee, tea, or soda (well, maybe the soda, since it’s sweet), but there have been cases, and we know some of our canine friends will gladly lap anything up. Plus, many curious dogs are quite capable of eating up coffee grounds-especially those tasty smelling Keurig pods we may leave on the counter, used tea bags, or even caffeine diet pills.

woman facing dog
A puppacino is fine for your Best Friend, but avoid coffee!
Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

Caffeine is dangerous for dogs because it can elevate their heart rates to dangerous levels, and pets are far more sensitive to caffeine than humans are. Caffeine poisioning can also show up with:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • seizures or tremors
  • loss of muscle control
  • collapse

A small lap or a couple of sips of coffee are not likely to hurt your pet, but if your pet has gotten into something containing caffeine, it’s best to seek treatment from your vet.


Several types of nuts, including Walnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Pine nuts, and Brazil nuts are all toxic to dogs. Many of these nuts contain molds and mycotoxins that can lead to aflatoxin poisoning, neurological problems, liver distress and intestinal inflammation or blockages.

The worst of the above are Macadamia nuts, which, like raisins, contain a mystery substance that is devastating to a dog’s system. Even one Macadamia nut is enough to cause serious harm to your Best Friend. Never feed your dog these foods!

Cooked Bones

brown and black short coated dog eating sliced of watermelon
Raw bones are ok, but avoid ANY cooked bones
Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash

Dogs love bones! Studies have even shown that a tasty, raw meaty bone is good for your dog’s teeth and provides a nice little boost to their mental health. Stay away from cooked bones though!

Cooked bones can splinter and cause mouth, throat, stomach, and intestinal irritation or punctures. They can also cause life-threatening blockages. Cooked bones have also been leached of their nutrients, so they offer no nutritional value for your dog.

Ingesting cooked bones can lead to very costly vet intervention or worse, plus dogs can hardly resist the smells from a rotisserie chicken carcass or some spent chicken wings in the trash. It’s best to deposit this trash directly in the bin far away from where your dog can get into it. We all know a dog who loves to raid the trash can!

Be Mindful of Household Threats

If, by some terrible mistake, your Best Friend does get into something they’re not supposed to or something toxic, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline; 888-426-4435. Unfortunately, there is a fee associated with the call, and the other animal poison control hotlines I researched. They are available 24/7 and staffed with helpful experts though. Also, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian or local emergency vet, as many will offer advice and support free of charge.

As you are likely aware and have experienced, most dogs are chow hounds. They will gleefully, gladly, gobble anything they can get their noses into! It doesn’t matter if it’s something that’s good for them, or something that could kill them. If it smells good enough to eat, it is good enough to eat! That means, as the responsible human in the home, your job is to make sure to keep any of those deadly foods as far away from your Best Friend as you can.

Meet Hank!

Hank loves the water! Photo credit: J. Smith

Hank is the 6 year old mascot at Smith Chiropractic and Wellness in Traverse City, MI! Hank is a distinguished Beagle, Rottweiler and Boxer mix, notably named after Hank Williams. Hank adores chasing squirrels on his lunchtime hikes. He also enjoys catching Bluegill, running in the woods, and hanging out with his favorite people at work!

Hank makes himself right at home in the office and wherever he goes. He’s got a bed and a couple of couches there, and if you’re lucky, he’ll make a little room for you to sit with him to give pets and scratches. Thanks for being such a cool guy, Hank!

Extensive outdoor time is vital to Hank’s well-being,
and should be a gift we give to all of our dogs! Photo credit: J. Smith

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