Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
If you are a parent to an Australian Shepherd, affectionately called Aussies, then you probably know how loving, intelligent, and energetic this breed can be.
As a result, these distinctive features make them an excellent choice for a companion pet.
However, to maintain their playful and healthy personalities, you need to know what food to give them and which to avoid.
Foods your Australian Shepherd should avoid include those that most dogs react to—for example, dairy products, chocolate, avocados, grapes, raisins, and bones. Other foods you shouldn’t give your Aussie are artificial sweeteners, macadamia nuts, onions, and garlic.
As a licensed veterinary doctor, I’m going to detail in this post which foods you shouldn’t feed your Aussie pup.
In a nutshell, a healthy diet can keep pooch free from allergic reactions, stomach upsets, digestive issues, and general body discomfort or pain.
Read on to discover tips on the foods you should eliminate from your Aussie’s diet if you want to raise a healthy and happy dog.
Knowing the Foods Your Australian Shepherd Should Avoid
Before diving into the different types of food, we’ll first group them into categories based on the severity of their health effects.
Here, we’ll adopt a concept from the traffic lights (green, yellow, and red), yes, the standard traffic lights we see on our roads!
- GREEN: Green will represent less toxic foods. They cause mild symptoms such as mild stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Foods under this category often have long-term impacts on your Aussie’s health if they’re a daily or weekly dietary staple.
- YELLOW: The yellow will house foods with moderate to severe impacts. They have a high level of toxicity, and if eaten, you will need to consult your vet to get a second opinion.
- RED: The red color will represent the poisonous foods that your pup shouldn’t consume—foods that put your canine at risk of permanent organ failure and, worst of all, death.
Now that we’ve covered our classifications, let’s look at which foods fit in each category:
Green: Mild Discomfort
In simple terms, only feed your Aussie these foods in moderation (though never is better).
They aren’t toxic in smaller amounts. The ‘green’ foods include:
Milk and Dairy Products
Milk isn’t the best treat for your Aussie, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your pup a bowl of milk.
It’s okay to give them milk, but only in moderation.
Think of those people you’ve met who are allergic to milk or are even lactose intolerant.
Did you know that most dogs are lactose intolerant, too? That means that their guts lack enough lactase enzymes to break down lactose in milk, causing GI discomfort.
If your Aussie has this condition, they may experience mild vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upsets after lapping up milk and other dairy products like ice cream.
If the lactose in milk has the chance to build up in your pup’s body, they may convert it into fats, leading to excessive weight gain.
A good number of dog owners use honey as a treat or reward for their pups.
The truth of the matter is that natural honey harbors some essential nutrients such as vitamins, potassium, and calcium important for your pup’s growth and development.
Unfortunately, the same honey has many calories and, when consumed regularly, can make your canine friend pack on extra pounds.
Additionally, although relatively rare, raw honey may contain botulism spores. If ingested by puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems, it may cause paralysis.
More often than not, you may run out of dog food and decide to substitute it with cat food (they’re the same thing, right?). Absolutely not.
While this won’t kill your Aussie, it may cause serious long-term effects.
That’s because cats have a higher protein requirement than dogs, and therefore, their foods are manufactured to include more of it.
Since dogs don’t need much protein in their bodies, they convert the excess proteins into fats and carbohydrates, resulting in uncontrolled weight gain.
In some cases, the excess protein can even build up to form kidney stones. Other foods under this category include fatty, sugary, and highly salted foods.
If your beloved Aussie consumed any of these foods, don’t panic or rush him to the clinic right away.
In most cases, mild symptoms go away on their own. However, you should watch for any abnormal behaviors that seem to last and then consult a reliable vet.
Yellow: Moderate to Severe Discomfort
These foods cause moderate to severe effects, and they include:
Regardless of your love for these ‘superfoods,’ don’t be tempted to share them with your canine.
Avocados contain a toxic substance known as persin, primarily concentrated in the pit and the fruit itself.
