There are many things that are fine for dogs to eat. There are just as many things that dogs can eat that should be given sparingly because those things can cause stomach upset and/or diarrhea.
What Should Dogs Have?
Dogs have a few dietary needs that are basically the same as humans. Dogs and humans are both omnivorous. That simply means that we eat a bit of everything; eating both plant and animal in our diets is perfectly normal.
Dogs don’t need too much fiber, just a bit. Fiber should consist of 2 to 4% of their total diet. If you give them too much fiber, you’ll likely have a dog on your hands with diarrhea and this is just as disturbing for you as it is for them. Severe diarrhea can result in dehydration and dehydration can lead to other problems. It’s a road you don’t want to go down if you can avoid it.
Dogs can have a bit of fresh fruit and they also love vegetables. Green beans are typically well-accepted by dogs, as well as carrots, peas, rice, and similar items. Broccoli is fine for dogs but only in small quantity because it can lead to gas and diarrhea.
Very importantly, you need to give dogs a good source of protein. A lean meat like chicken, turkey, or beef is a good choice for dogs and you should be careful to trim away fat as it is just as bad for them as it is for you.
They do need a little fat in their diet, as do we. Healthy fats that are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 oils are excellent for them. You can also offer special treats to them that are rich in antioxidants and omega oils. These keep their coats shiny and their eyes bright.
What Should Dogs Absolutely Not Have
Dogs should not be given certain foods because while they are safe for us, they are not safe for them at all.
Foods that are bad for dogs:
- Macadamia nuts
- Grapes and raisins
- Apple seeds
- Fruits with pits Sugar
- Raw eggs
- Raw meat
- Meat fats
- BHA and BHT (preservatives that are potentially cancer-causing)
The list isn’t overly long but should be adhered to. Some of the above foods are highly toxic. Xylitol for example, will cause death in a matter of hours and it takes very little. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is often added to peanut butters, chewing gum, and some candies.
It’s imperative that you are are careful to read labels on things like peanut butter, which is a favored treat for many dogs. Stick to a natural product that includes no sugar and no artificial sweetener in order to keep this a safe treat for your dog.
Fruits are generally safe for dogs if you take care to remove seeds and pits which can be toxic. Fruits are also very high in natural sugars so they should be given sparingly, just a slice or two at a time. Dogs love apples and an apple slice dipped in peanut butter is a wonderful treat.
Puppies can teeth on carrots and they are very good for them. Dogs typically enjoy carrots to chew on and if you soak them in cold water, puppies adore the soothing it gives to their sore gums as new teeth are coming in.
Care With Meat and Eggs
Meat and eggs are listed specifically to be avoided if fed raw. The risk of salmonella is very high and it is a problem that seems to grow worse each year. Many people enjoy feeding a raw diet to their dogs but there is care that should be given.
Eggs should be blanched with boiling water. Salmonella actually lives on the outside of the shell. If you pour boiling hot water over the eggs or dip them in the hot water just a few seconds to kill bacteria on the outside of the shell, this reduces the risk drastically.
Cleaning chicken thoroughly in the same way, blanching in boiling hot water, will kill bacteria on the exterior of the meat but it isn’t a 100% guarantee that you’ve killed all the bacteria and feeding raw meat is simply not suggested.
When you prepare meals for your dogs, cook the meat thoroughly, especially if you are cooking red meat for them. Cook it at least medium well to be sure you’ve killed any potential bacteria. E-coli is a very real threat and it can kill. Don’t fool around with beef.
If you are using ground beef, boiling it or pouring boiling hot water over it after you’ve cooked it will rinse the fat from the meat and drastically reduce the risk of fatty liver disease and high cholesterol. High fat content, in the form of oils in foods, can also be a diarrhea risk.
Older animals and young puppies are more at risk for things like E-coli and salmonella. With weaker immune systems, they can be susceptible to death from such things, so caution is very much advised.
Always be cautious and keep your dog’s health in mind. Don’t just open the door and let them go outside without paying attention to their bowel movements. These can be the first clue to you that something is wrong with them, whether it was something they ate or an illness they’ve contracted.
What Should You Do if Your Dog Gets Diarrhea?
One of the first things you should do if you see that your dog has diarrhea is remove their food dish from the floor and make them fast for at least four hours. Ensure that they are drinking water and keep the bowl full for them.
If the diarrhea is still very watery after four hours, continue to withhold food for the rest of the day and the next day feed them a meal of lean, boiled meat such as chicken. Mix it with rice. Either white rice or brown rice is fine for dogs. The rice will help firm their stools ideally.
If your dog still has diarrhea in the second day, or stops drinking water at any point during this time, see your veterinarian immediately. They can give you an anti-diarrheal shot that should begin taking effect immediately. If it doesn’t, then there may potentially be another problem and your veterinarian can help determine that.
Dogs get sick sometimes. It isn’t always about the food they’ve had to eat but sometimes it is. Don’t make changes to their diet too quickly. If you are going to change their food, begin mixing a quarter of the meal with new food for a few days. Then change to 50/50 as long as they are tolerating it well. In a few more days, make the new diet 3/4ths of their meal and ultimately they will totally be on the new diet.
When you make sudden changes to the diet of a dog or a cat, diarrhea and gas is almost always the result. Living in the house with a gassy pet is no fun and it is likely not comfortable for them either.
What if I Just Like Giving My Dog My Scraps?
This can absolutely be a great way to supplement their diet if you choose to. Up until the 1950’s, most dogs were fed table scraps and leftovers. Commercial foods took over and it became easier to feed the dog from a bag and most people now feed their dogs in this way. Many great dog foods exist but some commercial dog foods are very lacking.
If you choose to add some vegetables and scraps of lean meat to your dog’s bowl, there is truly no harm in this at all but you may be advised to watch what you give them and how much at one time. Remember that it takes very little of a good thing to become a bad situation sometimes.
Diarrhea and gas are the biggest issues with adding things to their diet on a regular basis. If you are just going to do an occasional treat of vegetables or a piece of meat from your leftover steak, you won’t likely ever have an issue. Just always be cautious and pay attention. Go ahead and give your dog a piece of that dried mango if they’ll eat it. One or two pieces won’t cause them any issues but mango is naturally very sweet and you could easily give them too much if you do more than that small amount.
Laura Barnes 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.