Top things to never feed a pet you're sitting

Danielle Petch

We know our four-legged friends are big opportunists when it comes to food. Unfortunately, there are a lot of foods out there that our dogs really shouldn’t be eating.

As pet sitters, our main responsibility is always to properly care for the pets under our watch, which — as well cuddle duties and belly rubs — includes making sure are they safe, happy, and snacking safely whilst their owners are away.

So, if you've been wondering “can dogs eat grapes?”, or want to know if avocados are safe for dogs to eat, then read on for a list of the 10 toxic foods you should never feed a dog you're pet sitting.

What shouldn’t I feed a dog I’m pet sitting?

The owner you're sitting for should have given you a thorough run-through of their pet's diet and needs, but if your owner has allowed you to give your new pet pal a treat or two (after all, it's their vacation too!), then here’s a handy list of some of the main things you should avoid feeding a dog:

Xylitol: xylitol is a sugar substitute, and is often found in popular treats such as gum, sugar-free sweets and in many brands of peanut butter. Unfortunately, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, and even a small amount can cause low blood sugar and eventually,  liver failure (or worse).

Grapes: can dogs eat grapes? No, innocuous as they seem, dogs should never eat grapes. Grapes (and raisins) are highly toxic to dogs and can result in serious illness, even leading to kidney failure. 

Avocado: it’s a much-loved food for us humans, but avocados (in particular, the pit and skin of an avocado) contain a toxin called persin, which is poisonous to dogs and can cause vomiting or diarrhoea. 

Onions: onions, and in fact all members of the ‘allium’ family (which includes garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives) are poisonous to dogs. Feeding a dog an onion can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain, so be sure to keep these off the menu. 

Caffeine: tea, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks are very dangerous and toxic to dogs, and even a small amount can be fatal.

Macadamia nuts: while some nuts are suitable for dogs in moderation, macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs. Just a handful of these nuts can cause serious, even fatal repercussions which include muscle shakes and weakness, vomiting and panting.

Chocolate: most people know how bad chocolate is for dogs, but what many don’t realise is that even a small amount can make your dog sick. The theobromine in chocolate is what causes this (with dark chocolate being the worst culprit), and can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and even death. 

Cooked bones: most people wouldn’t think twice about giving their dog a bone, but cooked bones can easily splinter, causing constipation or cuts in a dog’s stomach — which can prove fatal. 

Raw meat or eggs: raw or undercooked meat and eggs can have traces of harmful bacteria (which would ordinarily be killed off during the cooking process). This can lead to food poisoning (and poorly pooches).

Salt: too much salt could result in excessive dehydration in dogs, and could even lead to sodium ion poisoning. As well as vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, and seizures, consuming too much salt could even lead to death.

It's important to remember that this isn't an exhaustive list, and there are many other foods and drinks our four-legged friends should stay away from. Remember: if in doubt, always go without!

Trusted tip: if you suspect your dog or a dog you are caring for has scoffed something it shouldn’t have, make sure to consult a vet immediately. Remember, as part of your sitter membership, you get free, 24/7 access to expert veterinary advice while on a sit. To get in touch, simply visit your dashboard.

So — what can dogs eat?

Of course, the short answer to this is: feed them according to the owner’s instructions! Part of what makes pet sitting so wonderful is that it keeps pets in their own home and in their usual routines. So, from cracking open the biscuit bin at 9 to a tasty tin of dog food at 5, it’s important to stick to the diet and feeding times your owner has supplied.

Want more advice on what to do while on a sit? From how to write the perfect application message to our top tips on sprucing up your sitter profile, our blog has lots of useful pet sitting advice — so be sure to have a sniff around!

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