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Leave it! Seven common foods that can poison your dog

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Learn about everyday ‘human’ foods that can potentially harm your dog.

Dogs can be like dustbins – they’ll eat anything! But our dogs’ tummies are very different to our own, and there are plenty of common ‘human’ foods they should not be eating, no matter how much they beg! Learn which everyday foods your dog should avoid – and why.
Golden retriever eating dog food

Just like us, dogs love the taste of chocolate – but unlike us, the consequences for them are far worse than a few unwanted kilograms. Chocolate made for humans contains a substance called theobromine, which is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of this stimulant can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, and in larger doses can lead to agitation, muscle tremors, fitting and even death. Dark chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate, so as a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the higher the risk. Chocolate can pose an even greater risk if it also contains caffeine…

Caffeine – another stimulant – can have similar effects to theobromine in chocolate, and may lead to heart palpitations and even death. Never let your dog share your latte, cappuccino or espresso – and don’t forget that fizzy drinks, tea and chocolate products can contain caffeine too.

The delicious and seemingly benign avocado also contains a toxin – the natural fungicide persin – that can upset your dog’s tummy, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Perhaps more dangerous is the avocado pit, which not only contains persin, but can, if swallowed, cause a blockage in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract that could require surgery to remove. 

Macadamia nuts
All nuts are high in fat, which in itself is a good enough reason to keep them away from your dog. But macadamia nuts are particularly harmful, as they contain a toxin that can affect your dog’s nervous system, causing weakness and difficulty walking, particularly in the hind legs. Other effects include panting, vomiting and tremors – all of which are dangerous and unpleasant for your dog and very worrying for you.

Grapes, raisins and sultanas
Many dogs are quite partial to the taste of grapes, raisins or sultanas, which is unfortunate as they are potentially very toxic, even when cooked or baked. Although these fruits can affect some dogs more than others, it’s best to steer clear altogether, as they can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and, in extreme cases, renal (kidney) failure.

Onions, and similar root vegetables such as garlic, leeks, chives and shallots, are known as the Allium family and are particularly bad news for dogs. They contain organosulphides, a group of substances that can damage red blood cells, causing your dog to become sleepy, lethargic and weak. In severe cases, it may lead to anaemia, which could leave your dog requiring a blood transfusion! The risk is the same for dried and cooked onions, so don’t let your dog eat any leftovers that contain members of the Allium family.

Milk and dairy products
The milk that puppies drink from their mother exactly meets their needs. However, like some humans, dogs can suffer intolerance to the milk of other species, such as cows or goats. This can mean they find it difficult to digest the lactose in milk and dairy products including butter and cheese, leading to upset tummies, vomiting and diarrhoea. Your dog may love the taste of a nice cool bowl of milk, but it’s better for everyone to stick with the water.

Ensure your dog is well behaved on his walks with our guide to dog training.

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