What Can Golden Retrievers Not Eat (A Comprehensive List) 

When an adorable Golden Retriever is begging for food at the dining or kitchen table, it can be difficult to resist them, but there are some foods and substances golden retrievers can’t eat. Many things around the home that are benign for humans to ingest are toxic to dogs.

So what can golden retrievers not eat? Here is a table containing the major foods and substances that your golden retriever should avoid eating: 

Alcohol Apple Seeds Avocados Candy Chewing Gum
Toothpaste Mouthwash Cat food Chocolate Coffee and tea
Corn on the cob Fat Trimmings Garlic Grapes/raisins Hops
Human vitamins Liver Macadamia Nuts Marijuana Milk and dairy
Onions/chives Peppers Stone Fruits Raw meat/fish Rhubarb
Tomato leaves Licorice Salt Sugar Tobacco
Xylitol Yeast Dough Ice Cream Fried foods Raw Eggs
Medications Baking Powder Baking Soda Nutmeg Chamomile
Cherries Mustard Seeds Citrus Potato Plants Cooked Bones

Some of the substances are mild in effect and will only cause gastric distress in your golden retriever; however, others are very toxic and can cause severe illness or even death. Read on to find out more about these off-limits foods and why you should avoid them.

Alcohol

Alcohol toxicity in pets is rare because most animals don’t like the taste of alcohol, and most owners are smart enough not to force-feed alcoholic beverages to their pets.

Alcohol can affect pets in the same way it affects humans, up to and including alcohol poisoning, but the issue with alcohol and dogs is that they are much smaller in weight than an adult human, and they have no tolerance for alcohol at all.

Because of this, alcohol poisoning can occur more quickly and can be deadly in dogs. Keep all alcohol away from your golden retriever’s reach and make sure no one gives alcohol to the dog at a party.

Apple Seeds

Apple cores should not be fed to golden retrievers because the seeds contained in them contain cyanide, which is a dangerous poison even in very small doses.

The poisonous effect of apple cores becomes more pronounced as an apple core withers and decays, so dogs eating apples out of the trash is definitely a no-no.

A dog may not show any obvious symptoms after eating a single apple core but can show toxic effects with prolonged exposure. Signs of cyanide poisoning include dilated pupils, respiratory trouble, signs of oxygen deprivation, red gums, shock, and death.

Avocados

Avocados are a popular snack choice in many homes, but they should never be fed to dogs like golden retrievers. Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin that is deadly to many kinds of animals.

While dogs have some resistance to persin and generally aren’t killed outright by eating avocado, large amounts of it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis.

Candy

It’s tempting to give dogs candy, especially during the holidays, but candy is a food that should be avoided when it comes to treating your golden retriever.

Many mass-manufactured candies can contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener. While humans can consume this sweetener with no issues except a mild laxative effect in large doses, very small doses can cause profound illness and even liver death in your dog.

Chewing Gum

Like candy, chewing gum, especially sugar-free chewing gum, often contains xylitol, a substance that can kill dogs even in very small amounts. Always keep your gum out of reach of your golden retriever.

Toothpaste

As with candy and chewing gum, the major threat of your golden retriever getting into toothpaste is that toothpaste is often sweetened with xylitol.

Besides the threats associated with xylitol toxicity, toothpaste also contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs and is not intended to be swallowed (this is why toothpaste is spat out when humans use it). Fluoride poisoning can cause an array of symptoms including cardiac failure.

Mouthwash

Like toothpaste, mouthwash potentially contains xylitol and fluoride, as well as alcohol, a substance we’ve already established is toxic to golden retrievers. All human dental products should be kept well out of the dog’s way.

Cat Food

Golden retrievers won’t be harmed by sneaking some cat food now and again, but it definitely shouldn’t be the only food your dog has access to.

While in the short term this practice usually only causes mild symptoms such as gastric upset, it can also cause pancreatitis and is very hard on the dog’s kidneys and liver due to the high levels of a protein involved.

Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most notorious human foods that are toxic to golden retrievers, as dozens of dogs every Easter and Christmas are hospitalized with chocolate poisoning from getting into a platter of Christmas fudge or an Easter basket of chocolates.

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which causes vomiting and diarrhea in small amounts but in large amounts can cause a distressing heart rate, internal hemorrhaging, and even a
heart attack.

