Preparing for the arrival of a new dog is exciting. It's lovely to imagine the good times we're going to have with a new canine companion, whether it's long walks in the countryside or cuddling up watching TV together.
There are of course lots of things to think about when you're preparing to share your home with a dog though. You'll probably be obsessed with finding the best dog collar for your chosen breed, looking for the most comfortable dog bed or finding out the best ways to canine proof your home.
Before becoming the proud owner of a whippet puppy, I researched extensively to make sure I provided a happy and comfortable environment for a "new dog family." During this period of research, I found out certain foods are harmful to dogs. Some of these are commonly found in most households, and while seemingly benign to us they're incredibly dangerous to all dogs.
If you're currently thinking about becoming a dog owner for the first time, you should know about these foods so you can take steps to keep them locked away. Doing so might save you an unnecessary trip to see a veterinarian and sleepless nights worrying about your dog.
It's strange to think of fruits being dangerous to canines, after all many animals can safely eat all types of fruit without ill effects. However, certain fruits are extremely toxic to dogs and must be kept away from them.
Grapes and raisins are especially harmful for dogs, though it's not understood precisely what substance within them dogs can't metabolize. In sufficient quantities grapes and raisins cause liver damage and kidney failure, which can be fatal. Even small quantities can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Peaches and plums too pose a danger. Not only can peach and plum stones block a dog's digestive system, but they also contain cyanide.
Although not considered a fruit by many, avocados contain a toxin called persin, which causes sickness in dogs and in worst cases can also lead to lasting heart damage.
Onions are one of the most commonly found vegetables used in most home kitchens. The same goes for garlic and chives.
All members of the onion family are in fact toxic to dogs and cause a number of unpleasant effects such as fainting and heart palpitations.
There's also concern around tomatoes. While the flesh of ripe tomatoes is not harmful, unripe tomatoes as well as the leaves and stems of the tomato plant itself contain solanine, which can damage the nervous system and kidneys.
Although not fatal to dogs, macadamia nuts have the potential to cause a number of deeply unpleasant symptoms such as tremors, stomach upsets and hyperthermia. In the worst cases, macadamia poisoning can cause temporary paralysis.
The toxic effects of macadamia nuts are not permanent but seeing a loved pet suffer from macadamia poisoning is extremely upsetting. It will also likely require veterinary intervention to help alleviate your dog's distress until the effects have subsided: this can be very expensive.
Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs
Most dogs will eat all types of meat, poultry and fish. However it's important not to feed your dog any meat or seafood that's uncooked.
Uncooked meat poses a very real health risk for dogs since it's likely to contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. The cooking process kills off these pathogens meaning your dog won't be affected by the illnesses they cause. However, in their uncooked form foods containing these bacteria will pass them to your dog.
Raw fish too can contain bacteria that can make dogs very unwell. Furthermore, raw fish often also carries intestinal parasites that cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. As with meats, the cooking process kills the bacteria and parasites in raw fish.
Some people believe that raw eggs provide a higher nutritional value to dogs than cooked eggs, but this isn't true. PetMD tells us explicitly that there is no nutritional benefit whatsoever in feeding your dog raw eggs.
Moreover, since uncooked eggs can contain Salmonella, there's a very real risk of Salmonella poisoning as with uncooked meat.
The FDA recommends against feeding dogs uncooked animal protein because of the health risks it poses. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also discourages feeding animal protein that "has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens."
Dogs don't know what foods are dangerous to them and will eat anything if it smells tasty. That's why it's super important to be aware of the foods you leave out in your kitchen or dining area that your dog might be able to snaffle while your back is turned.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the foods and condiments we humans commonly consume that can also be extremely harmful to dogs. Dark chocolate, salt, caffeine and alcohol are other items found in many homes and each can cause mild to severe reactions if your dog consumes them.
The safest thing to do is to always be vigilant where food is concerned. Never leave food you don't want your dog to eat within "snouting" distance and always consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you ever think your dog has eaten something harmful.
As a final note, raw food pet diets are growing in popularity and there are some highly recommended dog food producers meeting recommended standards for supplying such products. If you think you'd like to give your dog a raw food diet make sure you research how to do so properly since it requires extra care and attention.