Dogs may be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t make them human. Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that a healthy diet for themselves must translate into a healthy diet for their pet. Although a few table scraps every once in a while (no more than 10% of a dog’s diet) won’t hurt, there are a few things that should be treated with caution.
Dogs (and cats, come to think of it) are carnivores, and the ideal diet would reflect on that. Many pet foods are primarily filled with “cheap” energy: filler grains. These provide calories, but skimp on the essential amino acids for canine needs. This idea is reflected in the Bones and Raw Foods diet. Otherwise known as BARF. (Some people say that it really means Biologically Appropriate Real (or Raw) Foods.)
A BARF diet consists of mostly meat (about one and a half cups a day for a 50 pound dog) and veggies (half a cup of veggie slurry for a 50 pound dog.) The vegetables are first put through a food processor, because dogs can’t digest bigger chunks. Supplements are also commonly added.
Another aspect of the BARF diet is raw bones. No dog should ever be given cooked bones, as they become brittle and splinter. These splinters can get caught in your dog's throat or intestines.
For more information on the BARF diet, just type into your favourite search engine. Many people prefer other diets for their pets; this is not the only option, but I believe it to be the healthiest.
When changing your dog’s diet, be sure to do it gradually. Mix in the new food with the food your dog is used to, and gradually start increasing the amount of new food. Remember, research is your friend, don’t start anything drastic before getting all the information. And one of the things you want to keep in mind is what you shouldn’t feed your dog (here’s where I get to the point).
"Okay," you might be thinking, "chocolate is bad for dogs. I already knew that. And thanks to E2, I know that dogs don’t need to get vitamin C from fruit," but did you know that grapes may cause kidney failure or that onions can be fatal? Well, I’m here to help. Listed in alphabetical order for your convenience, here are some things you shouldn’t feed your dog.
Just because alcohol may be all fun and games for you, doesn’t mean it is for Fido. You may find it entertaining to watch your dog get drunk and stagger around, but because they get drunk quicker than humans, they can consume enough alcohol to cause alcohol poisoning unexpectedly fast. It is recommended that no alcohol at all should be given to your dog (not even beer).
When drunk, dogs may become disoriented and possibly cause themselves and/or others injury. They may also throw up. (Sound familiar?)
If your dog drinks too much alcohol and gets alcohol poisoning, he or she may slip into a coma or even die. It’s not worth it.
Okay, if this one comes as a surprise, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to own a pet at all. It may seem strange to include anti-freeze on this list, but dogs love the taste of it. Obviously, it has some serious negative effects, including kidney damage, so be sure to keep it out of paws’ reach.
Avocados are high in fat, and so, may cause an upset stomach, vomiting, or in extreme cases, pancreatitis (see Fatty Foods).
The other dangerous element in avocado is persin. This can be more harmful than the fat content, and causes heart and lung damage. This warning also applies to guacamole.
Broccoli is one of the least dangerous things on this list; it only harms dogs when it makes up more than 10% of their diet. After that, the isothiocynate in it causes a upset stomach.
Caffeine can be harmful to humans as well as dogs. Canines, however, can react to caffeine not only by getting hyper, but can also develop a rapid heartbeat, tremors, and even seizures. So be sure to store your caffeinated pop, tea, and coffee carefully.
As the previous two write-ups have already mentioned, chocolate can easily become deadly for dogs. The risky ingredients in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, it can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, and seizures.
Just because your dog doesn’t react right after he or she has eaten chocolate, doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be a problem. Many times, there aren’t any visible effects for hours. Since death can occur within 24 hours, it’s better not to take any risks. Bring your dog straight to a vet.
Wondering what amount of chocolate can be harmful for dogs? Moore’s Haven1 says:
- 1 ounce per pound of body weight (56 grams per kg of body weight) for milk chocolate.
- 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight (28 grams per 1.5 kg of body weight) for semi-sweet chocolate.
- 1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight (28 grams per 4 kg of body weight) for baker's chocolate.
Like lactose-intolerant humans, dogs lack the enzyme to digest dairy. Believe me, if you ignore this, you’ll be punished. Dairy causes gas build-up and will be extremely bad smelling. It can also cause just as fragrant diarrhea.
As you may already know, salmonella thrives in this kind of environment, and that can be harmful for your dog. The other danger of raw eggs is the avidin in it. This deprives your dog of a B vitamin: biotin. Biotin deprivation can lead to weakness and hair loss, or worse, retardation of growth and skeleton deformity.
Dogs vulnerable to pancreatitis can have attacks triggered by fatty foods. Dogs with weight problems, of course, should avoid them. Other than that, dogs can usually handle more meat and fat than humans are used to. Consult your vet if you’re not sure.
Just six grapes can put your dog in serious danger. Although no one has determined exactly what makes dogs sick, it has been documented to cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy and kidney failure. It is not unusual for dogs to die from grape or raisin consumption.
If your dog has eaten them, induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal. Hospitalize the dog immediately.
Liver does not sound like it should be included here, but it can actually be pretty damaging for dogs. Liver contains a ton of vitamin A, and too much of it causes hypervitaminosis A: vitamin A toxicity. To avoid this, no more than three servings of liver should be given to a dog, and never raw. If your pet is already taking vitamin A supplements, he or she shouldn’t have any.
Vitamin A toxicity leads to loss of appetite, weight loss, and deformed bones.
