12 foods that are dangerous for dogs

I was chatting with my sister-in-law the other day. She was telling me about how she fell into a blind panic last week after discovering her pooch had got into a pack of grapes. You know how it is – you take your eyes off them for just one minute…

Anyway, even hearing about the saga secondhand, I could feel my pawrent anxiety shooting through the roof. And the conversation got me thinking: no matter how careful we are as pawrents, there’s always a chance our pups could end up chowing down on foods that aren’t good for them. We all know what they’re like. It doesn’t even have to be food. A bit of grass or a stick is just as edible in their world.

If they do happen to eat something they shouldn’t, it’s always best to know exactly what you’re dealing with. By building up a solid understanding of what are dangerous foods for dogs, you can avoid the sense of impending doom, acting quickly should you ever notice a chocolate digestive missing from your plate.

Vigilance is key

Before we jump into an overview of some of the most toxic foods for doggos, we wanted to reiterate that any pawrent can find themselves in these sorts of situations. Because, well, a lot of the time it’s not pawrents who are guilty of handing out the toxic foods like mini Mars Bars on Halloween.

You can’t watch your fur-babies 24/7. And if you ever leave your pup under the watchful eye of friends or family, or have kids around the house, it becomes especially difficult to monitor what they’re snacking on. It can be like the child that goes to Grandma’s house and comes back hyped up on sugar after far too many chocolate and sweets.

But just because a pup goes to town on that bone and loves every second, it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. This is basically all a pretty long-winded way of me saying feel free to share this article with your loved ones, too. It takes a village to raise a puppy, after all!

Now, onto the list of foods your pup should be avoiding at all costs.

Chocolate

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs because of a stimulant called theobromine. It affects their guts, heart, central nervous system, and kidneys – so it really knows how to pack a worrisome punch.

Signs of poisoning can come up between 4-24 hours after ingestion and may include vomiting, hyperactivity, diarrhoea, restlessness, or seizures. The amount of theobromine really depends on the type of chocolate (it’s worst in dark varieties). But it’s best to exercise caution and keep your pup as far away from all types of chocolate as possible. Hey, look at it this way, it means more for you!

Caffeine

Trust me, they have enough energy for the zoomies without needing any extra caffeine.

Caffeine is another stimulant. And while a cheeky lick or two of your neglected tea or coffee likely won’t do any damage, swallowing whole coffee beans or tea bags can be problematic. Symptoms to look out for will be similar to chocolate poisoning, as the effects to your pooch will be near enough the same.

Most nuts

Absolutely perfect in a white chocolate cookie, less so in your pooch’s stomach. Nuts can be complicated, and it’s not as simple as a blanket statement saying they’re all bad.

Some, like macadamia nuts or almonds, need to be avoided. They can contain a toxin that impacts a dog’s muscles and nervous system. And in the case of almonds, they can cause blockages in the windpipe or the intestines.

Signs of poisoning will usually kick in within 12 hours and last for anywhere up to 48 hours after ingestion. And symptoms can include weakness, swelling of the limbs, vomiting, panting, tremors, and increased body temperature. 

If you’re looking for an alternative, peanut-based products should be okay. Unsalted peanut butter is a great treat, as long as you account for the caloric intake in their diet. Look out for dog-specific brands as they’ll have the right amount of salt. And keep your eye on the (good) fat content in peanut butter too. Of course, your pup could potentially be allergic to it like any human, so a sensitivity test is always a good idea to be safe.

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Bones

Giving your doggo a bone feels pretty natural, right? It’s been a favourite treat to give our pups for centuries. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But – and it’s a big but – you do have to watch out in certain circumstances. First, absolutely no cooked bones. By cooking them, you make them more likely to splinter, and they can cause constipation or, worst-case scenario, a gut perforation.

Raw bones, though, perfectly fine. As long as you give them an appropriate one for their size. Give a small dog a big bone and they can hurt their mouth and teeth. Give a big dog a small bone and they might inhale it in one go and blog their windpipe. You also want to monitor them when they have it so you can keep an eye on any bits that splinter off. You don’t want those working their way through your pooch’s digestive system.

Onions, garlic, and chives

The onion family can be incredibly toxic to dogs. They can lead to stomach and gut irritation, as well as damage to red blood cells and potentially anaemia. Signs of poisoning won’t usually kick in until a few days after ingestion, so you’re going to need to be extra careful if you suspect they’ve come into contact.