Corn on the Cob

While corn is the main ingredient in many commercial dog foods and dogs can eat corn, the cob is the problem here.

Dogs cannot digest corn cobs but may swallow them in large pieces. This can create both a choking hazard and can possibly cause an intestinal blockage.

Fat Trimmings

It can be tempting to give the fat trimmings from your beef roast or butchered steaks to your dogs but try to resist. While dogs are very attracted to fat trimmings because of their taste and high caloric content, fat trimmings are not good for dogs.

Besides causing obesity in dogs if fed all the time, fat trimmings can also induce pancreatitis in some dogs, a painful metabolic disorder caused by ingesting high levels of fat.

Garlic, Onions, and Chives

Garlic, onions, and chives are all part of the allium family, a group of plants that contain a substance called thiosulfate that causes anemia in dogs by damaging red blood cells since they cannot properly metabolize it.

In larger dogs, the effects of these might not be as apparent as more than stomach upset. However, in small dogs, alliums can make the dog so anemic that they could die.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are dangerous to golden retrievers and other dogs because while scientists have never been able to identify which substance in grapes and raisins is toxic to a dog’s system, these foods will poison your dog fatally even in small amounts.

The deadliest side-effect of grape ingestion is severe kidney damage and an inability to urinate, which can lead to the kidneys shutting down and the dog eventually going into full organ failure as the kidneys fail to do their job and filter toxins from the dog’s blood.

Hops

Homemade microbrew beer is becoming a larger and larger hobby in suburban households, and it raises the risk of hops toxicity in dogs. Hops kill dogs by raising their body temperature to an unsafe level, inducing panting and a rapid heart rate.

Luckily hops toxicity is treatable, but it’s important that a dog who is suspected to have ingested hops be taken to the vet immediately so they can be put under observation and their body temperature can be lowered before causing damage to the organs and brain.

Human Vitamins

While human vitamins can also be toxic to people in large doses unintended by the manufacturer, this effect is worsened in dogs due to their smaller size and different metabolism. Golden retrievers that get into vitamins can get gravely ill.

Care should always be taken to store vitamins and other medications well away from both pets and children due to this overdose risk, especially since vitamins can resemble treats or candies to children and dogs. Dogs can chew through childproof bottles, so keep them up high.

Liver

While small amounts of liver are fine for dogs, the liver also has a very high level of vitamin A. In large doses, this vitamin can cause nutritional problems and vitamin toxicity.

Vitamin A toxicity is extremely serious and can cause bone swelling, liver damage, and increased pressure on the brain, among many other dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms. Liver-flavored treats are fine but don’t give your dog large platefuls of raw or cooked liver.

 Macadamia Nuts

These nuts are a popular holiday appetizer and snack but are considered poisonous to dogs like golden retrievers.

Like grapes, the toxic substance in macadamia nuts that affects dogs has not been isolated, but the symptoms range from hyperthermia and depression to full body weakness and vomiting.

These effects are observed in as little as one-tenth of an ounce per two pounds of body weight, so keep macadamia nuts away from your dog entirely.

Marijuana

While golden retrievers might be attracted to a bag of weed on a coffee table due to its potent smell, all marijuana (medical or otherwise) should be kept well away from your dog.

While being intoxicated on cannabis might not necessarily hurt the dog in a lasting way, they can neither give clear consent to get high nor indicate a dosage that is uncomfortable to them, so it should simply be avoided.

Milk and Dairy

Drinking milk may not hurt your dog occasionally, and many dogs enjoy cheese as a treat, but care should be taken not to give dogs too much milk, as they cannot easily digest lactose.

As a result of this, too much milk can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and terrible smelling gas, so avoid this treat with your golden retriever as much for your own benefit as for the benefit of the dog.

Cherries, Peaches, and Other Stone Fruits

Stone fruit pits contain cyanide, which is dangerous to both dogs and people even at low levels. Dogs do not know better than to swallow the pit of stone fruit, and often will.

Even if the dog does not become ill from the effects of cyanide (which may only occur over prolonged exposure, such as feeding a dog whole cherries regularly for a few weeks) the pits of larger fruits pose a significant choking hazard to a dog, even a large one like a golden retriever.

