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10 Things That Are Toxic to Dogs (Including Foods) | Pupford

December 18th, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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There are hundreds of thousands of calls to the Animal Poison Control Center as a result of our pups eating things that are toxic every year.

Whether they snuck food off the counter, found the garden products, or got into something else they shouldn’t have, ingesting toxic substances can have a lot of unfortunate outcomes for our dogs.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the ten most toxic substances for dogs to help you understand some of the everyday substances to look out for.

Food that is harmless to a human, like an onion, may be harmful to your dog. Things like over-the-counter drugs, certain types of household plants, and cleaning products all have the potential to poison our pups if not monitored properly.

Note: If you have concerns about something your dog has eaten or if you’re noticing any abnormal behaviors, give your vet (or the Animal Poison Control Center) a call immediately. Call an emergency veterinarian in severe situations like signs of pain and distress, tremors, seizures, and other noticeable concerning behaviors.


Dog Toxin Symptoms to Watch Out For

First, before we get to the list of toxic substances, here are some symptoms of poisoning to look out for in your dogs:

  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Lethargy - Toxins can cause internal bleeding or low blood sugar which can make your dog act apathetic or lackadaisical
  • Seizures or spasms can occur when a dog accidentally ingests some prescription medications or other toxins
  • Abnormal body temperature
  • Dark-colored stool and diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity is common in dogs who ingest caffeine.

If your dog collapses this is an immediate emergency situation. Call your vet and bring them in.

Do your best and stay diligent in monitoring your dog’s behaviors and in serious situations, or situations where you are unsure, always rely on veterinary professionals.


10 Toxic Substances for Dogs


Every year a division of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals compiles data from over 320 thousand calls involving pet toxin encounters. Over-the-counter drugs were the number one toxin on their list for 2021 (most common were ibuprofen, vitamin D, and herbal supplements). This makes it the fourth year in a row. Right behind that on the list was human prescription drugs.

Common over-the-counter products like Motrin® and Advil® often get left on counters overnight or spilled out on the floor. It’s easy to miss that one pill that fell to the ground. This leaves it exposed to dogs or babies to swallow. This type of accident makes it so important to store over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions in a safe and locked location.

These types of drugs can lead to liver failure, damage to red blood cells, stomach ulcers, kidney failure, seizures, and more. Call your vet if you suspect your dog has ingested any of the following drugs or notice any worrying symptoms:

  • Tylenol®, Motrin®, Advil®, Aleve®, Mucinex-D®, Bayer Aspirin®, Prozac®, Ambien®, Adderall®, Lopressor®


chocolate is very toxic for dogs

It can be tricky and sometimes easy to overlook double-checking if a particular food is safe for your dog to eat. Sometimes, you’re not even aware that the pasta leftovers you tossed in your pup’s bowl are filled with garlic and onions.

  • Garlic and onions both contain thiosulfate which can cause oxidative damage to red blood cells in dogs, but not in humans. The truth is many things that your dog enjoys can be damaging to them.
  • Chocolate is a perfect example of a common food that is toxic while also being a flavor that dogs love the taste of. In these cases, dogs might consume as much as they can get their paws on, which only compounds an already dangerous situation.
  • Dogs are much more sensitive to caffeine than humans. If a small dog ingests even one or two caffeine pills it can be fatal. This is because caffeine raises blood pressure and can cause cardiac issues in dogs. Depending on the amount of caffeine ingested, a dog can be subject to cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and tremors which are sometimes deadly. Make sure to thoroughly clean spilled coffee and energy drinks.
  • If your dog ingests liquid alcohol or in the form of syrups, make sure to contact your veterinarian and watch for vomiting, disorientation, restlessness, and excessive panting. Ethanol and hops are common ingredients in alcohol that can be dangerous to dogs.

Other foods that are toxic to dogs include:

  • Grapes/raisins
  • Protein bars and shakes
  • Macadamia nuts

Related Reading: 20 Foods Your Dog Can and Can’t Eat

Keep an eye out for the common symptoms including lethargy, vomiting, pacing, and diarrhea. Call your vet if you have any concerns or questions about what your dog can and can’t eat.


It’s wise to prepare your house for any incoming furry additions to the family. One major thing to do is clear out toxic plants from the house and yard. Read this article that dives into 15 plants that are toxic if ingested by dogs. It also includes what plants that are dog friendly to replace the toxic ones with.

