Poisonous Foods for Pets

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Imagine this scenario.  You’re enjoying a nice family dinner.  Your lab is in his usual spot, under your youngest’s chair, drool dripping out of the side of his mouth as he anticipates the next dropped morsel of food.  Impatient, he moves over to your oldest child’s chair, knowing he will happily sneak a piece of chicken under the table to abate his precious pup’s hunger.  After dinner, you scrape the leftover beans into your dog’s food bowl, and shoo him out of the dishwasher for the hundredth time, only after he’s licked the plates clean enough to take back out and put in the cupboard.

By the end of the night, your dog has consumed about 500 more calories than his body needs, been exposed to several foods that are toxic to pets, and risked cutting his tongue on the silverware in your dishwasher. 

We all do it.  We succumb to the sad eyes that tell us they just want one little piece of human food, so we sneak him a tidbit when no one is looking.  We don’t want to waste food, but we know our dog will happily bat cleanup.  We are tired of reprimanding him for licking the dishes so we just let him do it.

But it is amazing the potential poisons we are exposing our four-legged friends to when we allow these behaviors to go on.  I’ve started calling our dog Fattie Hattie (my husband says I am going to give her a complex) because she’s gained weight just in the past few months.  We changed her food due to a suspected allergy, so I imagine that is partially to blame for the weight gain, but I think there may be more to the story...some under the table covert operations going on.   Operation Food Frenzy.

Let’s break down the dinner time scenario a bit and get into why it is dangerous for your dog to partake in these risky eating behaviors.  It is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, and there’s never been a better time to brush up on your awareness of poisons (to your dog, that is) that are lurking in your very kitchen.

Garlic and Onions

You know that piece of chicken your kid slipped your dog under the table?  Chances are it was seasoned with garlic.  While giving your dog a piece of plain chicken may not be bad for him, chicken prepared for a family meal is rarely plain.  And when he licks the plates after the meal, bits of garlic and onion may cling to the plate.  


This was a new one to me.  I have a bad habit of accidentally dropping food, and then watching in wonder as my dog sniffs it to decide if it’s worth tasting.  Pretty sure I have done this with avocado recently!  Not anymore!!!

Grapes and Raisins

These are pretty common finger foods among younger kids and just as commonly dropped.  Bouncing grapes are the sort of thing a dog lying in wait under a toddler’s chair will chase after and ingest.


Of course you would not purposely give your dog a beer, but that forgotten glass of brew sitting on a low coffee table?  Easy for your dog to get into, and harmful to his health.

Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine

Chocolate is perhaps the most obvious one on this list, but did you know coffee and caffeine are as dangerous?


I’ve told the story about how my dog got into a pack of sugar-free gum and the sleepless night that resulted.  Xylitol can also be found in candy, children’s vitamins, and even some baked goods.

Common symptoms of poisoning

The above foods have been known to cause a range of negative effects on dogs.  Some of which include, but are not limited to, breathing problems, diarrhea and vomiting, kidney failure, seizures, and drop in blood sugar.

Prevention is key

When I consider all these complications that result from my dog getting into, or being fed, people food, it just seems like a no-brainer to keep her away from the dinner table, out of the dishwasher, and to avoid giving her leftovers.  Afterall, there’s a reason the experts make dog food, right? Consider enrolling in pet insurance to be certain you can afford the best veterinary treatment in case your pet eats something he shouldn't!

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