Food Dangers

Foods which are dangerous to dogs:

Grapes and Raisins
Corn Cobs
Cocoa Mulch in the Yard
Bread Dough
Fatty Meats and Skin
Outdated Food

Coffee Grounds
Alcoholic Drinks
Moldy Dairy Products
Poisonous Plants
Medicines, Human
Macadamia Nuts

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. 24-hour service.
1-888-424-4435 ($45 charge).


Contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to tremors, seizures and death. "..the caffeine and theobromine in chocolate [can kill a dog]..." (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65). "Chocolate can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures" (Healthy Holiday Treats." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 43)... "Ingestion of large amounts of chocolate in dogs can lead to vomiting, agitation, restlessness, panting, pacing, rapid breathing and rapid heart rate, and in some cases seizures and death..." (Keith Bush. "What Do You Know?" Dog Fancy, Oct. 2004: 21-25).

Grapes and raisins

Causes acute renal (kidney) failure; see Grapes of Wrath. "Grapes and raisins have been linked to acute renal failure in dogs" (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65). "Grapes.. have been linked to kidney failure" (Healthy Holiday Treats." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 43)... "There is a recently recognized kidney failure syndome in dogs associated with the ingestion of grapes or raisins" (Keith Bush. "What Do You Know?" Dog Fancy, Oct. 2004: 21-25).

Corn cobs

With or without kernels. There have been several cases of them choking to death on broken off pieces of cob.!!!! (Email from TollerRescueUnitedEnthusiasts list)

Cocoa Mulch in the yard

ASPCA News Alert: "Is Cocoa Bean Mulch Dangerous to Your Dog/Cat?" A retrospective study just released by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) confirms that this commonly used fertilizer may deter slugs and snails, but it also attracts companion canines, who can be poisoned by eating it. Made from spent cocoa beans used in the production of chocolate, cocoa bean mulch contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea (as exhibited by a 50-pound dog who had eaten about two ounces of the mulch) to tremors, seizures and death.

"..avoid using cocoa bean shell mulch fertilizer around unsupervised dogs and dogs with indiscriminate eating habits...

"The dogs' most common signs were vomiting and muscle tremors" (Liddick, Betty. "Be Wary of Cocoa Mulch." Your Dog, Feb. 2004: 7).

Bread dough

"According to veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), when bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during the rising process, the dough expands. Pet's who've eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression" (ASPCA letter Nov. 19, 2003)


""Every year, we get animals in that ate the Thanksgiving turkey, and the bones do terrible things," [vet.] Cohn says... Bones from poultry, pork, fish, and beef ribs can puncture your pet's throat, stomach, or intestines" (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65). "Bones may be splintered and cause esophageal obstruction or may perforate the intestines" (Healthy Holiday Treats." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 43).

"..bones present an opportunity for dogs to crack premolars while gnawing" (Holland, C.C. "Dem Bones." Whole Dog Journal, Aug. 2003, 61-69).

Fatty meats and skin

"Rich, fatty foods like turkey skins and gravy can cause pancreatitis... Dogs can die from that..." (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65). "Giving large amounts of fatty foods may results in pancreatitis" (Healthy Holiday Treats." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 43).


Avoid feeding onions or leaving access to garbage which contains onions ("Holiday Temptations." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 29). "Onions can cause anemia" (Healthy Holiday Treats." Dog Fancy, Dec. 2003, 43).

Coffee grounds

"The grounds contain caffeine, which increases heart rate and can cause shaking, panting, or seizures" (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65).

Alcoholic drinks

"Alcoholic drinks can kill, especially smaller animals, Stone says" (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65).


Tastes sweet to dogs, but is a highly toxic poison in very small doses. Be sure to clean up your driveway and avoid spills on parking lots when walking your dog. "Also beware of trails of sweet-smelling antifreeze (which can lead to acute kidney failure and death if ingested) left on the garage floor by the cars of holiday guests" (Deneen, Sally. "Holiday Heads-Up." Dog Fancy, Nov. 2003, 60-65).

"Snowglobes contain antifreeze.. antifreeze's sweet smell attracts pets and.. even a small amount can be deadly.. Snow globes are made of water AND antifreeze...

