It’s natural to want to share our food with our dogs, but if you do this, it’s very important realize that not all human foods are good for our dogs. In fact, some of our favorites are positively dangerous and should never be shared no matter how adorable or intense the begging becomes.
You’ve probably already heard or read that chocolate isn’t safe for dogs to eat and that is absolutely true. Dark chocolate is the most harmful because it contains the highest concentration of the toxic ingredient theobromine. Depending on the dosage and the size of the dog, theobromine may cause a dog to vomit and have diarrhea, seizures, panting, frequent urination, excessive thirst,hyperactivity, abnormal heart beat and sometimes die. Milk chocolate contains less theobromine and therefore is less toxic than dark chocolate while White chocolate, with the least amount of theobromine, is the safest of the three. Even so, it’s best not to feed your dog any chocolate at all, why take the risk? (Plus, that way you get to eat all the chocolate yourself, it’s a win-win.)
Onions are another human food that isn’t healthy for our dogs. It’s not a common poisoning, but it does cause anemia, and may hurt the kidneys. We’re not talking about the small bit of onion that may be in the leftover stew or meatloaf. Dogs need to eat quite a bit of onion to become ill – approximately 1/4 ounce of onion per pound of his body weight, which is quite a lot.
You might be surprised to learn that a sugar substitute that many consider a healthy alternative is actually quite toxic to dogs. Xylitol, a popular sugar replacement used in sugar free cookies, gum, toothpaste, and other foods, can be deadly to our dogs. Its effects are twofold-not only can it can cause low blood sugar with seizures and vomiting, it can also lead to liver failure, vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Be very careful to check all sugar-free product labels for Xylitol. Truthfully, I don’t allow it in my home anymore after a few close calls with our dog and gum belonging to one of my teens. Since Xylitol poisoning can be fatal, having it around just doesn’t seem worth it.
Grapes and raisins are a popular, healthy snack so it may surprise you to find out that these common foods can harm and even kill your dog. Strangely, no one really knows what ingredient is in grapes that causes this toxicity or why some dogs can eat grapes and have no problems, yet others can become deathly ill. We do know that it damages the kidneys and the damage, which starts within hours, can be so severe that the dog stops producing urine. Unfortunately, if this happens, he’s unlikely to survive. Pretty scary, right? I was shocked when I first heard about this, having given grapes occasionally to my dogs for years without problems. I guess I was lucky–and so were my dogs!
Considering how common some of these toxic foods are, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you know which foods are unsafe before you share them with your dog. I’ve listed just a few unsafe foods above but we have a more complete list of the Common Foods that are Unsafe for Your Dog for you to read here. Please read the list and make sure your family members are familiar with it also. You might want to consider posting it on the refrigerator for easy reference for everyone.
If you are in doubt about a food and it isn’t listed, check with your veterinarian before you ever feed it to your dog. If he does manage to eat something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435.