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All Blogs - From The Vet Desk

Human food to avoid feeding your pets

by Sami Stretton 10 Aug 2021
Human food to avoid feeding your pets


Can dogs eat avocado? Can dogs eat grapes? What about garlic?

Find out which foods are genuinely toxic to our pets and what foods are good for gut health and immunity.

Don’t believe everything that you read online when it comes to what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to feeding cats and dogs.

According to the European pet food industry federation ( which publishes the most accurate and science-backed information on food toxicity, there are only four foods and one supplement to stay clear of.

Toxic food for dogs:

  • Grapes (and raisins)
  • Cocoa (chocolate)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • The onion family, including chives, leeks, shallots, and garlic extract (not fresh garlic)

So, why do so many foods come with warnings?

When it comes it identifying which foods you can safely include in your pet’s diet, the advice available online doesn’t always make it easy. Ideally, foods should be categorised into four key areas (see below). Unfortunately what tends to happen is that foods get lumped into two, safe in all situations or avoid.

  1. Foods that can be genuinely toxic to pets (see above)
  2. Foods that should be avoided in pets with specific medical issues
  3. Foods that can pose a choking hazard
  4. Foods that when fed in excess (or introduced too quickly) can cause GI upset

Common food myths that can be put to rest

Avocados are toxic... FALSE

Don't feed or eat the skin or pit of avocados, as they contain a substance called "persin" that can cause GI upset, but the flesh is safe and healthy for you and your dog.

Never feed dogs mushrooms... FALSE

Mushrooms that are safe for people are safe for dogs. Mushrooms that are highly medicinal for humans are highly medicinal for dogs (and the same goes for toxicity).

Rosemary causes seizures... SOMEONE'S CONFUSED

The essential oils of rosemary and eucalyptus (that you buy at health food stores) contain a concentrated amount of camphor, a compound that, if consumed by epileptics, can increase seizure potential. (So don’t feed your epileptic dogs large quantities of rosemary essential oil.) A tiny pinch of fresh rosemary or a dash of dried rosemary other herbs added to your healthy dog’s bowl in minute quantities on the other hand will stimulate a positive health outcomes.

Walnuts are toxic... PSEUDOSCIENCE

Raw, unsalted walnuts (and almonds and Brazil nuts) certainly can be a choking hazard for dogs, so break them up into small pieces prior to feeding. One walnut half can be chopped into four perfect training treats for a fifty-pound dog and offered throughout the day. Again, the only nuts that are a risk for dogs are macadamia nuts, which can cause nausea. Peanuts may contain some mycotoxins but they are not innately toxic to dogs. If you have a black walnut tree in your yard, don't let your dog eat the bark (it can cause neurological symptoms) or the thick husk that encases the hard nut, as the mycotoxins that sometimes grow on the outer skin can cause vomiting.

Fresh Garlic can cause Anemia... SOMEONE’S CONFUSED

Small quantities of fresh garlic has been shown to assist the body in staying healthy. In fact, studies have shown it has positive effects on glucose levels in dogs, blood pressure, and the immune system to name a few. The difference between fresh garlic and garlic pills, powders, and extracts is that real garlic contains the enzyme alliinase, an enzyme that must be present to spark the biochemical reactions that unlock the medicinal compounds in this potent health food. So, skip the supplements and go with the real thing.

In summary

  • Don’t feed grapes (or raisins), onions, chocolate, or macadamia nuts to any dog, ever. Otherwise, use common sense.
  • The more fresh, real foods you include in your pet' s bowl, the healthier their gut and immune system will be.
  • The information in this article was an extract from The Forever Dog Book by Dr Karen Shaw Becker and Rodney Habib.

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