Some notable plants to keep out of reach of your dog(s) include Daffodils, Tulips, Azalea, Aloe Vera, Bird of Paradise, Cycas Revoluta, Dieffenbachia, Ivy, Elephant Ear, Lilies, and Jade.

Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, tremors, difficulty breathing, and seizures are all symptoms that can occur due to ingesting a toxic plant. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible if you see any of these or similar worrying symptoms.


household cleaners that are toxic for dogs

Make sure to keep everyday cleaning items in a safe place as well. Things like degreasers can be dangerous, especially for small animals. Ammonia and similar disinfectants like chlorine can cause dizziness, vomiting, and laryngeal edema. This is especially true for smaller dogs.

Floor cleaners leave a vapor that can be dangerous to dogs when freshly used, so do not let them lick or inhale Pine-Sol or Mr. Clean. Wait until it is fully settled in and not producing a strong scent.

Other household items commonly found in cabinets to monitor closely include beauty products like sunscreen and makeup sponges. Both of these have the potential to cause gastrointestinal obstruction or irritation. Zinc Oxide is the chemical found in sunscreen that is harmful to dogs and is also found in diaper rash cream.

Paint is another household product that is extremely toxic to dogs.

Look out for bloody diarrhea which could be a sign of internal damage and warrants an immediate call to the vet.


Fertilizers are especially tasty to dogs but can contain chemicals that are toxic to dogs in some forms. While organic fertilizers could seem like the safer option, they can actually be more dangerous. Many contain ingredients like bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and fish meal which are unhealthy for dogs' digestive systems.

Cocoa mulch is another garden product that is toxic to dogs. It contains cocoa bean shells and other chemicals that can make your dog sick.


insecticide can be toxic for dogs

Rodenticide works well to keep rodents and mice away but also has ingredients that are very attractive to dogs. If your dog eats rodenticide, it is a very serious situation. It can cause seizures and can be a fatal toxin if not treated as soon as possible.

The same goes for insecticides. This is why we recommend using pet-friendly alternatives to maintain your yard.


Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol. It is found in plants, fruits, and some veggies. It is harmless to people but deadly to dogs in some cases. It’s commonly sourced from berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, and Birch Trees.

This sugar substitute is known to cause hypoglycemia in dogs. Xylitol is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly in dogs and stimulates dangerous amounts of insulin released from the pancreas. Larger ingestion amounts can cause liver failure in dogs. Sugar-free gum, toothpaste, peanut butter, and mouthwash are the most common items that include this dangerous dog toxin.

Related Reading: Foods with Xylitol List


vet prescriptions can cause accidental overdosing for dogs

According to the ASPCA, this was one of the top poisons for dogs this last year. Accidental overdosing is a real risk, even for medications and veterinary products prescribed by your vet. Medications are becoming more formulated to taste good for dogs. This makes it easier to get them to eat their medicine, but oftentimes can be a detriment if the medications are not stored in a safe place.

Dogs will chew through plastic bottles to get to their tasty new medicine and could possibly ingest a whole container.


Tetrahydrocannabinol otherwise known as THC – one of the main ingredients found in Cannabis – is not safe for dogs. Not to mention its psychoactive effects that can disorient your poor pup, cannabis has the potential to be lethal if ingested in large amounts by dogs.


avocados can pose chocking hazard to dogs

Although the following are not toxins, they can be dangerous choking hazards to keep an eye on as a pet parent: avocado pits, corn cobs, bones, rubber or plastic toys, rocks, and children's toys.


As pup parents, it’s important that we do all we can to minimize our pups’ exposure to these toxic substances. Keeping them out of reach, locking cupboards, keeping your counters clean and clear, and restricting your dogs’ access to different parts of the house/yard can help.

Related Reading: Why Does My Dog Eat Everything? + 7 Ways to Stop It

Pupford's goal is to help all pups and pup parents by providing valuable tools, treats, and training resources. Explore more resources and start building a better and safer environment for your dog.

And don't forget that training a dog can help dramatically with them getting into things they shouldn't! If you need training help, check out 30 Day Perfect Pup!

It's a 100% free (no credit card required) online course to help you teach your dog everything from sit to leash walking and even recall! Sign up for free here!


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