Human Foods Dangerous to Dogs—And Those You Can Share

Wednesday Apr 30 | BY |
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Foods Safe for Dogs

Though it’s generally best to avoid sharing human food with your dogs, some foods won’t hurt them.

You’re not supposed to feed your dog table scraps. It’s not good for them, many veterinarians say, especially now that our struggles with weight gain have trickled down to our four-legged friends. (NBC News reports that one in four dogs and cats are now overweight.)

Still…when you see those big brown eyes looking into yours and that long pink tongue licking a fuzzy muzzle, you’re likely to cave. After all, they look so happy when you share!

Some foods can be particularly dangerous to dogs, though, actually causing serious health problems. Fortunately, if you tend to melt when faced with those pleading eyes, there are some options to make you and your dog happy without risking safety.

Foods that May Harm Dogs

There are some foods you definitely want to avoid sharing. According to the ASPCA, here are 10 to keep out of reach no matter what.

  1. Bread dough: Raw dough contains yeast that can expand in the stomach—enough to decrease blood flow and create breathing troubles. As yeast multiplies, it can produce alcohols that can actually cause intoxidation.
  2. Chocolate: Compounds like caffeine and theobromine are toxic to dogs, and can cause muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, seizures, and death. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are most dangerous, but avoid sharing all chocolate always.
  3. Alcohol: Even a small amount of anything with alcohol in it can intoxicate a dog, as they’re much more sensitive to it than we are. Vomiting, loss of coordination, and disorientation may result, and in severe cases, the dog can slip into a coma and die.
  4. Grapes and raisins: These are associated with kidney failure in dogs. Vets aren’t sure why yet, and it seems some dogs are more vulnerable than others. Best approach—keep them up and away from your pet.
  5. Beer: Hops used for brewing beer are associated with life-threatening results in dogs. Both fresh and cooked hops may poison dogs, shooting their body temperature through the roof and causing muscle tremors and seizures.
  6. Macadamia Nuts: These are rarely life-threatening, but can cause weakness in the legs, pain, tremors, and fever.
  7. Moldy foods: If mold is present, don’t give it to the dog. Some types of molds produce toxins, which can cause poisoning, convulsions, and death.
  8. Onions and garlic: Add to this shallots, scallions, and others in this food family. They contain compounds that are damaging to a dog’s red blood cells. Concentrated products are the worst—dehydrated onions, soup mix, and garlic powder. The damage occurs slowly, but can result in weakness, lethargy, orange-tinged urine, and fatigue.
  9. Xylitol: This artificial sweetener can lead to a severe drop in blood sugar levels, creating disorientation and seizures. If a dog consumes a lot, it can cause liver failure and death.
  10. Avocado: Some contain “persin,” a natural fatty-acid derivative at varying levels depending on the type. The Guatemalan variety seems to be the most potentially dangerous. This one isn’t a huge danger for dogs—it’s more toxic to birds, rabbits and horses (in which it can cause heart problems and mastitis)—but in large amounts (flesh or peel) it can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. If your pet gets ahold of the pit, it may become lodged in the digestive tract. You’ll sometimes find avocado meal or oil in dog food—in commercial preparations it’s present in small amounts and is chosen for low levels of persin.
Foods that are Safe to Share

Now that you know what to keep away from your dog, what’s okay to share?

Below is a list of foods considered safe for your tail-wagging friend. Just be careful—too much can cause weight gain, teeth and gum problems, intestinal upset, and if your dog stops eating his regular food, nutrient imbalance. Remember to always think of the dog’s overall health before you share—no matter how endearing that face is!

  1. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes: These contain nutrients that are actually good for a dog’s digestive system. You’ll often see these foods in commercially prepared foods.
  2. Lean meats: Chicken, turkey, beef—these are a dog’s natural foods and can help supply healthy proteins and fats. Just be sure to leave off the sauces.
  3. Peanut butter: You know he loves it, and now you know it’s safe. In fact, if you have a picky pup, adding a little peanut butter on top of his regular food may encourage him to eat it.
  4. Salmon: This one is just as healthy for your dog as it is for you. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, it can reduce bone and joint problems and contributes to a healthy, shiny coat.
  5. Cheese: As long as your dog doesn’t have trouble digesting it, cheese can be a good source of healthy protein and fat. Cottage cheese is another good option.
  6. Plain, unsweetened yogurt: Calcium, protein, probiotics—all good for you and your dog. Choose the plain types, though. You don’t want to give a dog brands with added sugar, flavors, fruits, artificial sweeteners, etc.
  7. Eggs: Dogs love these, and they’re really good for them. Protein, antioxidants, and sulfur all contribute to healthy skin, hair, eyes, and bones. Be sure to cook them first to avoid any contamination.
  8. Apples: This one may be surprising. Apples, for dogs? But they are safe, and can actually be a healthy snack for canines. They’re full of vitamins and antioxidants and can be easy to take with you for snacks while walking.
  9. Peas and green beans: If you’ve got an overweight dog, these are good options, as they don’t have a lot of calories. Both are full of healthy nutrients and fiber.
  10. Oatmeal: You may have noticed this one popping up in senior dog food formulations. It’s easy on the tummy, yet provides fiber, protein, and lasting fullness. If you have an older dog that’s having trouble eating regular food, or who is having digestive issues, this may be a great option. Get plain oatmeal without any other sweeteners or flavorings, cook it first, and give to the dog with his food or alone.
  11. Do you share human food with your dog? Please share your suggestions.

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    “Foods That Are Hazardous to Dogs,” ASPCA,

    Colleen M. Story

    Colleen M. Story

    Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

    Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho.

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