Avoid Toxic Foods for Dogs

Foods that cause no problem to us may turn out to be harmful and even toxic to our dogs. It is therefore extremely important to know which foods are bad and harmful for dogs to ensure that they are not mistakenly used as our dog treat ingredients.

Common Toxic Foods for Dogs

Below are some common ingredients that we use to make treats for HUMANS, but they are toxic for our dogs and should never be used to make dog treats:

Toxic Foods for Dogs

  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains caffeine and a substance called theobromine, both of which are naturally occurring stimulants.

    The problem with dogs is that they cannot metabolize theobromine so effectively - they metabolize the substance much more slowly than people. The result? Major organs such as the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system will be adversely affected, causing serious, sometimes fatal, health issues to our dogs.

    See this page for more information on chocolate for dogs.

  • Grapes and Raisins: A lot of cookie recipes for humans include raisins, but it is an absolute no-no ingredient for dog cookies!

    Raisins, sultanas, and grapes are all toxic foods for dogs. Depending on the size of the dog, sometimes a mere handful of raisins or grapes can lead to irreversible health damage to the dog. In large quantities, they can cause acute kidney failure and even death.

    The exact reason why grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs is not clear; no matter the reason, just avoid raisins in your dog treats!

    Instead of raisins, try using dried cranberries or blueberries.

  • Some Nuts: While peanuts and peanut butter are OK for dogs, there are nuts that should not be given to dogs. The first and most dangerous one is macadamia nuts, which even in small amounts can cause neurological problems in dogs. Walnuts can cause indigestion and upset stomach; and almonds are hard to digest. Other nuts, such as pecans, cashews and Brazil nuts, pose little or no harm but they are high in fat and some dogs may have problem digesting them.

    Instead of using nuts, I usually use seeds in my dog treat recipes. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are nutritious and safe for dogs.

  • Tea/Coffee: I love coffee-flavored (and tea-flavored) cake, but it's something that I can't share with my dog. Regular tea and coffee contain caffeine, which is of course harmful to dogs. So cross these off your list of dog treat ingredients!
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a sweetener and is one of the many toxic foods for dogs. It can trigger a sudden release of insulin in dogs, causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This can result in shock and liver failure. There are other natural sweeteners that can be used for dog treats.
  • Onions: Onions contain a substance (called "n-propyldisulfide", if you really want to know!) that, in large doses, can cause damage to red blood cells, creating Heinz bodies and triggering the body to reject these red blood cells from the bloodstream. So if a dog consumes large amounts of onions on a daily basis, he can develop Heinz-body anemia and even death. To be safe, never feed onions to your dogs.

    How about garlic? Doesn't garlic also contain that "n" substance? Glad you asked. Garlic does contain "n-propyldisulfide", but in significantly lesser amounts than onions. So, if a dog is fed small amounts of garlic and not on a daily basis, the garlic should not pose any harm. In fact, many holistic vets suggest using garlic to boost a dog's immune system. Want more information on this topic? Visit this page.

  • Artificial Colorings: I don't recommend using artificial food colorings on dog treats, even though some colorings are supposed to be safe for human use. I prefer my treats to be natural. And let's face it - our dogs don't really care whether the biscuit or cake is red, yellow, or brown!

Unhealthy Ingredients

There are recipes on the Internet that call for some ingredients that are, though not toxic foods for dogs, not quite healthy, and if you really want your dog's health to be top notch, avoid such ingredients.

Common unhealthy dog treat ingredients include:

  • Processed Foods: Processed foods, such as bacon, sausages, ham, and regular canned soup such as canned chicken broth, contain a lot of salt. While we (and our dogs) do need sodium, too much sodium of course is detrimental - it can cause electrolyte imbalance, kidney disease, and seizures in dogs.

    Instead of processed meats, use fresh meats. If a recipe calls for chicken broth, use low-sodium broth or, even better, homemade broth.

  • Store-bought Sauces: Sauces such as BBQ sauce usually have high sugar and salt contents, and depending on the type, may also contain harmful ingredients such as onions, or chemicals such as MSG or preservatives.

    There are many natural ingredients (e.g. herbs, carob, veggies, meat, etc.) that can make dog treats and biscuits tasty and palatable, it is really unnecessary to resort to such sauces.

  • Milk: Dogs do not have the digestive enzymes to break down the sugars in cow's milk, so drinking milk can cause common digestive problems in dogs, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

    For baking dog treats, the amount of milk used usually is rather low, so generally speaking it is not a problem. However, if your dog is extremely lactose intolerant, then avoid milk altogether.

    How about soy milk? You may wonder. Actually, it has been found that soy protein is NOT a good protein source for dogs (and cats). Soy is known to be able to cause allergic reactions in pets, and can also cause digestive problems in dogs such as bloat and gas. Soy is high in purines and silicates so it can promote the growth of bladder stones in dogs.

  • Canola Oil: Canola oil is a common oil used in baking dog treats, but in my opinion, it is not a healthy oil for dogs (and humans for that matter). Why? See this page to find out.

So there you have it. The above are some unhealthy and even toxic foods for dogs and, if you find a dog treat recipe that contains any of the above foods, trash that recipe!