Macadamia nuts’ effects on dogs also have not been thoroughly researched, but it has been determined that dogs may react after only 6 nuts. Some reactions can be fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, swollen limbs, muscle weakness (especially concerning the hind legs) and paralysis in the hind legs. Luckily, dogs recover without treatment and with no long-term effects.
Just like humans, dogs shouldn’t be given any medication not prescribed to them. Even drugs like aspirin and Tylenol shouldn’t be given to him or her unless a vet has recommended it.
This is obviously something that shouldn’t be ingested. Dogs who manage to get at and eat mistletoe experience vomiting and abdominal pain.
You would probably never knowingly feed your dog mothballs, but you should take special precaution in keeping them away from your pet. The naphthalene in them can cause muscle tremors and seizures.
Some kinds of mushrooms can be poisonous. If you allow your dog to eat the wrong kinds he or she can experience abdominal pain, anemia, and liver and kidney damage, so keep an eye out while you’re walking him or her.
Moldy or Spoiled Food
Make sure to keep your garbage cans tightly sealed, because food that’s gone bad is also harmful for dogs. If they eat the wrong foods, they can get diarrhea, start vomiting, have seizures, and damage internal organs.
Nutmeg acts as a hallucinogen in large amounts, and can have serious consequences, including tremors, seizures, and even death.
Even when they are not macadamia nuts, the high phosphorus content can leave your dog with bladder stones.
Onions (and Garlic)
One small onion can contain enough thiosulphate to prove fatal for your dog. Although small amounts can be used safely in dog food, too much onion or garlic (but especially onion) can cause loss of appetite, vomiting, confusion, diarrhea, anemia, and increased heart rate.
Lilies, daffodils, and foxglove may look good in your garden, but they sure don’t go well with a dog’s diet. Some more of the dangerous varieties of plants are oleander, rhododendron, azalea, yew, rhubarb leaves, and cycads, but it’s best not to let your dog nibble any houseplants.
Cooked potatoes are actually healthy and nutritious for dogs, and even raw potatoes aren’t usually dangerous, but if the potato is a green colour, it probably contains solanum alkaloids, which can be harmful. This is pretty rare, as these alkaloids are not easily absorbed, but it is still something to watch out for.
Salmon Poisoning Disease is a serious disease that can kill your dog in a matter of days. If he or she eats raw salmon, some reactions from it can include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, bloody diarrhea (which may also be bright yellow) and death. If you have a suspicion that your dog may have had raw salmon, get in contact with a vet immediately.
Too much salt is bad for humans and dogs. In the latter, it may cause pancreatitis, stomach problems, and bloat (this can occur when dogs drink a lot of water too quickly after having salty foods, which traps gas in the intestines and may ultimately kill them).
Keep in mind that play dough, especially the home-made variety, contains a lot of salt and may cause salt poisoning if your dog gets into it.
Sugarless Gums and Candies
Watch out for the sugar substitute “xylitol”. If a dog eats much of it, it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar as well as liver damage.
Tomatoes contain atropine, which can negatively affect your dog. Ripe tomatoes are the least dangerous of these, followed by unripe. The most unsafe part of the plant are the leaves and stem.
As yeast dough is designed to rise, it can do so in your dogs intestines. When the yeast dough expands, it can create uncomfortable gas, and even rupture your pet’s stomach or intestines. Even small amounts can rise dangerously.
Some other things to watch out for are corn cobs, which can be choked on, and any fruit with seeds or pits that can be swallowed. Some of these pits and seeds contain toxins, such as arsenic in apple seeds and apricot pits.
Although it’s good to keep your dog hydrated, he or she shouldn’t be allowed to drink stagnant water, as it may contain parasites and harmful bacteria.
Plastic dishes may seem like a good choice, as they can’t be broken, but they can cause allergic reactions on a dog’s chin. These dishes can also harbour bacteria and hold onto to odours. Picky dogs may reject their food because of this. Metal or ceramic dishes are a safer choice.
Bloat can be painful and even life threatening, so if your dog is susceptible to it, be sure to raise his or her dog dish onto a stand or table so it is at shoulder level. This way, a lot less air will be swallowed.
Let your dog have some time to digest his or her meal before exercising.
None of this should stop you from letting your dog enjoy a variety of foods, but make sure to research the possible consequences before changing his or her diet.
Accidental Household Dog Poison (http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/1-np/53-food-dangers-for-dogs.htm)
1Bad Foods For Dogs List (http://mooreshaven.com/pets/dogs/safety/badfoodslist.html)
BARF Pictorial (http://www.auntjeni.com/barf.htm)
Dog Feeding Tips (http://www.petcaretips.net/dog-feeding-tips.html)
Dr. Goodpet – Recipes (http://www.goodpet.com/library/recipes.html)
Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat (http://www.pedigree.com/dogsandpuppies/adult+dogs/nutrition/nutrition+facts/foods+your+dog+shouldnt+eat.)
Grain Based or Meat Based Diets For Dogs and Cats... What’s the Difference? (http://www.thepetcenter.com/imtop/contrast.html)
Grapes of Wrath (http://www.aspca.org/site/DocServer/grapes.pdf?docID=189)
Human Foods that Poison Pets (http://www.petalia.com.au/templates/storytemplate_process.cfm?story_no=257)