As dog owners, we naturally want the best for our furry companions, and that includes providing them with a healthy and balanced diet. While dogs are often known for their enthusiastic appetites and willingness to try new things, it is important to remember that not all foods are safe for our four-legged friends! In fact, some everyday items for humans can be toxic foods for dogs and even life-threatening.
To keep your dog safe and healthy, it’s crucial to be aware of what foods to avoid feeding them. In this blog, we’ll highlight some common foods that are toxic to dogs.
Chocolate, a beloved treat for humans, contains theobromine and, to a lesser extent, caffeine, which are toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of these substances. Consumption of chocolate can lead to symptoms like increased heart rate, tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, and, in severe cases, seizures or even death. It’s important to keep all forms of chocolate, including cocoa powder, out of your dog’s reach.
Be extra vigilant during times of the year when chocolate can be in abundance, such as Easter and Christmas. If you want to treat your dog, keep to naturally meaty treats like ours that are specially formulated for dogs!
Grapes and raisins can be highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Toxicity seems to appear with consumption of grapes and raisins of all types. This includes grape pressings from wineries, seedless and seeded varieties irrespective of colour. However, grapeseed extract is not considered toxic, with the grape or raisin itself needing to be eaten for poisoning to occur.  The exact cause and mechanism of toxicity is unknown, but ingestion can cause vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weakness and eventually even kidney failure in dogs [1,9].
Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and increased thirst. It’s crucial to keep grapes and raisins away from your canine companion, including products that may contain them such as cakes and fruit salads.
While avocados offer numerous health benefits to humans, they contain a substance called Persin that is toxic to some animals. Though dogs are more resistant to Persin than larger animals, avocados are still worth avoiding as their high fat content can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and even pancreatitis. Furthermore, avocado pits and skins pose a choking hazard and can obstruct the digestive tract if swallowed . Similarly with other fruits, such as cherries, apricots, and peaches, their stones are dangerous to dogs for the same reason.
Watermelon is a fruity treat you can share with your dog. However it’s best to remove the seeds and rind as they could cause a gastrointestinal upset.
Onions and garlic, whether raw, cooked, or in powdered form, contain compounds that can damage a dog’s red blood cells, leading to a condition called haemolytic anaemia . Symptoms may include weakness, pale gums, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite . Both onions and garlic can be found in many common foods, such as soups and sauces, so it’s important to read ingredient labels carefully. Chives and leeks belong to the Allium family, just like onions and garlic, and can be toxic foods for dogs. Take extra care out on walks as consumption of wild onions and garlic can also potentially have toxic effects .
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many sugar-free gums, baked goods, and even some peanut butter brands. Ingesting xylitol can cause a sudden release of insulin in dogs, leading to a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels . Symptoms may include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure. It is crucial to ensure that your dog never consumes any products containing xylitol.
Raw dough made with yeast can be dangerous for dogs. When ingested, the dough can expand in their stomachs, causing discomfort, bloating, and potentially even a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) . Be careful if leaving raw bread dough to prove, ensure there is no way your dog can get to it!
Small amounts of dairy products like cheese or plain yogurt may be tolerated by most dogs . However, many dogs become lactose intolerant once they are weaned, leading to digestive upset, including diarrhoea and stomach discomfort. It’s best to avoid feeding large quantities of dairy to dogs and to keep an eye out for your dog showing signs of an intolerance.
Certain nuts, such as Macadamia nuts, whether raw or roasted, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts and almonds, can be harmful to dogs. They can cause gastrointestinal upset and, in some cases, pancreatitis due to their high-fat content as well as posing a choking hazard. Additionally, some nuts, like walnuts, can grow a toxic mould called Aspergillus, which can be harmful to both dogs and humans.
Raw or undercooked meat can harbour harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, which can lead to food poisoning in dogs  and requires correct feed hygiene, handling, and preparation to be followed. Additionally, bones, particularly cooked bones, can splinter and cause choking, intestinal blockages, or perforations. Raw and homemade foods can be nutritionally unbalanced, which can cause your pet to become ill. Our nutritionist, Sara, always recommends that you feed your dog a complete and balanced diet like Butcher’s nourishing food for dogs.
Excessive intake of salt, particularly when water is limited, can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs. This can happen if they consume foods that are excessively salty, such as crisps or pretzels and take care if your dog goes swimming is or playing in the ocean. However, toxicosis is unlikely if sodium regulation is functioning correctly and fresh drinking water is available. Symptoms of salt poisoning may include excessive thirst, depression, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors and seizures, and in severe cases it can be fatal . Avoid feeding your dog salty foods and ensure they always have access to plenty of fresh water.
Remember, when it comes to your dog’s diet, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. This list is not exhaustive, and there are other toxic foods for dogs. See our preparing your home for a new puppy blog for more information. If you have any doubts about the safety of a particular food or if your dog is showing any unusual symptoms, it’s best to consult with your Vet right away. They can provide advice based on your dog’s specific needs and help you create a safe and balanced diet for your four-legged friend.
 MSD Vet Manual
 PDSA Raw Diets
 MSD Vet Manual Salt Toxicosis in Animals
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