Everyone (or almost everyone) has heard that chocolate is toxic for dogs. That is not strictly true. Chocolate toxicity is dependent on a set of circumstances, occurring at the same time, for chocolate to kill your dog. One of the factors in determining the severity of a reaction to chocolate is the weight of your dog. If your German Shepherd eats a chocolate bar, the ill effects could be minimal. The same amount of chocolate would be very serious if ingested by a Chihuahua. Another factor is the type of chocolate. The toxic chemical in chocolate is Theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is to the dog.
Just Say No
Avoid avocados. While experts are split on this food into the probably-okay-for-dogs camp and the poses-a-hazard camp, for the sake of man’s best friend, just say no. The side effects are diarrhea and vomiting only, but why gamble?
Here’s one that may surprise you; it’s bread dough. Bread dough contains active yeast and because the stomach is both warm and moist, it’s the perfect environment for the yeast to multiply and the dough to expand. As the dough expands it can cut off blood supply to the stomach wall, which can cause tissue death, press on the diaphragm causing shortness of breath and produce alcohol, causing intoxication, which is very dangerous to your dog.
That brings us to our next (big) no-no – alcohol. It might seem funny to give Fido some beer and watch him stagger around the house, but alcohol poses a significant risk of coma or even death for dogs. What seems like a harmless prank could go very wrong for both you and your dog.
You can give your dog apples if he enjoys them, but make sure you remove all the seeds. Apple seeds, if chewed, release the poison cyanide. A small amount may not hurt, but again, err on the side of caution. This prohibition applies to humans as well; no apple seeds for you either.
Although the mechanism is unknown, grapes and raisins are very dangerous to dogs. These fruits cause kidney failure in dogs and it is quite possible for a dog to die within days of ingestion or, if they survive the initial ill effects, to suffer life-long kidney problems.
Another food that is off limits for dogs is nuts – macadamia nuts in particular, but avoiding all nuts is advisable. These can cause neurological symptoms in dogs, such as weakness and trembling.
Onions and garlic are off limits, also. These can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. This is worse for cats than dogs, but neither should have access to either. Garlic is worse than onions and concentrated (like dehydrated onions) is worse than fresh. As for humans, the only ill effect is bad breath, which you might not mind, but your family and friends may object to.
Be Informed and Cautious
Obviously, this list is far from exhaustive. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. If you have specific questions, ask your vet for advice. Most will be happy to consult with you by telephone if you have questions or if you notice suspect behavior in your dog that may be related to something he ate. They are our babies, and it’s our job to look after them well.