What Things Are REALLY Toxic to My Dog? A Vet Answers

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Articles abound on what your dog should not eat. Every day it seems a new article comes out with something that is bad for your dog. But a lot of times the articles leave out how much is toxic (for example most your dog probably won’t die from eating a bite of milk chocolate). And others have been sensationalized to the point of ill refute, while vets quietly realize they are not as toxic as once believed or that your dog would have to ingest so much in order to feel the affects that it is unlikely.

A top graduate of the University of California Davis Veterinary School, Dr. Jeff Werber, is the Emmy-Award winning Veterinarian host of Petcetera on Animal Planet. Dr. Jeff cares for the pets of Hollywood’s biggest stars, along with those of everyday pet owners, at his Los Angeles based private clinic, Century Veterinary Group. Dr. Jeff has compiled a list of common household items that can be toxic to dogs, in certain amounts, and even reveals items that may not be as bad as you once thought.


Foxglove is a popular flower, and very toxic
Foxglove is a popular flower, and very toxic

Nerium Oleander. This plant is very toxic. It contains a potent digitalis-like heart poison – only a leaf or two will kill a dog, and reports exist of dogs dying from drinking water from bowls with wind-blown oleander leaves floating in them.

Foxglove is likewise very toxic. The entire plant is poisonous and even small amounts, such as a bite of the stem or upper leaves, can be fatal.

Yew bush (Taxus species). This is a potential killer in the Northeast. While dogs are not likely to chew on it (it contains a volatile oil irritant), If they do it only takes 2.3 grams of leaves for your dog to get sick, quickly.

Bracken fern is extremely toxic, though it requires regular ingestion over a few months’ time.

Poinsettia is overstated as a toxin since a significant amount must be ingested for it to be dangerous. Same with Mistletoe.


Raisins/grapes are toxic. Depending on the dog’s sensitivity, as few as four raisins/grapes can be toxic.

Raw onions/garlic contains aflatoxin, a toxin within the plant that in its raw form causes anemia. It is toxic if more than 1 ½ lbs all at once for a 22lb dog, or smaller ingestions over time.

Avocado has a high fat content which can cause severe stomach problems or, worse, pancreatitis. Both the ASPCA and Animal Poison Control Center list persin, an element in avocados, is known to be toxic to pets. It can damage tissue in animals, including, but not limited to, the lungs and heart. Both conditions are thought to be cumulative, depending on the amount and frequency of ingestion.

Walnuts can be toxic, though a lot must be ingested.

Hops is potentially fatal to dog, in very small amounts.


AntiFreeze, which contains a sweet form of ethylene glycol that makes it attractive to dogs, is highly toxic and can cause kidneys to shut down. This only takes a very small amount, less than a tablespoon for a 20lb dog. This means the small amount that leaks onto your drive could be fatal.

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About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.