What plants or food are poisonous to dogs?

There are common foods and plants that can be poisonous to dogs. Our guide will help you spot which ones are toxic to dogs.

Foods that are poisonous to dogs:

  • Chocolate contains the toxic compound theobromine, which is found in cocoa. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Even in small quantities it can result in vomiting and diarrhoea, and as it’s a diuretic it can cause severe dehydration. More serious intoxication results in heart and brain problems requiring urgent veterinary attention
  • Raisins, currants, sultanas and grapes can cause kidney failure. Individual dogs react differently, so even a few grapes or a handful of raisins can be toxic. Initially they may develop vomiting and diarrhoea but then kidney failure can develop from 24-72 hours after ingestion. Reactions are unpredictable, so always seeking veterinary attention if they eat these foods. There have been reports of cats also being affected
  • Raw dough does not settle well with your dog’s system, and so we recommend keeping any out of sight if you are making cakes or bread
  • Avocados contain a toxin called Persin. This causes upset stomachs in dogs, breathing difficulties and fluid buildup in the chest, but the stone is also very dangerous for them too. As it’s slippery, it can accidentally be swallowed by dogs, leading to obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. This can also happen with peaches, nectarines and similar stoned fruits
  • Xylitol is an artificial sweetener. It’s harmless to humans but it can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can cause liver failure. Early symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and coordination problems. Eventually, your dog may have seizures. Liver failure can happen within just a few days. Xylitol is often added to peanut butter so if you are using peanut butter for kongs, check ingredients first
  • Alcohol affects a dog’s liver and brain in the same way it affects people’s organs – but it takes a lot less to hurt your dog. Even a little beer, wine or spirits can be serious. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination problems, breathing problems, coma, even death. The smaller the dog, the worse it can be
  • Onions, garlic, leeks (also found in some stuffing) will initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea but after 1-5 days can result in anaemia. This can happen when eaten raw or cooked
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeine can be fatal. Keep your dog away from coffee and tea, even the beans and the grounds, and energy drinks that have caffeine in too. Caffeine is also in some cold medicines and pain killers. If you think your dog had caffeine, take them to the vet as soon as possible
  • All nuts, particularly peanuts and macadamias are known to cause weakness, spasms, convulsions and gastrointestinal problems. As little as six macadamia nuts can be fatal to dogs. In particular, your dog should avoid chocolate coated nuts

Finally, medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine, these can be deadly for your dog. Call your vet if your dog has consumed any of your medicines. Never give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless your vet tells you to.

Plants that are toxic to dogs:

  • Amaryllis bulbs
  • Asparagus fern
  • Azalea cyclamen
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Day lilies
  • Delphiniums
  • Foxgloves
  • Hemlock
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Laburnum lilies
  • Lily of the valley
  • Lupins
  • Mistletoe
  • Morning glory
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Sweet pea
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Umbrella plant
  • Wisteria
  • Yew

Dogs and houseplants

When you have a new or young dog it’s best to lift houseplants out of reach, especially when every new item seems to end up in your puppy’s mouth. Stay with them in the garden: if they show interest in any of the following plants, give them something else to do; like playing with a toy.

Cocoa bean garden mulch

Cocoa bean garden mulch is used in landscaping, often in public parks, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for this on your walks. Cocoa beans from the tropical cocoa tree contain theobromine, a product related to caffeine that humans assimilate very well, but dogs and cats can’t.

The risk is greatest to young dogs, because puppies and young dogs explore everything with their mouths: during this phase they chew on almost anything. Most cases of poisoning from cocoa mulch are relatively minor, but some dogs eat enough to become very sick, and it can even be fatal.

What to do in an emergency

It’s best to call or visit a vet straight away. Then, get in touch if you need further support in the event of an emergency.

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