Peppers

Dogs should not be fed spicy foods, as they have no ability to know that they are eating a peppery food prior to eating it and will be confused and in pain once the effects of the pepper take hold in the mouth. Spicy foods can also cause nausea, stomach pain, and gas.

Sweet bell peppers are okay in moderation as treats or oral toys, but chili peppers and other hot peppers should not be fed to dogs.

Raw Meat, Fish, and Eggs

Raw meats, fish, and eggs should not be fed to dogs unless they are sourced very carefully, like raw meats, fish, and eggs from the grocery store have often been exposed to salmonella and other illness-causing bacteria that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Feeding meat, fish, and eggs to your golden retriever are fine, just be sure that they are cooked prior to serving to avoid any stomach problems related to E-coli or other foodborne illnesses.

Excess Fat, Salt, and Sugar

While a little bit of sugar or salt on a rare occasion won’t likely cause lasting damage to your dog, the reason that table scraps are so bad for your dog is that prolonged exposure to high levels of fat, salt, and sugar can cause lasting nutritional problems.

Dogs have a system that has evolved completely separate from humans, and the highly processed foods we eat that are laden with sugar, salt, and processed fats are too much for their digestive systems to handle, as these dietary products are not found in a dog’s natural diet.

At best, this can lead to obesity and the various health problems related to it, such as arthritis and digestive issues. At worse, it can lead to salt toxicity, diabetes, and even cavities, since very few dogs have their teeth brushed.

Some foods, such as ice cream, contain high levels of fat, dairy, and sugar, which can wreak special havoc on a dog’s stomach. These foods should only be given in very tiny amounts occasionally just to taste if given at all.

Cooked Bones

While golden retrievers might enjoy getting the leftover bones from a cooked household meal, giving them these bones is a dangerous game of medical roulette. Cooked bones splinter easily, which can lead to internal bleeding, intestinal punctures, and death.

Bones are also a choking hazard. Because they break down more easily than raw bones, dogs will fill compelled to swallow them rather than gnaw on them. This can lead to both choking and bowel impaction. Worst case scenario, it’ll kill your dog. Best case scenario? It’ll cost thousands.

Tobacco

Nicotine poisoning is a real concern when you have dogs, especially breeds like golden retrievers that are curious and have a bad habit of going through the trash.

The best treatment for tobacco poisoning is induced vomiting, as this substance has to pass into the small intestines and be absorbed into the bloodstream to have toxic effects.

Cigarette butts are just as dangerous as unused cigarettes, and dogs now have the potential to get into e-vaping nicotine concentrates as well. Dogs will rarely eat raw tobacco, as they find it distasteful, but could accidentally swallow a container of vaping liquid.

Spices and Herbs

Herbs like chamomile might be soothing to humans, but it can have a very different effect on your dog. Chamomile can cause hypersalivation and internal bleeding, while other spices such as mustard seeds and nutmeg are similarly toxic to dogs.

Your best bet is to keep all spice racks and other containers of herbs in a high cabinet well away from where dogs can access them.

Potato and Tomato Plants

Potatoes and tomatoes are both members of the nightshade family, and these plants can have poisonous effects on dogs due to the substance they contained called solanine. This substance is found both in the plants and in green tomatoes and potatoes.

Solanine poisoning causes a wide variety of negative symptoms in dogs, ranging from internal bleeding and kidney damage to cardiac problems, delirium, and eventually death.

For safety, keep your garden gated off from your dogs, especially if they are prone to eating strange things (as some dogs are).

Baking powder and Baking Soda

Baking soda and baking powder are only dangerous to dogs in large quantities (for example, if a dog eats an entire container of it).

Because these culinary substances are considered leavening agents, they will react to the heat of the dog’s digestive system.

This creates a chemical reaction with the potential to leech potassium and calcium from the dog’s body, increase levels of salt to dangerous levels, and even induce a heart attack. Like herbs and spices, baking powder and soda should be kept well away from a dog’s reach.

Citrus Fruits

While dogs like golden retrievers are capable of eating citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges, if fed in large quantities, these foods also have the potential to cause significant gastric distress.

The stomachs of dogs are not usually exposed to high levels of citric acid, and too many of these fruits as treats can also lead to elevated blood sugars and obesity due to excess caloric intake. If fed as a treat, citrus fruits should be fed in moderation, and feeding the rinds should be avoided entirely.