Dedicated dog lovers consider their pets part of the family, so giving them an occasional table snack is just showing them we care, right? Not necessarily. Many of the healthy foods people enjoy such as fruits and vegetables can cause severe health problems for canine companions. If you’re a home cook, chances are your furry friend always has his nose in the kitchen waiting for food to fall, so it might not even be your fault. It’s best to know ahead of time what might pose problems in your kitchen.

Picnic season throughout the spring and summer is one of the most common reasons veterinarians see dog patients with food-related issues. Extra food dropped outdoors and encounters with new guests or summer babysitters can lead to potential problems as well — not to mention weight gain. Veterinarian Dr. Stacie Grohmann, of Seven Field Veterinary Hospital offers some expert advice on common foods you might consider giving your pooch.

Grapes & raisins

Is it okay?: Never

Grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs. “We don’t actually know why or how it happens, but grapes and raisins have been known to cause toxicity and kidney failure in dogs,” said Dr. Grohmann. “We take these very seriously.”

Until more information is known about the effects, it’s best to never feed these foods to dogs, and be aware if you, or your children, happen to drop one on the floor.

Garlic and Onions

Is it okay?: Never

These vegetables can cause gastrointestinal irritation (GI). Small dogs will likely have more problems than larger dogs, but it’s impossible to tell, so it’s best to just stay away said Dr. Grohmann.


Is it okay?: Never

Xylitol is a sweetener used in products like gum, toothpaste, baked goods and sugar-free candy. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), xylitol can cause insulin release in most species causing toxicosis with symptoms including vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination, as well as seizures and liver failure.


Is it okay?: Never

Most dog lovers know to stay away from chocolate, but in case you’re ever tempted to treat your four-legged friend to a taste of that chocolate cake, know that the stuff can cause serious problems for your pooch. “It’s the ingredient methylxanthines in cacao seeds that cause toxicity in dogs,” said Dr. Grohmann. “It can lead to high heart rates, tremors, seizures, GI upset and death in some cases.”

Small dogs are at a high risk because of the comparison to their body weight. Also, baking or dark chocolate poses a higher threat to dogs than milk chocolate because of the higher percentage of cacao. If your dog ingests any chocolate, Dr. Grohmann recommends having him seen right away.


Is it okay?: Probably not

Avocado is more of a problems for birds, horses and rabbits, but the fats and oils can cause GI upset in dogs. “The biggest problem is that the pit can become an obstruction if ingested.”

Almonds & macadamia nuts

Is it okay?: Never

“The fats and the oils in almonds present a problem. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis,” said Dr. Grohmann. “Macadamia nuts can cause even more significant health problems like tremors, hyperthermia (high temperature), vomiting and depression.”


Is it okay?: Only in small doses

In small quantities, citrus doesn’t pose a huge problem, but in large quantities, say, an entire orange, a dog could experience various GI issues, advises Grohmann.

Bones & pits

Is it okay?: Probably not

Cherries, peaches, plums, corn on the cob and whole bones have one thing in common — they aren’t extremely toxic, but they can become a huge problem if a dog swallows the pit whole. “Evolutionarily speaking, our dogs aren’t wild anymore, and even if they don’t choke on them, their digestive tracts can’t handle pits or whole bones very well.”

Alcohol & Marijuana

Is it okay?: Never

There are no circumstances when you should give an animal alcohol. “The same issues that people can have with alcohol poisoning and marijuana, we see in dogs,” said Grohmann. The size and weight on a dog in comparison to a human means that dogs will see symptoms much earlier and experience symptoms much worse than their human counterpart. Alcoholic beverages and other products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, a decrease in coordination, trouble breathing, tremors, coma, blood acidity and even death.

salty snack foods

Is it okay?: You really shouldn’t

“If you’re feeding dogs people food snacks like these, they’re likely to be obese,” said Grohmann. “People’s interpretation of how much food a dog should eat is typically skewed. People feed them way more than they need, calorically speaking.”

Milk & dairy

Is it okay?: Probably not

“Dogs don’t actually need milk. They don’t have a dietary need for dairy, and some dogs are sensitive to it. They could get GI upset or gassy.”

Coconut & Coconut oil

Is it okay?: You really shouldn’t

Coconut oil has become a cure-all trend in recent years, so some people take that to mean for their pets, too. “I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘not’ or ‘never’, but with any oil or fat, it could cause sickness or GI upset if they’re not used to it.”

raw or undercooked meats

Is it okay?: Never

The ASPCA recommends staying away from raw meat because it can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.

cooked bacon

Is it okay?: Probably not

“It’s high fat and high salt — I wouldn’t recommend it. But it’s kind of like those people who never eat McDonald’s and then stop to eat it one day and get sick — if you’re not used to it, you’re not going to feel good,” said Dr. Grohmann. “So if it’s not a treat your dog gets regularly — and they shouldn’t — they’re not going to feel great after, and they may even become sick.”

Human foods that you shouldn't feed your dog
A few crunchy Cheerios makes for a great dog treat, and its much healthier than other high-fat, high-calories human food snacks like hot dogs or potato chips.

So what foods are safe for Fido?

“Green beans, raw carrots, apple slices, banana slices, plain boiled chicken — those are things that make good treats because they don’t have much fat or sodium,” said Dr. Grohmann. “Dogs only need about 200 calories a day, so treats and table food can quickly add up and add weight to your pet.”

A little bit of peanut butter is okay, but remember it’s high in fat and calories, Dr. Grohmann advises, so don’t go overboard.

If you’re feeding your dog foods that could make them sick or overweight, consider that a healthy dog can live, on average, two years longer than one who has health problems caused by food. And remember that every dog is different. Larger dogs may have a higher tolerance than small dogs for foods on this list. If you’re uncertain about a food, of if your dog ingested something you’re not sure of the consequence, call your veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA also has great resources on toxic foods as well as a pet poison hotline (888-426-4435) to call in case of an emergency.

Also see, Rent The Chicken provides backyard birds for fresh eggs, down home fun.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.