" easily they can get knocked over and a dog or cat can lick the liquid, which will make them fatally sick. A quarter of a teaspoon of antifreeze can kill a 50-pound dog.. get rid of any snow globes.. [they] are death traps to our precious dogs" (Kelly Moody. Letter. Dog Fancy, April 2004: 10).

Moldy Dairy Products

"Ingestion of moldy dairy products can be fatal... signs resembling strychnine poisoning after getting access to garbage. One daog was poisoned by moldy cream cheese, while moldy macaroni and cheese poisoned the other. Both contained the toxins penitrem A and roquefortine...

"If ingested, symptoms of poisoning can begin within one to two hours. Sings can include vomiting [see Vomiting], weakness, abdominal pain, muscle tremors, and full-body seizures...

"Prompt emergency treatment is necessary or death may ensue. Intensive care to control the seizures and monitor heart and lung functions is vital...

"Prevention of moldy dairy product poisoning is simple -- proper disposal of garbage and preventing access to the garbage" (Wilford, Christine. "Warning: Moldy Snacks Can Be Fatally Poisonous." Quacker, Fall 2003, 47).

Macadamia Nuts

"Within 24 hours of eating macadamia nuts, dogs may become depressed, anorexic, develop a mild fever, and develop a hind-limb paralysis" (Keith Bush. "What Do You Know?" Dog Fancy, Oct. 2004: 21-25).

Poisonous Plants

Oleanders, mistletoe, poinsettias. These are the common ones; there are many others. For more information, Texas A&M University has a Poisonous Plants information site which includes symptoms... "The toxicity of the poinsettia has been greatly exaggerated... Poinesttias contain a white, milky sap that is irritating. Ingestion is likely to result in mild vomiting, but this is usually self-limiting and of short duration. Removal of food and water for an hour will allow the upset stomach to quiet down. A vet. visit is rarely required unless the vomiting is persistent... [However], if your dog eats sago palm, daffodil, or rhododendron, you should take him to a vet." (Keith Bush. "What Do You Know?" Dog Fancy, Oct. 2004: 21-25).


* LILIES rank number one in dangerous plant call volume at the APCC, and are highly toxic to cats. Says Khan, “It is clear that even with ingestions of very small amounts, severe kidney damage could result.”

* AZALEAS, indigenous to many eastern and western states and commonly used in landscaping, contain substances that can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness, and central nervous system depression. Severe cases could lead to death from cardiovascular collapse.

* OLEANDER contains toxic components that can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, hypothermia, and potentially severe cardiac problems.

* SAGO PALM can potentially produce vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures, liver failure, and even death.

* CASTOR BEAN plant... Although all parts are dangerous, the seeds contain the highest concentration of toxins. Ingestion can produce significant abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness; in severe cases, dehydration, tremors, seizures, and even death could result.

(from ASPCA newsletter, email on 3/29/05).

Medicines, Human

For example, just one regular-strength, 200-milligram ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. "Most pet owners simply do not know that human medications can be dangerous to pets," says Steven Hansen, D.V.M., Senior Vice President, APCC. "While these medications can be helpful to humans, they can pose a serious and even life-threatening risk to anima! ls."

Keep all drugs in closed cabinets out of your pets' reach. Even small amounts can be lethal to pets. And keep in mind that cats have the ability to jump onto tables and countertops, where medications can easily be knocked over. Childproof containers do not deter dogs from chewing open bottles and ingesting the contents.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested human medication, or any potentially dangerous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435 (From ASPCA email, 3-22-04).

Outdated Food

Always check the expiration date on dogfood before you buy it. Many grocery stores and pet stores have bags that are three and four years old. This can cause diarrhea and bleeding from the rectum (email from RPOAlist).


Avocado "can be dangerous to our animal companions. "Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark contain a toxic principle known as percin"... The primary concern with dogs is with gastrointestinal irritation, including vomiting and diarrhea... Birds and rodents appear to be particularly sensitive to avocado, and ingestion can result in respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death" (Newsletter, ASPCA, Oct. 14, 2005).

Colby Glass, MLIS