There are many foods that we enjoy and are perfectly safe for humans that can unfortunately make our canine companions very unwell. We all know dogs can be opportunists when it comes to getting their paws on tasty treats, so being aware of which everyday food and drink items can be unsafe can help you keep them out of harm’s way.
Xylitol is a sugar free sweetener found in a variety of products including some chewing gum, sweets, toothpastes, baked products and some types of peanut butter.
When dogs eat xylitol it causes massive release of insulin (a hormone which regulates the body’s sugar levels) causing dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia). It can cause liver damage. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination and seizures, which can be life threatening. Make sure you check the ingredients of any human food you use as a treat, especially peanut butter.
Grapes and Raisins
These contain an unidentified toxin which causes kidney damage. Just a small amount can make your dog poorly.
Dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than us humans. It can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, increased heart rate and abnormal rhythms, high blood pressure, seizures and collapse.
Although enticing for dogs as well as us, chocolate is poisonous for our pups. The problem in chocolate is theobromine which is in all kinds of chocolate, but darker, purer varieties tend to have the highest levels. Depending on the amount ingested and the size of the dog, theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart problems and in severe cases death.
Garlic, onions, chives and leeks
These are all related (part of the allium family) and contain oxidants that can damage your dogs’ red blood cells leading to anaemia. They can give them an upset tummy but in larger amounts also cause weakness, yellow gums, red urine and kidney failure. The signs are not always apparent straight away.
These contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, weakness, depression, tremors and a fever. As with all nuts they are high in fat and can also cause diarrhoea or pancreatitis.
Alcohol has a similar, although more severe effect on dogs as it does on us. Signs include being drowsy, uncoordinated, vomiting, diarrhoea, low blood sugar, coma and seizures.
Avocados can cause some digestive issues. The toxin is believed to be persin which is present in the leaves, bark and in smaller amounts in the fruit. The large stone can be a choking or a foreign body obstruction in the dog’s digestive system if they swallow it. Avocados are also high in fat which can cause pancreatitis or diarrhoea.
Bread dough or any kind of dough made with yeast, is unsafe for dogs. Yeast rises and ferments in the stomach causing a lot of gas and a bloated, distended stomach. In addition the alcohol from the fermenting yeast can be absorbed into the bloodstream causing dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature and potentially even seizures.
Milk and Dairy products
Dogs do not have very much of the enzyme lactase which helps break down lactose-the sugar found in milk. Consuming too much dairy can cause a tummy upset, vomiting and diarrhoea.
As well as containing lactose and fat, many blue cheeses such as Stilton and Roquefort also contain a substance called Roquefortine C, which dogs are particularly sensitive to. It may cause vomiting, diarrhoea and potentially also tremors, twitching and seizures if eaten in large doses.
Seeds or stones of fruits
The seeds or stones of certain fruits (apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums) can also be poisonous. They contain a chemical called cyanide and can cause difficulty breathing, excessive panting, brick red gums and shock. The larger stones can also cause blockages.
Corn on the cob
The cob can cause blockages in the digestive system.
Dogs can choke on any bones and they can cause an obstruction. Cooked bones splinter more easily and become sharp.
So what can I give my dog?
Generally we recommend sticking to a good quality balanced complete dog food for your pup which you know will contain the right balance of safe ingredients. However, many of us like to give our pup a little treat on occasion, here are some human foods that are safe for most dogs:
Lean meats, no skin/no bones
Some fresh fruits for example slices apple/bananas/watermelon, oranges. Take out any seeds, avoid stems and leaves. Most fruits have more sugar than vegetables so they are best given as an occasional treat.
Some vegetables- carrots, green beans, peas, sweetcorn (cut off the cob), plain cooked potato (not raw)
Cooked plain rice and pasta
If you are concerned your dog has had access to unsafe food then it is best to contact a vet for advice. The vets at MyDogDoc will be happy to advise you on what action needs to be taken.