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Toxic Foods

Foods a Chihuahua Can't Eat


There are some foods that are toxic to Chihuahuas (and essentially all dogs); though some of these are more poisonous to Chihuahuas than they are to other breeds due to the Chihuahua being so tiny. In addition, there are also some foods that while not technically toxic, can cause stomach upset if they are ingested. 

The effects of ingesting toxic foods can range from gastrointestinal issues (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) to a quick drop in blood sugar levels to kidney failure and even death. 

It's important to note that while, of course, these toxic foods are dangerous on their own, some foods may have any one of these in the mix as an ingredients (for example, pizza, stew or soup). For this reason, if you're thinking about giving your Chihuahua something new, always be sure of the exact ingredients before you do so.

List of Foods that are Toxic to a Chihuahua


Any type of alcohol is toxic to dogs; it causes central nervous system depression, which is very dangerous and fatal in some cases. 

Signs of alcohol poisoning in dogs includes: decreased coordination, diarrhea, vomiting,changes in behavior (lethargy, slowed reflexes, hyperactivity) breathing difficulty and/or tremors. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, coma and even death. 

The amount of alcohol that is toxic to a Chihuahua depends on what is ingested (beer contains the least amount at about 4%, malt liquor has 7%, wine has 12%, fortified wine such as sherry has 17%, brandy or cognac has about 40% and hard liquor has about 40%. 
Apples, rotten

There are two basic types of fermentation: alcohol fermentation, which creates wine and beer, and lactic acid fermentation, which makes dairy and vegetable products. It is the alcohol fermentation that is toxic to dogs; therefore, rotten apples are toxic, especially to small dogs like the Chihuahua. 

There are sources that actually promote feeding fermented apples to pets; this is dangerous. The amount needed to be poisonous does very by dog; however, with the Chihuahua being so tiny even one could be dangerous. Studies of veterinary toxicology have shown that dogs that ingested rotten apples died via ethanol toxicosis.
Bread dough, uncooked

Any bread dough that contains yeast and is not yet cooked is toxic. The fermentation of the yeast causes alcohol poisoning. Signs include distention of the abdomen, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, lack of coordination, trouble breathing and/or tremors. It can lead to seizures, coma and death. 

Chocolate contains a component called theobromine, and this is what is toxic to dogs. Theobromine is not easily digested by canines, which causes it to build up into toxic levels. 

Signs of chocolate poisoning varies: 
  • Mild to moderate poisoning can cause vomiting, stomach upset, hypertension, hyperactivity and/or restlessness. 
  • Moderate to severe chocolate poisoning can additionally cause muscle tremors, abnormal heart beat, and Hyperthermia. 
  • Severe chocolate poisoning can additionally lead to seizures, collapse, and death. 
Chocolate can fatally damage the heart, lungs and kidneys. How much chocolate is poisonous to Chihuahuas depends on what type was ingested and the amount. For example:

4 pound Chihuahua, ingesting 1 oz. of milk chocolate = mild to moderate poisoning yet 2 oz. is considered severe. 

For Chihuahuas 7 lbs. or under, eating just 1 oz. of dark chocolate is considered severe and life threatening. 

Calculator provided by .

Caffeinated foods, drinks

This includes, but is not limited to: coffee (brewed coffee, coffee beans), tea, soda, energy drinks and diet pills. Ingestion of caffeine can cause vomiting, restlessness, hyperactivity, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, hyperthermia. It can lead to coma, collapse and death. 

The amount of caffeine that is deadly to Chihuahuas varies by what type of food or drink was ingested. Just a few laps of brewed coffee will not often lead to clinical signs. Dogs can become sick on small doses; however, in regard to what is lethal, it is 70 mg of caffeine per each 1 lb. of body weight. 

For a frame of reference, one cup of coffee has 95 mg and 1 teaspoon of instant coffee has 32 mg of caffeine. 
Currant-family foods (Raisins, grapes, and more)

There is actually a long list of toxic foods that are all in the current family. This includes:
  • Raisins 
  • Grapes
  • Sultanas
  • Jostaberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Black currants
  • Red currants
  • White currants
These foods are highly toxic and often deadly to dogs. It is interesting to note that despite being such a terrible dangerous food for dogs, the exact cause of why it is deadly is still unknown. 
It is theorized that it may be due to a mycotoxin or a salicylate produced within the fruit. 

