A little treat can cause more harm than good

It is tempting to give our pets a little treat or two, but some of our favourite snacks can actually be dangerous to animals.

Here are examples of common foods that can be poisonous to your pet:

If your pet has eaten anything you are worried about, our vets can give you the advice you need.


Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. The amount varies depending on the type of chocolate. White chocolate contains the least whereas dark chocolate contains a large amount. There is a toxic dose of theobromine depending on the animal’s weight.

The main signs are vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity and an increased heart rate. On discovering that your dog has eaten chocolate it is important to call us straight away. Our vets can work out whether the amount eaten exceeds the toxic dose. If this is the case, treatment is indicated, which may include inducing vomiting. If it is over two hours after the chocolate is eaten, it may be necessary for them to be hospitalised.

Grapes and Raisins

The toxic substance within grapes and raisins is not known, however they can cause kidney damage if consumed in large amounts. Your dog may start to vomit or have diarrhoea, drink a lot more and be lethargic.


This is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free chewing gum, nicotine gum, sweets and diabetic foods. It can cause your pet’s glucose level to fall to a dangerously low level and, in severe cases, result in liver damage.

The main signs are vomiting, weakness and incoordination. The onset of these signs is usually less than an hour post-ingestion, but they can arise any time over the following two days.

Onions and Garlic

Regardless of whether they are cooked or raw, onions and garlic can cause serious damage to your pet’s digestive system and red blood cells. Left over take away pizzas and Chinese food are among the most common sources.

The main signs are vomiting, diarrhoea, pale gums and lethargy.


Bones are not toxic as such, but can still cause major problems if they become stuck or cause damage to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

If your pet has eaten anything you are worried about, our vets can give you the advice you need. They are available on our emergency line 24 hours a day. The sooner we can intervene, the better the outcome.

Sara Townend, Vet.