Surprisingly, some common “people foods” are dangerous for dogs and can even be lethal. Most dogs love food,especially what their owners are eating, but before you are tempted to share, be aware that there are some foods they should avoid even though they are harmless for us. Also, keep these foods out of their reach as dogs are inclined to eat just about anything rather quickly.
Grapes & Raisins
Can cause acute kidney failure due to an unknown toxin. Some dogs can eat them without a problem, while others show symptoms after only a handful. Affected dogs will vomit within a few hours, and show signs of renal failure in 3-5 days.
Contain persin, which can cause myocardial necrosis (heart damage) within 24-48 hours, shown as lethargy, panting, coughing, cyanosis, exercise intolerance and death. The high fat content can also set off pancreatitis.
Contains theobromine, which adversely affects the heart, kidneys and central nervous system, initially causing vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst and anxiety, then tremors, hyperactivity, rapid irregular heart beat, seizures, coma and even death. Symptoms may take 6-12 hours to show, with darker chocolate being more dangerous than milk chocolate, and smaller dogs more vulnerable.
An artificial sweetener used in many products for people including sugar-free gum, confectionary and toothpaste, can cause low blood sugar (by causing a rapid release of insulin), seizures, liver failure and death in dogs.
Fruit Stones & Pips
In apple cores and apricots and plums contain cyanogenic glycosides which can cause cyanide poisoning, with dilated pupils, vomiting, panting, and rapid irregular heartbeats (the stones can also cause intestinal obstruction).
Can cause red blood cell damage with symptoms initially including vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and inappetance, progressing to dark urine, pale gums, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath due to the haemolytic anaemia.
Even in small amounts, can cause weakness and difficulty walking, with muscle tremors, panting, distress and elevated body temperature, due to an unknown toxin. This is usually nonfatal, resolving in 24-48 hours.
Can contain bacteria such as Salmonella, and also contain avidin which in excess decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), potentially leading to skin, coat, and growth problems. Cooked eggs are safe.
Even in small amounts can be too much for your dog, so don’t offer them a taste, and be careful where you leave your glass as some dogs are attracted to it or the mixers with it.
Such as in coffee or energy drinks, can be enough to cause restlessness and vomiting and accelerate your pets heartbeat to dangerous levels, so while a lick or two may be okay, don’t let them get any more than that.
Will expand in the warmth of your dog’s stomach (causing bloating and pain) and release alcohol as it rises (causing disorientation and depression). Your dog may initially try unsuccessfully to vomit, before deteriorating.
While nutritious and safe in small amounts, contains too much vitamin A to be fed in large amounts or more than 1-2x a week – this can lead to bone problems, weight loss and anorexia.
Fed regularly can result in thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency, shown as a loss of appetite, weakness and unsteadiness, neck ventroflexion (bending downwards) and seizures. This is more common in cats
Used in making beer, can cause a severe, usually fatal, malignant hyperthermia in dogs, where the body overheats uncontrollably and rapidly, with some breeds such as greyhounds being particularly susceptible.
Milk & Milk Products
In small amounts occasionally might be fine, but many dogs are lactose intolerant, so watch for bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, and avoid products containing chocolate, coffee, raisins, and nuts.
Other Foods To Avoid
Include fatty trimmings (contribute to obesity and can cause pancreatitis), catfood (not balanced for dogs), corncobs (can obstruct intestines if core is swallowed), cooked bones (splinter and break easily - raw bones better), large amounts of salt (watch that homemade playdough) or mouldy foods (tremorgenic mycotoxins can cause serious illness).
Small amounts of these foods may only cause mild digestive upsets, but more serious problems can occur depending on how much is eaten and the size of your pet – a bite for us is like a full meal for a little dog! Exact toxic doses are often not known – meaning safe amounts aren’t clear either. Symptoms may be immediate, or develop over several hours, but if you know your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t – either from seeing it being eaten or finding evidence such as ripped up empty packaging or seeing the food in vomit - don’t delay in seeking advice. Inducing vomiting, if indicated, is much better than treating poisoning.
When you do feel the need to “treat” your pet, avoid routinely giving table scraps, even if they’re not on this list, but small amounts (no more than 5-10% of the total diet) of “safe” foods can be given. These include lean meats, cooked egg, rice and pasta, vegetables such as carrots, green beans and potato, and fruits such as berries, bananas and apple slices. Just no guacamole with salty crackers, no licking out chocolate icing bowls and no helping themselves to the rubbish bin.