Keeping your dog safe
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of dogs are greedy, there’s no other word for it! They will attempt to eat anything in sight regardless of whether it’s part of their natural diet or indeed good for them.
On the whole their little snacks on ‘thing’s they shouldn’t eat’ doesn’t do them too much harm if it’s only an occasional incident. However, there are some foods that are dangerous for dogs and you should really steer clear of them as it can make them very poorly. In the worst case some foods are toxic and can actually kill your beloved pet.
Here’s our guide of dangerous foods for dogs and the effects eating them can have on your dog. If you have any concerns over something your pet has eaten please seek the advice of a vet, don’t take anything to chance or rely on Google for the answer.
If you drop a chocolate button on the floor and your dog beats you to it, there’s probably no need to panic. ‘Human’ chocolate should never be given to dogs on purpose. When consumed in large amounts or over a period of time chocolate is extremely bad for dogs, in the worse cases it has been known to be fatal.
The toxic ingredient in chocolate is called theobromine. Theobromine can be digested by humans but not dogs. It goes without saying, the smaller the dog, the less they can consume before there is a problem.
The usual treatment if your dog has eaten too much chocolate is to force vomiting; this has to be done by a veterinary professional within a couple of hours. Please do not delay; it could be life or death.
Sultanas and raisins
For such tiny little dried fruits they can cause huge problems for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Dogs should never be given sultanas and raisins. In the most serious of cases the toxicity of these fruit ninjas causes acute kidney failure and ultimately death.
Even in relatively small amounts sultanas and raisins can be toxic. If you think your dog has eaten more than a couple of raisins dropped on the floor it could be a medical emergency, advice from a vet should be taken immediately.
Some of the signs of poisoning include vomiting, pain in the abdomen and diarrhoea, following my weakness and lethargy.
Surprisingly dairy is not good for all dogs; this is due to lactose found in most milk, ice cream and other dairy products. Lactose is actually two different kinds of sugar which some dogs find difficult to break down as part of the digestive process.
For many dogs there is nothing more exciting than the ice cream van, we’ve all seen the video on YouTube but for many a little dairy snack can cause acute intestinal and stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
So, dairy is not a definite ‘no’, it’s watch your dog and see how they respond. In many cases, they still eat it even if it hurts later; after all, they are dogs!
Never be tempted to give your dog human medication for any reason unless directed by a vet. Ibuprofen may help with your aches and pains it can be lethal to your dog.
There are some websites that state a small dose of aspirin is ok for adult dogs, however this is never recommended unless the advice is given by a vet as they will take into account any other medications your dog is on, their age, weight and medical history.
Be aware, it’s not always the main ingredient in human medication that causes the issue, brands vary greatly on their ‘additional ingredients’ and these can prove to be very toxic to dogs, for example some antihistamines use decongestants which can be incredibly toxic for dogs.
Dogs can eat fish, the omega 3 and natural glucosamine is actually very good for them. The issue is feeding raw fish; the experts have varying opinions on this one so moderation and preparation is the key.
The issue with feeding raw fish is your dog may end up with parasitic infections caused by three types of parasites on the fish; a solution to this is to freeze the fish which kills off the parasites.
The other issue is the enzyme found in raw fish that breaks down vitamin B2. If you feed your dog too much raw fish you may actually find your dog has a vitamin deficiency. The safer option is to cook the fish which kills off the enzyme.
The health benefits of garlic for humans are well documented, for dogs it is a little more confusing with conflicting information across the whole of the internet.
Garlic is part of the allium family, which also includes chives, shallots and onions, it’s actually a plant, you can sometimes smell wild garlic when you’re out on a walk. In large amounts it is pretty much agreed that garlic (and onions, chives etc) are all very toxic for dogs.
In rare but extreme cases garlic poisoning can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness and eventually your dog may collapse. Onions are particularly bad, although the symptoms may not appear for a few days.
However, it is argued even in smaller doses damage may be caused to your dog, although the signs are not apparent immediately it may affect your dog’s health because of the damage caused to the red blood cells. A video from a veterinary toxicologist, Dr. John Tegzes, explains the risks.
We all like a takeaway or a piece of cake every now and then, the majority of us will admit to slipping our dog an odd bit of food from our plate, we know we shouldn’t but it’s hard to resist those puppy eyes.
However, it is important to be aware that all fatty foods can cause issues for your dog. Their bodies are not designed to digest fats in the same way we are so fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which can be extremely painful for your dog.
Symptoms include of lethargy, depression, a painful swollen abdomen and fever. Veterinary intervention is needed immediately.
The other issue of course is obesity which can lead to diabetes, joint pain and a raft of related illnesses which can contribute to an early death.
An excessive amount of sugar in your diet is not good for you, it can lead to a vast array of health issues; sugar is not good for your dog either, for much the same reasons. In tiny amounts a little sugar won’t do your dog any harm.
However, it shouldn’t be offered regularly or it can be more of a problem that it first appears; it can lead to weight gain which leads to problems with joints and mobility, diabetes and issues with dental care which can be painful for your dog.
Beware, many human foods may be advertised as “sugar free” but they do contain artificial sweeteners, particularly xylitol which is deadly for dogs, so please always read the label. If in doubt just stick to dog treats.
If you’re sat in with your feet up enjoying a glass or wine or bottle of beer you may be tempted to share the experience with man’s best friend, sadly this is not a good idea.
The main ingredients that make up alcohol are all bad for dogs. For example, wine is of course grapes; with beer it is the hops that are toxic to dogs. If your dog was to ingest either of these there are likely to be immediate symptoms such as vomiting but there are also long term side effects and damage that may be caused, particularly to the kidneys.
