Foods that can harm your Pet


We’ve acquired a new member of our extended family at The Health Dispensary and it’s raised one of the most important questions of what’s good for your pet to eat.

Most of us are familiar with a huge range of packaged pet foods in cans and packets on Supermarket shelves. Whilst the choice of these can be bewildering at least we know they’re safe for our pets to eat.

We’re a bit soft about our animals – at work we love the many canine friends that come to visit us throughout the week, ably assisted by their human owners. Chris (pictured) our prescription delivery driver is well known for taking a selection of dog treats out with him and makes many furry friends on his rounds.

Human owners often like to treat pets to what we eat, perhaps a tidbit from the table, or a clever pet might even help themselves when unsupervised. As our new addition is a very bright Golden Retriever puppy we thought we’d focus on foods that are bad or possibly even dangerous for dogs

Here are our Top Five Foods to avoid giving your Dog

1. Chocolate

It used to be everyone’s favourite treat for dogs, back in the day when pharmacies sold everything (including wines and spirits!) I remember stocking up the Bob Martin treats and Christmas stockings. These are safe because they’ve taken out the poisonous chemicals that are present in human chocolate e.g. Theobromine which is a caffeine-like substance.

Historically Theobromine was used as a diuretic treating heart conditions like angina and blood pressure, a potent reminder of how food can be medicine. The name derives from the Greek “Theo” or God and “Broma” or food – no wonder chocolate is literally the “food of the Gods”.

If you ate enough chocolate it’s possible you could experience sweating, nausea and headache. In cats and dogs who cannot metabolise the substance as well as us, it’s extremely toxic and potentially fatal depending on the amount eaten and body weight. If in doubt contact your Veterinary surgery for advice.

2. Onions

Onions are hard to avoid! Over 7000 years of culinary use means they have slipped in as a staple to most of the world’s cooking.

Dogs are sensitive to compounds in onions called thiosulfinates, lacking the enzyme in their bodies to metabolise these chemicals. It appears that eating a small amount over time can be worse than one large ingestion leading to an anaemia of the blood which can be fatal. Either way, again speak to your Vet if unsure.

Interestingly these same thiosulphate compounds show promise as antibacterial, antiviral,  anti-fungal and possibly even anti-cancer agents. Unfortunately eating enough onions as a human to achieve this effect is nigh on impossible, as research points out, mainly due to the fact that we are super-metabolisers, unlike our canine pals.

3. Alcohol

Don’t share a beer with your dog! End of.

4. Grapes

We take grapes on hospital visits, but grapes and their dried version, raisins, can make your dog end up there.

They are very toxic to dogs – seek urgent assistance from your vet if you think your dog has eaten any, and remember they may be present in muesli, cereals and baked goods.

The cause of poisoning is not clear and also why some dogs are more susceptible than others – let’s hope our dogs are the lucky ones if this ever happens.

I’m going to blame salicylates (related to aspirin) not because of any proven research but because I hated using the substance in the laboratory – sneezy, itchy awful stuff! The other suspect present in grapes could be a mycotoxin – present in moulds and fungus. Moulds like these are often used by winemakers to produce rich and sweet wines – another thing you should not give your dog!! See point 3

5. Salt

Whilst a Salty Dog may be handy at sea, one at home is not so much fun. Avoid giving your dog salted snacks, crisps and processed foods and also too much of the current doggy treat favourite – peanut butter. Although, in truth, if your dog has access to fresh drinking water it’s unlikely to be too much of a problem in small amounts.

Our Wellness Pharmacists are more than happy to offer self-care advice about your Pet. They’re an important part of our families, and we know  when to refer to your Vet. We can also dispense Veterinary Prescriptions along with your other family medicines. Contact us for more information any time, and bring your furry friend to see us!

P.S. We did have a Boa Constrictor visit us once, no offence but please leave at home. Screaming Pharmacy Technicians are also not much fun!

Categories: Animal Pharmacy, Food