Dogs love to eat, and they especially love to eat anything that is on YOUR plate! But not all foods that are safe for human consumption are foods that are helpful for our dogs. In fact, some of them are even toxic.
Our dogs’ digestive systems were not designed to handle a lot of human foods. Because of this, care must be taken in the amount and type of people food that we allow our dogs to eat. Though it is very difficult to resist the sad puppy eyes our dogs often give us, the wise dog owner realizes that just because your dog wants something does not mean that he should have it!
Problems that Can Arise From Feeding Dogs People Food
While allowing our dogs a few morsels of carefully selected people food on an occasional basis is rarely problematic for dogs, there are issues that could occur.
Some of the problems that could plague pets who consume a regular diet of people food include:
Dog and cat obesity is at an all time high. Many pet owners think they are being kind in allowing Fido a little treat from their plate, but what they fail to realize is the food that they are consuming is much higher in calories than the food that was designed for Fido to eat. When these table scraps are regularly combined with a proper healthy kibble, a raw, or a cooked diet that is properly formulated for your dog, your dog ends up eating far more food than he should consume to meet his daily caloric requirements. Over time, this leads to obesity.
Obesity in pets is difficult to combat and also puts immense stress on the joints of our pets. The best plan of attack against obesity is to never allow your dog to become overweight in the first place by severely restricting table scraps or reducing the amount of food your dog eats at his mealtimes if you plan to supplement with human food.
Picky eating habits
Let’s face it; dogs are opportunists. You could have selected the tastiest sounding kibble on the market. In fact, it could sound so appetizing that you’d consider scarfing it down yourself if it didn’t come in pellet form! But if you continuously add things into Fido’s dish as a “treat” or feed him scraps from your delicious meals, you will soon have a picky dog that turns up his nose at that high quality kibble you lovingly selected for him in the hopes that you will give him something better later on. And his gamble is a good one because if you’re like most owners, you will!
Picky eating is a very difficult habit to break. Keep the problem at bay by always feeding kibble without any add-ins at meal times.
Most human food is far too rich for our dogs to digest properly. This can lead to attacks of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or severe, and most often requires veterinary invention. It is a condition that is very painful for our dogs and is best avoided.
Some foods that are perfectly safe for human consumption are toxic to our pets even in very small doses. It is wise to formulate a list of foods that are not pet friendly and to avoid them at all costs.
Dogs who are allowed to eat people food can quickly become beggars. While you are used to canine companionship while you enjoyed your meals, begging takes the experience to a whole new level. You may now have the privilege of being serenaded by anxious whines, cries, and even barks while you try to finish your evening meal. And if that doesn’t yield the desired result, there is the head on your knee, pawing at your arms and legs, and even jumping on your dining room table!
Begging is best discouraged from the get go by not feeding your dogs from your table.
Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs
It is important for dog owners to prepare a list of foods that are toxic to dogs, so they do not inadvertently give them something that will cause them harm. There are many foods that are safe for people to consume but that can be fatal to dogs.
Here is a list of foods that should be avoided at all costs:
Xylitol, a plant-based sugar substitute, is highly prized by dieters due to its natural origins and low calorie contribution. However, dogs lack the ability to digest this product effectively. A minute amount of this product can lead to liver failure and death. Its effects are dramatic and quick-acting. This is one product that is best kept behind lock and key, or better yet, not brought into your home at all.
Avocadoes provide healthy fats for human beings, but they aren’t a great option to feed our dogs. A product called persin which is contained throughout the entire avocado plant and fruit can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Both of these conditions can lead to severe dehydration.
Grapes and Raisins
Both grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. They must be completely avoided. Even one raisin or grape can lead to disastrous results including kidney failure. Early signs of poisoning from grapes or raisins include repeated vomiting, lethargy, and depression.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic add flavor to human food, but they can cause great harm to our pets. These two food items can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs, a condition where red blood cells are destroyed. Small amounts may go undetected in your dog, but larger doses can be evidenced by vomiting, difficulty breathing, general muscle fatigue, and shakiness. Hemolytic anemia left untreated can lead to permanent kidney damage and death.
We love chocolate, and unfortunately, so do our dogs! Dark chocolate and raw cocoa powder are the most detrimental to our dogs, but all chocolate should be avoided for the utmost in safety.
The culprit in chocolate toxicity is the chemical compound theobromine. Theobromine acts like cocaine on a dog’s system, causing the heart to race and potentially leading to heart attacks, seizures, and death.
If caught in time, charcoal can be administered to induce vomiting, but if the theobromine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it may be too late.
Alcohol is a product that really isn’t healthy for humans either, but many choose to brave the “side effects” for the enjoyment they receive from a few drinks. Dogs who imbibe even a few sips of alcohol suffer the same fate as many humans. Alcohol consumption can be marked by balance and coordination problems, respiratory distress, vomiting, diarrhea, and even poisoning and death.
It takes as few as six macadamia nuts to make your dog seriously ill. Symptoms of macadamia nut toxicity include shaking, vomiting, fever, and overall fatigue and muscle weakness. If the nuts are eaten in combination with chocolate, the results are intensified and most often lead to death.
Unbaked yeast doughs require rise times. When your dog ingests raw dough that is leavened with yeast, the rise time still occurs; only in your dog’s stomach. This can cause great discomfort as the dough expands and causes swelling. As the dough begins to rise and the fermentation process occurs, the yeast converts to alcohol which can then lead to poisoning.
The best defense is always to be on the offence. By keeping a list of foods that are toxic to pets in your home, you and your family will be best prepared to prevent accidental poisoning. If you are unsure if a food is safe for your dog to consume, always err on the side of caution by first calling your vet or simply opting not to feed it at all. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!