In your kitchen
It is important to remember that some human foods can be very
dangerous to dogs. If you wish to give your dog a treat, ensure
that it is something dog friendly and avoid giving them any of the
foods listed below.
Dogs are believed to be more sensitive to ethanol than humans
and so drinking even a small amount of alcohol can cause effects.
Certain alcoholic drinks may be more appealing to dogs, such as
cream or egg based drinks. Dogs may develop similar effects to
those expected in humans, including becoming drowsy, wobbly on
their feet and in more severe cases they can develop low body
temperature, low blood sugar, seizures and coma.
Roquefort and other blue cheeses contain a substance called
roquefortine C, which is a substance produced by the fungus used to
produce these cheeses. Dogs appear sensitive to this substance and
in more extreme cases can cause dogs to quickly develop muscle
tremors and seizures, which may last for up to two days.
When cooked, all bones become brittle and can easily
splinter. Eating chicken, turkey or goose carcases may cause larger
pieces of bone to cause an obstruction, while smaller pieces may
irritate the gut, or even penetrate the stomach or intestinal wall,
which may require surgery.
When preparing your Christmas day meal, ensure that any meat is
kept on the kitchen surface, or out of reach of your dog.
When throwing away a carcass, take it to the outside bin, therefore
avoiding any temptation for your dog to raid your kitchen bin
during the night.
Raw bread dough containing live yeast can expand in the warm and
moist environment of the stomach. As the bread dough rises,
or increases in size, it can lead to bloat and may escalate to
causing the stomach to twist. Signs may appear as vomiting,
retching, the dogs stomach appearing bigger than usual, weakness,
collapse and possibly even death. The dough can swell to such
a degree that it may decrease blood supply to the stomach wall, or
my put pressure on the diaphragm and could interfere with
As well as the expanding dough causing problems, the multiplying
yeast can start to produce alcohol and may cause. If adsorbed
in to the blood, dogs may develop similar effects to those expected
in humans, including becoming drowsy, wobbly on their feet and in
more severe cases they can develop low body temperature, low blood
sugar, seizures and coma.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is
poisonous to dogs and other animals. Generally speaking, the darker
the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the
more poisonous it is. White chocolate contains very little
theobromine and although it is unlikely to cause theobromine
poisoning, it is still very fatty and can make your dog ill.
Chocolate poisoning can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea,
but may lead to excitability, twitching, tremors, fitting and life
threatening problems with the heart.
Each year, reports of dogs with chocolate poisoning increase
dramatically around Christmas and Easter. During these periods take
extra care to ensure that all chocolate is kept out of the reach of
your dog. Although chocolate wrappers are not poisonous, they can
cause an obstruction if eaten. This can be very dangerous and may
require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction may include
vomiting, lethargy, your dog being off their food, not defecating
or finding it difficult to defecate.
Why these nuts are poisonous to dogs is not known, but macadamia
nuts can cause your dog to appear weak (particularly in their hind
limbs), dull, sleepy and they can sometimes appear wobbly on their
feet, or they may appear in pain or stiff when walking.
Vomiting, tremors, lethargy and an increased body temperature can
also occur. These effects usually appear within 12 hours and
may last up to two days.
Some macadamia nuts are covered in chocolate and so pose a
double risk to dogs.
Mouldy foods can contain lots of different toxins and, if eaten,
may make your dog ill. One particular substance, which is
mostly found on mouldy dairy products, bread and nuts, can cause
dogs to quickly develop muscle tremors and seizures, which may last
for up to two days. If you compost your food scraps, then
make sure that they are kept outside in a sealed container that
your dog can not access.
Onions (Allium species)
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to
theAlliumfamily. These plants all contain a substance which can
damage red blood cells in dogs and can cause life threatening
anaemia. Signs may not present for a few days, but can include
stomach problems and may cause your dog to become sleepy, dull,
weak, or develop rapid breathing.
Poisoned dogs may also have discoloured urine. Ensure that your
dog does not eat cooked foods that contain these vegetables, i.e.
onion gravy, onion bhaji etc.
Raisins (fruits of the Vitis vinifera)
Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are all toxic to dogs and
it is believed the dried forms of these fruits are more toxic. It
is not known why these fruits are poisonous to dogs, or how much is
dangerous. Some dogs have eaten large quantities of these fruit and
had no effects, while others have become unwell after very small
As well as possibly causing stomach problems, these fruits can
cause kidney failure, which can sometimes be delayed by up to three
days. Kidney failure may sometimes present as a decrease in
urination, or your dog may also appear dull and show signs of
Prompt treatment is important. If your dog does eat any amount,
contact your veterinarian immediately.
It is important not to let your dog eat any foods that contain
these fruits, such as hot cross buns, Christmas cake, Christmas
pudding, fruit cake, mince pies, stollen etc.
If available in large quantities some dogs may gorge themselves
on sugary sweets kept aside for, or collected by,
trick-or-treaters. After eating lots of sugar, or even lots
of fat, dogs can develop pancreatitis (an inflammation of the
pancreas), which may cause them to be off their food, develop
vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and go into organ failure.
Some sugar-free sweets, sugar replacements, chewing gums,
nicotine replacement gums and even some medicines, contain an
artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be very poisonous to
dogs. Xylitol is more commonly found in food products in America,
but is beginning to appear in sugar-free products in the UK as
well. Xylitol can cause an otherwise healthy dog's blood sugar
level to quickly drop to dangerous levels and larger amounts can
also cause liver failure. Signs of poisoning can include your dog
appearing weak, lethargic, or they may collapse or develop
Tips on how to poison-proof your home
Keep all chocolate out of the reach of your dog. At Christmas,
this includes chocolate coins hung from Christmas trees, advent
calendars, boxes of chocolate put out on Christmas day and don't
forget the wrapped chocolate presents under your Christmas tree
(just because its wrapped doesn't mean your dog can't smell
How to use this information
The information is intended to be used to prevent poisoning by
raising awareness of certain poisons, rather than as a document to
be used in an emergency. If you suspect that your dog has been
poisoned, or has come into contact with potentially poisonous
substances, contact your local veterinary practice immediately.
The lists of poisons in this information guide are not
exhaustive. If an item is not mentioned in this guide it should not
be assumed that it is not poisonous. Further advice on substances
that could harm your dog could be sought from your local veterinary
Who can I contact for further advice?
The Kennel Club is not a veterinary organisation and is unable
to provide general or case specific veterinary advice. If you
have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this
article then please contact your local veterinary practice for
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
If you think that your dog may have eaten, touched or inhaled
something that it shouldn't have, consult your local veterinary
Do not try to make your dog sick. Trying to do this can cause
other complications, which may harm your dog.
In an emergency you can help your veterinary practice make an
informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be treated by
them, and if so, what the best treatment would be. Where possible
you should provide your veterinary practice with information
- What poison you think your dog has been exposed to (i.e.
chocolate, ibuprofen, etc.). Include any product names, or lists of
ingredients if relevant
- How much they may have been exposed to (i.e. 500mg, 500ml, one
tablet etc, even approximations may help)
- When your dog was exposed to the poison (i.e. 5 minutes, 5
hours or 5 days ago)
- If your dog has been unwell, and if so, what clinical effects
have been seen
It is easier for a veterinarian to care for a poisoned dog if it
is treated sooner rather than later. If you are in any doubt, do
not wait for your dog to become unwell before calling for
If you do need to take your dog to your veterinary practice,
make sure that you take along any relevant packaging, or a sample
of the poison, i.e. parts of plant or fungi. Always make sure that
you yourself are protected and cannot be poisoned in turn.