Three in 10 pet owners feed their dogs toxic foods

Nearly three in 10 pet owners admit to feeding their dogs something toxic, with apple seeds the most common food they didn’t realise could cause harm, new research reveals.

The study was conducted by dog-friendly holiday lettings company Canine Cottages, who also polled pet owners across the nation to reveal which foods they did and didn’t realise caused harm to their pets, as well as how many have accidentally fed their furry friends something harmful.

Working with a vet, Canine Cottages has also created an interactive tool, highlighting how toxic foods can affect their pets from their inside, and advice on what to do to treat them upon consumption.

According to the research, of the most common toxic foods, the top 10 that British pet owners didn’t know can be toxic to their dogs are:

  • Apple seeds (76%)
  • Artificial sweetener (75%)
  • Caffeine (70%)
  • Onions/chives (70%)
  • Coffee (69%)
  • Garlic (65%)
  • Grapes/raisins (63%)
  • Mouldy food (62%)
  • Alcohol (55%)
  • Chocolate (38%)

A further 2% of dog owners didn’t think that any of these foods were toxic to their pets!

Shockingly, nearly three in 10 (29%) of pet owners admit to feeding their dog one of these foods without knowing that they could cause harm. According to the study, nearly eight in 10 pet owners were unaware that apple seeds could cause harm to their pets, and are unaware that they contain cyanide, a chemical that can cause hypoxia – a lack of oxygen delivery to the body.

Experts weigh in on how these foods cause harm and what course of action to take:

Three quarters of Brits didn’t realise artificial sweeteners could cause harm, but as Dr Charley Webb, Vet and Nutritionist at VetChef.com explains, these “cause our pets’ glucose to drop dangerously low within hours. Pets that ingest even small amounts of xylitol can have dangerous hypoglycaemia and may be unconscious within one hour. This is especially dangerous and I avoid keeping any product containing xylitol in the house at all.”

And although chocolate was the most ‘well-known’ of these toxic foods, 38% still didn’t know that this could be harmful to their pets. As Dr Webb continues: “dark chocolate contains the chemical theobromine. In the short term (within a few hours) it can cause signs like slight twitching, high heart rate and hyperactivity. If untreated, pets can develop heart arrhythmias, kidney failure and seizures.”

So, if your dog does accidentally eat something they shouldn’t, what’s the best course of action? With 47% admitting they wouldn’t know what would happen to their dog if they ate something toxic, Dr Charley Webb, Vet and Nutritionist at VetChef.com offers her advice if you ever find yourself in the situation:

“If you think your pet has eaten something that might be dangerous to them, stay calm and try not to panic. The best course of action is always to call the vet for advice right away, even if it’s the middle of the night or a weekend. Most pets recover fully if treated rapidly so it’s important to tell your vet as soon as you know that it has happened, as this can prevent them from causing serious harm and in some cases could save their lives.”

Commenting on the research, Shannon Keary, Digital PR Manager at Canine Cottages, says: “We may all know certain foods that we should avoid feeding our furry friends, but it is surprising to see how many pet owners don’t know that certain foods cold cause harm to their pets, for example chocolate or alcohol.

“Although in most cases a trip to the vets will be able to treat your pet in this instance, as pet owners it’s important to understand what these foods can do to our beloved pets, hence why we have created this interactive tool, highlighting the harm they can cause. We hope this piece will help educate pet owners to understand the impact these foods can cause, especially as we approach the festive period and may be tempted to treat our pets to human food!”