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Food to avoid - Ask Clare, the vetfone™ veterinary nurse


puppy-food-to-avoid.jpgVeterinary nurse Clare Scantlebury takes calls on the vetfone™ helpline and is here to answer all your pet health queries.


Question - I’ve heard that raisins are poisonous to dogs? What else around the home could harm my lovely new puppy, Stanley?


Answer - Puppies love exploring. And picking things up with his mouth is one way Stanley will start to understand the world around him. Sometimes, he might eat those things too. In fact, most dog owners will have a story about turning their back for a moment only for their pet to have swallowed something not on the approved menu. These things happen, and it’s not always a cause for concern. But there are some things that you really don’t want Stanley to try as they may make him very poorly.

Below are a few of the most common items found around the home that can cause puppies and adult dogs harm if eaten.

Raisins, grapes, sultanas and currants


It is not known why these fruits are toxic to dogs, or how much is a toxic dose, but dry fruits are more harmful than fresh. They can cause kidney damage, which can take several days to present itself. Keep your dog away from all of these fruits as well as fruit cake, hot cross buns, mince pies etc.



Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which can cause seizures, heart and kidney problems. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet (but even white chocolate can include some, too). For obvious reasons, take extra care around Christmas and Easter.


Garlic, onions, chives, shallots and leeks

These all belong to the allium family and can damage the red blood cells, causing anaemia. There’s a very good chance some of these will feature in most meals, so avoid giving Stanley leftovers. Also, if you grow them in your garden, keep him well away.




This is an artificial sweetener that can cause seizures, liver failure and, in the worst cases, death. It’s found in chewing gum, sweets, some makes of peanut butter, cakes and many sugar-free foods. Keep anything you suspect may contain xylitol well away from dogs.




Most of us have medications at home, from paracetamol and aspirin to stronger drugs. Treat a dog as you would a child – keep them all well out of reach. If your puppy ingests medication, contact your vet straight away. If you do need to visit the vet, make sure you take the packaging with you.


Corn on the cob kernels, kebab sticks, bones


We all love a barbecue in the summer, but be careful to dispose of any leftovers straight into your bin. Corn on the cob kernels can get stuck as they enter the intestinal tract. Kebab sticks can perforate the stomach or gut wall and cause serious damage. Bones are a choking hazard and should not be given to dogs. Also, cooked bones can splinter and cause damage to the intestinal tract.


Garden plants


Digging in the garden will be second nature to your puppy. Be aware that spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips can cause vomiting, salivation, oral irritation and, in more serious cases, seizures. Keep an eye on his digging spots and move him on if need be.




Caffeine poisoning can be fatal, so never give Stanley tea or coffee, and keep your morning cuppa away from him. If your puppy eats any of these foods, or anything else you are concerned may cause harm, always call your vet straight away for advice. And remember, prevention is always better than cure.


If you would like to find out more about different breeds of dogs and cats, including their characteristics, exercise and nutrition essentials, click here.


Disclaimer: The content on this page aims to offer useful information but does not constitute veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Limited.

Poisons (pdf, 1.79MB)