Emergency 01620 822262
Haddington 01620 822262
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Dunbar 01368 860461
North Berwick 01620 894471
Prestonpans 01875 814772
Emergency 01620 822262
Haddington 01620 822262
Musselburgh 0131 6653343
Dunbar 01368 860461
North Berwick 01620 894471
Prestonpans 01875 814772

Keeping Dogs Safe

Dogs are inquisitive creatures and will often help themselves to things that they shouldn't.

Unfortunately, some everyday products can be poisonous for pets, even some common foodstuffs.  

What to do if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous:      

  • Stay calm.
  • Remove the pet from the source of the poison.
  • Contact your vet immediately explaining how, where and when the poisoning occurred.
  • If possible and appropriate take the packaging, plant or substance to the vet.
  • Don’t expose yourself to any harm.
  • Never ‘watch and wait’. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned contact your vet immediately.
  • Never attempt to make dogs vomit. Do not use salt water as it’s extremely dangerous. If skin/fur is contaminated, wash with mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry. Keep dogs away from other animals to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Food Dangers
  • Household Dangers
  • Garden Dangers
  • Low Risks

Food Dangers


Chocolate poisoning is the most commonly reported poisoning in dogs.  There is an ingredient in chocolate that is toxic to dogs called theobromine (a bit like caffeine).

As a general rule dark high quality chocolate contains the most, but it is also contained in milk chocolate.  Fatalities have been seen in dogs eating as little as 60g milk chocolate per kilo bodyweight.  White chocolate is unlikely to cause theobromine poisoning, but the high levels of fat and sugar can still be harmful to dogs and should be avoided.

Theobromine mainly affects the guts, heart, central nervous system, and kidneys, and signs of theobromine poisoning will occur between four and 24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate.  You may see vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures

If you think your pet has eaten chocolate contact a vet immediately.

If possible give an idea of how much has been eaten and take along the wrapper.


Like chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant. Dogs are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, but if your dog swallows a handful of coffee beans or tea bags they could be in danger. Signs and treatment of caffeine poisoning are similar to chocolate toxicity.


Alcohol is more toxic to dogs than to humans.  Even small quantities of alcoholic drinks and food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, blood changes, coma and even death. So, remember to keep alcohol well out of your dog’s reach.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and increased body temperature. Symptoms tend to appear within 12 hours and can last for approximately 12 to 48 hours. If you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts note the possible quantity consumed and contact your vet.

Xylitol Artificial Sweetener

Xylitol is found in many foods including some sugar-free gums and sweets, diabetic cakes and diet/low sugar foods. It causes insulin release in many species (but not in humans) leading to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels). Xylitol has also been linked to fatal acute liver disease and blood-clotting disorders in dogs.

Even small quantities can cause toxicity in dogs. Some sugar-free sweets and gums have very high amounts per piece. Early symptoms of xylitol poisoning include lethargy, vomiting and loss of coordination. Seizures may also occur.

If you think your dog has eaten any xylitol seek urgent veterinary advice.

Grapes & Raisins

Any quantity of grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs and experts agree there is no safe quantity that dogs can eat. The toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, but it can cause kidney failure in sensitive individuals. Dogs with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk and just one raisin can be severely toxic.

Cooking or baking doesn’t reduce the risk of poisoning so keep fruit cake, mince pies, fruit scones and hot cross buns out of reach.

Poisoning may initially result in vomiting and diarrhoea and subsequently in kidney failure (which may occur a few days after the initial effects).

Mouldy Food

Always dispose of leftover food carefully and take care that dogs can’t access your food waste bin. Mouldy food, including bread, nuts and dairy products can be highly toxic for dogs and can make them very ill, and can even be fatal.

Onions and Garlic

Stomach and gut irritation, red blood cell damage and anaemia can result from eating any form of onions or garlic, including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions or garlic. Onions are particularly toxic and signs of poisoning often only occur a few days after your dog has eaten the vegetable.  

Please be aware that lots of prepared foods may contain onion or garlic and can cause illness in dogs e.g. left-over pizza, takeaways, sauces and gravies contain onion or garlic powder.

Yeast Dough

If yeast dough is eaten by dogs it can cause gas accumulation in their digestive system as a result of the dough rising. This can be painful but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become blocked.

Blue Cheese

Cheese contains enzymes that dogs have difficulty breaking down and eating large quantities can cause sickness and diarrhoea.

However, blue cheeses are particularly dangerous as many contain roquefortine C, which dogs are especially sensitive to. This can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and tremors, twitching, seizures and high temperature if eaten in large doses. Seek emergency veterinary advice if you think your dog has eaten blue cheese.


In the past giving a dog a bone was considered to be a good idea but they are have many potential risks.  Dogs may choke on them, develop intestinal obstructions after swallowing pieces of bone, damage their teeth chewing them, or sustain internal injury as bone splinters can puncture your dog’s digestive tract.

