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Toxic To Dogs: Food


Be Aware and Save Your Pooch

There are some things that dog should not eat.This lens will tell you what those foods are and explain why they are bad. I will add to it if anything new is added to the list by vets or other pet professionals.

Coming soon: Toxic plants and chemicals.


Dog Food Recall

Nature's Variety Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet

February 11, 2010 - Nature's Variety has initiated a voluntary recall of their Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet for dogs and cats with a "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10 because these products may be contaminated with Salmonella. The only products affected are limited to chicken medallions, patties, and chubs with a "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10. No other Nature's Variety products are affected.

The affected products are limited to the Nature's Variety Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet packaged in the following forms:

3 lb chicken medallions (UPC# 7 69949 60130 2) with a "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10

6 lb chicken patties (UPC# 7 69949 60120 3) with a "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10

2 lb chicken chubs (UPC# 7 69949 60121 0) with a "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10

The "Best If Used By" date is located on the back of the package above the safe handling instructions. The affected product was distributed through retail stores and internet sales in the United States, and in limited distribution in Canada.

If you are a consumer and have purchased one of the affected products, please return the unopened product to your retailer for a full refund or replacement. If your package has been opened, please dispose of the raw food in a safe manner by securing it in a covered trash receptacle. Then, bring your receipt (or the empty package in a sealed bag) to your local retailer for a full refund or replacement.

Nature's Variety became aware of a potential problem after receiving a consumer complaint. Subsequent testing indicated that the lot code related to the consumer complaint tested negative for Salmonella. However, additional subsequent testing found the "Best If Used By" date of 11/10/10 to be contaminated with Salmonella.

No pet or human illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this lot code.

Reed Howlett, Nature's Variety CEO, stated, "Because pet health and safety are our top priority, Nature's Variety takes every step necessary to ensure the quality and safety of our products. In addition to our industry best manufacturing practices, and in an abundance of caution, all Nature's Variety raw frozen products now will undergo a 'test and hold' period before being released for sale."

Salmonella can affect both humans and animals. Even though no illnesses have been reported, consumers should follow the Safe Handling Guidelines published on the Nature's Variety package when disposing of the affected product. People handling raw frozen pet foods may become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not followed the safe handling guidelines set forth by the company.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella may experience some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, or fever. Although rare, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, or urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with the affected product should contact their health care provider.

Pets with Salmonella infections may become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, or vomiting. Some pets may experience only a decreased appetite, fever, or abdominal pain. Infected, but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed any of the affected products and is experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Consumers with additional questions can call our dedicated Customer Care line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-374-3142

. Or, consumers can email Nature's Variety directly by visiting

"Meal" in dog food can lead to fluoride toxicity.

If your dog's food contains bone meal and other meat by-products, the Environmental Working Group recommends switching to brands free of these ingredients in order to minimize your dog's exposure to harmful pollutants, including fluoride. Among other things, high levels of fluoride can lead to cancer in dogs.

Read the study

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Alcohol is a poison that happens to produce enjoyable side effects in humans, in moderation. Dogs are much smaller than humans, and so is much more susceptible to the poisonous effects of alcohol, including death.

Some of the signs that your dog has been drinking alcohol include its odor on his breath, slow respiratory rate, increased urination, staggering or a wobbly gait, excitement, depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, hypothermia, seizures and cardiac arrest.


Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums

These five fruits contain a type of cyanide compound that can poison your dog if he eats enough of the stems, seeds and leaves.

This can result in dilated pupils, breathing difficulties, hyperventilation, shock, and apprehensiveness.



The fruit, leaves, stem and pit are all toxic. The toxic substance is called Persin (a fatty acid derivative). Ingestion of the Avocado plant can cause difficulty breathing, fluid accumulation around the heart, vomiting, diarrhea, generalised congestion, and heart failure. Currently the amount of avocado fruit or other parts of the plant, needed to poison your dog is unknown.


Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Although not really foods, baking powder and baking soda are common items found in the kitchen. They are both leavening agents, used in baked goods to create a gas, which causes doughs and batters to rise.

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder combines baking soda with an acid of some kind, usually cream of tartar, sodium aluminum sulphate or calcium acid phosphate, or a combination of the three.

If your dog eats a large amount of either of these powders, he can suffer from electrolyte changes, muscle spasms and congestive heart failure.



If fed in very large quantities (i.e. over 10% of the dog’s diet) Broccoli can be toxic causing intestinal irritation.



Chocolate is toxic for two reasons: the chemicals theobromine and caffeine, and its high fat content. Theobromine and caffeine are nervous system stimulants.

Noticeable effects of overeating chocolate include hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle twitches, increased urination and excessive panting. Internal symptoms include increased heart rate and blood pressure. Seizures may occur in the most severe cases of poisoning.

These chemical levels increase as the color of the chocolate gets darker. White chocolate has the lowest amount of theobromine and caffeine, followed by milk chocolate. Dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa beans are increasingly dangerous to your dog.

Remember that cocoa powder, baking chocolate and other foods contain

theobromine. It has also been reported that Cocoa husk mulch (sold in garden

centres) is highly toxic.

Dog chocolate has had the theobromine removed.


Coffee (Grounds and Beans) and Tea

Coffee and tea have caffeine in them, and dogs that eat them can suffer from caffeine toxicity.

The symptoms of coffee toxicity are similar to the symptoms of chocolate toxicity: hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle twitches, increased urination and excessive panting. Internal symptoms include increased heart rate and blood pressure. Seizures may occur in the most severe cases of poisoning.


Fatty Foods

Dogs love rich and fatty foods, just like we do. They find these foods in the trash, or receive them as treats or leftovers. Excessive amounts of fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Miniature and toy poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers are especially prone to pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis signs include abdominal pain, acute onset of vomiting, and diarrhea. The pain can show through a hunched posture when you pick up your dog.


Grapes and Raisins

Vets are still not sure what it is in grapes and raisons that causes toxicity. Even a small amount of raisins or grapes can cause kidney failure. They can cause permanent damage.

Lack of treatment can result in death. If you catch your dog eating grapes or raisins, call your vet immediately for advice and direction.



Can cause malignant hyperthermia in dogs, usually with fatal results.

Certain breeds, such as Greyhounds, seem more sensitive to hop toxicity, but

hops should be kept away from all dogs. Even small amounts of hops can trigger

a potentially deadly reaction.


Macadamia Nuts

Also known as the Australia Nut and the Queensland Nut, Macadamias are one of the mystery toxic foods when it comes to dogs. Although researchers still have not determined what causes their toxicity, as few as six nuts can cause severe poisoning.

The symptoms that your dog can develop by eating macadamias include abdominal pain, vomiting, pale gums, stiffness, lameness, difficulty walking, tremors, weakness, and depression. The toxicity usually dissipates in 12 to 24 hours.

Please note that the macadamia nut tree itself is also toxic to dogs.



Nutmeg is a popular spice at Christmas time, especially for eggnog.

Symptoms include seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems, and death.


Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic contain thiosulphate, the chemical that makes them toxic foods for dogs. If you feed onions or garlic to him regularly, his red blood cells may weaken and literally fall apart.

Thiosulphate levels are not affected by cooking or processing. Raw or cooked onions, onion powder and shallots can all cause toxicity.

The thiosulphate can reach toxic, even deadly levels, if he eats too much of either food.Without treatment, severe anemias and death can result from overeating these toxic foods. Humans have an enzyme that allows us to digest onions and garlic. All dogs (and cats) lack that enzyme.

This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, gas or gastrointestinal pain and distress. These symptoms might not appear for a few days, which makes it much harder to pinpoint the poison.

Occasional exposure to small amounts is usually not a problem, but continuous exposure to even very small amounts can be a serious threat. Garlic and garlic powder can have the same effect but would require much larger doses to be considered toxic.


