Toxic food for dogs

Most dogs love to eat and wouldn’t think twice about eating human food. However, much of what we humans eat is not compatible for our animals. Some foods are even extremely toxic for dogs. Poisoning negatively affects the body's metabolic processes, which can lead to death. 

While some foods cause toxic reactions even in small quantities, others will cause varying reactions depending on size and previous illness. In any case, it is important to keep the following foods out of reach of your furry friends.

Paws off! – The 10 most toxic foods

Chocolate, Cocoa

Cocoa contains theobromine, which affects the nervous system and can be broken down by humans, but not by our four-legged friends. The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the more toxic it is for dogs. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 60–90% causes symptoms of poisoning at much smaller quantities than with lighter chocolate

Coffee, tea, energy drinks

Our favourite drinks not only contain the same theobromine as cocoa, but also caffeine or theine. These substances overload our furry friend's systems and can lead to high blood pressure, vasoconstriction, seizures and cardiac arrhythmias.


Sugar is not healthy for furry friends. Sugar substitutes are life-threatening. Sugar-free sweets or diet products mainly contain xylitol. These provoke massive insulin secretion in dogs, which can result in severe hypoglycaemia, liver damage or liver failure. Since the substances are absorbed directly through the mucous membranes, symptoms usually appear after only 10 minutes. Act quickly!

Allium vegetables

Onions, garlic, chives, wild garlic and all other plants from the Allioideae family are taboo for dogs. Whether raw or cooked, these plants contain the sulphur-containing amino acid allicin. It attacks the red blood cells in the dog's body and destroys them. Even small amounts of it can cause big problems. 

Grapes, sultanas

Grapes definitely belong on the list of foods that are toxic to dogs, even though it is still not completely clear exactly which substance triggers the toxic reaction. We also know that some dogs show no reaction to small amounts of grapes, while others (regardless of size, weight and breed) immediately display severe signs of poisoning. Both grapes and sultanas can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure. It is best not to try it. 


Apart from the fact that avocados have a fat content that is far too high for dogs and can therefore be poorly processed, the substance persin is found in high concentrations in the skin and pit. But even the fruit flesh is not free of persin. This toxin can lead to heart muscle damage.


Alcohol has a "faster" effect on dogs than on humans. Vomiting and shortness of breath are not uncommon, but it can even lead to severe liver damage and cardiovascular failure. 

Raw legumes

Legumes such as beans, lentils or chickpeas contain the substance phasin when raw, which is toxic to both humans and dogs. It makes the red blood cells clump together and affects the gastrointestinal tract. In very small quantities, cooked legumes can be tolerated by dogs. 


Macadamia nuts, bitter almonds

Almonds are often mistakenly called nuts, but they belong to the drupe family. What they have in common with macadamia nuts is the cyanogenic glycoside amygdalin. This is responsible for the formation of prussic acid during the digestive process. Prussic acid is a powerful neurotoxin and can cause severe pain and paralysis. 


There are actually still too few studies on why mushrooms are toxic to dogs. The fact that they are, however, is beyond question. Depending on the type of fungus, they attack the liver and kidneys in the long term, break down the blood and are carcinogenic. Accordingly, they do not belong in their diets.


Toxic if handled incorrectly

Stone fruit

The pulp of cherries, peaches, apricots or plums is a good source of vitamins in appropriately-dosed quantities. However, if the orchard becomes an all-you-can-eat and your furry friend stuffs himself with fruit as well as seeds, then this can have more serious consequences than just diarrhoea and flatulence. The seeds of stone fruits contain amygdalin, the same substance that can cause prussic acid poisoning in macadamia nuts and bitter almonds. 

Nightshade vegetables

Potatoes are found in many a dog food and, if prepared carefully, they are also very healthy. However, you should be careful never to feed raw nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes or peppers to your pet. Uncooked, the vegetables contain solanine, which affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. 


If pork has been undercooked or is even raw, it can transmit the so-called Aujeszky's virus. What is completely harmless for humans is a great danger for dogs. The virus strikes the brain and spinal cord. If your animal suddenly becomes apathetic or unusually aggressive 1–2 days after eating pork, and also shows constant itching, diarrhoea and vomiting, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. 


Possible symptoms of poisoning

  • Vomiting (sometimes bloody)
  • Diarrhoea (sometimes bloody)
  • Extreme itching
  • Heavy salivation, foaming at the mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Unusual behaviour, aggression or apathy
  • Fever or drastic drop in temperature
  • Difficulties with balance, attacks of weakness
  • Tremors or cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Spot-bleeding on mucous membranes

In case of emergency

  • Save the number of the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic. 

  • Give precise information on the phone. When did the dog eat what and how much of it?

  • If your dog has vomited, bring a sample to the treatment if possible. 

  • Do not try to induce vomiting in the dog yourself. Do not give him anything that has not been clearly discussed with the emergency doctor on the phone.

  • Keep calm. Your animal needs you now.