Dog Poisoning

Can Ordinary Food Poison My Cocker Spaniel?

Yes, it can!

Dog poison can appear in many guises, some innocent, like food meant for humans, and some not so innocent, such as rat poisons, or poisonous plants.

We love our Spaniels, and would never knowingly harm them; however, there are many every-day foods that are tasty and nutritious for us humans, but become poison when fed to our pets.

Some foods will make your pet very ill, and some could be fatal if eaten in large doses. To ensure your Spaniel is safe, all listed foods should be avoided wherever possible.

Certain human foods can be seriously toxic food for our pets, and to give you a better understanding, we've listed below some of the more common foods that are potential dog poisons and which shouldn't be fed to your pet.


Fatty Foods Can Cause Pancreatitis

Most dogs, including our Cockers Spaniels, love fatty foods and will root amongst the rubbish in the hope of finding a tasty morsel, or will steal leftovers from our dinner plates the minute our back is turned!

Sound familiar?

Deep fried chicken, ham and cheese sandwich - not to be fed to your dog!

However, too much fat in your Spaniel's diet can cause a condition known as pancreatitis, which can be a life-threatening condition.

A normal pancreas produces enzymes to help digest fat, but in a high-fat diet the pancreas produces too many enzymes, causing the pancreas to become swollen and inflamed.

Cocker Spaniels are especially prone to pancreatic problems, and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Your Cocker may also become dehydrated and subsequently die if not treated quickly.

Pancreatitis can easily be avoided by removing excess fat from his diet. Don't feed your pet fatty foods such as chicken skin, fatty meats, cakes and biscuits, or leftovers, and make sure those rubbish bins are securely fastened!

Overweight dogs are unhealthy animals!

If your Cocker Spaniel is a little overweight and you'd like to help him lose a little fat, increase his exercise by an hour or two each week (I recommend you do this gradually, and if you have an older dog, make sure he's up to it).

You might also like to reduce his food intake to help speed it up a little.


Chocolate Can Be Lethal!

Dogs like sweet things and, once your pet has tasted chocolate, it's very likely that he'll want more.

Chocolate in any form is a very dangerous dog poison - keep them away from your Cocker!

Unfortunately, chocolate can be a dog poison and, chocolate meant for humans can be fatal for your Spaniel as it contains theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean.

Chocolate used for baking, and dark chocolate, are more toxic than milk chocolate because they contain more cocoa solids, and consequently, more theobromine.

Theobromine is poisonous to dogs; it increases urination and can affect the central nervous system, as well as the heart muscle.

If your dog has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate, you will see within a few hours symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, panting and hyperactivity.

As the theobromine is further absorbed into the bloodstream, your pet's heart rate may increase, causing arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, and he may pee more.

High levels of theobromine can also lead to hypothermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma, and even death.

Please note that chocolate is a potentially harmful dog poison and, therefore, may be more dangerous to a young puppy than it would be to an older Spaniel.

If you wish to feed chocolate to your pet, you can buy chocolate drops specially formulated for the canine world.

Too Much Salt Is Another Dog Poison

Excessive salt intake can be a poison to dogs and can cause severe kidney problems.

Salt is not good for dogs - it can cause kidney problems

Too much salt in your Spaniel's diet can also cause seizures, loss of appetite and dehydration (always ensure your puppy has access to water, and don't forget to keep his bowl topped up with fresh water each day when it's warm).

Excessive salt intake can even cause eventual death.

Processed human foods are very often quite high in salt. You may not be able to taste it, but I promise you it's there - a dog poisoning waiting to happen!

Another good reason not to feed your Spaniel table scraps.


Bread Dough Is A Toxic Food For Dogs

If you regularly bake your own bread, you'll know that the dough needs a warm, moist environment to 'prove', and that it will expand to at least twice its original size.

Dough is another human 'food' that's not good for your dog

If your pooch manages to get hold of bread dough while it's proving, and he eats it, it will do the same in his stomach; it will expand, causing his stomach to 'bloat', and cause him considerable pain and discomfort.

In addition, the yeast in the dough causes a fermentation process which produces alcohol, and can cause alcohol poisoning.

If you regularly make your own bread, make sure you prove the dough out of sight and reach of curious, ever-hungry pets.


Tomatoes And Potatoes Can Harm Your Cocker Spaniel

All the green parts of a tomato plant can be poisonous to dogs

Unripe tomatoes, tomato leaves, stalks and stems, are toxic food for dogs and should be kept safely locked in the greenhouse!

The tomato plant contains atropine, which can result in gastrointestinal problems such as drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea, if ingested by your pet.

Additionally, more serious symptoms are tremors, seizures, and a decreased heart rate.

The potato and rhubarb plant can have similar effects as the tomato plant, they're all a potential dog poison - all green parts should be avoided.


Some Mushrooms Can Cause Dog Poisoning

Certain mushrooms can harm humans but the are also harmful if eaten by our dogs

Not all mushrooms are poisonous.

However, those that are can cause mild vomiting and diarrhoea and can lead to severe digestive problems, liver disease, and neurological disorders.

If mushrooms grow on your lawn, or in your garden, check that they're not poisonous, or better still remove them altogether, and be extra vigilant when walking your pet in woods or in the countryside.


Raw Salmon Can Cause Dog Poisoning

Warning - raw salmon can cause dog poisoning!

This is because salmon (and certain other fish) sometimes carry parasites called flukes.

