What foods are harmful to dogs?

As a pet owner, it is likely you have been tempted to spoil your furry friend with a treat from your dinner plate, but before you do, take a look at this list of foods that are harmful to dogs. Some foods can cause severe illness and, sadly, sometimes fatal medical issues for your cat or dog.

More often than not, these foods are ingested accidentally. Unfortunately, the foods are common in most homes, and anyone who has owned a pet knows how stressful and expensive an unexpected trip to the vets can be. Therefore, the RSCPA recommends pet owners should be fully insured. With vets bills often running up hundreds of pounds, pet insurance gives you the peace of mind that your pet can get the best possible treatment no matter what is going on in your life financially.


Most of us love chocolate, but when it comes to dog’s, chocolate has a dark side. Cocoa-based foods are the number one cause of food poisoning in dogs. Cases tend to increase over the festive period as more of us have it at home in easy accessible places. Chocolate can cause anything from an upset tummy to seizure and even death.


It’s important to watch out for a sweetener called Xylitol. Xylitol is found in products like sugar-free gum, sweets, bread and other baked goods. Strangely Xylitol can be found in small quantities as an ingredient in pet dental care products as it acts as an anti-bacterial agent. However, suppose your dog ingests a significant amount. In that case, it can cause the release of too much insulin, leading to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), vomiting, inability to control movement, lethargy and, in the worse cases, seizures.

Onions, Chives, Garlic and Leeks

These common plants are part of the same family and contain a compound called organosulfides.  When a cat or dog chews the plant, the organosulfides breakdown and create a mix of sulphur compounds. These compounds can cause the animal’s blood cells to deteriorate. Even just a tiny piece of onion can cause dangerous changes to their blood. While many pets don’t show any symptoms after eating these foods, there have been reports of dogs developing vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.


Ethanol or alcohol poisoning in small animals generally occurs when an animal accidentally ingests an alcoholic beverage. However, most cases of alcohol poisoning in dogs have been reported after dogs have eaten rotten apples, sloe berries used to make sloe gin, and uncooked bread and pizza dough, all of which contain the compound. Ethanol isn’t found only in foods and beverages, however. Paint and varnish, medication, perfume, mouthwash and certain types of antifreeze also contain this dangerous chemical that is harmful to your animal.

Grapes, Sultanas, Raisins and Currants

Grapes, Sultanas, Raisins and Currants have been reported to cause kidney failure in dogs. While some dogs may eat these without incident, some animals become very ill. A recent study of 180 cases of dogs ingesting Grapes, Sultanas, Raisins or Currants found that some animals were able to consume 2lbs (0.9Kg) with no side effects, while others sadly died after eating just a handful. Dogs that showed symptoms might show signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, and abdominal pain within 24 hours of ingesting a grape or grape product.

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