Dog owners are confronted with decisions about what to share with their dogs almost every time they sit down to eat. Who can resist the sad eyes and the cute way our canine companions make us feel guilty for not sharing?
How Do I Know What is Okay?
The best course of action is to try to resist giving a lot of foods from your plate in the first place. This encourages begging and can make dogs a bit of a nuisance at meal times, especially if you have guests.
That said, some human foods are great for your dog and you won’t need to feel like you are harming them if you share. Vegetables are generally fine to feed your dogs with few exceptions.
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Garden peas
- Snow pea pods
- Lentils and other legumes
- Apple slices
- Peanut butter
- And many other vegetables and fruits
You should avoid giving your dog white potatoes that aren’t cooked. You should also avoid high-fat foods for health reasons.
Dogs are susceptible to many of the same health issues that we can suffer from. Heart disease, kidney disease, renal failure, fatty liver disease, diabetes, irritable bowel and other forms of gastrointestinal upset can all plague dogs. It’s important to help them watch their diet because they won’t do this on their own.
Butter is a food that will not necessarily harm your dog with a bite of food that has butter on it. In large quantities and with daily portions it would cause health issues in the long term and diarrhea in more immediate cases.
Why put them through this?
Regulate the diet of your dog and he or she will live much longer. You want them to live a healthy and long life, don’t you? It is in your hands to make sure that they are given good food and things that cause no harm.
This brings us to the next topic. . .
Foods That Are Harmful to Dogs
There are many foods in your home that can be very bad for dogs. A partial list of them is:
- Grapes and raisins*
- Citrus fruit
- Dairy products
- Macadamia nuts*
- Fruits with pits
- Apple seeds*
- Fatty meats
- Excessive nitrates from things like lunchmeat and hotdogs
- Hot peppers
This is a partial list and not meant to be your rule of law. There are more foods that aren’t good for dogs. That said, anything with an asterisk is poisonous and should not be given under any circumstances. Other things on the list are not good for them but won’t harm them immediately.
Not eating right will cause harm over time, just as it does in humans. Butter falls into this category. You should use common sense and remember that all things in moderation are typically okay but when you eat it every day, it isn’t okay.
Weight Gain in Dogs
When dogs gain weight from fatty diets, they suffer from heart blockages just like humans. Also, since dogs are smaller, to begin with, five additional pounds can cause them to experience joint pain and issues with their backs.
Due to the shape of their body, five pounds in the stomach can pull down on their spine, wreaking havoc on their backs. This can cause nerve damage, destruction of the vertebrae in the back and cause them to pinch the nerves that run inside of the vertebral column. In extreme cases, it can cause loss of leg function.
Dogs with a long back are very prone to this issue. Dachshunds and dogs with a similar shape are highly susceptible to these sorts of spinal injury.
Kidneys can shut down from being fed toxic diets. Even foods that may not cause them to fall over and die can be killing them slowly. Renal failure can be the end result of this problem. A dog that goes into renal failure can only be made comfortable and fed a very specialized diet to try to prolong their life as long as possible.
Eventually, this disease progresses and the kidneys slowly cease to function. Blood in the urine will be one sign of renal failure. Some of the symptoms appear to present as a bladder infection. It is imperative that you don’t ignore these symptoms. The sooner your dog is seen, the more likely you can save his life to live longer.
Ultimately, the kidneys cease to function and the body cannot survive. When the kidneys cease to function, the body is no longer able to rid itself of waste. Dogs stop urinating and death happens within hours at this point, typically.
Dogs do not metabolize food the way that humans do. Sugar is bad for humans too but very bad for dogs. While sugar will not cause them to gasp and drop dead in a moment, it can definitely lead to severe health problems.
Veterinarians have seen a drastic increase in diabetes in dogs. This can be attributed to dog foods that have high amounts of corn, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. The sugar causes spikes in insulin, which can cause insulin resistance in the body over time. The end result is diabetes, which if not treated will also lead to death.
You can avoid this issue completely by feeding your dog a healthy diet that doesn’t include sugar and sugary sweeteners that are disguised as other things. Many dog treats are laced with sugar. Try giving them some pieces of apple instead. The natural fruit sugars won’t do near the damage.
Dogs and cats are also seeing a drastic upward rise in cases of cancer. This is very likely linked to the types of foods they are eating.
Be sure to read the labels on the food you are feeding and make sure that you don’t see BHA or BHT on the ingredient list. These have proven to cause cancer in lab rats yet are legal to add to foods. You may even find them used as preservatives in some human foods.
Feeding as natural of a diet as possible will help ensure that you don’t have to live through treating your dog for cancer. It’s expensive and it is a very hard battle for them to win.
Luckily, more treatment options are available now – only because cancer has become so much more prevalent.
Shamefully, the dog food industry is not very well regulated. We think that it is but the harsh reality is that some foods made in other countries and imported are not good at all for your dog. Cheaper foods that are mass produced can also be very bad choices.
Feeding natural veggies and lean meat is acceptable as a means to avoiding these issues but you can also find good food choices on the market. It simply takes some time and research.
Making Food For Your Dog
This is an option that is acceptable but not everyone has time. Some opt to choose high-end dog food and supplement it with fresh fruits, veggies, and lean meat. Other people stick with just the dog food that they have chosen, believing it to be adequate. It may very well be adequate, but there is no harm in sharing some good, fresh foods with your dog either.
Some people who have the time will opt to make food for their dog each day. This way you know exactly what ingredients your pet is consuming each day. It’s a great choice if it makes sense to you but you shouldn’t feel pressured to do this or ashamed if you just don’t want to cook food for your dog each day.
Many people are too busy to even consider doing such a thing. Adding a few vegetables from your own meal preparation will work well, take no additional time, and your dog will really appreciate a little variation in his or her diet.
No matter which way you choose to feed your dog or reward them, now you have more information to assist you in knowing what you should avoid and what is safe. The goal should always be to keep your pet healthy and alive as many years as possible.
Remember that the choices you make will impact them for the rest of their lives. A healthy dog can easily live to 16 years of age, with some living longer. It depends very much on the diet they are fed their whole lives. Don’t forget plenty of walks and exercise too!
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.