If you’re a proud parent to a West Highland Terrier, you know these little dogs have a knack for getting into things they shouldn’t.
Their curiosity can sometimes lead them to the kitchen, a place filled with tantalizing smells and unfortunately, some potential dangers.
As much as we occasionally love sharing a snack with our Westies, there are certain foods that are best kept to ourselves.
While all dogs need to avoid certain items, it’s even more critical for our smaller canine companions. Due to their small size, Westies can experience serious effects from eating foods that are perfectly safe for us. Even in small quantities, these foods can be harmful or even lethal to a Westie.
In this article, we will discuss 20 foods that you should keep out of reach from your Westie, either because they are potentially toxic or hazardous in another way.
Knowing this information is not just being cautious, it’s about ensuring the well-being and longevity of your Westie.
As enjoyable as chocolate is for humans, it’s a potentially lethal snack for Westies. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, substances that dogs metabolize poorly.
These compounds can cause overstimulation of the central nervous system, rapid breathing, irregular heart rhythms, and muscle spasms.
High temperatures, known as hyperthermia, along with vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination, are further signs of chocolate toxicity.
Caffeine, a stimulant for the central nervous system, can have harmful effects on dogs. Found in tea, coffee beans, and various beverages, even small amounts can cause significant discomfort.
Ingestion may lead to symptoms like rapid breathing, accelerated heart rate, increased thirst, and frequent urination. Gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting and diarrhea are also common.
Keep caffeine-rich products well out of your Westie’s reach to avoid accidental consumption.
Despite its ubiquity in human celebrations, alcohol poses severe risks to Westies. Present in beverages such as beer, wine, and champagne, even small quantities can lead to toxicity in dogs.
Symptoms include central nervous system depression, resulting in lethargy and disorientation. Additionally, alcohol can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels, leading to hypothermia.
Other warning signs include vomiting, increased thirst and urination, trembling, and in severe cases, it can even induce coma or death.
While kale is a nutritious vegetable for humans, it can pose a risk to Westies when consumed in large quantities. Small servings might not be harmful, but larger amounts can lead to kidney and bladder stones.
This is due to kale’s high calcium oxalate content, which can form crystal deposits in the urinary bladder and kidneys, causing urine retention.
This condition can be life-threatening for your dog. Therefore, it’s best to limit kale in your Westie’s diet.
Despite being nutrient-rich, avocados can pose a serious threat to Westies. They contain a compound called Persin, found throughout the fruit, seed, leaves, and bark.
If consumed, this can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Furthermore, the seeds pose a risk of gastric obstruction if swallowed, which could prove fatal.
Keep avocados away from your Westie to prevent accidental ingestion.
Onions contain a compound called N-propyl disulfide, which is toxic to dogs. It causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, leading to a condition known as hemolytic anemia.
This results in a reduction of circulating red blood cells, manifesting in symptoms like pale gums, lethargy, weakness, and red-colored urine.
Onions, in any form, should be strictly off-limits to your Westie.
Garlic, like onions, contains thiosulfate, which can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. Ingestion of approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kg of body weight can lead to toxic symptoms.
Rapid breathing, jaundice, lethargy, fainting, and dark-colored urine are among the signs of toxicity. Gastrointestinal upset is another possible outcome.
It’s essential to prevent your Westie from consuming garlic in any form.
Chives are part of the Allium family, alongside onions and garlic, and carry similar risks for Westies.
Containing sulfides that can cause hemolysis of red blood cells through oxidative damage if consumed in large quantities, chives can lead to symptoms such as pale gums, jaundice, dark red urine, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
To avoid potential health complications, keep chives out of your Westie’s diet.
9. Grapes and Raisins
Although often seen as harmless treats, grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, including Westies. They contain tartaric acid, which can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and potentially lead to liver and kidney failure.
Both seeded and seedless varieties pose a risk. Early signs of toxicity include vomiting and drooling. Other symptoms include increased urination, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and tremors.
It’s best to prevent your Westie from consuming these seemingly innocuous fruits.
10. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts, while enjoyed in human foods, pose a risk to Westies. Even a few nuts can lead to health problems.
Signs of macadamia toxicity include lethargy, fever, joint stiffness, stumbling gait, and vomiting. Furthermore, these nuts have a high fat content, which can lead to pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas.
It’s important to avoid feeding your Westie any products containing macadamia nuts to protect their health.
While nutmeg is a commonly used spice in human food, it’s toxic to dogs, including Westies.
Consumption can cause psychotropic effects such as hallucinations. Additional symptoms of nutmeg poisoning include rapid breathing, abdominal pain, and seizures.
