Things you shouldn’t feed your dog

Whether your dog is sniffing around your feet while you eat, or they aren’t feeling too great, it can be very tempting to give them a treat to try and cheer them up, but not all foods are safe for dogs. In fact, some of our favourite comfort foods can be highly toxic and end up making them feel extremely unwell. Petplan takes a look at which foods are poisonous to dogs.

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is the big one. It’s common knowledge that chocolate is toxic to dogs, in fact it’s even mildly toxic to humans, due to the presence of theobromine which is also found in tea and cola. However, dogs find this chemical much harder to break down than us, which can result in all sorts of horrid symptoms.

We’ve probably all heard seemingly amusing anecdotes of dogs sniffing out chocolate under Christmas trees or Easter eggs, and getting into areas that they shouldn’t, but these instances can have some very serious effects on your dog. Theobromine poisoning in animals usually starts 12 hours after ingestion and whilst most dogs will not be severely affected, some can have serious symptoms ranging from vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, comas, and on rare occasions this can even be fatal.

However, just because your dog eats one piece of chocolate it doesn’t mean they’ll get seriously ill, the severity of the symptoms will depend entirely on the size of your dog and the quantity of chocolate ingested. Vets use a toxicity calculator to determine the likelihood of symptoms depending on your dog’s weight and how much it might have eaten. Therefore, if your dog was to consume any chocolate, contact your vet as soon as possible for advice. As a precaution, always keep your chocolate out of reach, in a high-up cupboard for example.

2. Cat food

Dogs love to eat, especially if they see a bowl of food where they would normally eat their own. However, if that bowl of food is cat food, this can still have some unfortunate side effects for your dog.

Dogs are fond of cat food because of the high level of protein within it but as they have different dietary needs to their feline friends, it’s always best that they stick to their own food. While it’s unlikely your dog will fall sick immediately, this can cause problems in the long term. Protein and nutrient levels in cat food are different to dog food and it can prove particularly difficult to digest, even causing liver and kidney problems.

To combat this, try to keep cat and dog food separate and train your pets to know which they are allowed to eat and which they are not. Be sure to contact your vet if you feel that your dog is having problems due to ingesting cat food.

3. Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins are something of a mystery when it comes to dogs. We know that they’re reasonably toxic and that dogs should avoid them, but we don’t know the exact chemical which causes the poisoning.

Grapes make a great treat for humans when you’re craving something to eat but you should never give them to your dog. Other fruits to avoid include persimmons, peaches, plums, apricots and cherries.

Although the occasional dog safe selection of fruit and vegetables can be fine, make sure to check your portions size to make sure it’s not impacting your dog’s overall diet. Always check with your vet before changing your furry friend’s diet and contact your vet immediately if you believe your dog has consumed any grapes or other harmful fruits.

4. Onions and shallots

Onions and shallots probably aren’t your go-to food to feed your dog, but you should definitely keep it that way.

Onions and shallots, regardless of how they’re prepared (cooked, raw, or powder), contain thiosulphate, which remains active even after cooking. If ingested in reasonable quantities, this chemical can cause haemolytic anaemia in dogs, which is the breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Haematolytic anaemia can be sudden and life threatening.

Thiosulphate can also be found in garlic and garlic powder, though in lower levels, meaning you should also avoid these whenever possible.

5. Macadamia nuts

You may enjoy snacking on macadamia nuts and your dog may start hovering around hoping to get some, however it’s imperative that you don’t give into those big wide eyes. Macadamia nuts, similarly to grapes and raisins, are highly toxic to dogs.

Symptoms of consuming macadamia nuts can be similar to those of chocolate, including vomiting, diarrhoea, and even an inability to walk. Always keep these out of reach of your pet and if you feel that your dog may have consumed some, be sure to contact your vet as the poisoning could potentially be lethal.

A great rule of thumb for keeping your dog healthy is to keep all foods out of reach, and only offer your pet something which you have been told is safe by a medical professional. Even then, do so sparingly so as not to affect their diet.