Can Dogs Eat Fast Food?

As a pet owners, you must have been warned about feeding human food to your dogs, including fast food, which can be detrimental to their health.

While sharing a bite or two may be tempting, you must think twice before feeding your dog the leftovers from Mcdonald's, ShakeShack, In-N-Out, or Burger King!

Most fast food accounts for junk food, such as hamburgers, hotdogs, corndogs, and fries, loaded with fat, salt, and sugar. Moreover, they may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as onions, garlic, chives, chocolate, and yeast.

Let’s explore the dos and don'ts of treating your dog to fast food.

The Dangers of Fast Food for Dogs

Here is a catch! Dogs can technically eat fast food, but the dangers are always looming!

While dogs will eat anything they find satiating, not everything is safe for them. Fast Food included.

The fast food in the restaurant is often loaded with additional salt (sodium), hydrogenated fats, and spices, which is a complete No-No for dogs.

While some ingredients may be harmless in moderation, many of these substances are life-threatening.

For instance, onions and garlic, commonly found in fast-food recipes, can lead to anemia in dogs when ingested in significant quantities.

Similarly, consuming chocolate can cause tremors, seizures, and even heart failure, and high salt content contributes to sodium toxicity, including excessive thirst, diarrhea, and vomiting.

A news report by Metro UK highlighted that more than 118 million pets are at risk of dying early because of poor diets, which often include junk food.

The same goes for unknowingly feeding home-prepared meals to dogs, especially Christmas or holiday meals, where you must be aware of the ingredients that dogs can or cannot eat.

Food or Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your Dogs

If you ask any canine experts and veterinarians, they would advise you to feed your dog specific food items or ingredients as they are deemed unsafe.

Here are a few items that you should strictly avoid feeding your dogs.

Check the ingredients in store-bought or restaurant items to avoid mistakenly feeding your dogs.

1. Chocolate and Caffeine

Did you know chocolates or cocoa seed derivatives contain theobromine and caffeine, belonging to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines?

These are long-lasting compounds that are indigestible in dogs and may accumulate in their system over time, leading to toxicity.

Theobromine acts as a diuretic, leading to a racing heart, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and tremors in dogs.

In a few cases, a lethal dose can also result in death, usually when they consume a large amount of dark chocolate.

In general, mild symptoms of chocolate toxicity occur when a dog consumes 20 mg of methylxanthines, whereas anything above 40 mg can lead to severe effects.

2. Grapes and Raisins

Although the exact toxins found in grapes or raisins are unknown, feeding them to dogs can lead to serious health issues.

The effects of grape and raisin toxicity can be severe, and ingestion should be taken very seriously.

Some potential effects may include acute kidney failure, vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Keep an eye out for Halitosis or bad breath, as grape or raisin toxicity may cause bad breath in dogs.

3. Onions and Garlic

Did you know you should not feed your dog onions and garlic as it can severely affect their health?

They contain N-propyl disulfide compounds, which can damage oxygen-carrying red blood cells, leading to anemia in dogs.

While both onion and garlic can be toxic, garlic is less potent but can still pose a risk if consumed in large quantities.

Expect to witness many signs, including weakness, lethargy, pale gums, rapid breathing, and increased heartbeats.

4. Xylitol (Artificial Sweetener)

Xylitol is a naturally occurring chemical obtained from plants and trees used as a sweetener in popular food items, such as chewing gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste.

Remember, it is safe for human consumption but can be highly toxic to dogs.

Xylitol is quickly absorbed into a dog's bloodstream, causing an increased insulin release. This increase can lead to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels) and may trigger vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination.

Severe conditions may include liver damage and liver failure, which is indicated by jaundice.

Keep sugar-free gum, candies, baked goods, toothpaste, and medications away from your dog's reach.

5. Avocado

Although the flesh of avocado is safe for dogs in small quantities, be careful about feeding the skin as it may contain toxic bacteria called persin.