Dogs are not designed to drink alcohol; it’s very much a human thing. The risk of alcoholic poisoning for a dog is quite high, their bodies are not made for alcohol and the consequences can be severe.
Depending on the amount consumed signs of alcoholic poisoning range from sickness and diarrhoea through to heart failure.
It’s not completely understood why grapes cause the reaction in dogs they do. However, it is known that grapes can cause kidney damage and even kidney failure in extreme cases. It has also been reported on some veterinary websites that grapes can affect the liver function.
They really are little fruit ninjas so should be avoided for dogs altogether. If you think your dog has eaten grapes it could be a medical emergency depending on the size of your dog and the number of grapes ingested; advice from a vet should be taken immediately.
Some of the signs of poisoning include vomiting, pain in the abdomen and diarrhoea, followed by weakness and lethargy.
Almost every cartoon you see of a dog there is a bone close by, it is therefore no wonder why dog owners like to give their dogs bones as a treat. We are conditioned to thinking it’s a good thing.
The issue is not bones, raw bones are fine for dogs, in fact they love them and they are good for their teeth and nutrition.
The issue is feeding dogs bones that have been cooked, usually as part of a Sunday roast. It seems the kind thing to do to offer your dog the bone to chew on. However, cooked bones splinter easily and can cause your dog to choke or perforate your dog’s digestive system on the way down and need extreme and emergency surgery to save your dog’s live and repair the damage. Many people also advise never to give chicken or fish bones because they are so small and can cause choking.
The controversy around mushrooms is always up for debate. As with humans some mushrooms, particularly wild mushrooms are extremely toxic. It is therefore wise to call dogs away from patches of wild mushrooms whilst out on walks and pick mushrooms out of your lawn once they start sprouting to stop your dog eating them. The natural curiosity of dog’s means they can get themselves into trouble without even knowing they’re doing it.
Mushrooms in small quantities and shop bought can offer some health benefits to dogs according to some experts. Button mushrooms are often a favourite because they are low fat and they contain high levels of vitamin D which is good for the immune system. If you feed your dog mushrooms it should only be in small quantities or as an occasional treat.
Some dogs are allergic to them, even shop bought ones so it’s important to always monitor your pet for an adverse reaction.
As much as the British love a nice cup of tea or American’s love their coffee, neither of these is a good option for our canine companions due to the large amount of caffeine.
As caffeine is a stimulant for both humans and dogs it can cause increased heart rate, tremors, restlessness, vomiting and diarrhoea. An odd slurp of tea your dog sneaks from your cup probably won’t do them any immediate harm but it should not be encouraged or happen frequently.
However, if your dog manages to eat ground coffee beans or guzzle too much tea or coffee a phone call to the vet is probably your best option. In smaller dogs who consume too much caffeine it can actually be deadly so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
There are so many nuts around it’s hard to remember which are safe and which are not, if it doubt, steer clear of them all. Please also remember that any dog can have an allergic reaction to nuts, they also pose a chocking risk, especially to smaller dogs.
The definite no –no nuts are macadamia which are actually part of the grape family; they are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis. Others no-no nuts include almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios all of which are known to cause gastric issues or seizures in dogs.
Some nuts are ok for dogs; these include peanuts, cashews and hazelnuts. They should never be given in large quantities or frequently because they can cause stomach upsets and abdominal pain.
For further details, there’s a great article here on dogs and nuts.
Corn on the cob
Your dog will probably enjoy a little sweetcorn every now and then with their meal, as with most veg it is quite good for them to complement their meat diet.
It is very sweet though so shouldn’t be given in vast quantities.
The issue with corn on the cob is not the corn itself, it’s the cob. Dogs don’t know the etiquette of nibbling the corn delicately and therefore attempt and usually succeed in swallowing the corn on the cob whole or in large chunks. There’s no surprises that they end up choking or have a blockage that needs to be surgically removed.
The advice on dogs and avocado is divided, on the surface it may seem healthy, it contains 20 vitamins and minerals so there should be some benefit.
The reasons given for not allowing your dog to eat it are that it contains a toxin called persin that is known to cause issues for some animals, particularly birds and larger animals like horses. Persin levels are higher in unripened fruit and the leaves of the plants. Mild stomach upsets have been reported in dogs and rescue organisations list avocado as unsafe for dogs.
However, some dog related websites state that avocados are in fact fine for dogs because dogs are unaffected by the persin. So, even if the fruit itself is ‘ok’ for dogs, there is still the worrying issue of the stone, particularly if you have a small dog where it could be a genuine choke or obstruction hazard.
Chewing gum and sweets
There are several issues with sweets (candy) and chewing gums for dogs, the main one’s being the sugar content and more importantly the presence of xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in lots of gums and sweets which is deadly to dogs.
Please be aware, a favourite of dog owners is to give dogs peanut butter, some brands now use xylitol, always read the label.
A dog that has digested xylitol may become extremely poorly with symptoms ranging from seizures and low blood sugars to liver failure and even fatal consequences.
To the untrained eye, commercial cat and dog food look very similar, after all, they are both meat based, usually with a few veggies and a bit of meat jelly thrown in for good measure.
The dietary needs of cats and dogs differ quite substantially; cat food is too high in both fat and protein for dogs to safely digest it although a small amount would do them no harm.
This advice is provided as guidance only. It is not intended to be a substitute for a veterinary advice. If in any doubt we always urge you to speak to your vet. It’s never worth the risk.
all images adapted from freepik.com