When raw fish (contaminated with these parasites) is eaten, the flukes attach themselves to the animal's intestines and release bacteria into the bloodstream, causing the animal to become quite ill.

Symptoms of salmon dog poisoning are diarrhoea, dehydration, and depression.

Fortunately, the cooking process kills any bacteria that may be present so, as long as the fish is cooked, you can safely feed it to your pet.


Raisins And Grapes Are A Serious Dog Poison

Grapes and raisins can be lethal if eaten in large amounts as they can cause acute renal kidney failure, and death.

Grapes, like chocolate, can be a deadly dog poison - keep them away from your Cocker Spaniel

It doesn't matter which kind of grape, or colour, the effect is still the same.

For an average sized Cocker, he would only need to eat a small bunch of around 15 grapes and it could prove lethal and as raisins are more concentrated, he would need to eat even less.

Symptoms of raisin or grape poisoning are vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy.

Please keep the fruit bowl out of reach!


Tea And Coffee Are Also Potentially Harmful To Your Cocker Spaniel

I can't envisage a situation where any responsible pet owner is going to do this, but it's best not to give your Spaniel tea or coffee as they contain caffeine and a substance similar to that found in chocolate called xanthine.

Symptoms are similar to chocolate poisoning.


Onions And Garlic Can Be Toxic

Onions and garlic can be poisonous for out pets if eaten in large quantities; however, moderate amounts eaten on a regular basis can cause a build-up of the toxin thiosulphate.

Onions and garlic are also toxic foods for dogs

Symptoms of toxicity are vomiting and diarrhoea, and there may be blood present in the urine.

It is said that a small amount of garlic is good for your pet as it can act as a natural flea repellent, and we've seen it listed as an ingredient in many dog biscuit recipes.

We're happy to give Max some home-made healthy snacks, containing small amounts of garlic, however, if you are at all concerned about feeding garlic to your Cocker Spaniel, we recommend you speak to your veterinary and ask his or her opinion.


Don't Feed Your Cocker Macadamia Nuts

Macademia nuts are toxic to dogs but the effects don't last too long

Macadamia nuts should never be fed to your pet - yet another dog poison - and if you have them in the house, keep them safely out of reach of your Cocker.

If eaten by our pets, macadamia nuts can can cause vomiting, hypothermia, depression and weakness.

This weakness usually affects the back legs - they may become so weak that the animal is unable to walk properly.

Thankfully, the effects of this dog poison is not permanent and recovery is usually between two and three days, however, it's not a very pleasant experience for your pet!


Eating Brewing Hops Can Cause Dog Poisoning

Used hops from home brewing kits can be fatal to canines.

Hops can cause panting, elevated temperature, increased heart rate, and seizures.

It's said that in some dog breeds it can cause malignant hypothermia, (a condition caused by an excess of drugs or alcohol) and potentially death.

If you're a home-brewing enthusiast, it makes sense to keep the kit away from animals, and used hops should always be disposed of very carefully to avoid accidents.


Sugar-Free Sweets Can Cause Dog Poisoning

Sugar-free sweets can be harmful to our cocker spaniels - hide them!

According to the National Animal Poison Control Centre, it's thought that xylitol in sugar free sweets may be toxic to pets, causing liver damage and, if eaten in excessive quantities, even death.

So take care!

If there are any children in the household, make sure they don't leave their sweets where inquisitive Cockers can easily get at them and discourage the children from feeding sweets and especially chocolate, to the family pet.


Dog Poisoning And Alcohol

Sometimes people and alcohol don't mix, but dogs and alcohol certainly don't mix!

Keep all alchol locked away and clear up after parties

If your Cocker manages to drink some alcohol, left out after a party, for example, or after knocking over a bottle, it can make him ill fairly quickly.

Symptoms may be confusing as they can resemble a number of other illnesses, but generally they will reflect those seen in a drunken human; staggering, lethargy, excitement, and/or vomiting.

They don't usually like the taste of alcohol, but if it's sweet or flavoured, with lemonade perhaps, they may enjoy it. If your Cocker manages to drink enough alcohol he could go into a coma, or suffer a heart attack.

Keep your favourite tipples locked away!


Rotting Food - Another Source of Dog Poisoning

We normally associate food poisoning with humans, but, believe it or not, it's also fairly common in dogs. Rotten food, or food past it's sell-by date, is not good for your pet - don't feed it to him.

Animals like to forage and our pets may rummage in dustbins and when they're out in the woods if they're hungry.

Spoiled and rotting food can also be a dog poison - if it's not good enough for us, it's not good enough for our dogs

In doing so, they can sometimes come into contact with decomposing animals and rotten foodstuffs, and may pick up harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and e-coli, and end up with a bad case of food poisoning.

If your dog suffers food poisoning, his symptoms may be vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

Normally, these symptoms may only last a couple of days unless he develops a bacterial infection, in which case he may go into shock.

Keep your pet safe from dog poisoning - don't feed him anything you wouldn't eat yourself, ie food past its sell-by date; if it's not good enough for human consumption, it's not good enough for your pet.




I seriously recommend you take care when feeding your pet human foods. There are many foods that are nutritious and very good for us, but can be a harmful dog poison if fed to our Cockers.

Avoid the ones mentioned above and you'll avoid an accidental case of dog poisoning.

If you want to treat your Cocker Spaniel, you can reward him the occasional morsel of chopped liver (which my Cocker adores) or chicken, a doggie chocolate drop, or a training treat.

We all know it's tempting to give in to your dog's appealing eyes at dinner time but think twice - you could be killing him with kindness!



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