Food choices and your dog

Your dog has a very different digestive system to you, so it’s important to realise their reactions to some foods will be different too. If you’re not sure whether a food will be harmful for your dog, the best thing to do is avoid giving it to them at all or to speak with your vet first. 

To help you make the right food choices for your dog, we’ve put together a list of common foods that we might love to eat but can be harmful to your pet. 

Milk, cheese and dairy

You should minimise the amount of dairy your dog eats, or avoid it altogether if you’re not sure. 

The impact of dairy on your dog will vary. Some dogs can include it in their diet without any problems while others might experience acute pain after eating dairy. 

Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the sugar lactose which is found in dairy and can trigger a food allergy or cause an upset stomach for your dog.

Chocolate

Chocolate and other caffeinated food and drinks contain a substance called theobromine which is toxic to dogs. It can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and become poisonous for your dog. 

The amount of theobromine will vary depending on the type and quality of chocolate. In general, darker chocolates have higher doses and will be more toxic for your dog. Be careful in situations that could be a health risk, like licking chocolate icing from a bowl or eating mud cake. 

If your dog does eat chocolate, report it to your vet. They’ll need to know the size of your dog, type of chocolate and how much they have eaten. Take a sample of the chocolate if you’re advised to bring your pet in.

Grapes and raisins

You should always avoid feeding these to your dog. 

While we may love to eat them, grapes and raisins can be very dangerous for your dog. They are highly toxic and not easily processed by a dog’s digestive system. As a result, your dog may start vomiting soon after eating, resulting in dehydration and in more severe cases, kidney failure. 

Garlic and onions

Raw garlic and onions can cause gastrointestinal problems and anaemia if eaten by dogs. Vegetables like garlic, chives, and other members of the onion family, can cause problems for dogs if eaten in excess. 

If your dog eats garlic or onions, report it to your vet.  

Fatty foods and alcohol

Alcohol and fatty foods are harmful to dogs and should be avoided. 

A diet high in fat may lead to long term health problems and weight gain for your dog. A dog’s digestive system is not equipped to handle alcohol and it can damage their kidneys.

Cooked bones

Cooked bones are not good for your dog as they can splinter and cause internal damage. 

Feeding your dog raw meat and bones is usually okay as dogs have a largely carnivorous diet. Domesticated dogs should be fed human-grade meat as this minimises their risk of absorbing preservatives or bacteria which can cause stomach upsets. 

Artificial sweeteners

Eating artificial sweeteners (like Xylitol) should be avoided. 

Xylitol which is found in many baked goods, toothpaste and gum can be very harmful to your dog. It can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar levels and the onset of hyperglycaemia. While these reactions are more severe in cats, artificial sweeteners can cause liver failure and even seizures in dogs. 

Macadamia nuts

As little as a few macadamia nuts can make your dog ill. Symptoms include vomiting, muscle tremors, inability to walk and paralysis. 

Foods containing macadamia nuts, such as baked goods, should also be avoided. 

Immediate action if your dog is sick

Contact a vet if your dog has eaten any of the above foods. Try and gauge how much your dog has eaten as this can assist in providing appropriate treatment.

Treatment and prevention

The easiest way to avoid having to treat your dog is through prevention. Avoidance of these foods eliminates the risk of a reaction. 

Sticking to a diet outlined by your vet provides benefits to your dog’s health and gives you peace of mind.