This element takes more time to metabolize in dogs than in humans. As a result, it builds up in your Aussie’s body, causing breathing difficulties and severe discomfort.
When consumed in large quantities, your pup can fall short of oxygen and may even die.
The avocado’s seed also poses a choking threat to your dog.
Most nuts aren’t ideal in a dog’s diet because they pose a choking hazard.
But if your dog accidentally ingests macadamia nuts, they will most likely lose muscle coordination, have moderate to severe vomiting, fever, and paralysis in their hindquarters.
Grapes and Raisins
Your Australian Shepherd shouldn’t eat grapes or raisins because they contain toxic elements produced by mold and fungus.
These toxic elements reduce blood flow into the kidneys. If no immediate medical attention is provided, they can cause kidney failure or even death.
Some of the notable signs include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, dehydration, seizures, and lack of urine production.
So, what should you do if your Aussie consumes any of these foods? The first step is to consult a vet and ask their opinion.
They’ll then advise you on the steps to take depending on your pup’s condition.
Be ready to do first aid, such as induced vomiting, to reduce the toxic elements in the bloodstream and prevent further absorption.
Additionally, you may have to bring your pup to the clinic for additional care and diagnosis.
In some cases, your Aussie may remain in the hospital for a few days for close monitoring.
Red: Dangerous or Poisonous
Poisonous foods falling under the ‘red’ category include:
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in most human food, such as sugar-free candies, ketchup, peanut butter, and some baked products.
If your Aussie consumes any Xylitol, they’ll experience seizures, difficulty walking, severe vomiting, liver failure, and even death.
Therefore, if you have a sweet tooth, before sharing your snacks with your canine buddy, ensure you read through the ingredients label to ensure they don’t contain Xylitol.
As much as we love chocolate, it’s the last thing our canine friends should eat.
It’s one of the most poisonous foods for dogs. That’s because chocolate and chocolate products contain caffeine and theobromine elements, which dogs cannot easily digest.
When eaten, theobromine will affect the heart and kidney functioning, causing an increase in your Aussie’s pulse rate.
If the heart rate increases to abnormally high levels, your pup may die.
Some dogs love bones, and their owners tend to believe that bones help strengthen their teeth.
Well, by giving your Aussie those bones, especially cooked ones, you may be doing him more harm than good.
Bones are brittle, and when chewed, they can splinter, injuring your pooch’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract.
Bones can also become trapped in the throat and cause choking.
Corn on the Cob
Even though your Aussie loves corn, you should avoid giving him corn on a cob.
The corn itself is not hazardous, but the cob can choke it or cause an intestinal blockage if swallowed.
Some symptoms that indicate your pup might have swallowed the cob include lethargy, dehydration, reduced activity, diarrhea, repeated vomiting, and loss of appetite.
These are alarm-raising foods, and if your Aussie eats them, you should immediately rush him to the nearest pet clinic or call your vet.
Toxicity from these foods can easily lead to the death of your favorite canine companion.
Prevention is key, so keeping these foods in sealed cabinets or the refrigerator is better than leaving them exposed on the countertop.
Since accidents are bound to happen, being prepared is vital. Have your local emergency pet care and vet clinic phone numbers on speed dial.
Additionally, it’s essential to learn some basic first-aid care tips for your pup.
Try eliminating the following foods from your Aussie’s diet:
- Grapes and raisins
- Dairy products
- Corn on the cob
Also, teach your family and friends what to avoid when feeding your Australian Shepherd.
- American Kennel Club: Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Information
- The Spruce Pets: Can Dogs Eat Honey?
- Wag Walking: Inducing Vomiting in Dogs – Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
- WebMD: Food Poisoning Treatment: First Aid Information for Food Poisoning
- Bubbly Pet: The Ultimate Guide to Foods Australian Shepherds Can (And Can’t) Eat
- Hub Pages: Avoid Foods Dangerous For Your Dog
Read more about the Australian Shepherd breed in my one-page aussie owner guide
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society