From grapes to sugar-free gum: What are some of the top foods your dog shouldn’t eat?

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Posted - Aug 29th, 2018 @ 8:38pm

SALT LAKE CITY — You might think it’s fun to toss your dog a treat from the dinner table, especially if he or she is giving you those puppy-dog begging eyes.

But there are lots of human foods that dogs shouldn’t have, and you should be aware of the risks some foods pose to dogs before you give them food.

“There’s so many things that come to mind,” said Dr. Allie Lebenson, an associate veterinarian at Sugar House Veterinary Hospital.

Everyone knows dogs shouldn’t have chocolate. But there are lots of other foods your pet shouldn’t eat — from avocados and grapes to sugar-free gum and macadamia nuts.

You should keep these foods in an area where your dog can’t get to them, preferably on a higher shelf in the pantry and behind a closed door, Lebenson said.

“A lot of dogs have some great noses,” Lebenson said. “They love the smells of the foods you cook. They’ll try and get into a trash can and maybe if they get a piece of chicken it won’t be so bad, but if they get something else it could be.”

Here’s a rundown of the some of the most important foods to make sure your dog avoids. If you think your dog has eaten one of these foods, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

You can also call the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at 888-426-4435.


Alcoholic beverages and foods containing alcohol shouldn’t be given to dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

They can cause problems with a dog's nervous and respiratory systems, as well as cause vomiting and diarrhea.


Lebenson recommends that people keep avocados away from dogs. They’re a bigger problem for other animals, but can still cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. Avocado pits can also be a choking hazard for dogs.


Most people know about this one. Chocolate contains toxins called methylxanthines, which can stop a dog’s metabolism, according to the AKC. One of those xanthines is theobromine, which can cause muscle tremors, seizures and even a heart attack in dogs, according to Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Dark chocolate is worse for dogs, the AKC says. A small amount can cause diarrhea and vomiting, while larger amounts can cause more severe symptoms. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can speed up a dog’s heart rate and be harmful to the animals.

Coffee and caffeine

One common issue Lebenson encounters is dogs that have gotten into the trash and started eating discarded coffee grounds. Coffee and other caffeinated foods and beverages contain methylxanthines, the same compound that makes chocolate harmful to dogs, according to the ASPCA.

Corn cobs

While corn itself is acceptable for dogs and is a common ingredient in many dog foods, the cobs can be hard for dogs to digest, according to the AKC. Make sure you remove corn from the cob before feeding it to your pet.

Dairy products

Dairy products such as milk and cheese aren’t technically toxic for dogs, but they can cause digestive issues for canines, according to the ASPCA. Though rare, some dogs are lactose intolerant, the AKC says.

Milk and cheese can be good treats for dogs if given in small quantities, but dog owners should be aware of how their pets react to those foods, according to the AKC.

Garlic and onions

Anything in the allium family of plants is off-limits for dogs. That includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.

“One of the biggest things that people don’t think about would be onions and garlic,” Lebenson says.

They can be very dangerous for dogs, she added. Ingesting allium plants can cause intestinal irritation and red blood cell damage, according to the ASPCA.

Grapes and raisins

Though it’s unknown why, grapes and raisins can cause renal, or kidney, failure in dogs.

“There are more and more studies coming out about grapes having renal toxicity or kidney disease relation,” Lebenson said.


Macadamia nuts are one of the most toxic foods for dogs, according to the ASPCA. They can cause weakness in dogs’ back legs, as well as shaking or a high fever, the ASPCA says.

Almonds, pecans and walnuts are high in fat, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, according to the ASPCA. However, peanuts and cashews are OK for dogs in small amounts, as is peanut butter, the AKC says.

Raw meats, eggs and bones

Some raw foods contain bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and should be avoided by both pets and humans, according to the ASPCA.

Though giving a dog a bone is common, raw bones can pose risks for domesticated dogs, the ASPCA says. Dogs can choke on pieces of bones, and sharp bone splinters can cause internal injuries to dogs.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener most commonly found in sugar-free gum, but it is also present in some baked goods, according to Lebenson. The compound is extremely toxic for dogs.

Some peanut butter also contains xylitol, Lebenson said, so make sure to read the ingredients label before giving some to your pup.

Jacob Klopfenstein

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