Dogs are often regarded as members of the family, and most dog owners want the absolute best for their canine companions. You may think that feeding your dog the foods that you enjoy most is a special treat, but you might actually be hurting it more than you are rewarding it.

Although some human food can be perfectly safe for your dog, foods such as butter, raisins, onions and chocolate can be toxic and should be kept away from your dog. The American Kennel Club offers the following facts and tips to keep your dog safe from dangerous foods:

No chocolate: Chocolate can be extremely harmful to dogs. Chocolate contains a substance called methylxanthines that can stop a dog's metabolic process.

It also contains theobromine and caffeine, which speed the heart rate and stimulate a dog's nervous system. Ingesting even a small amount can cause diarrhea and vomiting in your dog. Larger amounts can lead to seizures and abnormal heart function, and can even be fatal in extreme cases.

No added sugar: Just as sugar is dangerous to the health of humans, it is also harmful to dogs. Regular sugar will have the same effect on dogs that it does on humans: hyperactivity followed by a crash. If you continue to give your dog added sugar, it may eventually lead to obesity.

The artificial sweetener Xylitol, however, is toxic to dogs. Xylitol is found in lots of sugar-free gum, candies and mints. Avoid feeding your dog any foods that contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Take preventive measures: Be sure that all human food is out of your dog's reach. Make an effort to keep the most toxic foods, like chocolate and sugary foods, as far from your dog's reach as possible. Always remind your guests not to feed your dog any human food.

Also, making sure you have a well-trained dog can be helpful in keeping it from consuming hazardous foods. The command "leave it" is extremely effective in preventing dogs from eating something that falls onto the floor or is accidentally left within reach.

Do your research: Some human foods such as cooked eggs, plain turkey, fish and cheese can be perfectly safe and can have nutritional benefits for your dog.

Keep in mind that everything should be in moderation, and your dog should have a balanced diet. Always do your research and speak to your vet before giving your dog any human food.

If your dog ingests something harmful: If you believe your dog ingested chocolate or any other harmful substance, call your veterinarian immediately. Based on your dog's weight and the amount of toxic food ingested, your vet may recommend to closely monitoring its behavior.

In more serious cases, your veterinarian may recommend bringing your dog to the clinic. You may also want to consider contacting a poison control center for pets.