Let’s be honest, we’re probably all guilty of giving our dog a bite of something from off our own plates at some time. We figure just a little bit of human-food won’t harm them right? After all, it’s perfectly safe for us.
There are many human foods that can harm your Labrador and make him sick. It’s important to be aware so you don’t give them to him.
Here are 19 people-foods you should not feed your Lab.
- Grapes and Raisins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Coffee, Tea, Caffeine
- Lemons and Limes
- Foods with Xylitol (Candy, Gum, Toothpaste, etc.)
- Raw Eggs, Meat, and Fish
- Fat Trimmings
- Human Medicines and Vitamins
- Yeast Dough
- Cat Food
So let’s dig in a little further into these 19 foods that you might be surprised will harm your Labrador. After that, we will also go over some foods that are fine as occasional treats as well as some you can give your Lab on a more regular basis.
1. Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins are such a healthy treat for us, you’d think they would be good for your Lab too. However, they contain compounds that are toxic for your dog. Just a small amount (as little as 9 ounces) can make your dog very ill. He may start vomiting repeatedly and became very lethargic.
Currently, vets aren’t sure what toxin in grapes affects the dog. They have done studies but haven’t been able to pinpoint it. What they do know is that any type of grapes can affect your dog. Grapes and raisins can also cause acute kidney failure. Sometimes this can be very severe and would require aggressive treatment. Usually, your vet will induce vomiting to remove the grapes or raisins from your dog’s system. They may also use activated charcoal to absorb any of the toxins that still remain in his gastrointestinal tract. If your dog isn’t treated quickly this could even lead to death.
Personally, I would never give our Lab onions because I can only imagine what that would do to his breath. However, there are other reasons not to give him onions. Onions contain something called thiosulphate. This ingredient is toxic to dogs. This substance is found in any form of onions – raw, cooked, dehydrated, even onion powder. This also includes leeks and chives.
Onions can kill red blood cells in dogs which reduces the amount of oxygen that is carried throughout their bodies, which can lead to anemia. As little as a ¼ cup can cause a reaction. If your dog ingests any form of onion watch for the following symptoms
- breathing problems
- decreased appetite
The anemia can be severe but on the plus side, it is usually only a temporary condition. In serious cases, the dog may need a blood transfusion but typically, reactions to the anemia are rarely fatal.
Like onions, garlic comes from the Allium family. This group also includes leeks, chives, and shallots. However, garlic is five times more toxic to dogs than any other plant in this family. Garlic contains thiosulphate which, as we mentioned in the section on onions, is toxic to dogs. The thiosulphate in garlic is more concentrated than in onions which makes them considerably more toxic.
If your Labrador ingests garlic in any form – raw, cooked, powdered, etc., watch for symptoms of toxicity. He will show signs of gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dehydration. If he develops anemia you may also notice pale gums, an accelerated heart rate, weakness, and collapsing.
Poisoning from both garlic and onions can be delayed, so it is important to monitor your pet for a few days. If he shows any of the above signs get him to the vet immediately for treatment.
Some people actually recommend giving your dog a little garlic to get rid of fleas. A tiny amount may not harm your dog but the amount that it would take to control fleas can cause harm. In this case, the safer course of action is not to take the chance and to find an alternative flea treatment.
This one probably doesn’t surprise you. Most of us have heard it mentioned that you should not give chocolate to dogs – but do you know why? Chocolate contains toxic substances called methylxanthines. These appear in two forms: theobromine and caffeine. These are stimulants that can stop your dog’s metabolic processes. Even just a tiny bit of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea. A larger amount can cause seizures, tremors, irregular heart functions, and death.
All types of chocolate contain these toxins. Cocoa powder has the highest amount, followed by unsweetened baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, milk, and finally, white chocolate. No chocolate is safe for your dog in any amount. If your dog eats chocolate call your vet immediately.
5. Macadamia Nuts
There are several nuts that are not harmful for your Lab to eat. Macadamia nuts, however, are not one of them. Macadamias can be extremely poisonous to your dog. They are part of the Proteaceae family. This is a family of flowering plants that spread mainly in the southern hemisphere. These nuts contain an unknown toxin that can cause vomiting, weakness, tremors, increased body temperatures, lethargy, and motor deficiency in the back legs.
Eating as little as 6 nuts (raw or roasted) can make your dog ill. If they happen to get ahold of macadamia nuts contained inside chocolate the symptoms can be even worse. Contact your vet right away if your dog ingests any of these nuts.
