It’s easy to think that dogs will eat anything, even poisonous and harmful foods. Most owners would agree that their dogs will eat just about anything they can get their teeth into, but that doesn’t mean that they should. A surprising number of everyday human foods are toxic to dogs, and you need to be really careful with treats and leftovers if you want to protect your pooch from some pretty nasty consequences. Find out which common foods to avoid and what to do if they are consumed by your dog.

Top 10 Most Toxic Foods For Dogs

Here are the top ten things you should avoid feeding to your dog:

1. Chocolate

It’s a great treat for us, but chocolate can be fatal to dogs. It contains a stimulant called theobromine, as well as methylxanthines and caffeine. Dogs struggle to metabolise these substances unlike humans and symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and increased heart rate leading to seizures or ultimately death. 

2. Nuts

Most nuts aren’t toxic as such, but they do contain high levels of fats that can cause digestive problems and even pancreatitis.

Macadamia nuts specifically are highly toxic to dogs. Just a few macadamia nuts can cause weakness, vomiting, shivers and paralysis which can last for up to 48 hours.

3. Grapes and Raisins

It’s easy to avoid giving your dog grapes, but don’t forget the raisins that are hidden in other foods, such as biscuits or muffins. They contain toxins that are dangerous to dogs and can lead to lethargy, loss of appetite or even cause kidney failure and death within a few days.

4. Onions and Garlic 

Just like raisins, onions, and garlic can be found in all sorts of foods, but again they are highly toxic to dogs. They are part of a group called alliums, which most animals should avoid as they also contain chemical compounds that affect the red blood cells, causing anaemia and lasting damage. Symptoms of anaemia in dogs include fainting, colour changes in urination, changes in appetite and lethargy. 

5. Cooked Bones

Raw bones are a great treat for dogs, but don’t let them have them consumed once they have been cooked. Whilst cooked bones aren’t necessarily poisonous, they easily splinter and puncture the intestines if consumed and are therefore highly dangerous.

6. Avocado 

If you don’t want to spend the afternoon cleaning up, don’t share your avocado lunch with your dog. The flesh contains the toxin Persin and has a high-fat content which causes vomiting, diarrhoea or can even be fatal. Persin is involved in every part of the avocado fruit, leaves, and the plant itself, so no part of it is safe for dogs to consume. 

7. Xylitol 

You may not even know that you are eating xylitol yourself, but it appears in all kinds of low-fat or low-sugar foods, including the doggy favourite, peanut butter. 

The substance causes a catastrophic spike in your dog’s insulin levels, with an associated drop in blood sugar. This can lead to vomiting seizures, and long-term liver damage. Often, symptoms will occur after 30 minutes after the dog has consumed the food.   

8. Fruits With Seeds 

Many fruit seeds, pips and stones contain cyanide, so don’t toss that apple core to the dog to finish off. This poison is extremely dangerous to your dog’s health and can even be fatal or induce cardiac arrest if consumed. There is also a risk of the seeds causing digestive problems and bowel blockages. Common examples include cherries, apples, plums, peaches, and nectarines.  

9. Alcohol 

Many of us enjoy the intoxicating effects of alcohol, but these can be extremely dangerous to dogs, even in small amounts, leading to disorientation, high body temperature and even seizures. 

Dogs cannot metabolise alcohol in the same way and can be fatal or cause severe symptoms such as dangerously low blood sugar levels, vomiting, and diarrhoea or have an effect on their nervous system.  Alongside keeping your dog away from any alcohol consumption like beers, wines and spirits, you should also keep out-of-reach household items including soaps, cleaning products and sanitisers. 

10. Corn On The Cob 

Whilst corn or corn on the cob isn’t necessarily toxic to dogs, it can be fatal for their digestive system. The pieces be a choking hazard, or get stuck, leading to internal blockages or perforation. If a dog’s bowel has obstructions, it can cause side effects such as severe abdominal pain, restlessness, appetite changes or sickness. 

Poisonous Dog Food FAQs

Why Do Dogs Eat The Wrong Things?

Dogs can eat foods or substances that are toxic to them due to: 

  • Curiosity or Confusion – Your dog may not know that it is a bad substance to them and to avoid eating it. They also may be curious about different foods they haven’t seen before, so it is important to keep anything toxic out of reach. 
  • Repetitive Behaviour – Your dog may have done this before and didn’t understand that it was wrong. Maybe your dog received more attention the last time and confused it with positive behaviour. 
  • Associated Smells – Some toxic things like household cleaners have different scents which may smell like or mimic edible food. This can cause confusion and naturally your dog will want to eat it. 
  • Accessible – Sometimes toxic foods for dogs aren’t always the raw source of ingredient, but it is mixed into other foods. Sometimes, owners may be unaware and not think it is harmful to their dog. 

What Do You Do If Your Dog Eats The Wrong Thing?

If you know, or even suspect, that your dog has eaten any of the above, then you should consult your vet immediately. In most cases, they will only need to monitor your dog and make sure they are OK until the symptoms wear off. In severe cases, however, a trip to the vet could save your dog’s life. Prompt treatment and antidotes can be essential to avoid severe and long-term consequences.

What Information Will You Need To Take To A Vet? 

Ideally, the vet will need to know as much as possible about the situation and food consumption, including: 

  • How much toxic food was consumed.
  • When was the toxic food consumed.
  • Ingredients list (if possible), for example on a label on food wrapper.
  • What symptoms your dog is experiencing and how long for.

How Do I Keep My Dog Safe From Poisonous Foods?

The best way to keep your dog safe from poisoning is to educate your whole family, and dog boarding facilities, about what they can and can’t feed him. You also need to keep dangerous foods out of reach of even the most persistent pet. Remember, some substances, such as Xylitol and onions, can be found almost anywhere so extra care needs to be taken to keep them away from your dog.

Food Behaviour Training 

A&T Dogs can help to keep your dog safe in a number of different ways. Our residential dog training can teach them appropriate behaviour around food and in the kitchen, while doggy day-care and dog boarding avoids them being home alone and tempted to forage for food where it isn’t safe. For more information or book our services, contact us online or call us on 01524 587315.