Foods that are harmful to dogs

We all love our dogs and enjoy spoiling them with special dog treats and oftentimes it can be tempting to slip them a few table scraps or human food treats. While doing so in moderation will not generally cause any issues, it is still very important to be aware of what we are feeding our beloved canine companions as they are physiologically very different to us and some "innocent" scraps and treats may lead to harmful health issues and even tragic events for the uninformed dog owner.

Harmful Foods for dogs

1. Xylitol

Xylitol is a widely used ingredient in many human foods and you'll find it in many sugar free products including cookies and gum. Even when ingested in small amounts by your dog, this artificial sweetener can induce blood sugar variations, liver failure, seizures and death. Symptoms may be evident anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after it has been eaten and treatment is required rapidly to avoid fatalities.

2. Chocolate

Whilst most dog lovers are now aware that chocolate simply "isn't good for dogs" (thanks Oreo advert) – it's actually quite toxic for both cats and dogs. The fact is that the higher the cocoa content, the more serious the risk for your pet. This means that dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate and especially in the new generation 60 and 70 percent cocoa versions. A toxic dose of chocolate will depend on the weight of your dog, so the smaller your dog, the higher the risks are if chocolate is ingested, but in higher cocoa content chocolate, even bigger breeds of dogs are at risk. Toxic doses of chocolate can lead to kidney failure, abnormal heartbeat and even death – so not even a little amount of chocolate is a suitable treat for your dog.

3. Grapes, Currants and Raisins

Recent studies have shown that raisins, currants and grapes can induce kidney failure in some dogs which can be permanent and even fatal. While still in the early stages, studies have found that not all animals are susceptible and symptoms do not relate to the volume ingested. So while your dog may have been eating grapes or raisins for years and be unaffected, it may be a good idea to rather steer clear of these foods.

4. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic add flavour to our meals and you'll probably find that your dog enjoys them in his too, but high levels of onion and garlic ingestion can cause serious anemia which may be life threatening for your dog. Rather avoid feeding onions, garlic and any food containing these to your dog.

5. Raw Eggs

Raw eggs contain the enzyme avidin, which decreases your dog's ability to absorb of biotin (a B vitamin) which may lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella and like people, your dog can suffer from salmonella poisoning which may be fatal.

What to do if your dog ingests harmful foods and becomes ill

As with an poisoning or exposure to toxic substances, minutes count so contact your vet immediately and always ensure that you have their after-hours emergency number on hand. Be sure to have as much information on hand as possible including what your pet ate as well as an estimated quantity and how long ago it occurred. This information will assist your vet in assessing the situation and administering appropriate treatment.