Food Toxicities


Here at Beaufield one of the most common presentations we see is the sick dog with a dodgy stomach. There are, of course, many possible reasons for vomiting and diarrhoea, including infectious and parasitic conditions, but there a lot of them are also due to dog’s eating something they really, really shouldn’t have. As well as gastrointestinal disease, some of these foods can cause problems with other organ systems. We’ll go through some of the common, and not-so-common, foodstuffs that can cause serious illness to your pet pooch if they get their jaws around it!


The onion family, whether dry, raw or cooked, is particularly toxic to dogs and can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage. Signs of illness are not always immediate and can occur up to a few days later.


This is one of the most common food-related illnesses we see (after all, who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate!) However enticing chocolate is for humans and dogs alike, chocolate is a poisonous food for dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (dark chocolate has the highest content of this) which is toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure, along with pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias and diarrhoea.

Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can affect your dog’s muscles and nervous system resulting in weakness, swollen limbs and panting.

Corn on the cob could potentially be fatal if eaten by your dog. Although the corn is digested by dogs, the cob can get stuck in your dog’s intestine and surgery is necessary to remove the indigestible blockage.

Avocados are another poisonous food for dogs. Avocado plants contain a substance called persin which is in its leaves, fruit and seed and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. So no more avocado on toast on weekend mornings for Rover!


Our desire for sweet treats, chewing gum and drinks together with low-fat, diet and sugar-free products (including some peanut butters so always check the label before using this as a treat) are often laced with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol which causes an insulin release in our bodies. However, if your dog digests one of these sweetened foods they can go into hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) which is linked to liver failure and blood clotting disorders.

Alcohol has a huge impact on dogs even in small doses. The drink not only causes intoxication as it does in humans, but it can lead to sickness, diarrhoea and even central nervous system damage.


Avoid cooked bones at all cost (and take care with raw bones). The cooked bones can easily splinter and in large quantities cause constipation or at worst, a perforation of the gut which can be fatal.

Raisins are in many of the foods that we love to eat such as cakes, biscuits and cereals so it’s not just the fruit form we should be concerned with. The active ingredient which causes the toxin is unknown, however both grapes and raisins may cause severe liver damage and kidney failure.

If consumed, even small amounts of these items can cause serious illness or fatality so always act immediately and take your dog to the vets.