Like people, dogs have some specific taste preferences. However, unlike their human companions, dogs do not have the same degree of taste sensitivity. Psychology Today reports that the human tongue contains around 9,000 papillae, or taste buds, while the tongue of the average dog contains less than 2,000 taste buds. As well, dogs do not prefer certain tastes — such as salty or sweet — that humans tend to greatly enjoy. Dogs dislike bitter tastes, which is why these tastes are often used in disciplinary measures. Another difference is that dogs can sense and taste water, while humans cannot. When a dog has eaten something distasteful, such as salt or bitters, they crave water even more. Why is understanding dogs’ sense of taste so important for you as a dog lover and dog owner? It is precisely because, other than an innate taste-avoidance for salt and bitters, your dog may not know which other things are toxic. So you will need to make sure that items toxic to your dog’s health always remain far out of reach.

Toxic Foods For Your Dog

5 Toxic Edibles

Many dogs have shown themselves perfectly capable of ingesting items their owners might consider inedible. The stuffing in dog toys tends to be a favorite across breeds, as does cardboard, Styrofoam, tree bark, bones and more. While your dog’s eating habits might require a healthy dose of bad breath remedies, they are probably not going to do any additional damage. However, five items in particular are considered toxic for dogs and should never be accessible to your dog.


You may enjoy and eagerly anticipate waking up to your morning coffee, tea, soda or whatever gives you the jolt you need to embrace each new day. Your dog, however, will react quite differently to ingesting the caffeine found in coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas and even caffeinated water. Caffeine contains theobromine (theophylline) which causes heart and digestive disturbances that can be fatal. Vomiting and/or diarrhea are warning signs that your dog may have consumed caffeine.

Onions and Garlic

Perhaps you feel like your hamburger or pasta just isn’t complete without freshly sliced onion or a few cloves of garlic for flavoring. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for your dog. This is very important to keep in mind if you occasionally feed your dog table scraps. Items containing onions or garlic should never be offered to dogs. Onions are more toxic than garlic, but both should be avoided. Both onions and garlic contain sulfoxides and disulfides. These agents damage red blood cells, causing anemia. Anemia can cause a dog’s bone marrow to fail to produce new red blood cells sufficient to re-oxygenate the blood. This can be deadly.

Alcohol (Including Hops)

Many animal lovers have enjoyed a funny story about a bird, squirrel or bovine that wandered into a batch of fermenting fruit and became tipsy. However, alcohol and hops are actually quite dangerous for dogs. In short, alcohol is deadly. Ingestion can cause the onset of a coma and result in death.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes, raisins and their smaller cousins, currants, are all quite dangerous for dogs, even though veterinarians are not sure what the toxic agent is. What is known is that the agent present in grapes, raisins and currants damages a dog’s kidneys. This damage can cause sepsis (a build-up of toxins in the dog’s body system) and death.

Raw Meat and Eggs

In addition to dangers from bones in raw meat, which can get lodged in the throat or puncture the stomach walls if swallowed, there are other dangers that come from allowing your dog to consume raw products such as meat or eggs. The best-known deadly bacteria contained in raw meat and eggs are salmonella and E. coli, which are known to cause death in humans and animals. An enzyme in raw eggs called avidin can also be quite toxic, if not deadly. Ingesting avidin interferes with a dog’s ability to maintain healthy skin and a healthy coat.

Once you know the major items that are toxic to dogs (including but not limited to these five items) you can take steps to prevent your dog from inadvertently encountering or consuming anything that might be toxic.


About the Author: Brent Harte is the CEO of Vitahound. He writes about dogs and dog care for pet sites and magazines.


Filed under: Dog Care

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!