If a dog ingests raisins, grapes or current-type fruit, can can lead to fatal kidney failure. Early signs may begin with 30 minutes to several hours, though kidney failure often develops 1 to 3 days from the time of ingestion. 

Signs of poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and/or tremors/seizures. Left untreated (or if treatment cannot provide relief) it can then lead to a complete shut-down of the kidneys, coma and then death. 

Within this group of toxic foods, raisins are the most deadly. The number of raisins that are toxic to Chihuahuas is estimated to be .07 oz. per 1 lb. of body weight. This means that for a 5-pound Chihuahua, .35 oz. (just 1/16 of a cup) can be deadly.  

For grapes, it is estimated that .18 oz. per 1 lb. of body weight is toxic. This means that for a 5-pound Chihuahua, just .9 oz. of grapes can be deadly. A typical grape is about .2 ounces. Therefore, 1 grape per 1 pound of body weight is extremely dangerous, if not deadly. 
Fruit seeds, certain whole fruits

Some fruit seeds contain cyanide, which is a strong poison. Some fruits whose seeds are toxic are just fine for dogs to eat, however they must be cored (remove entire core, ensure seeds are not present) such as:
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • and cherries
Since cherries are very small and it's a lot of work to remove the pits, many sources list cherries as being toxic to canines; however, technically the flesh and skin of the fruit is just fine for dogs to eat.

The reason that humans can eat some seeds and be fine but this is dangerous to canines is because the seeds are protected by a very hard shell; most humans swallow the seeds whole however dogs have much sharper teeth and may break the seed(s) open. 

The amount of fruit seeds that are lethal to dogs varies by the size of the dog. In addition, the number would have to be an estimate and actual poisoning is dependent on if the shells of the seeds were broken open. With adult humans, about 1/2 cup of apple seeds (open) are lethal. For a tiny dog like the Chihuahua, one could assume that much less, perhaps 1/20 of a cup could be fatal.

Toxic damage can occur acutely (one-time ingestion) or if a dog were to eat seeds over the course of time, there can be cumulative damage.

Cyanide kills by depriving the cells in the body of oxygen. Signs of cyanide poisoning include: confusion, abnormal behavior, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, trouble breathing, vomiting, headache, seizures, coma, and then death. Symptoms may be progressive; however, for some dogs the reaction is fast with an almost immediate effect on the heart.

If a Chihuahua were to ingest seeds for a while and there was a slow buildup, signs include headache (some dogs press their head into walls, mattresses or other objects), anxiety, chest pain, abdominal pain and vomiting. 

Some sources list this as extremely toxic and others tout it as a great medicine for canines. Like onions (see below), garlic contains thiosulphate, which is toxic in high enough qualities. Consensus among many vets seems to be that whole pieces of garlic can cause gastroenteritis, and that long term ingestion of small amounts can cause hemolytic anemia.

The amount that would be considered toxic is 5 grams for each kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight. Generally, a small sprinkling of garlic powder will not cause toxicity and is safe.
Nuts (certain ones)

Though not toxic, pecans, pistachios, hickory nuts, and almonds can cause upset stomach. 

Walnuts can cause a poisoning that can lead to seizures or neurological symptoms. 

Macadamia nuts are considered toxic, though not often deadly. And studies so far show that only canines cannot tolerate macadamia nuts; this is not seen in any other animals. If ingested, this can cause vomiting, lethargy, hyperthermia, loss of muscle coordination and/or depression. 

The amount of macadamia needed to make a dog ill is 2.4 g of nuts/ per kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight. 

Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate (as does garlic, see above) which is toxic to dogs. Ingesting pieces of onion can cause a toxicity called Heinz Body Anemia (also known as Hemolytic anemia) in which red blood cells are destroyed. Signs include pale gums, discolored urine (often red or brown), rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, lethargy decreased appetite and/or depression. 

The amount of onion that is toxic to dogs is 15 to 30 grams per 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight. 
Xylitol sweetener

This sugar substitute is toxic to canines. It can be found in all sort of foods including sugar-free gum, hard candies, breath mints and in some baked goods. Always check labels to see if a food contains Xylitol, if you are thinking about giving something to your Chihuahua or if your dog got into something that he was not supposed to. 

