Which Human Foods Are Dangerous for My Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are food-motivated animals. 

You’ll notice they perfect those sweet puppy-dog eyes early on when the food comes out. It can be tempting to treat your Golden Retriever to some of your food – but you should make sure you’re well versed in the ‘human’ foods that your Golden Retriever can and can’t have. 

Some foods can seriously harm your Golden Retriever if they get their paws on them

In the worst cases, eating the wrong human food could be fatal for your Golden Retriever, but even mildly your dog could suffer from unpleasant symptoms and require costly treatment from the vet.

With human food, if you don’t know if it’s safe, you should err on the side of caution and keep it on your plate. With particularly toxic foods, you should store them out of reach of your pet and dispose of any waste properly. Be mindful of spillages and dropped food that your pet might sneakily eat.

If your pet has eaten some human food that they shouldn’t have, contact your vet ASAP or call the Pet Poison Hotline. Be aware that you’ll be charged for these services, but they’re well worth the cost to save your pet’s life.

Check out our list below of foods you should not be letting your Golden Retriever eat.

Top 15 Worst Human Foods for Golden Retrievers

Onion, Garlic, and Leeks

The allium family is toxic to your Golden Retriever. 

Vegetables from this group include garlic, leeks, onions, chives, scallions, and shallots. This covers all parts of the plant (flesh, leaves, and juice) and it makes no difference if it’s raw or cooked.

They contain organosulfides which, when ingested, can damage and break down their red blood cells leading to anaemia. In large enough quantities, it could be fatal. 

Symptoms may not show up immediately so if your Golden Retriever does accidentally eat one of these items, you should monitor them for a few days after and seek veterinary advice. 

Be wary of foods that contain any of the allium vegetables. For example, onions in a casserole or garlic powder added to a curry. 

Nuts (Especially Macadamia)

Nuts should be avoided as they can harm your Golden Retriever. Almost all nuts are high in fat, and though not all nuts are toxic to dogs, some (like macadamia) are extremely toxic.

Watch out for your Golden Retriever eating nuts that have been salted, coated, caramelised, candied, or have shells. This would make an already bad situation more complicated. 

Dogs that accidentally eat nuts have exhibited symptoms such as high temperature and heart rate, vomiting, and tremors. Nuts can also be choking hazards, and lead to pancreatic issues, obesity, (and more) if eaten by Golden Retrievers. 

Grapes, Raisins, Currants, and Sultanas 

Grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas are highly toxic for dogs – they should never be given any of them as a snack.

Eating just one grape or raisin can lead to sudden kidney failure in dogs. Other symptoms of toxic ingestion include lost appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, and little or no urination.

You’ll need to contact your vet ASAP if your Golden accidentally eats one of these. The first symptoms are usually seen two to three hours after ingesting in the form of vomiting and diarrhoea. They’ll deteriorate in health as time goes on, and kidney failure usually develops within 48 hours.

If you know that your Golden Retriever has eaten one, don’t wait for any signs of toxicity – acting fast means a better chance of recovery.

Chocolate (Or Cocoa)

Chocolate and foods made with cocoa contain methylxanthines and the toxin theobromine. This is fine for humans but will cause symptoms of illness and poisoning in Golden Retrievers. 

If your dog eats any chocolate (no matter how much) you should speak to your vet immediately. This goes for eating foods that contain chocolate as an ingredient too (e.g. biscuits or cakes).

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, irregular heartbeats, tremors, and seizures. 

Your Golden Retriever will need immediate vet treatment – make sure you know what chocolate (milk, white, or dark), your Goldie’s weight (even approximately), and how much they’ve eaten when you’re speaking to the vet.


Like chocolate, caffeine cannot be tolerated by dogs.

This covers coffee grounds, tea bags, soda, energy drinks, and anything (including medication and chocolate) that contains caffeine.

They may exhibit similar symptoms to chocolate poisoning and should be treated by a vet accordingly. It’ll raise their blood pressure and heart rate, as well as make them hyperactive. 

One lick of some spilled tea shouldn’t cause poisoning, but a mouthful of coffee beans could be fatal. Knowing how much and what they’ve consumed will massively help the vet assess your Golden Retriever.


Golden Retrievers should never be given alcohol – they can’t process it at all. Even in tiny amounts, alcohol is toxic to every dog breed.

Dogs that ingest alcohol may start experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, breathing difficulties, coma, and death. Left untreated, alcohol intoxication can cause organ failure. 

Depending on the alcohol content and amount consumed, you might have to take them to the vet right away. Look out for vomiting, drooling, incoordination, depression, weakness, and low body temperature as signs that your Golden Retriever is suffering from alcohol toxicity.

Dairy (Milk and Butter)

There is a lot of information out that suggests that dogs cannot tolerate lactose (a chemical in dairy) well. Though it isn’t toxic, their gut is unable to digest it. So in large amounts, any dairy product can make your Golden Retriever unwell.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid all foods with dairy in them. This covers milk, butter, cheese, cream, and pretty much any food that contains any dairy products.

Avoiding dairy will help to avoid potential stomach upsets, diarrhoea, and discomfort for your Golden Retriever. It’ll also save a lot of clearing up on your part if your poor Goldie gets an upset stomach from snacking on a dairy product.


Avocados shouldn’t be fed to dogs. In the best-case scenario, your Golden Retriever will suffer from digestive upset. 

But worst-case scenario, avocado contains a toxin called persin (found in the pit, leaves, and plant) that can cause serious health problems and even death in dogs. In large amounts, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and myocardial damage.

It has also been noted to cause cardiovascular-related deaths in birds. In other four-legged animals, it can cause swelling around their head and neck too.

