Dangerous Foods for Dogs

(Updated 2020)

Here are all of the dog foods and treats that we recommend

Check out our dog training services if your dog is in the Greater Los Angeles or Southern California area or our phone and video consultations to get pet nutrition advice from anywhere in the world!

While out dog training in Los Angeles I came across a very nice couple starting out in the pet food business.  They were very pleasant and eagerly passing out pamphlets of their new venture espousing the virtues of gourmet food for dogs.  Their pamphlet looked professional, shiny, pretty, well put together, and had a few of their different prepared foods on the back with the ingredients listed.  They were selling meals fit for humans made with premium ingredients, but they were preparing these meals to be consumed by dogs without preparing a balanced and complete nutritional profile for canines.

Healthy dog food should take into consideration a dog’s life stage, sex, breed, size, and essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for the unique dog.  Dog food should not have spices and ingredients that are harmful or deadly for dogs. unfortunately, some dog food companies sell foods dogs can’t eat.

When I inquired whether their food was rated by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) they weren’t familiar with AAFCO and were doubtful for a reason to be sanctioned by them or anyone. I thought that was rather odd being that their business was in selling dog food.

Nonetheless, I returned home where I had the chance to further examine some of their special gourmet prepared dog food.  While these dishes all sounded very nice and tempting to eat for human consumption, I would not feed any of this to my dog!  Some of the harmful ingredients I noticed were garlic and onions which are dangerous for dogs to eat.  The meals were also heavily spiced which is also dangerous for dogs to eat.

These meals were made according to a human’s pallet and digestive system and not a dog’s. These harmful ingredients were in several of their gourmet dishes made for consumption by dogs. I was completely dismayed by the ignorance displayed and that these nice people didn’t do the most basic research into what is healthy and not healthy (and in some cases deadly) for dogs, before starting their dog food business.

I then wondered to myself whether or not other people were also confused or unclear about which foods are not good for dogs.  By “not good” I am referring to varying degrees of health. From the benign and neutral end of the spectrum, foods that may have little to no nutritional value to the downright dangerous dog foods that may cause a dog to get sick, or even die.

Dog Ancestral Diet?

To quell some of the proponents of ancestral, raw food diets and all of the other quirky diets that people think are good for their dogs here is some food for fodder (pun intended :)).  Just because dogs are believed to be descendants of wolves tens of thousands of years ago, doesn’t mean that dogs are pack animals, or that dogs are carnivores. They’re neither one of those. A dog’s diet is not the same as a wolf nor can it nutritionally digest the same types of enzymes, organisms, and substances.

We share nearly identical DNA from Chimpanzees but do not share the same diet. Dogs are domesticated for a reason and although they love to scavenge and forage it doesn’t mean what they find to ingest will be healthy for them.

In addition, people get very emotional about how they feed their dogs. Most of the time based solely on how the dog looks, or how much the dog likes the food. Not based on science and evidence of the health or dangers of eating certain dog foods.

Here are what the professionals and scientific evidence says about feeding your dog a raw food diet. While I am naturally extremely skeptical at organizations and for-profit corporations’ claims, I do not believe that science/evidence is a conspiracy. We can all agree that we want what’s healthiest for our dogs and for them to eat the healthiest diets. It is my job to provide you with the facts, to help you make informed and healthy decisions for your pets.

Should I Feed My Dog A Raw Food Diet?

Besides raw dog food, what people foods are dangerous for my dog to eat?

