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People Food & Pets: Toxic Or Safe?

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Useful Information About Food You Shouldn’t Be Sharing With Your Pets And Potential Problems From Sharing Safe Foods.

Everyone knows that look you get from your pet while you’re eating. It’s like they’re staring straight into your soul as you lift your fork into your mouth and bite down. You feel guilty, right? How could you possibly be eating in front of your dog who hasn’t had a meal since breakfast and won’t eat dinner for another few hours. They must be starving! Or at least it seems that way. Your dogs are pretty good at playing the sympathy card, and it’s okay to give in to this occasionally.  

Toxic Ingredients

Most people know the two basic things to never give a dog, one being chocolate and the other being grapes/raisins. But, there are so many other foods out there that you may not be aware of, including certain ingredients within the food. One particular ingredient to be on the lookout for is xylitol. Xylitol as I have mentioned on my facebook page is an ingredient used in some peanut butters to sweeten them. But, did you know that it can be found in other foods as well? Certain candies, baked goods and gum to name a few contain this ingredient. Other foods that would generally fall into the “ingredients” category would be onions and garlic. Everyone loves cooking with them but if the dish you’re making contains either of these ingredients, be sure to not offer any to Fluffy. Watch out for foods that have large amounts of salt and sugar too. In general it is a VERY good idea to keep your dog away from the kitchen pantry all together as various different seasonings and baking soda/ powder are harmful. Nutmeg in particular is a toxic spice for dogs. 

Toxic Foods

It is easiest when talking about foods that are toxic to dogs to break them down into categories of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and starches. Since we already covered chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic and the various different spices to avoid, they will be omitted from the list. Remember, you can always print out a sheet to keep handy in your kitchen area or there are really nice refrigerator magnets you can buy online as well.

Fruits:

Avocado, currants, rhubarb, grapefruit, citrus rinds and any pitted fruit such as peaches, cherries, nectarines and plums.

Vegetables:

Chives, leaks, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Meats:

Any fat trimmings, fish and poultry bones, raw meat, raw eggs and fish, and any junk food (think fast food that is highly processed). It is also a possibility your dog may be sensitive to pork or other proteins as well. If your dog has allergy issues, you may want to steer clear of chicken and beef too and go with more novel proteins such as duck and venison which will be covered in a later blog regarding allergies.

Dairy:

Milk, cream, butter, ice cream and whipped cream. They can have other dairy such as greek yogurt and cheese in small amounts but even then it may cause an issue. It is common for pet parents to want to top their dog’s food with greek yogurt for the source of probiotics. Just use caution as it may not agree with every dog.

Starches:

Most starches are safe, just make sure they are cooked first. It is especially important to make sure to avoid giving your dog raw potatoes and uncooked breads/doughs specifically containing yeast.

Safe Foods

Generally speaking, most dogs do well with chicken and rice. This is often referred to as the “bland diet” by veterinarians when your dog has a health issue where they have a hard time digesting regular dog food. Anything else not mentioned in the toxic categories is generally considered safe. Of course, everything in moderation. Also, just as people should do, it’s best to stick to “whole foods,” meaning nothing processed or out of a box. You want to think along the lines of whole meats, fruits and vegetables.  

Weight Gain Problems

There are two main issues that can arise as a result of your pet consuming too much “people food.” Let’s first discuss weight gain. This is the fastest way for your dog to pack on the pounds. When you’re feeding your dog their regular meals, you are accounting for their entire daily calorie intake of food in 2 meals, that’s it!  If you start feeding them “people food” in between meals, you can create a very overweight dog very quickly unless you cut back on the amount of dog food you’re feeding them. You even need to watch giving them too many dog treats too. The downfall to this is now you have to get the weight off your dog, but at the same time, you’ve also created a monster! Your dog is now wanting and craving these extra snacks throughout the day and it is going to be very hard to break them of this habit. They may get a little demanding about this too as the extra food is something they are now accustomed to.

Picky Eater Problems

The second main issue is a different kind of “monster,” called the picky eater! My general rule of thumb is “if they don’t know it exists, you’re better off keeping it that way.” What do I mean by this? Take a puppy for example. If all they knew was dry kibble once they were weaned, then that is all they know that exists. Start to introduce the deliciousness that is wet food? Well, now they won’t eat their dry kibble without a topper. This behavior can keep spiraling until you’re left with a dog that refuses to eat. You’re left defeated as you run to the pet store over and over again picking out anything and everything until you figure out what your dog will eat. Don’t let this happen!

Being A Responsible Pet Owner

To create the bonding experience between you and your dog, of course you’re going to share food! Who wouldn’t? But, it is important to understand first and foremost what is considered safe. No one wants to accidentally poison their best friend! It is almost equally as important to understand the potential consequences of sharing food with your dog as well, even if the food is considered safe. No one wants an obese, stubborn, picky dog! Not saying this happens in all cases, but by shedding some light on this topic, I hope it creates more awareness for a very common problem. Don’t be the root of your dog’s problem and remember that moderation is crucial when treating your dog to a safe and healthy “people snack.” To learn more about being a responsible pet owner, check out our other article entitled Responsible Pet Owners Month

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