THIS IS A FRIENDLY REMINDER NOT TO LET YOUR PETS EAT PEOPLE FOOD.
Today, I’m going to talk about something I think is too often neglected on this blog: dogs. I’ve been a shelter volunteer for years now, and I’ve seen dogs going in and out of rescue with different medical conditions, in different behavioral states, and with varying degrees of semi- to fully-responsible people. When you adopt a pet, you’re making a commitment to make him or her a member of your family, and that means also caring for their health, which is largely dependent on the food they eat.
It is ridiculous how many people don’t know that pets are not people. I know we all love our pets like they’re our family, which is a good thing, but pet owners also have to remember that pets are not the same species, and they can’t eat the same things as us. It’s okay to let your pets have table scraps from time to time, but make sure you don’t feed them anything that’s bad for them. I’ve made some lists of what human foods you can and can’t feed your dogs. Please educate yourself on your dog’s dietary needs! (NOTE: What I write in this post is not substitute for a veterinarian’s analysis, and is certainly not more valuable than a vet’s word. If your vet has said something different than I say in these lists, go with what they have said. Your dog is an individual, and may have specific needs different from other dogs.)
Never Feed Your Dogs…
- ALCOHOL. You wouldn’t believe how many people I meet who give their dogs alcohol, including wine, which also contains grapes. Alcohol is REALLY REALLY BAD for dogs. I cannot stress this ENOUGH. A friend of ours continually fed their dog alcohol on a regular basis, unbeknownst to their veterinarian. The dog died soon after of unknown causes, but alcohol probably largely contributed to his health. Alcohol can do nasty things to people bodies, let alone dogs. The basic rule when feeding human food to your dog is: if it’s not good for you, it’s probably not good for the dog.
- Caffeine (yes, this includes coffee and tea)
- Dairy, especially milk (occasional cheese treats are okay)
- Macadamia nuts
- BONES. I know a lot of people think it’s cool to give chicken bones to their dogs, because it’s saving money on dog bones and also finishing everything in the meal, but chicken bones are actually REALLY BAD for your dog because they can splinter inside your dog’s stomach and possibly cause internal bleeding. Instead, you may want to consider buying your dog an elk antler, which are really good. They usually hold up for around three months, unless your dog, like mine, is a super chewer.
- Fruits with large pits
- Raw eggs, meat, and fish
- Long grass. This is something that’s not traditionally mentioned on vet websites, but I’ve found from experience that long grass might not be digestible for dogs. Oftentimes, when our dog eats long grass and then poops, the grass gets stuck halfway out of her butt. The resulting spectacle of get-the-grass-out-of-the-dog is not fun for either of us.
- Salt and sugar (sugar is sometimes okay in small amounts)
- Yeast dough (this will rise in their stomach)
- Anything they’re allergic to. Yes, dogs CAN have allergies, just like people do! If your dog is throwing up/acting lethargic/not feeling good after eating a certain food, they might be allergic to it. You’ll want to take them in to the vet and get them tested for allergies. (You should also be careful when switching dog foods: sometimes ingredients your dog may be allergic to are in one dog food brand but not the other. Make sure you ferret out what ingredients have changed and get your dog tested for allergies if he or she displays any symptoms of allergies.)
- Moldy food (yes, their immune systems are better than ours, but they are also living beings!)
- YOUR MEDICINE, unless you’re specifically told to give your dog human medication by your vet
- It’s never okay to feed your dog people food on a regular basis. Do not feed your dogs human food every day. I can’t stress this enough. Human food isn’t meant for dogs and can result in many conditions, including obesity, that are potentially life-threatening and may shorten their life.
If your dog eats something he/she shouldn’t, call your emergency vet, or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (this may cost $65/call).
You CAN Feed Your Dogs…
- Cooked rice (this is also really good for stomach upsets, we’ve found)
- Cooked pasta
- Fresh fruits (you may want to avoid berries if they may lodge in your dog’s throat)
- Fresh veggies
- Cooked lean meat (DO NOT feed your dog steaks and rice every day, though; this will quickly make them obese and at higher risk of many diseases)
- SMALL amounts of cheese
- Homecooked food made for the dogs. Dogs sometimes actually fare better when they eat homecooked food, but this food must be made for dogs. You can’t feed your dog the stuff you cook for yourself, because it’s just not healthy. But I know plenty of my fellow shelter volunteers
who, unlike me, have the slightest bit of talent at not burning things they cookmake cookies for their dogs, just out of dough and some veggies. I am no expert on the subject of anything pertaining to baking, but there are doggie cookbooks available that you can read to enlighten yourself on the subject. Online recipes are good, too, but if they include any of the “banned ingredients” listed above, you may want to check with your vet before making them.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email at booksandbark [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will for sure get back to you!
For some further reading, you can also look at this article by the ASPCA.