Persin is a naturally occurring fungicidal toxin found in various parts of the avocado plant.

The toxicity may vary from one dog to another. Nonetheless, expect to witness some abdominal discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea in dogs.

Excessive eating of avocado can cause pancreatic inflammation due to its high-fat content.

6. Alcohol

Dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than humans, where you would witness vivid signs.

Lethargy, incoordination of movement, vomiting, diarrhea, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and increased heart rate are common in dogs.

In rare cases, excess alcohol toxicity can even lead to tremors, seizures, coma, and death.

It's important to note that certain items, such as fermented foods or dough that contains yeast, can also produce alcohol in a dog's stomach, leading to alcohol toxicity.

7. Macadamia Nuts

Dogs are allergic to macadamia nuts, and consuming the nuts can lead to a condition called macadamia nut toxicity.

The nut fruit from a flowering tree is often used in cakes, cookies, candy, nut waffles, nut bars, and Vegan Blondies.

Be careful about feeding your dogs any holiday treats, as even small amounts of macadamia nuts can cause serious effects.

Some common signs of macadamia nut poisoning include weakness in the back legs, inability to walk, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and sometimes tremors.

Some dogs may develop an elevated body temperature (hyperthermia) due to ingesting macadamia nuts.

8. Yeast dough

Anything with yeast, especially uncooked, is terrible for dogs due to fermentation.

The yeast ferments sugar in the dough, producing carbon dioxide gas. It can rise once inside a dog's stomach, leading to bloating and distension.

Moreover, yeast items like bakery can produce ethanol (alcohol) as a byproduct of fermentation, leading to alcohol toxicity.

If you suspect your dog has consumed yeast products, check for early signs like lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, and severe cases.

Untreated yeast toxicity can often cause a drop in blood sugar levels and gastric rupture, which can be life-threatening.

9. Salty Meals

Like humans, dogs do not fare well with excess salty meals, which may lead to sodium toxicity.

While sodium is vital in maintaining fluid balance in a dog's body, excessive salt intake can lead to various health problems.

For instance, it can increase their thirst, urination, and blood pressure levels, which hampers their internal organs.

Similarly, salt toxicity can result in vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and damage to the kidney over time.

Did you know that diets high in salt and fat may increase the risk of pancreatitis in dogs?

Therefore, you should avoid feeding them junk food, usually high in sodium, such as ketchup, fries, BBQ, burger patty, pizza, salty snacks, and canned soup.

10. Milk and Dairy

Although many pet owners feed their dog milk or milk-based products, they should be wary of any symptoms.

Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack enough of the enzymes lactase needed to digest lactose.

You can tell it when your pup or adult dog experiences diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and gas immediately after consuming milk.

In some cases, dogs sensitive to lactose will vomit immediately after, while some may experience decreased appetite over time.

While dogs need calcium regularly, relying only on milk or milk-based products is terrible. Instead, expand their diet to bone and bone meals or supplements to supply calcium.

Safe Fast Food Treats for Dogs

While you are strongly advised to prioritize a well-balanced and nutritionally complete dog diet, there are some fast foods you can occasionally treat your dogs.

  • Ice cream, except chocolate flavor
  • Pop-corn
  • Unseasoned French fries
  • Plain rice cakes
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Meat jerky
  • Spaghetti or pasta without sauce or garlic
  • Tortillas
  • Sushi
  • Pretzels
  • Unseasoned chicken nuggets
  • Unseasoned Sweet potato chips
  • Cheese biscuits
  • Fruit-sundae, except mangoes


Think twice before sharing your kitchen meals or fast food with your dog, and remember to dispose of the leftovers and wrappings securely.

Dogs are superb at finding things to eat, so you must be careful about keeping things lying around.

If you suspect your dog has ingested any harmful food or substance, contact Urban Pet Hospital & Resort, the best pet hospital in Urbandale, for a quick diagnosis and treatment.

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