Harmful Food – What can Dogs not Eat?

As loving dog owners, we all like to treat our four-legged friends once in a while: for being good, for being cute, for being the least demanding of the things in our care…

But it is essential that we give our dogs healthy treats and snacks. There is no point carefully feeding our dogs well-balanced, nutritious and health-giving meals to then offer them dog treats which are not good for them. We want our dogs to stay healthy and happy, and to enjoy long, energetic lives – and healthy treats help us to achieve this.

In addition, there are some foods which are toxic to dogs, and should never be offered under any circumstances. Some of these are obvious, some are less obvious but widely known, and some may be news to you. Read on to learn which foods are best to be completely avoided – and why.

Chocolate

Never feed your dog chocolate. We know it’s delicious, and for many of us it is the ultimate food indulgence – associated with good times and inextricably linked to many of our holiday celebrations (Christmas, Easter, birthdays..) and therefore synonymous with enjoyment and happiness. NOT so for our pups, for whom tucking into chocolate will result in – at best – a sore tummy, and at worst a real risk of chocolate poisoning.

Theobromine, contained in chocolate, is toxic to dogs. If your dog does consume chocolate you will need to take them to the vet as a precaution. Please do try to calculate how many grams of chocolate your dog has managed to scoff down as – depending on the size of your dog and the portion of chocolate consumed – the theobromine can cause serious damage and knowing how much your dog has eaten will help the vet choose the best course of action. Don’t wait to seek veterinary attention as chocolate poisoning develops in dogs a number of hours after consumption. Because of this delay, it is unwise to assume that your dog is fine should they not show immediate signs of distress. It is also worthy of note that the darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of toxic Theobromine, and therefore dark chocolate is the most harmful.

Cooked Bones

This is often a surprise to new dog owners. Surely all bones are good for dogs? This is not the case. While dogs love to gnaw on bones, they should never be fed cooked bones as they can splinter and cause an internal injury or blockage. Regardless of your dog’s breed, or the strength of their jaws or teeth, cooked bones should never be offered because of their ability to break down into small, damaging pieces during digestion. If you do feed your dog a bone, it should always be raw.  With this in mind, ensure any leftovers you may want to feed your dog – from Sunday lunch, for example – contain no bones at all.  

The Allium Family

Foods in this category are toxic to dogs and include onions, garlic, leeks and chives. Avoid giving your dog any foods in this family. We have outlined two of the major culprits below:

  • Onions

Onions are a common, widespread, cheap, nutritious and flavoursome ingredient in many human meals – often the base of many recipes. All parts of the onion are toxic to dogs – even processed onion powder is bad for dogs’ digestive tracts. This is one of the key reasons feeding dogs “human” food is ill-advised as there may well be onions hidden in many dishes. It is a good idea to have a family rule – no sneaking the dog food from the table – from the day you bring dog home. If your dog is receiving human scraps, the chances are they are consuming onions. Remember, dogs need a tailored, canine diet that is suited to their needs. With a rounded diet from Country Pursuit – for example our Chicken and Rice complete dry dog food – your dog won’t need a sneaky chip, or bite of pasta or sandwich to make them happy. They will get everything they need and will be all the healthier for it.

  • Garlic

Garlic no doubt adds flavour and is super healthy for us humans as well as having the extra benefit of warding off vampires! But garlic is a part of the allium family which is poisonous to most pets, including dogs. Moreover, the intensity of garlic makes this ingredient worse than other vegetables in the group. Garlic consumption can cause distressing effects including damage to red blood cells, tummy upset, lethargy, increased heart and respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance and collapse.

Grapes and Other Fruits

Dogs do often enjoy a fruity tidbit as a snack or treat. Grapes should always be avoided, however. They are so tempting as they are a convenient size, easy to transport, and look like a perfect mouthful of healthy snack to chomp down – which they are: for humans. But, for reasons which are not 100% clear, grapes are toxic to dogs. But both peeled and unpeeled grapes cause grape toxicity leading to symptoms like lethargy and tummy tenderness and can even result in kidney failure. Raisins can also produce the same effect.

Citrus – usually found in the peel of a fruit – contains citric acid that can cause irritation in your dog. This is why any fruits offered to your pet should be served peeled as well as without seeds (which can be a choking hazard and – in the case of apples – may contain small amounts of toxins). Avoid leaving the zest of a lemon or orange peels in an accessible place to ensure your dog doesn’t eat too much citrus, and be careful where you keep your composting. 

Safe fruits include blueberries, pears and oranges (reminder: always peel the fruit and be sure to remove any seeds for the reasons given above).

Salt

Salt, in itself, isn’t toxic to dogs, but – just like with us humans – too much salt should be avoided as it can lead to your dog getting quite poorly. Regularly feeding your dog foods like beef jerky, which are high in salt, will leave them thirsty and could lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and high temperatures.

Nuts

Most nuts are not harmful to dogs, but there are some exceptions. Avoid almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and pistachios. Instead, if you want to give your dog the occasional nut, opt for peanuts, cashews or hazelnuts. It is important to be mindful that dogs can have nut allergies; so feed nuts with caution. In addition, nuts are high in fat, so should only be offered occasionally and not on a regular basis..

Dairy

Pets can’t break down the lactose in dairy in the same way humans can, so feeding your dog a lot of dairy is asking for gastric upsets! Avoid milk, too much cheese, or creamy food products, as well as anything containing lots of butter.

Alcohol

Last on our list of foods to avoid is alcohol. While not technically a food (sherry trifle notwithstanding), for most of us it is something that we do all have knocking around the house. Dogs have no use for alcohol – lucky them – they are more adept at mindfulness and can access joy far more readily than most of their human cohabitants, and therefore don’t need a tipple to either take the edge off, or propagate a good time.  Alcohol has a similar effect on dogs as it does humans, but for them it is much more unnerving as the effects come as an unwelcome surprise: intoxication, vomiting, disorientation, high body temperature and panting. It can also cause seizures and collapse, if not treated. Remember to keep watchful eye at any family gatherings (remember them?) and to wipe up spillages as soon as they happen.

Heavily Processed Dog Foods

Finally, a word about nasty ingredients in dog foods. There are dog food blends on the market which contain non-nutritional fillers, additives and preservatives – meaning that your precious canine won’t receive optimum nutrition. Make sure you avoid the trap of filling your dog with junk food by ensuring that you buy from suppliers that focus on natural ingredients without preservatives, and have transparent food content information. It is often tempting to buy the low-grade food when you are running low, but with our subscription service, there will never be a time when you have to resort to the junk food for your dog – if only the same thing could be said for the kids!