If you do decide to give your dog a bone be sure to keep an eye on him while he tucks in and always avoid giving cooked bones, which splinter more easily, or small bones that could get stuck in their intestines. Large quantities of bone can often cause constipation, so try to monitor the amount your dog manages to eat.

Corn on the Cob

Dogs struggle to digest corn on the cob. If a whole cob is eaten, or even large chunks, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to its size and shape. Signs to look out for are vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.

Household Dangers

Rat Poison / Rodenticide

There are different types of rodenticides and it is important to know which kind has been ingested. Poisoning can lead to life-threatening bleeding and effects can take several days and bleeding may be internal and not always visible. CONTACT A VET IMMEDIATELY.


Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which is highly toxic to pets.  If car radiators leak or coolant is spilt on driveways pets can lick it or lick their paws after walking on it. Glycol is extremely harmful to the kidneys and unfortunately is often sweet tasting which can lead to pets swallowing more of it.  Be careful where you store any products containing ethylene glycol and clear up any spills immediately.

In all cases of antifreeze ingestion speed is of the essence and rapid aggressive treatment may be necessary to avoid potentially fatal problems so please SEEK VETERINARY ADVICE IMMEDIATELY.


This includes common over the counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibruprofen which are poisonous for pets. One of the effects of human painkillers on dogs is they can hinder prostaglandin production. When this happens dogs can develop intestinal problems, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea, bleeding disorders and even kidney or liver failure.

If your pet has swallowed any drugs other than those prescribed for them please SEEK VETERINARY ADVICE immediately.  If possible bring the packaging with you when you bring your pet to the surgery.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D exists in many forms and is found in a variety of products such as creams/ointments for psoriasis.  Poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure. Effects may be delayed for several days and may be permanent so it’s important to act immediately if you think your dog has swallowed a product containing vitamin D and not wait for symptoms to show.

Garden Dangers

Slug and Snail Pellets

Slug and snail pellets that contain Metaldehyde are toxic to dogs. Only small amounts of pellets (which are often blue or green) are needed to cause significant poisoning. Signs will be seen within an hour of ingestion and include incoordination, muscle spasms, twitching, tremors and seizures. Pets need urgent veterinary treatment if they are to survive poisoning with slug pellets and often require hospitalisation for several days.

Compost, Fertiliser and Weed Killer

Compost - Compost is usually full of mouldy food and garden waste. Some of this can produce dangerous mycotoxins which are highly dangerous to dogs.  If you think your dog has accessed the compost bin seek urgent vet advice.

Fertliser - Although most fertilisers aren’t dangerous they can cause diarrhoea and vomiting if ingested, or cause irritation if your dog’s skin comes in contact with them.  Ones that also contain an insecticide are most dangerous.

Weed killer - Keep your dog away from areas where weed killer has been used. Many weed killers contain glyphosate which can be dangerous if swallowed, licked or brushed against.  If dogs consume a large quantity of glyphosate they may suffer breathing difficulties, heart rate problems and seizures.

Plants and Bulbs

Several popular garden plants are poisonous to dogs but, often, it’s the bulbs that pose the biggest risk. For example, daffodil, lily and spring crocus bulbs are all highly toxic. Symptoms of plant or bulb poisoning can include vomitting, upset stomach and heart and kidney problems.


Fungi can be poisonous (and even fatal) for dogs, and in the autumn they can be prolific in wooded areas and on damp lawns.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Sickness and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin in serious cases
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Excessive salivation and drooling
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated movements or trouble walking

If you suspect your dog has funghi poisoning then contact your vet immediately. If possible, bring along a sample of the fungi you suspect your dog has eaten.

Cocoa Mulch

Cocoa Mulch contains the same poisonous ingredient that’s contained in chocolate i.e. theobromine. It can cause vomiting or diarrhoea and possibly muscle tremors, seizures and elevated heart rate.

Low Risks

Most of these items cause only mild gastrointestinal signs (such as vomiting or diarrhoea) but nevertheless contact us for further advice if your dog has eaten any of the following.

  • Blu-tack – and other similar adhesives
  • Chalk
  • Charcoal
  • Coal (real or artificial)
  • Cut-flower/houseplant food
  • Expanded polystyrene
  • Folic acid tablets
  • Fuchsia plants
  • Honeysuckle plants
  • Matches
  • Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy tablets
  • Pyracantha plants
  • Rowan tree
  • Silica gel – in small sachets found in packaging of moisture sensitive goods
  • Wax candles/crayons
  • Sun cream
  • After sun
  • Ice packs (methylcellulose)
  • Sunflowers
  • Sand
  • Slugs and snails (not toxic but are potential carriers of Lungworm)