5 foods not to feed dogs

While you might sometimes be tempted to share a snack with your dog, there are certain foods that you should never give them. Find out which foods are poisonous for dogs.

Some dogs can’t help counter-surfing for leftovers, while others might try to gobble something that’s fallen from the table. But as dogs metabolise their food differently to us, not all human food is safe for our four-legged friends.

In fact, some foods that we love can be downright dangerous to our pets. Find out about five foods you should keep out of reach of your dog.

What food not to feed dogs

1. Chocolate

Most dog owners know that chocolate is one of the most poisonous foods for dogs. It’s mildly harmful to humans as well, due to the presence of the toxic chemical theobromine, which is also found in tea and cola. Dogs find this chemical much harder to break down than we do which can result in some very unpleasant symptoms.

Theobromine poisoning in dogs usually starts six to 12 hours after a dog has eaten chocolate. While most dogs will not be severely affected, some can have serious symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea to seizures and comas. On rare occasions, these complications can be fatal.

If your dog does sneak a piece of chocolate, don’t panic, but contact your vet as soon as possible for advice. The severity of your dog’s symptoms will depend entirely on their size and the quantity plus type of chocolate they’ve eaten. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, increasing the risk of toxicity.

Your vet will use a toxicity calculator to determine the likelihood of symptoms and let you know if your dog needs to come into the surgery for treatment.

2. Macadamia nuts

You may enjoy snacking on macadamia nuts, but even if your dog begs for them, never give in to the temptation to share. These nuts are highly toxic to dogs due to their high fat content.

The signs that your dog may have been poisoned by macadamia nuts can be similar to those that indicate poisoning by chocolate. These signs include vomiting, diarrhoea and incoordination. Always keep macadamia nuts out of reach of your pet and if you think that your dog may have accidentally consumed some, be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible. The poisoning could potentially be lethal.

3. Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can be poisonous to dogs and so should be kept well out of their reach. What is not known, however, is which ingredient within grapes and raisins causes the poisoning.

Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning to look out for include a lack of appetite and general lethargy plus, in some cases, vomiting or diarrhoea. While some dogs seem to bounce back after eating grapes or raisins, in others, only one grape or raisin is enough to trigger acute kidney failure.

Never take a chance and assume your dog will be fine. It’s always safest to speak to your vet for advice immediately if you think your dog has eaten even a small number of grapes or raisins.

Other fruits to avoid include apricots, cherries, peaches, plums and persimmons.

4. Onions and shallots

Your dog probably won’t be tempted to beg for a piece of onion or shallot when you’re chopping them up for dinner. But you shouldn’t ever feed your dog any leftovers that contain onions or shallots.

Onions and shallots, regardless of how they’re prepared (cooked, raw, or powdered), contain the salt compound thiosulphate, which remains active even after cooking. Thiosulphate can also be found in garlic and garlic powder, although in lower levels, meaning you should also avoid these whenever possible.

If ingested in reasonable quantities, thiosulphate 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.

Symptoms to watch out for include rapid breathing, pale gums, jaundice, weakness, and urine that is darker than normal. Again, you should always contact your vet immediately if you think your dog has eaten any food containing onion, shallots, or garlic.

5. Cat food

Dogs are fond of cat food because of its high protein levels. But as they have different dietary needs from their feline friends, it’s best that they stick to their own food.

While it’s unlikely that your dog will fall sick immediately from eating cat food, it can cause problems in the long term. Protein and nutrient levels in cat food are different from dog food and the food can be difficult for dogs to digest, even causing liver and kidney problems.

Keep cat and dog food separate and train your pets to know which they are allowed to eat. There are many ways to do this, including ensuring your dog knows the ‘leave’ command, ensuring bowls are distinguishable and in different places, and physically keeping your dog separate from cat food during mealtimes. Be sure to contact your vet if you suspect that your dog is having gastrointestinal problems due to ingesting cat food.

Find out more about what your dog should not eat by watching our video.

Other foods to avoid

The list of what not to feed dogs doesn't end there. In addition to the five foods above, you should also avoid allowing your dog to eat any of these foods:

  • Raw bread dough
  • Fruits and berries found on your walks
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Salty snack foods like crisps
  • Cooked bones
  • Artificial sweetener
  • Coffee or anything containing caffeine
  • Citrus fruits, stems, and leaves
  • Coconut or coconut oil

A great rule of thumb for keeping your dog healthy is to keep all human foods out of reach. If you’re concerned your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, always speak to your vet as soon as possible. If your dog does develop symptoms, timely treatment may help them make a full recovery.

If you are tempted to feed your dog something special, try making some homemade treats, with dog-friendly ingredients.

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