The large stone can be a danger in itself as it can obstruct your Golden Retriever’s gastrointestinal tract or cause them to choke. This may require surgery to resolve. The high-fat content can also lead to pancreatitis and stomach upset.

Peaches and Plums

Food with large pits or stones (like peaches and plums) should be avoided to prevent choking hazards and blockages.

They can get lodged in your Golden Retriever’s throat or cause issues during digestion if it gets stuck. In this case, surgery may be necessary to unblock your dog’s gut. In the worst cases, it can be fatal.

You should also avoid canned and preserved peaches as they contain a bunch of sugars, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners that can upset your dog’s digestive system.

Make sure you’re vigilant when walking your Golden if you live somewhere where peaches or plums grow on trees. One cheek bite from a plum on the pavement can lead to a bunch of issues for your Golden Retriever.

Cooked Bones

Cooked bones have the potential to splinter when your dog is chewing them. 

Your Golden Retriever can choke on these shards or it can block their gastrointestinal tract. Rough edges can damage their insides and can break or chip your dog’s teeth too. 

Aside from this, cooking the bone also removes the nutrients – so there are no benefits to giving your dog a cooked bone at all.

You can find dental chews in pet shops to help take care of their teeth instead. They’re much safer than a cooked bone and not too expensive. There are also plenty of chew toys – even ones shaped like bones that your Goldie can chew that will give you peace of mind.

Raw Dough

The yeasty smell of raw bread dough can seem appealing to your Golden Retriever. They might try and sneak a bite or beg you for a chunk.

But if eaten, the yeast inside the dough can carry on expanding in your dog’s stomach. This will cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your Golden Retriever. 

If your Golden Retriever’s stomach bloats it can quickly turn life-threatening if left untreated.

As the yeast cells ferment, it can also raise their blood ethanol to toxic levels. Before you know it, your Golden Retriever will have gotten sick and need vet care in a short space of time.

Corn on the Cob

The corn itself is not a problem for dogs, it’s the cob that causes issues. 

Dogs cannot digest the corn cob and if it’s swallowed, it can cause a fatal obstruction. Obstructions like this often require emergency surgery to fix. 

Signs that your dog has eaten a cob are vomiting, lost appetite, diarrhoea, dehydration, and lethargy. If you suspect that your Golden Retriever has eaten a corn cob, monitor for the signs and be prepared to make a trip to the vet if need be.

It is recommended that you remove the corn from the cob before feeding it to your golden and disposing of the cob where they won’t be able to get their paws on it.


This is a sweetener (often used as a substitute for sugar) that’s found in many sweets, baked goods, chewing gum, and human toothpaste.

It can cause a rapid release of insulin in animals. Too much insulin can affect your Golden Retriever’s blood sugars. This can lead to seizures and serious issues with their liver function. 

Look out for weakness, vomiting, and (in some cases) coordination issues. Seek urgent medical help from a vet if you suspect Xylitol poisoning.

Try to avoid it by checking ingredients on packaging and if it contains Xylitol, then ensure that it’s kept far out of your Goldie’s reach and any dropped or spilled products are quickly cleared up.

Salty Foods 

Salt in excess is bad for dogs just like in humans. 

Unfortunately for dogs, they seem to be less tolerable of salty foods so be sure to limit their salt intake. Excessive thirst, dehydration, and sodium poisoning can be caused by too many salty treats.

If you feed your dog food that you’ve eaten, be mindful of adding extra salt as it won’t do your Golden Retriever any favours. Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh drinking water, to help prevent salt poisoning.

Knowing how much salt your dog has ingested and what they weigh will affect what (if any) treatment they need.

Other Foods and Plants That Can be Toxic When Ingested

Your Golden Retriever should also avoid unripe tomatoes, tomato stems and leaves, rhubarb (especially the leaves), potato stems and leaves, apple seeds, and apricot/peach/cherry pits.

A lot of chemical preservatives and additives should be avoided too. Some scientists suggest that some of these may cause cancers in dogs. If you don’t know what’s in the food, the best idea is to avoid letting your Golden Retriever have any. 

Make sure you check labels for the following chemicals before giving them to your dog: Ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite, and Propylene Glycol. 

Some treat manufacturers also include palm oil in their ingredients, however, it’s been noted that palm oil can be toxic to your dog.

A Side Note: Pancreatitis in Dogs

Foods with high amounts of oils and fats can cause pancreatitis in dogs – an uncomfortable inflammation of their pancreas. This is where the digesting enzymes begin their job too early resulting in damage to the pancreas and surrounding tissues and organs. 

Avoid giving your Golden Retriever regular scraps to avoid triggering this condition. 

Symptoms of pancreatitis are: hunched back (from the pain), pain and/or bloating of the stomach, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weakness and lethargy, dehydration, and fever.

As always, seek advice from your vet as a matter of urgency if you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have.

Are There Any Human Foods That Golden Retrievers Can Eat?

Yes, there are some human foods which are perfectly safe for Golden Retrievers to eat. Fruit like banana (flesh only), apples (minus the pips and core), and several types of berries (like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). 

Some vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and fresh green beans are also safe to eat and may be foods that you eat yourself and can make extra of to give your pooch a treat.

As well as that, boiled rice, egg, and cooked meat are safe options. It’s often recommended when your Golden Retriever is feeling sick to be fed plain rice.


The best thing you can do for your Golden Retriever is feed them a healthy balanced diet, consisting of plenty of fresh water, a good quality brand of dog food, and occasional treats. Dental sticks can be given as part of their diet, and this should all be alongside exercise.

If the worst does happen and your Golden Retriever manages to eat something that they shouldn’t have, remove the food from them as soon as you can and contact your vet for advice. 

You can take preventative measures such as disposing of leftover food securely, keeping food stored out of your Golden Retriever’s reach, and training them not to beg for food while you’re eating.

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