We talk a great deal about foods that are safe for dogs and foods that unsafe for them. What about foods that they can eat but probably shouldn’t?
A dog can eat pepperoni
Yes, A dog can eat pepperoni and likely won’t get sick at all, but pepperoni isn’t exactly good for them either. For example, feeding them too much pepperoni could upset their stomach because of the spices in the pepperoni and the fat content of pepperoni is very high. The fat can make dogs very sick, aside from making them gain weight faster than people do.
An overweight dog is a miserable dog. When dogs get very heavy, they hold the weight in the stomach area and this pulls downward on their back because of the way they are shaped. This can have severe consequences on their health. Dogs get slipped discs and pinched nerves in their spines that can cause them to have difficulty walking as they grow older and also to be in excruciating pain.
Sadly, some owners mistake this constant pain for aggression and some of these dogs are euthanized over behavioral issues when in reality, they were in great physical pain. So yes, dogs can eat pepperoni, sometimes – rarely. It should never be a constant thing and no, it isn’t good for them by any means.
Dogs can eat most vegetables without repercussion. Dogs can even eat some fruits. Watermelon and cantaloupe have high water content and are actually very good for dogs and a welcome summer treat when served cold.
Some fresh vegetables are always a welcomed addition to the food bowl, mixed with kibble. You can always add some rice, either white or brown, a tiny bit of chicken broth or some pieces of lean white chicken to their food if you like. Just remember that these things are higher in caloric intake and will most certainly add weight to your dog if you are not seeing to it that they get regular exercise.
Give your dog an extra treat like this on a day you’ve done a four-mile hike in the wools or after your hunting dog has been tracking rabbits for 6 hours in the field or flushing birds for you all day. They have earned the extra calories and will welcome the extra goodness with wagging tails.
Exercise is Crucial to Your Dog’s Health
Aside from feeding your dog foods that we see as ‘real’ in comparison with kibble or canned dog ‘mush’ that we see as not appetizing, it’s also essential that your dog gets exercise. They are born and bred for doing a job, no matter what breed. Some little toy breeds are born and bred to sit in your lap but they require a little exercise to stay healthy, even just a walk around the block once per day.
Conversely, a German Shorthair Pointer was bred to have incredible stamina, zig-zag his way through miles of fields to flush birds from their hiding places, retrieve those birds gunned down and bring them back to their hunter-owner. Beagles, albeit a small breed that people think are great for apartment living, are similarly bred for stamina that is truly incredible in such small dogs.
A beagle can run for miles in pursuit of prey, with their noses to the ground the entire time. The need for exercise is strong in these dogs and if they don’t get their exercise, they can pack the weight on quickly. Taking these dogs for a walk is not enough! In fact, walking any dog isn’t really exercise for them. Dogs need to RUN!
The more you run your dog, the fewer issues you’ll have with weight, behavioral issues, nervous energy and barking around the house, naughty behaviors like getting into things, and they will pay more attention to you in the long run. Dogs with excess energy are just hard to live with or train. Dogs that get fat and lazy have health problems in the long term and they often die years ahead of when they should have been expected to live.
When you decide to feed your dog things from your refrigerator, make sure that these things are healthy and that you are taking care of their other health needs as well. Try to understand that dogs gaining five pounds is a huge deal because they aren’t that large to begin with. Five pounds to a human is nothing, but to them it is a much larger burden to carry around.
How to Approach Feeding Your Dog
When you consider what to feed your dog, know what their needs are. Real meat that is lean is best for them. Some dogs have issues with allergies to certain meats. Try giving them just a small amount and see how they do. If they get itchy, scratch that off your list as a known food allergy. Most dogs do fine with lamb, duck, venison, rabbit and fish (in small amounts). Beef and chicken seem to cause the most allergy issues as far as meat products go.
You should practice the same method when introducing them to produce. Some things they will love and some they will detest. Some will cause strange reactions but dogs typically itch when they are allergic to something. Their liver will go a little crazy and release too much histamine to fight the intruder – the allergen.
Giving them an antihistamine, like Claritin, can help stop the itching. Benadryl also works, but only use the tablets. If you are unsure how much, look at charts online for weight specifications for how much to use for your dog. You’ll need to know what they weight, generally.
Dogs can eat some boiled egg on top of their meal and they will love it. I’ve yet to see a dog turn down hard boiled egg, sans salt. Remember that dogs shouldn’t have sugar, salt, excess spices or sauces that are flavored with such. You can make your own chicken stock, remove most of the fat and do not salt it. They will love a small quarter of a cup poured over their kibble or over some rice and veggies with some real chicken meat. Proper nutrition is important. So, what do dogs need?
There are 6 essential nutrients that dogs need:
- Water – without it, dehydration kills living creatures. Dogs should have water down and available at all times. If you are potty training puppies, it is acceptable to regulate water intake as long as you allow them at least 6 periods per day to drink as much as they want each time. Older dogs will self-regulate.
- Protein – Protein is essential. It provides slow-burning fuel for the body, it is made of amino acids which are the building blocks of the human body. Protein is necessary to grow hair, muscle, nails and repair damage when an injury happens. If you lift weights, protein is necessary to rebuild the muscle tissue that is broken-down from the process. It builds the muscles stronger, which causes the growth that weightlifters are seeking.
- Fat – Necessary for helping fat-soluble vitamins in absorption into the body. Fat is stored energy and is a bigger source of immediate and dense energy than protein. Fats should be consumed in small amounts as to the amount of energy being expelled. Excess fat will be stored and too much fat can cause health issues, such as fatty liver disease and gastrointestinal issues in dogs.
- Vitamins – Dogs need a wide variety of vitamins for their body to function properly. A well-rounded diet with veggies and fruits in wide variety of colors is the best way to ensure that you’re getting all of the major vitamins. Colors are an indication of the vitamins in the food. Orange foods, for example, are typically rich in beta carotenes.
- Minerals – As all creatures, minerals are important to health. These are from inorganic material. Minerals aren’t alive. Minerals common to the dietary need are calcium, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. These play important roles in the function of the body and are a necessity.
- Carbohydrates – Carbs are known as an immediate source of fuel. The body burns carbs before proteins. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Carbohydrates are not absolutely essential for dogs, but in getting a rounded diet with proper vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates are inevitable.
As you may surmise, dog’s nutritional needs are fairly similar to our own. Dogs get sick for similar reasons and they gain too much weight for similar reasons as well. Dogs are mentally equivalent to a 3 to 5-year-old child. As you would not expect a child to regulate their own diet with their health in mind, you can understand why you need to vigilant on behalf of your dog, when it comes to their care.
Dogs depend on us to know that even though pepperoni might not be pure poison, it isn’t exactly great for them either. Moderation is key when it comes to these types of foods. Treat them how you’d like someone to choose for you.
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.