6. Coffee, Tea, Caffeine
Any form of caffeine is bad for your dog. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, seizures, and tremors. Caffeine can be found in many foods like coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and energy drinks. Even coffee beans and grounds are bad for your dog. If your dog ingests anything with caffeine in it he may show symptoms within 1-2 hours. Caffeine can even lead to lung failure and abnormal heart rhythm. In some cases, it can cause death. Again, contact your vet for treatment if you think your dog has eaten anything with caffeine.
When I was little, our family had friends who used to give their dog beer. They thought it was funny to have a beer-drinking dog. They didn’t know that the hops in beer could be toxic to their pet. All forms of alcohol are bad for your dog. Alcohol has the same effect on the liver and the brain that it does in humans but it takes a much smaller amount to affect a dog.
If a dog gets ahold of alcohol there are a lot of issues it can cause. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, coordination problems, breathing problems, increased heart rate, and fever. Even just a little can seriously harm your dog. The smaller the dog the worse the problems are. If they ingest too much alcohol it can lead to heart attack, lung failure, coma, and death.
Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. Persin is found throughout the entire avocado including the leaves, seeds, and bark. Too much persin can cause vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs which can cause breathing difficulties and in severe cases, death.
The pit of the avocado is also dangerous if swallowed by your dog. It can get lodged in the intestines or stomach and cause blockages. This can be fatal as well. The best idea is to keep avocados completely away from your dog.
9. Lemons and Limes
The skin of these fruits contains Psoralen compounds, which are found naturally in many plants but the substance is toxic for your dog. This compound can cause upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, difficulty walking, and liver failure. In large amounts, they can also lead to death. Limes are worse than lemons for dogs as every part of the lime is toxic to them. The lemon fruit is usually ok but most dogs don’t like the taste.
If you have lemon or lime trees in your backyard be sure to pick up the fruit that falls as quickly as possible so that your dog doesn’t eat them.
I confess that I am guilty of this one. If I am sitting on the couch eating a snack, I have often offered a chip or pretzel to my dog. A small amount of salt usually won’t harm your dog, but you need to be careful not to give him a lot of salt. Too much salt can lead to sodium poisoning or water deprivation. Symptoms to watch for are vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, high temperature, and seizures.
I doubt that too many people will actually offer their dog a spoonful of cinnamon. I don’t know if you have ever tried it but it’s horrible by itself and can cause some serious burning sensation. But cinnamon is a common ingredient in many baked items and sometimes our dogs just get ahold of foods that they shouldn’t while we’re working in the kitchen.
Cinnamon isn’t toxic but just like in humans, it can irritate the inside of your Labrador’s mouth and make him feel sick. If he gets a large amount, it can lower his blood sugar too much and lead to an upset stomach, increased or decreased heart rate, and even liver disease. If your dog inhales the powder it can also cause difficulty breathing as well as coughing and choking.
The small amount they may get from some baked goods probably won’t hurt them, but why take the chance. Especially since the baked goods are high in fat and sugar, which are also bad for your dog.
12. Foods with Xylitol
You may be asking- what is xylitol? Xylitol is a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol that is used as an artificial sweetener in foods. You can find xylitol in candy, gum, baked goods, toothpaste, and some diet foods. If your dog ingests anything containing xylitol it can lead to a significant drop in his blood sugar. Symptoms to watch for are vomiting, weakness, lethargy, coordination problems, seizures, and coma. Liver failure can also happen in as quickly as a few days. Make sure that you never use human toothpaste on your dog and if you think he has eaten anything containing xylitol, call your vet immediately.
You don’t have to worry about almonds being toxic. The danger with almond is that your dog tends to swallow them whole, so they can get stuck and block his esophagus. Sometimes they can even tear his windpipe. Salted are worse because, as we’ve just mentioned, salt is bad for your dog. If an almond gets stuck it can cause gastrointestinal stress, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, loss of appetite, lethargy, and discomfort. Of course, if your dog happens to eat an almond it’s not guaranteed that any of these terrible things will happen, but it’s best not to take the chance.
14. Raw Eggs, Meat, and Fish
I was a little surprised by this one but when I really thought about it it made sense. Why don’t we eat raw foods like these? Because we know there is a chance of bacterial infection or food poisoning. These are the same reasons that our dogs should not eat them. With raw eggs, there is the chance of food poisoning like salmonella or E Coli. Raw meat and fish can contain bacteria that also cause food poisoning. Some raw fish like salmon, trout, shad, or sturgeon can also carry parasites. Symptoms to watch for are vomiting, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Fortunately for your dog food poisoning and parasites are treatable. To avoid these issues altogether just make sure you thoroughly cook any of these items before you feed them to your dog.