Rhubarb Leaves

Large amounts of raw or cooked rhubarb leaves can cause convulsions, coma and in extreme cases, death.



Excessive salt intake may cause kidney problems. Salt should never be given to a pet to induce vomiting; increased sodium content in the blood causes the brain cells to swell (cerebral edema).



Contain atropine, which can cause dilated pupils, tremors, and heart arrhythmias. The highest concentration of atropine is found in the leaves and stems of tomato plants.


Yeast Dough (Unbaked Bread)

If you bake bread, you know that the dough needs a warm, moist environment to expand. Your dog's stomach is a nice warm, moist environment, and so, the dough can expand to many times its size when first ingested. This distends his abdomen and can cause pain.The dough rises because the yeast ferments it. The fermentation results in alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity.

Is there anything missing? Let me know.

Bark Back

anonymous on April 26, 2012:


Canine toxicity lists are always good; Wondered if you could respond to the NUPRO Dog Supplement using garlic and yeast as beneficial. I purchased it off the cuff hoping to help nurse back a sick pup and came across your article.

Thank you

youngwoman101 on April 20, 2012:

This is a good lens. A lot of good and important information. Thanks!

anonymous on April 14, 2012:

my dog ate half a loaf of par baked bread - meaning it was half baked - semi raw. she has been vomiting for a few days and had diarrhea w/ blood for two - she is severely dehydrated and sick - on fluids and antibiotics now. i am pretty sure this was the cause - alcohol toxicity from the yeast fermentation in her stomach

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

I notice that many of these foods contains a nutrient called Vitamin B-17 which is beneficial to humans but apparently harmful to dogs.

It appears that any human food that contains vitamin B-17 (USA federal laws forbids food companies from claiming amounts of B-17 on package, something that the US medicine industry persuaded the government to do to protect their profits) are toxic to dogs. Vitamin B-17 is a cyanide compound harmless to humans. Vitamin B-17 is beneficial to humans because while the cyanide compound are harmless to healthy cells, the cyanide compound is harmful to cancer cells; thus societies that happen to eat plenty of food containing this cyanide compound have rarer cancer rates than the societies that don't.

Your dog's body is different from your body so therefore any food with high amount of Vitamin B-17 keep out of reach from your dog.

JuliaBusch on July 19, 2011:

Most commercial dog foods contain ingredients that no one wants to know about, but if you're curious, you might want to check out While the site is about our journey with canine osteosarcoma, there is a tremendous amount of information on detoxing your dog, immunity boosters and the dangers of commercial dog food. Click on the "Diet and Immunity" category for a real eyeopener.

Good luck with your lens. It looks great, nice and clean and well presented.

Julia (Nikki's Mom)

ArdenBaird LM (author) on November 13, 2010:

@anonymous: I wish I'd know this a couple of years ago. My friend's Sheltie puppy ate half an avocado pit and died.

anonymous on November 13, 2010:

You have some items here that I wasn't aware of like the baking powder and soda ~ who would have thought. You could save some lives and many tears with this!

pmalynn on September 16, 2010:

Great information! I knew some of it but other foods were a surprise to me. Thanks for the info!

anonymous on July 12, 2010:

Great information for all dog owners, I have blog rolled it to my lenses about dogs.

anonymous on May 16, 2010:

Thank you for this information. My golden retriever's platelet count had gone down to dangerously low levels, because of packaged name brand dog snacks. She was put on a drip and had antibiotics for 14 days. The chews were stopped totally. She has recovered completely and her platelet count has reached safe levels.

ctavias0ffering1 on April 14, 2009:

Excellent lens. Many people think they are giving their pet a treat when in fact they are causing the animal harm. Most of these I already knew about but didn't realise the tomatoes could be a problem - not that any of the dogs I have had ate tomatoes but I know others who do give their pet tomatoes as a treat. 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust for an important subject very well presented

anonymous on April 12, 2009:

Wow, what a lot of information you have here. I have 2 dogs and only knew of the raisins and chocolate on your list. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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