Sun, Dec 17, 2017
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Your Dog Is What He Eats: Foods You Should Avoid when Working Towards the Ideal Canine Diet

In an ideal world, we’d all win the battle of willpower and take care of our bodies while maintaining a healthy diet. Dogs have no such luck and look to us, their owners, to provide a diet that keeps them fit and happy. The market for pet food is a multi-billion dollar industry with numerous nutritional options dotting the store shelves. However, there may be debate as to whether these are truly nutritionally balanced options. In response to these concerns, there is a subset of dog  owners who have taken to the option of creating their own nutritional regimen for their pets in an attempt to better meet their canine’s needs.

If you choose to join the increasing ranks of caretakers preparing their pets’ food, it is beneficial to be armed with the knowledge of foods that can cause potential harm to your dog and should be avoided. There are of course, certain substances that you would presumably never feed your pet that are known to cause harm. Alcohol and tobacco are both known to cause vomiting and uncoordinated movement and even death in large enough doses. But it may be less obvious that bones, something you and your dog have most likely come to associate as a healthy treat, can become brittle and hazardous upon cooking, possibly even splintering or puncturing your dogs throat or intestinal tract.  

In this case knowledge really is power, and will allow you to become a more educated pet owner, more able to meet the demands of your canine family member.  The list below contains common substances that may have detrimental affects on your dog and the symptoms you should vigilantly learn to recognize as indications your pet may need medical attention. Also, listed in the resources below are links to two different animal poison control resources. Post the numbers somewhere handy so they are available if and when you need them.

Avoid Feeding the Following Foods/Ingredients to Your Dog:


  • Alcohol -  causes vomiting, uncoordinated movement, dehydration, coma, and even death.  Effects in large part related to body weight of your dog as is the case with most toxic substances on this list.


  • Apples, Cherries, and other Fruits containing Pits and Seeds - the seeds of some common fruits can contain trace amounts of cyanide which in large enough doses will be detrimental to your pet. Causes respiratory issues such as difficulty breathing.


  • Avacados - contains a substance called persin found within the skin and seeds of the fruit. Causes diarrhea and vomiting and in more serious cases may damage heart tissue.


  • Bones - become brittle and dry upon cooking. Splintering hazard;may puncture throat and/or intestinal tract. uncooked bones still appropriate to give your dog.


  • Chocolate -  contains theobromine. Much more concentrated in dark and baker’s chocolate. symptoms include nausea and vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination or incontinence.


  • Citrus - contains limonene and linalool, two substances common in citrus oil extracts used in insecticide products. causes damage when metabolized by the liver. Symptoms include strong citrus smell to the skin, drooling, depression, weakness, hypothermia, trembling, falling, low blood pressure, dermatitis, and death in extreme cases.


  • Grapes and raisins - contains unknown toxic compound associated with kidney damage. Also associated with vomiting and diarrhea. cases of poisoning usually associated with consumption of large amounts of fruit.


  • Onions, chives, garlic - contain thiosulfate which destroys red blood cells and causes symptoms of anemia. look for labored breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, and discolored urine. Garlic and/or onion powder is also a common additive in baby food.
    • Macademia nuts - can cause rear limb weakness, trouble walking, hyperthermia (high body temperature), and elevated heart rate. Symptoms may also be complicated if your dog has consumed chocolate-covered macademia nuts.


    • Milk and Dairy - While not toxic per se, many animals are intolerant of dairy products and will suffer vomiting and diarrhea because of ingesting it.


    • Mushrooms -  much like in people, many species of mushrooms can be poisonous to dogs. Symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea, to seizures and coma. If you are aware of what mushroom your dog has eaten, bring a sample with you to the vet.


    • Tobacco - symptoms can be characterized by drooling, staggering, odd behavior, unusual respiratory rate, and vomiting. Second-hand exposure has been linked to the development of respiratory illness and cancer formation in dogs


    • Tomatoes, Rhubarb, Potatoes - contain substances broadly categorized as solinum alkaloids which are known to harm the digestive, nervous, and urinary tracts. Look for drooling, confusion, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate in your dog. Especially concentrated in greenish appearing or green varieties of these fruits/vegetables.

    • Xylitol - popular artificial sweetner. stimulates increased insulin production and causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). causes vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, lethargy.


    • Yeast, yeast dough - can produce gas in a dog’s digestive tract and the expansion of unbaked dough can distend your pet’s stomach causing gastrointestinal distress and severe pain. A bi-product of the process is also alcohol which can lead to alcohol toxicity.


    Animal Poison Control Center - Maintained by ASPCA, $65 consult fee may be applied

    Pet Poison Control Helpline - Note there is a $35 consultation fee for their service

    Washington State University: Digestive Systems of the Dog

    What’s Really in Pet Food

    Doctors Foster and Smith: Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog

    Dog First-Aid 101: Don’t Feed Your Dog Toxic Foods

    Entirely Pets: Toxic Foods

    Alcohol (Ethanol) Poisoning -

    Vet Info - Diet and Nutrition: Toxins

    Drs. Foster and Smith: Onion and Garlic Toxicity in Cats and Dogs

    Nicotine Poisoning in Pets

    Science Daily: Second Hand Smoke is a Threat to Pets

    Drs. Foster and Smith: Citrus Oil Toxicity in dogs and cats

    Macademia Nut Toxicity


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