To protect your Westie’s wellbeing, avoid any food items containing nutmeg.
12. Xylitol (Check Your Peanut Butter!)
Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in various products like sugar-free gum, baked goods, peanut butter, and toothpaste, is highly toxic to dogs.
When ingested, it triggers a rapid insulin production spike, causing a significant drop in blood sugar levels. This can lead to hypoglycemia, hypothermia, liver failure, vomiting, and recurrent seizures.
Always inspect the ingredients labels of peanut butter and other potential treats for xylitol before sharing them with your Westie.
13. Corn on the Cob
While small amounts of corn don’t typically pose a risk, the ingestion of corn along with the cob can cause serious health issues for your Westie.
Problems can range from gastric obstruction and rupture to intestinal complications such as volvulus or intussusception. Signs of these complications include profuse vomiting, abdominal pain, and a gas-filled stomach.
To ensure your dog’s health, refrain from giving them corn on the cob.
14. Cooked Bones
Contrary to common practice, cooked bones should not be given to your Westie. Cooking removes nutrients and collagen, making the bones brittle and prone to breaking into pieces that can obstruct the stomach or intestine.
This can result in acute gastroenteritis, severe gastrointestinal ulcers, and bloody vomiting or diarrhea.
Gastric distension caused by the bone obstruction can lead to necrosis and endotoxic shock, a life-threatening condition. For your dog’s safety, stick to bones intended for dogs.
15. Lemons and Limes
While small amounts are typically not harmful, lemons and limes contain citric acid that, when consumed in large quantities, can disturb a dog’s acid-base balance.
This can lead to a mild stomach upset, characterized by colic and diarrhea.
Ensure your Westie consumes these fruits in moderation, if at all.
16. Raw Yeast Dough
Feeding your Westie raw yeast dough is highly discouraged, as it can be harmful to them. The fermenting yeast disrupts the normal gut flora, creating an acidic environment and causing bloating.
It also produces ethanol, leading to symptoms of alcohol toxicity such as impaired central nervous system function and tremors. Symptoms of raw yeast dough ingestion include nausea, retching, colic, difficulty breathing, excessive salivation, and disorientation.
To protect your dog’s health, avoid giving them raw yeast dough.
17. Raw Potatoes
Feeding raw potatoes to your Westie should be avoided. While boiled potatoes in moderation can be beneficial, raw potatoes contain a compound called solanine, which is toxic to dogs.
Solanine inhibits the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, leading to nervous system inhibition. Signs of solanine poisoning include stomach upset, breathing difficulty, arrhythmia, liver damage, muscle weakness, and tremors.
To ensure your dog’s safety, always boil potatoes to remove the solanine content before feeding them to your dog.
18. Unripe Tomatoes
Green, unripe tomatoes, their plants, and leaves should be kept out of your Westie’s reach. They contain toxins like solanine and tomatine, which are harmful to dogs.
Symptoms of toxicity include excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, incoordination, and tremors.
For the safety of your dog, it’s best to completely avoid giving them tomatoes.
While cinnamon is safe in small amounts, its essential oils can cause discomfort if consumed in large quantities. They can lead to mild to moderate stomach upset and potentially liver disease.
The primary concern with cinnamon is that it can irritate your Westie’s mouth, throat, and digestive system. So, use cinnamon sparingly and responsibly in your dog’s diet.
20. Fruit Pits and Cores (Peaches, Apples, Plums, etc.)
While fruits like bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and watermelons can safely be given to dogs, be careful with the seeds and cores of certain fruits like peaches, apples, and plums.
These parts contain toxins, such as amygdalin—a form of cyanide. While large quantities would need to be consumed to cause cyanide toxicity, which results in rapid breathing, fainting, and cherry-red mucous membranes, it’s not worth the risk.
Furthermore, fruit pits and cores can present a choking hazard. Be sure to remove these parts before offering fruits to your Westie.
What To Do If Your Westie Eats Something They Shouldn’t
Keep calm and take immediate action. If you’re sure that your dog has ingested a potentially harmful item, remove any remaining parts of the item from their reach and call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435 right away.
Depending on the recency of ingestion, your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage to clear the stomach, and administer activated charcoal to inhibit the absorption of any remaining toxins. Specific antidotes and supportive therapies, including intravenous fluids, may also be provided.
Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before taking action—it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Quick, decisive action on your part could save your dog’s life.
In future, make sure to prevent your dog from ingesting any of the foods mentioned above. Your dog’s safety is always a primary responsibility as a pet owner.