What foods should dogs not eat?

Begging appears to come quite naturally to dogs, it’s almost instinctive, and there’s a good reason for this.


Many years ago wolves began to scavenge food from humans and started hanging around for leftovers and scraps – the tamer the wolf, the more food they got. So it’s no wonder their domesticated relatives have become so good at persuading us to share our food.

As a dog owner, you’ve probably succumbed on more than one occasion to the pair of big puppy eyes that appear at your side whenever there’s food around and have given your dog the odd tasty tidbit from your dinner plate.


Although it’s tempting to share your food with your pet, there’s some food that you definitely shouldn’t be feeding them, no matter how cute a face they pull. Not just because of unhealthy weight gain, but because some common foods that we eat regularly can be dangerous to dogs and make them sick if they happen to get their paws on it. We get asked a lot what foods dogs can’t eat.


Here are some foods that you should avoid feeding your dogs:


There can often be conflicting information as to whether dogs can eat avocados. Dogs can eat the flesh; it’s the leaves, skins and pits that can be toxic to dogs due to them containing high levels of persin, a fungicidal toxin, which can cause serious health problems and even death. According to some vets, dogs can be more resistant to persin than other animals, but it’s still wise to err on the side of caution.


Caffeine is a compound found in the plants of tea and coffee and can be toxic to dogs. Too much caffeine can even be fatal. Coffee acts as a stimulant in dogs much the same as humans and causes an increased heart rate. Whilst caffeine can help us feel awake and more alert, in dogs, it can cause excessive panting, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, tremors, and seizures.


Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. Human’s can easily metabolise theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system. Mistakes happen, and a small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhoea, but larger amounts can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack.

It’s also important to note that different types of chocolate contain different levels of theobromine, with cooking and dark having the highest.


Cooked bones
Cooked bones are more likely to break and splinter into sharp pieces, which may cause internal injury, broken teeth, bleeding and infection inside your dog, so it’s best to keep bones from chicken, roasts, and other meats away from your dog.

Most raw bones that have not been cooked are edible for dogs and are soft enough to chew, eat, and digest. But with all bones, there’s a risk of choking if your dog swallows without thoroughly chewing.


Dairy foods
While small doses aren’t going to kill your dog, dairy sometimes irritates a dogs stomach and affect digestion, which can result in a nasty case of diarrhoea.


Garlic, onions and chives
Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are the most commonly reported members of the Allium family to cause toxicity in dogs. They contain disulfides and sulfoxides (thiosulphate), both of which can cause gastrointestinal irritation and in worse cases, anaemia and damage red blood cells.


Grapes and raisins (dehydrated grapes)
Regardless of colour or type, seeded or unseeded, grapes and grape products are toxic to dogs. The exact toxic substance is unknown, but it’s thought that a dogs inability to metabolise flavonoids, tannins and monosaccharides from grapes is what causes them to be unwell. Grapes can cause severe kidney damage that can lead to acute (sudden) kidney failure, which can be fatal.


Macadamia nuts
It might be a food you don’t eat very often, but it’s good to know that Macadamia nuts can irritate dogs’ stomachs, but also, for unknown reasons, macadamia nuts can be toxic. In addition to paralysis, dogs can suffer severe weakness, nausea, and diarrhoea that requires hospitalisation.


Raw meat
You may be surprised that some meat and fish can be harmful to dogs. Raw meat and fish can be contaminated with bacteria which causes food poisoning.

Some fish can contain a parasite that causes “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease (SPD), an often fatal condition, occurring when a dog eats raw salmon that is infected with the Neorickettsia helminthoeca parasite. This disease typically begins in the tissues of the small intestine, where it causes haemorrhaging. It gradually becomes systemic, invading the entire body.


Uncooked dough or yeast
The yeast in unbaked dough can cause life-threatening illnesses as it causes the dough to continue to rise in a dogs stomach. The dough can extend the entire abdomen, causing extreme pain and potential blockages in the intestinal tract. This can lead to a twisting of the stomach known as gastric-dilation volvulus. Another possible complication involves the fermentation of the raw dough, which produces ethanol and can lead to alcohol poisoning.


Salty snack foods
Salt is delicious and who can deny that the combination of salt, sugar and fat is unbelievably tasty. As a result, all mammals have the desire to eat these types of foods. But too much salt isn’t great for our health, and this goes for dogs as well. If dogs ingest too much salt, it can lead to sodium ion poisoning, which may result in vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, increased temperature, seizures and even death.

Of course, not all dogs will react the same way to all foods: gender, breed, size or age of a dog can all influence the risk of how severely they’re affected. If your dog has swallowed something they shouldn’t have and you’re in doubt, always contact your vet.

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