Yes, bones are on the list. I know it’s a cliche to see the picture of a dog in his doghouse gnawing on his bone or burying his bone in the backyard, but bones can actually be dangerous for your dog. Most bones, especially cooked ones, can be quite brittle. It’s easy for them to chip or splinter and then your dog can swallow the pieces. These splinters can cause damage to your dog’s throat and digestive system. The most dangerous consequence is that they can perforate the intestine which allows all of those toxins into your dog’s body. Bigger pieces can also get stuck and cause blockages. Bone splinters can also cause constipation in your dog.
Some stores sell sterilized bones for your dog. These can be too hard and break your dog’s teeth.
The only safe bones are larger, fresh bones. Even with these, there can be risks. It’s probably safer to find them something they can safely chew on at your local pet store.
16. Fat Trimmings
This is another one that may come as a surprise to you. Fat trimmings are bad for your Lab. Again, I guess this makes sense since they aren’t’ very healthy for us either. Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis in your dog. Simply put, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that is near his stomach and helps to digest food and control his blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of pancreatitis are a loss of appetite, vomiting, belly pain, high or low temperature, diarrhea, no energy, breathing issues, dehydration, and irregular heartbeat. Thankfully, pancreatitis is treatable.
17. Human Medicines and Vitamins
Have you ever wondered if you should give your dog your own pain medicine when he appears to be hurting? What about giving him your vitamins? Both would be a bad idea. Human medications can make your dog really sick. Never give him over-the-counter medications unless you are instructed to by your vet. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can both be deadly for your dog.
Vitamins are made specifically for people. They contain the percentages of vitamins and minerals that people need. Many of these doses exceed the proper amount for your dog. They could make him sick and over time prove to be fatal.
18. Yeast Dough
I don’t think too many people are feeding yeast dough to their dog but it’s always good to be aware of anything that can harm him. Before it’s baked, bread dough needs to rise and that’s what the yeast helps it do. If your dog ingests this dough, the bread will expand in his stomach. This can stretch your dog’s abdomen and cause pain.
Another issue is that as the yeast ferments the dough it creates alcohol. This can lead to alcohol poisoning and all of the issues we previously listed in the section on alcohol.
19. Cat Food
Have you ever run out of dog food and wondered if you could substitute cat food until your next grocery run? The answer is no! Cat food contains proteins and fats in the amounts that are appropriate for your cat but are too high for your dog. This can result in an upset stomach, obesity, and pancreatitis.
People Foods You Can Feed Your Dog
At this point, you may be wondering, are there any people foods I can give my dog? Of course, there are. Quite a few in fact. Some should only be given in moderation and others are fine on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at both categories.
There are many foods that are perfectly fine for your dog as long as you don’t give him too much. Foods like peanut butter, cashews, bread, and corn (but never the cob) all have benefits to them but can be high in fat, so don’t overdo it. Ham and bacon are nice treats but they are high in salt, so only give a sparing amount to your dog every once in a while.
Dairy treats like cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese have some great benefits for your dog but may also cause digestive issues. Some dogs are even lactose intolerant. Keep the amounts small.
Coconut can be very good for your dog’s skin and fur. It may even help with bad breath. However, it is high in fat, so again, keep the amounts small. Honey is in this same category. It can help with allergies but it is high in sugar.
Moderation is key with these foods.
On a Regular Basis
There are some foods that are wonderful for your dog and he should have no problem with them. Many vegetables like peas, carrots, green beans, spinach, and broccoli have all sorts of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Some fruits that your dog can enjoy are cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. Be careful with seeds and rinds- your dog shouldn’t eat any of those. Also, make sure that you cut all foods into tiny pieces so that there are no choking hazards.
Other foods that your dog can enjoy are quinoa, cooked rice, cooked eggs, and fully cooked fish, beef, chicken, turkey, and pork.
If you have the time and would like to make your dog’s food from scratch, here are some links you can check out for homemade dog food recipe ideas:
There are plenty of foods out there that are safe for your Labrador. It’s just important to be careful and to know which ones aren’t. Learn about the toxic foods so that you can be aware and protect your Lab!