While it might be easy enough to prevent your pup from scoffing down whole onions or bulbs of garlic, you also need to be mindful of all the foods around your house that contain these ingredients. Such as that final piece of garlic bread, any sauces on that leftover bit of chicken, or even certain baby food recipes.

Avocados

Persin is a toxin found in avocados that, believe it or not, can be amazing for humans. It’s even being investigated as a treatment for breast cancer. But it also makes avocados another food that’s poisonous to dogs. 

Found in avocados’ leaves, fruit, and seeds, it can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea in pups.

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Alcohol

Alcohol is a big no-go for your pup. Not only can it lead to intoxication like in humans – think vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of coordination, and depression – but even small quantities can result in some really scary and potentially life-threatening adverse effects. 

In worst cases, alcohol poisoning can result in difficulty breathing, tremors, a coma, and sometimes even death. 

Their stomachs are just not built to process alcohol. Ethanol is what makes it boozy, and hops are used to brew beer. Neither should be anywhere near your pup. This also goes for food with alcohol in it. A nice bit of lamb in a red wine sauce? Delicious for us, not good for them. Not just because of the alcohol, but the grapes used to make wine too (but more on that soon).

Corn on the cob

A bit of a curveball throwing a vegetable into the mix, but unlike other veggies, corn does not digest well at all in your pup’s stomach. Symptoms that corn may be wreaking havoc on their insides include vomiting, loss or reduction of appetite, constipation, diarrhoea, or a tender stomach area.

Plus, we all know pooches lack impulse and portion control, so swallowing a corn on the cob whole could also present a choking hazard or intestinal blockages.

Grapes and raisins

Scarily enough, the toxic substance found in grapes and raisins is unknown. But what we do know is that it can cause kidney failure in some pooches. 

While dogs with underlying health conditions are the most at risk, it’s really not worth the risk for any pooch. Just one grape or raisin can prove extremely toxic. 

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Artificial sweetener (Xylitol)

Artificial sweeteners like Xylitol are how many of us cheat the system and sneak sweet treats back into our diets. Think sugar-free products and diet foods including some peanut butters. 

But, in the wrong paws, the insulin release triggered can put a pup into hypoglycaemia. This is linked to both liver failure and blood clotting disorders – no matter the dosage ingested.

Early signs that something’s not right might be lethargy, vomiting, seizures, and appearing more clumsy than usual.

Dairy

Another one that’s not as simple as it seems. We can’t say that you should avoid all dairy, because the specific part of what makes it bad for your pup isn’t in every dairy product. We’re talking about lactose. Anyone with a lactose intolerance knows what we’re talking about.

As puppies, their digestive system is really good at producing lactase – the enzyme to break down lactose. But as they grow older and don’t need to rely on mum’s milk anymore, they stop producing it. So for an adult dog, any lactose product – such as standard milk – is going to cause an issue.

But this isn’t the same for every dairy product. Cheddar cheese, for example, could be nice to have in small doses (small because you don’t want to give them too much fat). Resident Swagwags mascot Big G can’t have cheddar cheese because he’s allergic. Remember, every dog is going to be different depending on the dairy product.

So, as a rule of thumb, consider staying away from anything with lactose. And for all the rest, it pays to become familiar with the other components that go into the product to ensure there isn’t something in there that will set your pup off. Like blue cheese. Speaking of which…

Anything mouldy

For many of us, the stinkier the cheese the better. But mouldy foods like bread, nuts, and dairy products contain toxins that could leave your pooch very poorly. 

Aside from avoiding giving them these products directly, pay attention to where you’re keeping your food waste. Getting into a food bin would feel like hitting the jackpot for your pup… until the nasty symptoms start kicking in. 

There we have 12 common foods you’ll likely have in your home. It’s important to keep them out of their reach and only feed them appropriate food. If you ever suspect your pooch has snaffled any of these, act quickly and get them to the vet ASAP. No matter how small an amount they’ve had, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

And before we round this out, we’ll say this list is far from exhaustive. Especially when you start to consider food allergies your pup might have. Whenever you feed them something new, keep an eye on their health. And if something doesn’t seem quite right, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who can help.

Dog allergies are no joke. If you think there’s something in your pup’s diet that they don’t agree with, consider getting a sensitivity test. With results in 72 hours, all it takes is a few hairs to see what foods to stay away from. We’ll also be more than happy to guide you through the results and point you in the right direction.

When you need some new food, look no further than the Swagwags range of decadent kibbles. And not only that, our natural, transparent recipes will also help contribute to a longer, happier life.