What food is bad for dogs?

We've worked with registered vet nurses to compile this guide on what not to feed to dogs – and what to do if your dog does manage to get their paws on the wrong types of treat.

It can be tough to resist giving out snacks to your pet – especially when faced with those puppy dog eyes! But although the food we eat is tempting for dogs, even small amounts of the wrong food can be toxic. Your dog should get all the nutrients he or she needs from their dog food, and even scraps and snacks that aren't harmful can cause dental problems or weight gain. If your dog shows any signs of illness, be sure to consult a vet immediately.


    There is some conflicting information on what not to feed to dogs – and one of the foods that leaves people divided is avocado, with a lot of discussion over whether or not it is toxic to dogs. The leaves, bark and fruit of the avocado plant all contain a toxin called persin that may cause stomach upset in your pet. If you grow your own at home, keep any plants out of reach – and make sure your pooch stays well away from the guacamole.

    Symptoms: mild stomach upset.

    Treatment: remove avocado from your dog's diet.


      Giving beer, wine or any other kind of booze to your dog is clearly a bad idea – and a cruel one. Even a very small amount of strong liquor can damage your pet's liver and brain, cause coma and even death. Ethanol poisoning can also occur from eating fermented fruits, solvents or paint, or even bread dough – and can be deadly.

      Symptoms: lethargy, elevated heart rate, breathing problems, drooling, vomiting, collapse, death.

      Treatment: seek immediate veterinary treatment.

        Garlic, onions, leeks, chives

        These can destroy your dog's red blood cells, causing anaemia. Garlic and onion powder can be especially potent, so be wary of it in sauces and processed foods that your dog may get hold of.

        Symptoms: weakness, lethargy, vomiting, breathlessness, discoloured urine.

        Treatment: seek veterinary attention immediately – your vet will need to induce vomiting, even if only small amounts have been eaten. (Do not attempt to induce vomiting at home.) Remove any onion or garlic from your dog's diet – if the case is severe, then a blood transfusion may also be necessary.


          Even if you can't imagine a day without a coffee fix, your dog won't appreciate the same. Caffeine is very harmful to dogs, so be careful to keep it out of their reach.

          Symptoms: hyperthermia, hyperactivity, vomiting, elevated or irregular heart rate, seizures, collapse, death.

          Treatment: Take your dog to a vet immediately. Do not attempt to induce vomiting at home.

            Chocolate and cocoa mulch (used in gardening)

            In the right quantities, certain types of chocolate can be toxic for any dog. This is due to a substance called theobromine. The higher the cocoa solids of the chocolate, the higher the theobromine level will be – cooking chocolate, and expensive or continental chocolate is likely to have a much higher cocoa solid content. If ingested, it can lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your dog. It's important to be wary of feeding your pet anything that might contain chocolate and always keep it out of reach.

            Symptoms: hyperthermia, hyperactivity, vomiting, elevated or irregular heart rate, seizures, collapse, death.

            Treatment: Treatment is not required if a dog has consumed white chocolate. Take your dog to a vet immediately if any of the following apply:

            • Milk chocolate: more than 9 grams per kg of your dog's bodyweight.
            • Plain chocolate: more than 1 gram per kg of your dog's bodyweight.
            • Cocoa powder: more than 0.7 gram per kg of your dog's bodyweight.

            Please note the above is just a guide. Do not attempt to induce vomiting at home.

              Grapes and raisins

              These may seem like a healthy snack, but they can cause kidney failure in dogs, with even small amounts being potentially harmful.

              Symptoms: lethargy and vomiting are common signs.

              Treatment: if your dog is showing symptoms, take them to a vet immediately.

                Dairy products

                While milk, cheese, ice cream and other creamy snacks might make tempting treats for your dog, the high fat content can cause stomach upsets or even pancreatitis – a very painful and potentially serious condition.

                Symptoms: diarrhoea and stomach pain.

                Treatment: remove dairy products from your dog's diet.

                  Macadamia nuts

                  Just a small handful of these nuts can cause an adverse reaction in dogs. Symptoms usually last 48 hours, and can be painful and distressing for your pet, and even fatal in some cases.

                  Symptoms: paralysis of the back legs, tremors, pain, elevated heart rate.

                  Treatment: take your dog to a vet.


                    This sweetener is found in many items such as gum, confectionary, baked goods and toothpaste. If your dog eats enough of a product containing xylitol, it can cause an increase in insulin production, making your pet's blood sugar drop. In extreme cases, this can lead to liver failure.

                    Symptoms: vomiting, loss of coordination, lethargy, seizures, liver failure.

                    Treatment: seek urgent treatment from a vet.

                      Table scraps

                      Meat trimmings can be problematic – as with dairy products, the high fat content can cause stomach pains, diarrhoea or pancreatitis. Bones can cause choking, or serious constipation – and possibly internal damage to the stomach and intestines. The best advice is not to give bones at all.

                      Symptoms: vomiting and diarrhoea can be caused by eating fat. Lacerations caused by bones could manifest in abdominal pain and signs of digested blood in the faeces, which may become very dark brown or black. However, there may be no initial symptoms so if you suspect or know that your dog has eaten cooked bones, contact a vet immediately.

                      Treatment: avoid feeding table scraps to your pet and keep their diet to a commercial dog food. If your dog is showing signs of illness, seek veterinary care.

                        Raw eggs

                        Aside from the risk of food poisoning, raw egg can affect the absorption of the B vitamin biotin.

                        Symptoms: eating raw eggs over a long period of time can cause skin problems and damage your dog's coat.

                        Treatment: remove raw eggs from your dog's diet, and seek vet care if necessary.

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                              Important information

                              Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

                              Vetfone™ is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

                                Conditions that apply to your policy:

                                • We don't pay for food (even when prescribed by a vet).