We all know never to feed our dogs cooked bones, but some very ordinary ‘human’ food can be deadly to dogs.
Whether you are giving your dog a treat or making home-made dog food you need to know what you can and can’t feed your dog.
Dogs love chocolate, but don’t be tempted to give them a sweet treat, because it can make your dog very sick! Chocolate is dangerous to dogs. Even an amount as small as 100g has the potential to cause death. Chocolate contains theobromine, and dogs metabolise theobromine very slowly. It builds up in the body and is responsible for ‘chocolate toxicity’. Symptoms can be difficult to recognise, and include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive urination, and irregular heart rate.
While the reason is unclear, grapes (including dried grapes like sultanas, raisins, and currants) can be extremely toxic to dogs. They have been linked to sudden renal (kidney) failure and death. Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, anxiety, loss of appetite, excessive drinking, and lack of urination. Dogs need to be treated immediately by a vet, as renal failure can occur after only 48 hours. Treatment should begin within two hours of eating the grapes, before the toxin has been digested. Even a small amount can cause kidney damage, so think twice before you share your raisin toast at breakfast!
Onion, garlic, leek, shallots, and chives
Onions and garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium family, and can cause haemolytic anaemia, a condition where the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely. Dogs with serious cases of anaemia may require blood transfusions. Symptoms begin a few days after toxic ingestion, and include fatigue, breathlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and bloody urine. Onion is the most noxious of the Alliums, however all can be toxic to dogs in large quantities. If you feed your dog from your plate, be aware of onion and garlic (including flavouring) in foods such as gravy, sausages, rissoles, marinades and sauces, flavoured chips and biscuits, and purees like soup and baby food.
Macadamia nuts are a poison to dogs, but toxicity is not generally fatal. Nevertheless, these nuts still make your dog very sick. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, and inability to use back legs. Some dogs can suffer from serious complications, like dehydration, from the symptoms, but most dogs recover from macadamia nut toxicity without complication. If swallowed whole, they can also cause intestinal blockage. Be careful if you have a macadamia nut tree growing in your backyard.
Persin, the substance found in avocado skin and flesh, is potentially toxic to dogs. Not all breeds of dog are affected by persin toxicity, and they would need to ingest a large amount of skin and flesh to become ill. It is still advised not to give your dog avocado. Dogs affected by persin toxicity show respiratory issues, vomiting, diarrhoea, digestive upset and abdominal pain. Also, the avocado pit is a potential choking hazard, and dogs should never be allowed to chew or play with them.
Dogs can be sensitive to many foods humans eat regularly. It’s important to remember that every dog is different, and toxic foods will affect every dog differently. Some other foods that can make dogs sick include dairy, salt, wheat and grains. If your dog becomes ill, for any reason, please seek veterinary advice.