Toxic Dog Foods: What You Should NOT Feed Your Retriever

Dangerous Foods for Dogs

As Labrador Retriever owners, we want to share what we have with our beloved dogs, including our food. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are aware that some human foods are highly toxic, if not deadly to our Labs. Therefore, feeling good about ourselves without knowing that we could be killing our dogs. Some of the most highly toxic foods include, but are not limited to, the following:

Toxic Foods for Dogs

  • Chocolate – seizures, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, accelerated heart rate, arrythmia, death, Unsweetened baker’s chocolate is most toxic due to high levels of Theobromine.
  • Coffee/Cocoa/Teas – seizures, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, accelerated heart rate, arrythmia, death
  • Onions/Garlic – discolored urine, diarrhea, vomiting, hemolytic anemia, labored breathing, liver damage
  • Mushrooms – excessive drooling, abdominal pain, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma, death
  • Grapes/Raisins – vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy
  • Raw Salmon & Salmonoid Fish – carries a bacteria that if left untreated can be fatal in 7 to 10 days. Symptoms include high fever, gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, enlarged lymph nodes
  • Macadamia Nuts – locomotory difficulties, tremors, paralysis, labored breathing
  • Nutmeg – seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems, death
  • Alcohol – slow respiratory rate, increased urination, staggering or a wobbly gait, excitement, depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, hypothermia, seizures, cardiac arrest

Other potential toxic foods:

  • Pear pips
  • Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Moldy/spoiled foods
  • Yeast dough
  • Hops
  • Tomato leaves & stems
  • Broccoli

Toxicity Treatment

Even those dogs who do not appear to be affected should be treated aggressively. Preventing organ damage is key to survival. If ingestion occurred recently, your veterinarian will likely induce vomiting to try to remove a significant amount of toxic food. Some toxicity treatment may include all or some of the following:

  • IV fluids – to prevent dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, and /or increased urination, and to “flush” the Theobromine or other toxin out of the system.
  • Emetics – medications that induce vomiting. Used when the ingestion of toxic foods is within 4 hours. Up to 6-8 hours post ingestion may be effective.
  • Activated charcoal – for ingestion greater than 4 hours prior to treatment, or for patients that show continued signs of toxicity.
  • Anti-seizure medications – for patients having seizures and/or muscle tremors.
  • Cardiac medications – for patients exhibiting irregular heart rates or rhythms.

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish toxicity from such canine health problems as the Parvovirus. Pets owners should not assume that human food is always safe for pets. Be sure that your pets can’t get into your stash of chocolates, that food scraps are disposed of carefully to prevent toxicity and that your dog is prevented from picking up nuts of leaves if you have a toxic plant in your garden.

Seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment.


People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets
Ruben, Dawn Dr. (2006). Are Grapes & Raisins really toxic?
Tobiassen Crosby, J. (2004). Veterinary Q & A: Chocolate Toxicity.

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  • Rusty

    By the way, My Riley looked just like your labs … beautiful!

  • Rusty

    Sometimes I find the toxic food warnings a little on the funny side. I take them seriously, but… When we bought our first lab Riley we lived in a beautiful apple orchard in Indiana on a pond. The most perfect place to raise a Labrador. She would run and run through the apple trees with out a worry. Except she would bring home and eat / chew on, dead animals, garbage, frozen road kill, cow & horse manure to name a few. Which kind of makes me laugh when I hear that chocolate can hurt a dog. Because those nasty things she would bring home and eat didn’t hurt her at all as far as I could tell. She also swam in our pond everyday unless the pond was frozen, never had an ear infection. She was 14 years 10 months old when we had her put down. She went on a walk the night before we took her in. Labs are so great!

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