When it comes to spoiling our dogs with tasty treats, it's easy to get carried away. After all, who can resist those pleading eyes? But not everything in our kitchen or on our plates is suitable for our dogs.
Here's a list of foods that could be harmful to your dog and should always be kept out of their reach.
- Chocolate: Probably the most well-known no-no for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can be toxic to canines. Even small amounts can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, and even seizures. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.
- Grapes and raisins: The exact cause is still a mystery, but grapes and raisins have been linked to kidney failure in dogs. A small amount can make a dog ill. Vomiting, lethargy, and depression are signs your dog may have consumed some.
- Onions and garlic: These can cause gastrointestinal irritation in dogs and can lead to red blood cell damage. While garlic in tiny amounts might be okay, it's better to err on the side of caution.
- Avocado: Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. While the fruit itself might cause minor upset, the pit can be a choking hazard.
- Macadamia nuts: It’s unclear why, but macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs. Consumption can lead to symptoms like weakness, overheating, and vomiting.
- Alcohol: Even small amounts of alcohol can be deadly for dogs. It can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, and worse. Always keep your drinks out of paw's reach.
- Coffee and caffeine: Much like chocolate, products that contain caffeine can be extremely harmful to dogs. Symptoms are similar too: rapid breathing, restlessness, and heart palpitations.
- Bones: While it might seem natural to give a dog a bone, some can be dangerous. Cooked bones can splinter and cause blockages or tear the digestive tract. Always supervise your dog if you choose to give them a bone treat.
- Fruits with pits: Cherries, peaches, and plums pose dual threats. The pits can lead to choking, and certain compounds within them can metabolise into cyanide, which is toxic.
- Xylitol: Commonly found in sugar-free products, this sugar substitute can cause insulin spikes leading to liver failure and seizures. Many makes of peanut butter also contain it so check the label carefully.
- Raw yeast dough: If dogs consume raw yeast dough, it can rise in their stomachs. As it ferments, it produces alcohol which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Additionally, the expanding dough can cause bloating and twist the stomach—a dangerous situation.
- Milk and dairy products: Some dogs don't have significant amounts of the enzyme required to properly digest lactose in milk. Dairy can cause them to experience upset stomach, cramps, and diarrhoea.
- Salt: High amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination in dogs, and in extreme cases, it can lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms might include vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, and elevated body temperature.
- Corn on the cob: While corn itself isn't harmful, the cob can be quite dangerous if ingested. It can cause a blockage in a dog's digestive system and may require surgical intervention.
- Tomatoes (especially green ones): The green parts of the tomato plant contain solanine, which can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. While ripe tomatoes themselves are generally safe, it's best to keep the whole plant out of dogs' reach.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin which, when ingested by dogs, can cause symptoms like hallucinations, high blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and seizures.
- Raw fish: Some fish especially salmon can be a host to a parasite which causes "fish disease" or "salmon poisoning disease" if the fish is uncooked. When consumed, these parasites release toxins that can cause fever, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and even death if not treated.
- Liver (in large quantities): While liver can be beneficial in small amounts, excessive consumption can cause vitamin A toxicity, which affects a dog's muscles and bones.
- Rhubarb leaves: These leaves contain oxalates, which can upset a dog's urinary, digestive, and nervous systems. Symptoms might include changes in thirst and urination, drooling, and lethargy.
- Raw eggs: While some pet owners swear by raw diets, raw eggs carry the risk of salmonella. There's also a concern that an enzyme in raw eggs interferes with the absorption of a particular B vitamin in dogs, which can lead to skin and coat problems.
- Raw potatoes: Green potatoes and the plant itself can contain solanine, as with tomatoes. When consumed in large quantities, they can be toxic to dogs.
- Mushrooms: Some mushrooms, especially wild varieties, can be extremely toxic, causing everything from vomiting and diarrhoea to severe organ damage and death.
- Tobacco: It might not be a 'food', but it's worth mentioning. The ingestion of tobacco products can lead to nicotine poisoning in dogs. Symptoms can include vomiting, abnormal heart rate, loss of coordination, tremors, and more.
- Hops: An ingredient in beer brewing, it can induce malignant hyperthermia in dogs, causing uncontrollable panting, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death.
- Chewing gum: Many sugar-free gums contain Xylitol, which we've mentioned, but it's worth reiterating due to its severe toxicity.
- Human vitamins: Particularly those rich in iron, can damage a dog's digestive system and prove toxic to their kidneys and liver.
- Mustard seeds: Ingesting these can irritate a dog's gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms like increased salivation, retching, and a lowered heart rate.
- Spinach: High in oxalic acid, excessive amounts can cause kidney damage, though moderate amounts are generally considered safe.
- Mouldy or spoiled foods: Moulds produce toxins that can cause severe reactions in dogs, including muscle tremors, seizures, and secondary metabolic disturbances.
- Rawhide chews: While popular, they can pose choking risks. Large pieces, when swallowed, might cause blockages in the digestive system.
- Citrus oil extracts: In large amounts, they can cause muscle tremors, weakness, and even liver failure in dogs.
- Fatty foods: Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis, a painful and potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas, besides increasing the risk of obesity and associated health issues.
- Painkillers: Common over-the-counter medicines can be very toxic to dogs. Ibuprofen can lead to severe stomach and intestinal ulcers and possible kidney failure while paracetamol can damage red blood cells and lead to liver failure.
When considering what to feed your dog, always ensure you have a good understanding of what is and isn't safe. If ever in doubt, consult with a veterinarian.
Dogs have their unique dietary needs and sensitivities, and what's harmless to humans can sometimes be harmful to our four-legged friends. Always observe your dog after they've consumed something unusual. When in doubt, reach out to your veterinarian to ensure your dog's safety.