What Food Can't Dogs Eat

What Can't Dogs Eat? Toxic Foods That Are Common In Australia

We all want to feed our dogs the best food available, but pet parents aren't aware of the many foods that canines cannot eat, and the list is pretty long.

No worries, we’ve put together the ultimate list of toxic food for dogs. With a little bit of practice, it’ll be easier to keep your pup away from dangerous foods.


Why Some Foods Are Poisonous To Dogs

While humans can eat a pretty diverse range of foods, our pets don’t work the same way. In fact, common human foods like onions are very dangerous to your pup’s health. Many common foods are poisonous to dogs and as their owner you’re responsible for keeping them out of their reach.

Many human foods are toxic to dogs, so avoid feeding them home-cooked meals made for people.

Dogs have different enzymes than humans. Their metabolism also works differently, and that’s why some foods are healthy for us but dangerous for them. For example, dogs are more sensitive to certain sweeteners, and they can spike their blood sugar levels and even cause liver failure.

dog begging for food

The Ultimate List Of Toxic Food For Dogs

While this list of foods dogs can’t eat isn’t exhaustive, it’s a good starting point to know which foods are bad to dogs.

  • Onion & garlic (natural or powdered): These common seasonings have a compound that causes anemia in dogs. If your dog eats a lot at once, it can cause full-blown poisoning.
  • Chocolate: The theobromine in chocolate causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and in serious cases it can lead to heart problems, tremors and even death.
  • Coffee or products with caffeine: In dogs, caffeine causes rapid heart beating and even death, especially in small dogs. Just one or two laps are enough for a visit to the ER, so make sure to keep your cups out of your dog’s reach.
  • Sweets: On top of many sweets having artificial sweeteners (that can be toxic), sugar on its own can lead to obesity, dental problems and even diabetes. So no Tim Tams for your pup!
  • Xylitol: This artificial sweeter makes dog’s blood sugar drop and causes liver failure. You can find it in toothpaste, gum, candies and diet foods.
  • Nope, your dog can’t eat Vegemite, Marmite or any of its different presentations. While Vegemite isn’t toxic, it has way too much sodium. If a dog were to eat a whole tub of Vegemite, they might get sodium ion poisoning, which is life-threatening.

Dogs shouldn’t eat Vegemite because it’s too high in sodium

  • Home-cooked food and table leftovers: Human food has way too many ingredients, salt and spices for dogs. For example, while chicken on its own might be good for dogs, when it’s mixed with tomatoes, onion and cheese, it becomes a big no-no. Home-cooked foods can cause gastrointestinal issues (like vomiting and diarrhoea) and in extreme cases, be the cause for hospitalization and death.
  • While the meat in sausages is good, this prepared food is too high in fat and salt. It might also have other seasonings that are downright poisonous to dogs, like onion and garlic. No barbecued snags for your pup!
  • They have sugar AND chocolate, so these scrumptious sweets can’t be on your dog’s diet.
  • These are very toxic to dogs! After eating them, your pup can have vomiting, weakness, depression and hyperthermia. Even small amounts can cause dangerous symptoms, so never give them to your pup.
  • Too much fat in their diet can cause pancreatitis. Avoid fish n’ chips as well as all other fried treats.
  • The chemical compounds in grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. One of the earliest symptoms is vomiting, so if you think your dog got into your grape stash and is vomiting, take them to the vet ASAP.
  • Dogs are more sensitive to alcohol than humans, and just a little bit can hurt their liver and cause alcohol poisoning. If left unattended, this can cause coma and even death. This is even more dangerous with small dogs and puppies, so don’t leave glasses out of your sight.
  • This health superstar is toxic to dogs in large quantities. The persin in them might cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Poisonous Garden Plants For Dogs

When it comes to what can dogs not eat, you need to take into account more than your dog’s diet. In fact, many pet emergencies happen because of dangerous substances or plants they weren’t supposed to eat in the first place.

Pets, especially young ones, are naturally inquisitive and can get themselves into trouble by eating things that they were not supposed to eat.” – AEC Vets [3]

Home gardens, while enjoyable, can host many plants that are very poisonous to dogs. According to the Animal Emergency Centre (AEC), here are some of the most common toxic garden plants that your dog shouldn’t eat [2]:

  • Lilies: The entire plant is toxic. Poisoning signs include vomiting pieces of lily, and kidney failure symptoms.
  • Cannabis sativa: The entire plant causes depression of the central nervous system. Symptoms include drooling, lack of coordination, increased heart rate and in serious cases, seizures and coma.
  • Cyclamen (sowbread, alpine violet): The full plant is toxic, but tubers are the most dangerous. Poisoning signs include GI irritation, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If left unattended, dogs can dehydrate quickly.
  • Sago palm: While the full plant is toxic, the seeds (nuts) are the most poisonous to dogs. Just eating one or two seeds is very dangerous. In general, poisoned dogs will present vomit and diarrhoea. Seizures can happen in serious cases.
  • Azalea/rhododendron: If eaten, your dog will show drooling, vomiting, depression and muscle weakness.
  • Kalanchoe: Symptoms include GI irritation (vomiting & diarrhoea as well as abnormalities in heart rhythm.
  • Oleander: Besides gastrointestinal irritation, a dog that has eaten Oleander might also show loss of coordination, shallow breathing, muscle tremors, hypothermia and in some cases, death.

