grapes and wine are harmful to dogs
Grapes and wine are harmful to dogs

It’s easy to think that if something is safe for us to eat, it must be safe for our dogs too. But that’s not always true – a few of the foods we love can be bad for, or toxic to, dogs. It’s important to know which ones, so you don’t accidentally give your dog something that could make them unwell. Here’s our veterinary and nutritionist team’s rundown of foods to keep out of your dog’s reach.

What foods are poisonous to dogs?

Some foods are toxic to dogs. This means they contain substances that are harmful to your dog’s health. In extreme cases, eating them can be fatal. Here are eight of the most important foods you shouldn’t feed your dog:


1. Can dogs drink alcohol?

Alcohol affects dogs more intensely than it affects humans, and can cause damage to multiple organs, like kidneys, liver and stomach. Be particularly careful if sweet alcoholic drinks are around, as sugar can cover up the alcohol flavour that would normally put dogs off.

2. Can dogs eat apple pips?

While apple is OK to give your dog in small amounts, it’s important not to serve the whole fruit. That’s because apple pips contain cyanide. Ditch the core, and serve tasty pip-free slices instead.


3. Can dogs drink caffeine, particularly coffee? 

The stimulant effect of caffeine is bad news for dogs  – it can make them anxious, hyperactive, and affect their heart. In serious cases, it can even cause them to collapse or have a seizure. The high caffeine content of coffee puts it among the worst offenders, so always keep your morning brew out of your dog’s reach.

4. Can dogs eat blue cheese?

The fungus that makes blue cheese taste delicious to humans is far from friendly to our pet pals. That’s because it releases roquefortine C – a toxin that, in severe cases, can cause tremors and seizures.

5. Can dogs eat chocolate?

Chocolate’s well known for being poisonous to dogs – it contains theobromine, a substance similar to caffeine. All chocolate is a no-go, but dark chocolate should be kept especially off-limits, thanks to higher levels of this harmful substance.

6. Can dogs eat grapes, raisins and currants?

While it’s not clear exactly what makes these foods toxic for dogs, they’ve been associated with symptoms as severe as kidney failure – so they’re best avoided.

7. Can dogs eat onions, garlic and leeks?

All contain thiosulphate, a substance known to cause tummy troubles and a severe form of anemia. It’s not just the whole vegetables you need to keep out of your dog’s reach – garlic and onion flavourings can appear in almost any savoury dish, including baby food.

8. Can dogs have xylitol?

Look out for this common artificial sweetener that’s toxic for dogs – it’s often in things you wouldn’t expect, like baked goods and peanut butter.

What other food can dogs not eat?

These foods aren’t technically toxic, but all have the potential to make your dog very unwell:

1. Avocado

The stone poses a choking hazard, but that’s not the only reason to keep your dog away from avocado. This rich fruit contains persin – a chemical that doesn’t agree with dogs’ digestion.

2. Bones

Give the dog a bone’ is fine for a nursery rhyme, but in real life dogs and bones are a riskier mix. Stored, raw bones can carry nasty bacteria that may upset your dog’s stomach. Meanwhile, cooked bones are brittle – pieces can break off and get stuck in your dog’s throat or digestive system, or even pierce your dog’s intestine walls.

Read more: Myth Buster: Give the dog a bone?

3. Citrus fruits

Ignore the videos of dogs eating lemons; citrus fruits and dogs aren’t a good combination. The citric acid and essential oils found in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are known to upset a dog’s digestive system – among other symptoms.

4. High-fat, salty or fried foods

Rich, fatty foods have a nutrient balance that’s out of sync with what’s healthy for dogs. Salty foods can make your dog thirsty, and need to urinate more. That means crisps and chips are off the menu.

5. Milk and other dairy products

Dogs can’t digest lactose – a type of sugar found in milk – so dairy products often cause digestive upsets in our canine companions.

6. Mushrooms

It’s best to keep mushrooms out of your dog’s diet altogether, so they’re not tempted by the potentially poisonous ones you see out and about.

7. Nuts, particularly macadamia nuts

Nuts may be healthy for humans, but they can leave dogs extremely unwell. Macadamia nuts are particularly problematic, as they can cause vomiting, fever and muscle weakness.

8. Out-of-date food

Make sure you bin out of date food somewhere your dog can’t get to it, as it’s likely to make them unwell. If it’s past the point where you’d eat it, don’t let your dog eat it either.

9. Shellfish

Dogs can eat fish, so you might expect shellfish to be fine too. But foods like crab, prawns and crayfish can contain pathogens that make your dog extremely unwell. Shellfish can also cause an allergic reaction in dogs, thanks to high levels of an amino acid called histidine.

How can I tell if my dog has eaten something that’s bad for them?

Reactions can vary from seeming out of sorts to something more serious, like vomiting, diarrhoea, or in extreme cases, seizure – it all depends on what they ate, how much, and how long ago. A regular mealtime schedule can help you keep track of your dog’s digestive health, so you immediately spot anything out of the ordinary.

What should I do if my dog has eaten something they shouldn’t?

Take your dog to the vet to get checked over as soon as you notice something’s not right – or when you suspect they’ve eaten a food that’s bad for dogs. Even if you’re wrong, it’s best to know they’re OK.

How can I stop my dog eating something that’s bad for them?

The best way to keep your dog’s diet 100% safe is to serve food created especially for them. Every dog gets a tailor-made kibble blend, plus the choice of a wide range of nutritionally balanced wet food and treats. The result: complete confidence you’re serving food that supports your dog’s health.

If you’d like to know more about foods to avoid feeding dogs, ask our veterinary and nutritionist team – get in touch at

Originally published on and republished here with the kind permission of the author, Sophie Van Der Veken.

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