If ingested, this can cause hypoglycemia (a rapid drop in blood sugar levels), which can lead to coma or death if severe and if not treated. Extremely high doses can cause liver failure. 

Signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, sleepiness, confusion, lack of coordination. If not treated, it can lead to coma or even death.

This is considered to be even more toxic to dogs than chocolate; the amount toxic to dogs is 50 mg per lb. of body weight. Some example of products with Xylitol and the amounts within them include: Trident Xtra Care contains .14 grams per piece, Icebreaker Ice Cubes contains 1.15 grams per piece and Xyloburst gum has 1 gram per piece. 

Foods Rumored to be Toxic to Dogs that are Not

Avocado - This is not toxic to dogs. It is, however, toxic to other animals such as birds, cattle, donkeys, goats, horses, rabbits and sheep.

Other Notable Foods - Certain restrictions

Mushrooms - Store-bought mushrooms are not toxic to canines. When you see mushrooms on a list of toxic foods, this only refers to some wild mushrooms. This includes but is not limited to Amanita, Clitocybe dealbata ,Agaricus, Boletus, and Entoloma. Bottom line, if you are not a mushroom expert, do not pick wild mushrooms for yourself and do not allow your Chihuahua to eat any mushrooms found growing outside. 

Foods that are Unhealthy - Acute Upset Stomach, Long term Issues

There are quite a few foods or rather types of foods that you should not feed a Chihuahua, either because they can cause gastrointestinal or digestive issues or health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. 
  • Fatty foods
  • Salty foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Sugary foods
  • Cat food

Foods that Can Be Dangerous

Raw hides - These are never good to give for a variety of reasons, however the most pressing concern is choking. Other issues are internal blockage and for some brands, reactions to the chemical preservatives often covering these sorts of snacks.

Raw hides, though long a common treat choice for dogs, are infamous for breaking off into pieces that either get stuck in a dog's esophagus or in his stomach or intestines. The reason is due to their durability and texture. These are made from the inner layer of cattle or horses and during treatment, are pressed into shape. They are not flexible at all, are very hard to digest and have caused countless dogs to have to receive emergency surgery.

There are much better options for Chihuahuas that like to chew. Look for all-natural, made in the U.S.A. treats that are made from sweet potatoes; these offer great chewing textures without the dangers.  

What to do if a Chihuahua Eats Something Toxic

Whether your Chihuahua ate something toxic or if you think he may have, it's recommended to follow the same advice, since it's always better to be safe than sorry.

1. Immediately call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. Do keep in mind that there is a fee to call the hotline. 

2. Follow their instructions. In some instances, you will be told to induce vomiting; in other cases, this can make matters worse. 

3. If you are told to induce vomiting to help expel the poison, the most effective method is give a dog hydrogen peroxide. For this reason, have both hydrogen peroxide and a liquid medication syringe on hand as part of your Chihuahua's first aid kit. The amount given is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight (so, 1/2 teaspoon for a 5-pound Chihuahua). This is given every 15-to 20 minutes until the dog vomits. 

4. In many cases, you will be instructed to bring your puppy or dog to the clinic ASAP and the timing of this can mean the matter of life and death; so safely get there as fast as possible. 
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Raw Food Diets for a Chihuahua - Is this a good idea? The pros and cons of a raw food diet. 
Giving Pain Meds to a Chihuahua - For minor pain or fever, which over-the-counter medications you can and cannot give to your puppy or dog. 
Special Holiday Pages
This is one of the funnest holidays to celebrate with a dog. You can dress up your Chihuahua in a super cute costume (most dogs love the attention that they get and it's a great time for a photo op), and you can also include your Chihuahua in either handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or take him for a walk in the neighborhood. Read more about Chihuahuas on Halloween...
The timing of this wonderful holiday, deep into winter when pet ownership has quite a few challenges, is a good time to go over how you'll handle things with your Chihuahua when things get busy over the holidays. Also, it's important to know which traditional foods a Chi can and cannot eat. Finally, of course, you'll find some super cute Chihuahua themed gifts. 
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