It’s often said variety is the spice of life, and where food is concerned that’s definitely true! Eating the same things day in and day out can become incredibly boring. Our pets enjoy variety in food just as much as we do, and there are even superfoods for dogs! But, we must be careful, as there are many foods that whilst perfectly safe for people to eat, can cause digestive upset or even signs of toxicity in dogs. Most owners simply have no idea that a particular food item is toxic and accidental food ingestions are a very common reason that dogs are rushed to the veterinary clinic for emergency treatment.
If you have fed your dog food that is toxic, you may see signs such as
As soon as you are aware that your dog has eaten a toxic substance, you need to contact a veterinarian for advice. There are useful helplines that you can call from home such as the Pet Poisons Helpline. The veterinarians who staff these phone lines can tell you if your dog has eaten a toxic item, what signs to look out for and what action is needed next. You may need to take your dog to the vet clinic to make them sick or you may be able to just watch them at home for signs of side effects.
A toxic food is one that will cause harm to internal organs if eaten. The following foods should never be fed to your dog:
Alcohol toxicity in dogs causes signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, inability to move or walk around normally, salivation, and increased thirst. In extreme cases, alcohol can damage the liver just the same as in people. If you are having a party or gathering be sure to keep your dog in a separate area once the drinks start flowing, as an unattended glass of wine or beer could spell disaster for your dog.
Raw, cooked, or powdered all forms of garlic onions, and chives (members of the Allium family of plants) are toxic to dogs. They cause toxicity by damaging the red blood cells, which can affect oxygen carrying capacity and lead to hemolytic anemia. When eaten by dogs, inflammation of the stomach and intestines follows, leading to vomiting, nausea, and reflux. These are common ingredients in sauces for home cooking, so always read the label before sharing your leftovers with your dog.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in baking, candies, peanut butter, toothpaste, and many more pantry staples. Ingestion of xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugars that can cause weakness or even seizures in some cases.
Found in teas, coffees, energy drinks, and coca cola. Caffeine is a neurological stimulant in dogs increasing their heart rate and causing restlessness or hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea. Large caffeine intakes can result in liver damage if not treated.
No one knows the exact way that grapes, raisins, and sultanas cause toxicity, but we do know that they can cause permanent nonreversible kidney damage, which is not always obvious until it’s too late. This can even lead to death in extreme cases. We also do not know the toxic dose of grapes, and one grape may be enough to cause signs of toxicity in some dogs. Any ingestion of grapes, raisins, or sultanas should be treated as an emergency.
A favorite at any BBQ, corn on the cob can be very dangerous for your German Sheperd. If eaten whole, it can get stuck in the stomach or intestines and cause an obstruction. Surgery is often needed to remove the corn on the cob.
Dough with any form of yeast can cause illness in dogs. If eaten, the dough continues to rise or expand, leading to signs of vomiting diarrhea, and even obstructions in rare cases. Illness can last for a few days after eating.
Any meat with bones such as chicken wings, or ribs are dangerous. Whilst the meat part is healthy and easily digestible for your dog, the bones are the biggest risk. Small bones can shatter and may cause lacerations or even perforations of the stomach and intestines. Larger rib bones can get stuck and need surgery to be removed.
There are many safe foods you can feed your German Shepherd, but also some foods that are very harmful. By having an understanding of the most dangerous, and knowing to do your research before adding in a new food group you can stop accidents from happening. Tips to keep your dogs from accidental snacking include lockable pantry doors, snap lock bins, and making sure your guests are aware that feeding your dog is off limits without permission.
Examples of safe human foods for German Shepherds include small amounts of cooked pasta or rice, cottage cheese, meats such as chicken, beef, or lamb, and eggs, the list is very long! Always feed in small amounts and check it’s a safe food before feeding to your dog.
Grapes, raisins, rhubarb, unripe tomato, and stone fruit such as cherries, peaches, and plums are all harmful to German Shepherds if eaten.
A lot of dogs are lactose intolerant, so foods like ice cream can cause tummy upsets. A small amount of ice cream as a treat will probably be ok, but large amounts frequently can cause bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
Never feed your dog raw potato, as it contains Solanine, a toxic compound to dogs. Baked or boiled in small amounts potato is safe to feed.