PRO TIP: While these plants are poisonous, this doesn’t mean you can’t have them in the garden. Try to arrange them in a way where it’s difficult for your dog to get to them. For example, keeping them in pots away from your dog’s reach is a good option. Or placing them up high on a rock wall where your dog won’t see them. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on your dog when they’re out in the garden.

lilies are toxic to dogs

What Should I Feed My Dog?

Now you know what foods dog cannot eat. But what should you feed your dog instead?

RSPCA Australia recommends that your dog’s diet should be based on a high-quality, premium dog food. Make sure the label states the food complies with the Australian Standard AS5812, which ensures the food follows the latest safety measures [1].

PRO TIP: When in doubt, talk to your vet. They will offer recommendations based on your specific dog and will often let you know the best dog food brand for your pup.

How To Choose The Right Dog Food

While dogs should eat commercial dog food, not all of these are created equally. Choosing the right brand and ingredient mix is key in ensuring your pup’s long-term health. To make it easier, our expert vets have compiled the best dog foods available in Australia:

Here’s what to look for when choosing your dog’s food:

  • Certified by the Australian Standard for Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS5812:2017) or the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials).
  • Make sure the label states it’s a “complete and balanced” dog food, according to the aforementioned certifications.
  • Adapted to your dog’s age and activity level. For example, puppies should always eat puppy food, and senior dogs need a diet adapted to their unique needs.
  • Consider your dog’s medical conditions. This includes whether or not they’re pregnant/lactating, or have special issues like kidney problems, allergies or gastritis.
  • Try different presentations: there’s traditional dry and wet food, but there’s also dehydrated foods, pates and other options. Offer your dog more options and see what they like best, especially if they have dental problems.

We know high-quality dog food can be expensive. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t good options for smaller budgets! Our veterinarian team just put together the best cheap dog foods you can easily found in Australia. This means your pup can eat good food without destroying your budget.


How To Add Variety To Your Dog’s Diet

On top of commercial dog food, you can also offer fresh “extras” to keep their diet diverse. Here are some ideas:

  • Fresh meat and bones: If you want to give your pup more protein, choose fresh human-grade raw meat and bones. Raw “pet-grade” food has sulphites, which can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Too much sulphites in your dog’s diet can lead to Vitamin B1 deficiency. If this condition isn’t treated, it can lead to sickness and even death.

PRO TIP: Check with your vet first that raw meaty bones are suitable for your particular dog (e.g. some dogs with misshapen jaws or dental disease or older dogs may have difficulty chewing on raw bones).” – RSPCA Australia [4]

  • Fruits & vegetables: Offer your dog raw, cut vegetables to add more nutrients to their diet. You can also offer cooked vegetables like pumpkin and carrots to boost their fibre intake. If your dog likes fruits, they can be a healthy addition to their diet.
  • Fish: While most dogs can eat fish, you should consider it an occasional addition to their diet. Be mindful of fish bones and avoid scales. When offering canned fish, stick to fish canned in water rather than oil.

PRO TIP: Don’t overfeed your dog! These extras shouldn’t interfere with your dog’s regular eating schedule. To make sure you’re on the right track, here’s our in-depth guide to help you figure out how much should your dog eat.

Check out our other guides for more incredible info on Aussie Dog Foods:

FAQ

Can dogs eat cooked bones?

Short answer: no.

Dogs love bones, and you can easily provide them as part of a balanced diet. However, you need to stick to raw bones.

Cooked bones are dangerous to dogs: they break and splinter easily, which can be fatal to your pup. RSPCA Australia recommends you give bones to your dog twice a week at most. You should also avoid large marrow bones, T-bones, large knuckle bones and bones sawn lengthwise. Dogs eating bones should be supervised at all times.

Can dogs eat grass?

Yes, but only if it hasn’t been treated with chemicals like fertilizers and insecticides.

Many dogs enjoy munching on a bit of grass here and there, and it can also provide extra micronutrients.

References
  1. RSPCA. “How is the pet food industry regulated in Australia?”. RSPCA Knowledge Base. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-is-the-pet-food-industry-regulated-in-australia/
  2. AEC Vets. Common plant toxins information sheet. Animal Emergency Centre. https://www.aecvets.com.au/what-is-an-emergency/information-sheets/
  3. AEC Vets. Dangers for pets. Animal Emergency Centre. https://www.aecvets.com.au/what-is-an-emergency/dangers-for-pets/
  4. RSPCA. “What should I feed my dog?”. RSPCA Knowledge Base. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-dog/
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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