In the world of our four-legged companions, curiosity often extends to their taste buds, and many dogs, much like my own Schlappohr, are notorious for their gastronomic explorations. However, not all that glitters is gold, especially when it comes to their diet. As a responsible dog owner, understanding the potential hazards and which foods are toxic for dogs is paramount.

I will start off by saying that obviously I’m not a vet, so if you’re in any doubt, please speak to your vet.

I’m going to explore some of the common foods that are toxic to dogs. This list isn’t exhaustive and is in alphabetical order, rather than most to least toxic.

Alcohol

Alcohol and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased co-ordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should you be giving your furbabies alcohol, not even in small amounts.

A glass of red wine and a glass of white wine stood in front of red and white grapes

Avocado

The most dangerous part of the avocado is the stone, which due to its size can be a choking hazard in dogs. The skin and leaves are mildly toxic, and can lead to diarrhoea and vomiting.

The good news is that the flesh has good vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can be beneficial for your dog. But don’t feed your dog too much as the high fat content can lead to obesity.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao beans, the fruit of the plant used to make chocolate. When ingested by dogs, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. The darker the chocolate, the higher level of methylxanthines; so dark chocolate is more toxic for dogs than white chocolate, but that doesn’t mean you should start feeding your dogs white chocolate.

Luckily for dogs they can eat carob, and you’ll find some great dog friendly chocolates on sale (or you could make your own). One of my favourite places to buy dog friendly chocolates is Flynn’s Favourites. I’ve bought Easter chocolates from there, and Schlappohr loves them! They have a great range of other chocolates too.

Heart shaped box filled with yummy looking chocolates that are unfortunately a toxic food for dogs

Cooked Bones

Giving your dog a raw uncooked bone to chew on is great – not only will it keep them occupied, it can help clean your dog’s teeth. But avoid cooked bones. Cooked bones are softer and can therefore easily splinter. In large quantities cooked bones can cause constipation or at worst, a perforation of the gut which can be fatal.

A cooked chicken bone

Grapes and Raisins

The toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, but these fruits can cause liver damage and kidney failure. Some dogs can eat these and be fine, but others can eat just one and die. Please do not take the risk. Be mindful that raisins can be in cakes and biscuits that we enjoy eating so double check the ingredients before feeding any to your dog.

A bunch of red grapes

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Although why they have this effect is not known. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 24 to 48 hours. Thankfully the effects are normally non-fatal.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic, along with leeks, chives and shallots are all part of the allium family. These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.  Signs are not always immediate and can occur a few days later.

A red onion, a white onion and 2 garlic bulbs

Salt and Salty Snack Foods

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in dogs. Signs that your dog may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. So avoid feeding your dog too many salt-heavy snacks like crisps, pretzels, and salted popcorn, even if they’re begging you!

Xylitol

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including chewing gum, sweets, baked goods and toothpaste. It is also often found in peanut butter so if you’re feeding peanut butter to your dog, make sure it is a variety that doesn’t contain xylitol.

Xylitol can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination, and occur within one hour of ingestion. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Final Words on Toxic Foods for Dogs

I hope this quick dive into toxic foods has been helpful. Obviously there are lots of foods that are healthy for dogs to eat so your dog isn’t going to miss out! As with humans, a balanced diet is key.

As I mentioned at the start, if you’re in any doubt at all, please do speak to your vet.

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