What food poisons are most likely to be fatal to dogs?

What food poisons are most likely to be fatal to dogs?

Health & Safety

Dog owners might think of dogs and people as being worlds apart, but as mammals, we have more in common than we do different. That said, when it comes to what people can eat versus what dogs can eat, there are a great many divergences; and many human foods that are perfectly good and even beneficial for us can be unsuitable for or even poisonous to our dogs.

Most dog owners have a good basic grasp of the foods that are most likely to pose a danger to dogs, like chocolate; a particular risk as chocolate is something many of us eat regularly and so have around in the home, and that dogs find just as tasty as we do.

However, when it comes to how toxic various human foods are in terms of how likely they are to prove fatal if your dog eats them and/or how little of them a dog needs to eat before they are at risk of dying, there are definitely some human foods that are more risky for dogs than others.

Based on collated data on poisoning in dogs and research into what foods are most dangerous to dogs if eaten, this article will tell you the five foods that are most likely to prove fatal to dogs in order of the danger they pose, and what makes each of them so risky. Read on to find out more.

Chocolate: The most dangerous food for dogs

Chocolate is the food that is overall most dangerous for dogs in terms of how likely it is to be fatal compared to the amount of it the dog in question ingests.

This amount is measured in terms of cocoa solids, rather than volume eaten; or the concentration of cocoa in the product your dog consumes rather than how big a bar or piece of chocolate they eat. This is because the toxic compound in chocolate is theobromine, which is far more concentrated in cocoa and dark chocolate than it is in milk chocolate and other products with a lower amount of cocoa solids.

Chocolate is also one of the canine poisons that dogs are most likely to eat by accident too, further increasing the risk.


Caffeine is the second most fatal food toxin for dogs, and caffeine is present in chocolate as well as the more dangerous theobromine; but dogs can ingest caffeine in various other formats too.

Coffee is of course the most obvious of these, although dogs don’t tend to like the bitter taste of coffee, making it a less common risk. Far more common ways in which a dog might ingest caffeine are as part of food supplements containing caffeine, and even in fishing baits that contain caffeine.


Xylitol is the third most dangerous toxic food for dogs in terms of the chances of it proving fatal in dogs that ingest it. Xylitol isn’t something that everyone has heard of, but this is a very popular artificial sweetener, which can be bought in its plain format to add to drinks and to use as a sugar substitute for baking and so on, and which can also be found as an ingredient in shop-bought goods.

Chewing gum that is sugar free often uses Xylitol as its sweetening agent, and it can also commonly be found in other sugar-free sweets and chocolates such as those designed for people with diabetes.

Dogs only need to consume a relatively small amount of xylitol for it to be acutely dangerous, and as it has a sweet taste, it poses quite a risk.

Plants from within the onion family

Onions, chives, spring onions, garlic and even leeks – essentially, all plants from within the Allium genus – are acutely toxic to dogs.

Once more, such foods don’t tend to have a taste that dogs enjoy in and of itself, but if included within a meal and masked with other things like gravy, can easily be eaten by a scavenging dog, or even inadvertently given to dogs by their owners in table scraps.

Plants from within the onion family or Allium genus are the fourth most likely to result in fatalities in dogs that consume them.


Finally, alcohol is poisonous to dogs and is the fifth most acutely dangerous toxin, in terms of those most likely to cause death if ingested.

Not all types of alcohol will be palatable to dogs, but some dogs enjoy the taste of ales, and most dogs like sweet-tasting alcohols like alcopops or alcohol mixed with something sweet like lemonade.

However, dogs that eat fermented fruit like windfall apples that have started to rot are also at risk of alcohol poisoning, and again, this can be very acute in dogs and may prove fatal.

The stronger or higher proof the alcohol in question, the higher the risk; but no amount of alcohol is safe for dogs, so keep it well out of their reach.

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