The love we have for our dog shows in the dog bowl too, and elsewhere. How can you resist those big brown eyes that ask you to share whatever it is you’re eating? But by sneaking him a bite of our meal, we really can put his health at risk. Do we really know what foods are bad for dogs, and what might actually be good for them?
Fruit and vegetables
These are typical food categories that are great for our health but really should not be given to the dog. How many times haven’t we given him some vegetables thinking that it will be good for him, as good as it is for us? The problem is, that’s not always the case.
For example, cabbage (of any sort) and onions (even chives) are not easy for them to digest and they end up fermenting in the stomach. Not only, but they contain substances that are hazardous to red blood cells. Garlic, although less dangerous, belongs to this category too: given in large doses or on an ongoing daily basis it’s harmful, but a clove now and again may actually be good for him.
It’s best to keep the dog away from raw potatoes too, because they contain a harmful substance called solanine. This ingredient is also found in tomatoes and eggplant. Don’t worry though, the riper the vegetables are and the more they are cooked, the more the solanine is effectively neutralised. Don’t include vegetables rich in oxalic acid in your dog’s daily diet either, stuff like spinach, chard, chicory and lettuce. In high doses, they can inhibit the dog’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney stones.
There are other things we need to deny him as well. Avocado, for example, is toxic to them, and grapes and raisins are too. When Rex watches us enjoy these snacks, we want to share our pleasure with him too… DON’T. They are very bad for his kidneys (and may lead to kidney failure), and contain far more sugar than is good for a dog. If you must give him an ultra-sweet fruit of some sort, then offer him a bit of persimmon, figs or dried fruit, but as little as possible. Delicious macadamia nuts are very good for our health, but they are harmful to our faithful four-legged buddies, even in small amounts.
But not all fruit is bad for them. Bits of apple, orange, watermelon, melon or berries do them no harm whatsoever and are actually a good snack, now and again and not near mealtime. When you do give them fruit, however, watch out for seeds and pits that could cause intestinal problems.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products
Meat is a fundamental ingredient both cats and dogs need in their diet, but care should be taken. Eating too much liver, for example, could provoke an excess of Vitamin A, which might lead to bone issues. And salami and similar cured meats are not good for him either because of the high salt and fat content, and it contains far too many preservatives, which are bad for the liver.
Bones are a real favourite of our pets but they can cause constipation and can also easily break into shards (especially chicken, turkey and rabbit bones) and puncture or damage stomach and intestine walls… so don’t give in to the cute begging tactics.
What about eggs? Sure, but only if cooked. Egg white contains avidin (neutralised when cooked) which slows the absorption of biotin. And if you’re thinking raw fish, well, it has thiaminases, which destroys Vitamin B. Once weaned, it’s best not to give dogs milk as they don’t have the enzymes needed to digest it and it could cause diarrhoea. On the other hand, in small doses, unsweetened plain yoghurt can actually benefit the intestine. And, finally, many people don’t know that bread is hard to digest and it’s best to give it to them dry and in small quantities.
Although delicious, this category isn’t the healthiest thing for us either. Still, while dark chocolate offers humans certain beneficial properties, dogs should never even come close to it because it is toxic to their nervous system and can be fatal in certain amounts. The sugar desserts usually contain are not good for our pets either and can cause both obesity and diabetes. It’s not worth compromising the quality of their lives, or even shortening it, just because you can’t resist sharing a pleasure with him! Resist at all costs!
Much of the food we serve at the dinner table, food that is good for us, is not what our pets should be eating, and often lovingly giving him a bite of our meal, with all good intentions, can seriously damage his health. Dogs will eat just about anything you give them – even if it’s bad for them – unlike cats, who are far more picky. You really are not doing your dog any sort of favour by sneaking him scraps at the dinner table, it will almost always be too salty, greasy, spicy, sugared or, simply wrong!