Household Dog Poisons

Dog poisons are everywhere around us and we may not even know it.

This article lists a few common food ingredients that are likely to be present in your home. You may have even given some of them as a treat to Fido because you didn’t know they COULD be toxic! Not all of them are deadly, it’s always the dose that determines the effect (remember… even water is toxic at high doses).

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Myth: Human Grade Food Is Good For Dogs

Dog owners often assume that what’s good for them, is good for their dogs. They have the best possible intentions but lack knowledge. So say it very clearly: Dogs are not simply furry humans!

Dogs have different metabolisms, they process food ingredients different than we do. The different detoxification mechanisms explain why certain food ingredients can be good for us, but unhealthy – or even deadly – for dogs.

Dr. David Henderson of Sunrise Veterinary Clinic sees one or two canine food poisoning cases per month. It’s not differences in digestive systems between dogs and humans, but also our metabolic tolerances differ.

Top 10 Dog Poisons In Your Kitchen

Be very careful when feeding table scraps to your dog. Avoid these food ingredients and please note that when you read ‘deadly’ this is ‘deadly for dogs’. You are safe, but your dog is different. I’ll be listing regular things, you may not know were dog poisons. It’s never too late to learn. Or at least I hope that’s the case!


“It is not the substance that defines what is toxic and what isn’t, but the amount.” Paracelsus (1493-1541)

    1. Tree nuts: Macadamia nuts (neurotoxins) and walnuts (deadly fungus). It’s best to just avoid all nuts as these aren’t part of a natural canine menu anyway.
    2. Artificial sweeteners: Xylitol (found in gum for instance) can result in deadly hypoglycemia and liver necrosis. Avoid feeding your dog any product that contains xylitol (so no gum of course, but also certain candy and cookies may contain this sweetener).
    3. Seeds and fruit pits: When you eat a lot of seeds you can get cyanide poisoning – so not just your dog. Cyanide derivates can be found in seeds from cherries, peaches, apricots and even apples.
  1. Chocolate: The dose (milk or dark) determines whether it’s harmless or deadly… so better to completely stay away from this! Cocoa or chocolate contains theobromine. Dogs cannot deal with this chemical and it overstimulates their central nervous system. First, dogs can get hyperactive, then epileptic seizures can result in death. I remember one time seeing a treat called “Dog Chocolate” in a pet store. This is very confusing. Of course, it wasn’t real chocolate, but selling dog treats with this name can result in people assuming that chocolate is safe for dogs.
  2. Caffeine (same as for chocolate). Avoid this completely!
  3. Onions and garlic: Hemoglobin is required to transport oxygen to all body cells. Onions contain disulfides that attack the hemoglobin in red blood cells. Prefab food may contain onion powder, so read the labels before giving anything ‘human grade’ to your dog… or just buy dog food. I’ve seen quite a lot of homemade dog food recipes telling you to add garlic to the dish. Garlic contains the same toxin as onions but in a lesser dose. It’s believed to be safe at low amounts (see Paracelsus’ statement above), but I’m not taking any chances.
  4. Grapes and raisins: We can eat these fruits and some dogs too, but not all dogs are immune to whatever is inside these fruits. So it’s better to avoid these, as there are plenty of alternatives and most dogs won’t be too fond of grapes anyway. You don’t want to risk your dog getting kidney failure after eating grapes.
  5. Avocado and guacamole dip. Persin (a compound present in avocado) can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. In larger doses, your dog may die because his heart muscle and lungs are destroyed.
  6. Fatty table scraps: You know that fat you may trim of your steak? Don’t throw it to your dog. It’s not healthy for you, but it’s even worse for Fido’s pancreas. High amounts of fatty food can lead to pancreatitis.
  7. Bones: This is a strange one in the list of dog poisons, as it’s not really a poison. I’m listing it anyway because I’m listing those ingredients that are a regular component of your dinner that should not be given to your pooch.

To give a dog a bone seems pretty safe. But this subject is highly discussed and pet parents often wonder “IS it safe to give a dog a bone?” Well, there’s always a risk of choking of course but you should especially avoid giving your dog cooked bones. Cooked bones splinter easily and the sharp splinters can damage your dog’s intestines. Perforations may result in abdominal pain and even death.

More Dog Poisons To Avoid

Is Your Home And Garden Safe For Your Dog?

Where do you keep your medicines? Make sure your dog cannot access any medicine and also never ever give your dog human medication. That includes your vitamin supplement!

Dog beer doesn’t contain alcohol. The same is true for wine for dogs. Just like dog chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa.Pet food marketers create confusion which can have pet parents believe that dog poisons such as alcohol and chocolate are actually safe for dogs!

Certain liquids are toxic for dogs. Some are obviously poisonous, such as antifreeze and household cleaners (I mean, you wouldn’t drink it either), but did you also know your dog should avoid alcohol?

Also, have a look at the plants in your home and garden. Especially when you a have a new puppy, that doesn’t yet understand it should leave your plants alone. When my dog Kensho was only 7 weeks old I made sure certain plants were moved so he couldn’t chew on the leaves. Though most plants are only toxic in large amounts it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Some dog poisons are very decorative! Particularly dangerous are these plants and flowers: amaryllis, aconite, azalea, belladonna, buckeye, foxgloves, hyacinth, hydrangea, ivy, all species of lily, nightshade, rhododendron, tulip, and yew (and not just for dogs).

Are the pesticides in your garage safely stored? Rat poisons and insecticides should be kept in places that are not accessible by your dog. This includes his flea/tick collar! Make sure he cannot chew on it.

Also make sure your doggie has no access to batteries, mothballs, cocoa mulch and blue-green algae. These contain dog poisons too.

What To Do When Your Dog Is Poisoned

In case of an emergency, you can call the Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Keep their number (when you’re in the USA) and the number of your local veterinarian within reach at all times.

Phone number ASPCA = (888) 426-4435
A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

Don’t panic! Describe your dog and his symptoms clearly. When your dog is having seizures or loses consciousness then hurry to the vet immediately. If necessary, he or she may call the ASPCA.


Invest in an emergency kit and learn some basic first aid or CPR.

Recommended Resource About Dog Health Issues

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