List of Foods Dogs Can’t Eat:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate, white, dark, powdered, all kinds
  • Raw baked potatoes (cooked are fine)
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee, tea or other caffeine sources
  • Milk, ice cream, and dairy products
  • Nuts (contain fast and oils that may cause gastrointestinal issues {GI}, diarrhea, vomiting, and may contribute to pancreatitis)
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Nutmeg
  • Coconut oil (causes GI issues and may cause diarrhea)
  • Apricots
  • Green parts of Tomatoes (leaves, stems)
  • Tomatoes
  • Rhubarb plant
  • Candy or gum
  • Nothing sweetened with xylitol
  • Fat trimmings from bones
  • Bones splinter and cause lacerations in your dog’s digestive system
  • Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums
  • Raw eggs (E-coli and salmonella) and the enzyme in raw eggs that interferes with the B vitamin
  • Lunch meats or cold cuts contain way too much salt and nitrates which can lead to digestive and kidney problems. Store-bought cold cuts are bad foods for dogs
  • Hops which are used to make beer, as well as other foods, are very toxic to dogs causing heavy panting, increased heart rate, fever, seizures, and death
  • Raw meat and fish (just as with humans, eating raw foods causes bacteria poisoning that can be fatal)
  • Salt
  • Sugary foods and drinks (obesity and dental problems)
  • Mushrooms
  • Citrus Fruits including oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, etc.
  • Moldy or spoiled foods
  • Apples are fine, but the seeds, cores, and stems are not
  • Yeast/dough
  • Human medicine
  • Baking soda and baking powder
  • Stay away from fatty and seasoned foods

Are Spices Dangerous For Dogs To Eat?

Dog and spices don’t mix. Here are some spices that are not healthy for your dog to eat. While some spices are reiterations of the foods that are harmful to a dog just in a dried and refined form others may be unique. Most spices and herbs are toxic for a pet to eat. This is not an exhaustive list and just because your dog doesn’t get sick from any single item doesn’t mean you should feed it to them. It is best to not feed your dog any spices.

List Of Harmful Spices And Herbs For Dogs To Eat:

  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Table salt
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Turmeric
  • Cocoa powder
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Wormwood
  • Comfrey

What are some toxic plants for dogs to eat? There are many and these are just some common ones. Research your plants, flowers and outdoor treas to find out which are toxic for your pets.

Toxic Plants for Dogs to Eat:

  • Wild Cherry
  • Azaleas
  • Mushrooms and toadstools
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Mistletoe
  • Lilies
  • Tulip and Narcissus bulbs
  • Rhododendrons
  • Tomato and potato leaves and stem
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach

This is not an exhaustive list of toxic plants for your dog.

Here are all of the dog foods and treats that we recommend

What Are Healthy Dog Foods For My Dog To Eat

There are too many to list. However homemade organic dog food can be very healthy for your dog’s health, and well-being and much more healthy than store-bought extruded or wet dog food if it’s balanced and complete and you take into consideration your dog’s biological nutritional needs from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist or professional Certified Dog Nutritionist.

However, please do not assume because food is healthy for a person or is food that you love, will be the same for your dog. That is a recipe for disaster and could be deadly.  Additionally, research shows a link between prebiotics and probiotics and conspecific aggression. The dog’s gut bacteria are as equally as important as gut microbiome is for people. So strongly consider adding prebiotics and probiotics to a dog’s daily meal.  Here are some healthy dog treats that most dogs love and dog treats that you can train with.

What Should I Feed My Dog?

This is the most common question we get during our pet food nutrition consultations. While this is a huge category that would take books to go into, I suggest asking any pet food manufacturer these vital questions. If your pet food manufacturer can not or does not willingly, openly, and eagerly answer all of these in a timely fashion, that is a huge red flag and I would find another dog food to feed my dog.

How Should I feed My Dog?

Equally important to what you should feed a dog, is how you should feed a dog. Do not use your standard dog bowl when feeding your dog. Instead, use slow bowl feeders, hand-feeding for dog training and behavior problems, chew toys, and food extracting toys. All of these food enrichment devices will help with common dog behavior issues such as, puppy biting, separation anxiety, dog barking, and even puppy potty training,

Dog Food Summary

Use common sense, feed in moderation, seek out a dog nutritionist, and if you accidentally feed something to your dog that you shouldn’t have or your dog has gone counter surfing please have a look at our dog resources page where there are emergency pet poisoning numbers and many other resources for your pet’s health.

Dog Food Certified Nutrition Experts

Do you have dog food that you are unsure about? Dog feeding and nutrition is a complex topic that requires a certified pet nutrition expert to research.

See how we can help you choose a healthy dog food with more confidence. Fill out this short form for an expert certified dog nutritionist to help you with your dog’s food and treats today.

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ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

If your pet ingests something you suspect is poisonous, you can call this 24-hour service and pay a $65 fee for a consultation with a veterinarian.

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