Human Snacks Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat

I talk a lot on the Stay Loyal blog about all the good things you can give your dog that will help boost her health and maybe even keep her around for a few extra years. But there is another side to that coin – the things that your best friend shouldn’t be eating to keep them healthy and happy. While we humans often like to express our love through food, there are treats that – while tasty – are best left to humans. Here is a list of common foods that you should avoid feeding to your dog.

Sugary Snacks

This is a wide, broad category that includes many different types of treats. Cake, donuts, fruit candies, chocolate, ice cream – to name a few. If it’s got a lot of sugar, don’t feed it to your dog. Their system has a hard time processing sugar and therefore they can go into insulin shock much easier than humans.

Snacks with Artificial Sweeteners

Since we said no sugar, you may think it’s okay to give him a drink of that diet soda or cake made with an artificial sweetener such as Xylitol. However artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs either. Aspartame can cause stomach upset in dogs, though it’s not lethal. Xylitol is lethal. It causes your dog’s blood sugar to drop, seizures and death. Those that do survive often have irreversible liver damage. Just 100 mg/kg of Xylitol can affect your dog; a couple pieces of gum can kill a small dog.

Beware! Peanut butter, a treat many of us give our dogs, can contain Xylitol.

Snacks High in Fat or Salt

Peanut butter brings us to fatty snacks. It’s best to not feed your dog things that are high in fat. He already gets the amount of fat he needs in his daily diet, so anything extra can add pounds and affect his health. Especially a small dog. Steer clear of fatty foods and if you need to use peanut butter for medication, for example, do so sparingly. Mixing with water to dilute it is a great way to get the peanut taste dogs love, without tons of extra calories and fats. Aside from peanut butter, other fatty treats would include butter, bacon, cheese, etc.


While it might sound fun to let your dog share your beer with you while you watch sports, alcohol causes damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system. Just like humans, dogs can get alcohol toxicity and since many dogs are much smaller than us, it doesn’t take much. And don’t forget that alcohol is found in things other than beverages. Dogs have even been known to get sick eating too much fermented foods, due the alcohol content. Be sure your dog can’t get into your mouthwash, rubbing alcohol or other cleaners either.

Foods and Drinks with Caffeine

Like alcohol, caffeine is another substance that is can cause harm quickly to a dog because of their size. The symptoms of caffeine overdose in dogs is varied, but can include:

· Restlessness

· Vomiting

· Abnormal heart beat

· Elevated body temperature

· Tremors

· Seizures

· Fainting

· Death

As you can see, it has some bad affects. It’s best to just steer clear of caffeine.


This one may surprise you, since onions are safe for us, but they pose a real threat to your dog. Onions cause hemolytic anemia, where the hemoglobin in the red blood cells are oxidized and form clumps. They can even burst. This can happen with onion in any form – powdered, fried, cooked in soups or raw. 32 grams can make a 9kg dog sick.


You may assume that since your dog can eat peanut butter, all nuts are safe. These are not often see on dogs “do not eat” lists, but they should be. These can definitely cause issues to your dog. Each nut affects dogs in slightly different ways.

· Macadamia nuts can cause pancreatitis and upset stomach. They also contain a mycotoxin related to neurological problems.

· Walnuts can cause obstruction or intestinal upset. They also contain a mycotoxin related to neurological problems.

· Pecans can cause obstruction or intestinal upset. Mouldy pecans can cause seizures or neurological issues.

· Pistachios can cause pancreatitis and upset stomach.

· Almonds are not easily digestible by dogs and can cause stomach and intestinal upset.

In additions, nuts are very high in fat, which also makes them not the best choice as a treat for your dog.

The main thing is to be sure you always read the ingredients of anything you are giving your dog that is not a one-ingredient item. For example you know what’s in a carrot, but you might not know what’s in a carrot and beef stew you think is safe. When in doubt, it’s better for your dog to stick to his food and one-ingredient treats such as carrots and meaty bones. If you are unsure something is safe, like a vegetable that you think would be nutritious for your dog, ask your vet before feeding. A quick call to the vet’s office might save your dog’s life.

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  1. Re your last letter on “staring” at dogs. Our dog loves the ‘stare game’ – that means hide and seek (of her) and chasey. So there is a fun side to it,

  2. Hi Robert,
    You recommend meaty bones as a snack. Is it common for dogs to react badly to raw bones? My 3 year old border collie loves them, but she develops diarrhoea for a day or so afterwards. Does this mean I should avoid giving them to her altogether?

    1. Hi Miranda, this reaction will be common if your dog doesn’t have experience digesting raw meaty bones. All food changes need to be done gradually over time. The other possibility is you are giving too much. Too much food will cause diarrhoea. The other thing with diarrhoea is that when people see it in their dog they freak out. But if we get it ourselves we just tolerate it unless it makes us that sick that we are bed ridden. When my dogs get the runs I try to assess why first. Did they eat something funky? Did i feed them too much? From there i asses if they look lethargic or happy. If happy i just wont feed them for a few days to let their belly settle. Oh another thing, if you do fast days, which i recommend you do. Feed the raw meaty bones either before the fast day or after the fast day. this will give it more time to digest. I’ll end by saying one of the most common fears that a pet dog owner has is that “did I feed my dog enough”…. When the fear really should be… “did i feed my dog too much” have a think about that one.

      1. Thanks for your advice, Robert. I definitely don’t give her too much Stay Loyal – she only has 3/4 cup per day and is quite lean. I’ll try bones again, but perhaps take them away from her when she’s had a good chew but not swallowed much of it? Thanks again

  3. I certainly agree with your last comment to Miranda. My GSD/Australian Shepherd male (almost 3yrs.) is food driven. Constantly he turns to the cupboard and indicates he wants more food. I do not comply. People comment he is fat. He has a beautiful shiny dense ‘glamour coat’ which makes him look fat. It is not easy to keep saying no, but I value his health too much. He weights 40kgs. Stocky build. He gets 2 cups morning and night Stay Loyal dry food. About once a week I cut the morning feed to 1 1/2 cups just to keep in check. When he is bathed his confirmation is just right definite waist. He does sometimes eat his poops mostly if I am out, but I just ignore that as a protest at my absence. He gets one dried Kangaroo tendon treat each day for his teeth.

  4. I’.m very concerned about your comments on Xylitol. I use peanut butter to get my dog’s medication down & when reviewing the label it mentions sugar but not a reference to artificial sweeteners.
    We have a 51/2 year old Border Collie with absolutely no interest in vegetables but do use Stay Loyal and raw dog food as his stable diet.
    I am very concerned to hear that small amounts of Xylitol can do so much damage to an animal.
    I have purchased a peanut butter that contains peanuts & salt only. Is this OK to give him?

  5. Hi Robert I have a tibetan spaniel who is fussy about her food if she has raw meat she will vomit it back up.Also are muffins ok she will eat them as atreat but seems to bring them up also but about 3 days after eating also does this with cooked meats or chicken that I have as leftovers from my dinner some times but alright the next she also has hard stools which she has troubles passing sometimes &often has a dry nose &seems lethargic one minute then fine later . In the morning I give her soft kibble but she doesn’t always eat it but loves her tinned food at night??

    1. Hi Barbara, if your dog doesn’t have a medical condition… then regurgitating her food after eating could be due to her body not yet being accustomed to eating those types of foods. It does take time for a dogs body to build up the different enzymes needed for different foods. Also check that you are not overfeeding as small dogs are really easy to over feed.

      Here is a newsletter i wrote about feeding small dogs–>

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