One of the ways we reward our dogs when they've been good is to treat them with food. But watch out - what we consider a treat, especially at Christmas, can be extremely dangerous for dogs. To prevent a trip to the emergency vet this festive season, here are seven foods to avoid giving your pooch.
It's hard to imagine how something so delicious could ever be harmful. But as all good dog owners know, chocolate can be extremely poisonous for dogs. Chocolate contains naturally-occurring chemicals – caffeine and theobromine. Dogs who eat chocolate can suffer from vomiting, heart palpitations, tremors, seizures and even death. Save your dog a trip to the vets and keep chocolate well out of your pooch's reach.
You'd never think the humble onion could upset your dog's digestion so much. Or that an accidentally gulped bulb of garlic could lead to red blood cell damage. Avoid giving your dog onions and garlic – even if it's just a small amount amongst other table scraps. Interestingly, cats are more susceptible to getting ill from eating onions but dogs are also at risk if they've scoffed a lot.
A delicious tub of fresh guacamole, or thick slices of gooey avocado on a salad is such a treat for humans – but can be extremely bad for dogs. Avocados contain a toxin called persin, which can cause upset stomachs, breathing difficulties or even fluid build-up in your dog's chest. Even more dangerous is the slippery stone in the middle. It can be a choking hazard if it gets stuck in a dog's throat, or cause pain and suffering if swallowed.
At Christmas, raisins are everywhere - mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, and chocolate covered raisins. Unfortunately, the most poisonous fruit your dog can eat are grapes and raisins. Many dogs get very ill after eating these, suffering from vomiting, dehydration, diarrhoea and even rapid kidney failure.
Corn on the cob may seem like a delicious and healthy treat for both humans and dogs, but our canine pals can't easily digest sweetcorn. If they swallow the cob too, it can get trapped in their digestive system, leading to intestinal blockage and abdominal pain.
These nuts are a no-no for your dog. Scientists don't know why this popular human treat affects dogs so badly, but you'll know if your dog has sneakily eaten macadamia nuts: he may become weak and have trouble walking, get tremors or even hypothermia.
This seems like a no brainer – although sometimes our dog's breath is so bad that it might be very tempting to give him gum. Sugar-free chewing gum (in fact, any food containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener) is highly toxic for dogs. Even a small amount can lead to lethargy, vomiting, seizures and liver problems. Keep sugar-free foods well out of your dog's reach. If you want to freshen his breath, try giving him a carrot instead.
Cooked bones! You'd think that giving your dog the leftover bones from your Sunday roast would be a delicious treat, and your dog would certainly agree.
Unfortunately for Rover, bones can often lead to an emergency trip to the vets. Roasting meat makes the bones inside more brittle, meaning they're likely splinter when your dog starts to chew on them.
Dogs can break their teeth on tougher bones and shards of bone can get stuck in their mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. In the worst cases, this can be life threatening and may need emergency surgery to remove.
So, sorry boy – cooked bones are off the menu. Raw bones from your butcher are safe, but check with your vet if in doubt.