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Dog Treat Ingredients – What To Avoid And Why

Healthy dog treat ingredients include foods healthy for humans.

The following list includes those foods that are NOT recommended for use in dog treat recipes or when making homemade dog treats because a dog’s digestive system will not be able to tolerate them.


The leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing, and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

Instead of avocado, consider sweet potatoes, bananas, or apples as alternative dog treat ingredients.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Be careful with nuts because there is a risk of a choking hazard.

Consider peanut butter dog treats as peanut butter has advantages over using real peanuts.

Grapes and Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

These fruits also have a potential choking hazard as well.

Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs, and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs, and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.

Can healthy dog treat ingredients include chocolate for dogs?

Question regarding chocolate for dogs:


Just want to say a massive thank you for putting this website together, it’s been a great help for a beginner like me! I have learned a lot and will still be learning! I am also trying to make some dog chocolates (not with our chocolate!) but am having difficulty getting them to set. Would you be able to help me? I have tried a few different ways but nothing has worked yet and am at the foot of a very big wall! Any help would be very much appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Cheryl from the UK


Thank you for the inquiry and the nice words about our site.

Dog chocolate, as you know, is not chocolate at all.  It is usually made from a compound coating and then usually one that contains carob.  Compound coatings are made from palm kernel oil, not cocoa butter like chocolate is.  Palm kernel oil is used because it is a fat that is stable at room temperature but melts easily and does not require tempering like the cocoa butter in chocolates does.  This is good news because that makes it easy to use.

What you want to do is melt some compound coating-based carob chips in a candy melter, double boiler, or even the microwave.  You will notice that it usually is a bit stiff so you will want to add some coating flow crystals which are basically additional fat that really does wonders in turning your melted chips into a silky product.

Then pour that mixture into any chocolate mold you desire.  As the coating returns to room temperature, it will again firm up and in a matter of hours, you have dog-safe “chocolate!”

Healthy dog treat recipes

Question about dog treat ingredients, dog treat icing or dog treat frosting? Contact Us!

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2 responses to “Dog Treat Ingredients – What To Avoid And Why”

  1. I recently purchased vegan food coloring for dog treats . How do I know they are completely safe for the dogs?

    • Hey Monica, That’s a great question and just like humans all dogs are a little different, for instance, I know many Border Collie owners avoid rosemary as it can cause seizures. As a baker and treat maker researching each ingredient can be very difficult as there are so many opinions, articles, and anecdotes posted online. We really recommend the best course of action is getting to know a local Vet, ideally with a background in veterinary nutrition, and speaking with them. This is also much less expensive than most would think as they are a part of the pet community and may simply provide their insights for free or a small fee. The second course of action is clear labeling. There are some dogs that can’t eat meat and I’m sure there is some adorable little Frenchie out there that for some reason can’t digest spirulina, which is used for all natural green and blue vegan food coloring. This is the approach we take with each new product as we undergo a formal veterinary nutritionist consult and then do our best to provide clear labeling. So, is it completely safe – that’ll always be difficult but with the approach we recommend you’ll be able to proudly stand behind your products and provide the information needed for any pet that might not be able to digest it.


      Chef Fido

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