How to Safely Love Our Dogs with Food
Let’s be honest! We love giving our dogs treats as much as they love eating them, if not more. What a joy to walk through the isle at the pet store and pick out delicious morsels, never tried before: Peanut butter! Duck! Venison! The selection is overwhelming, it’s like picking candy for Halloween.
If done right and in moderation, there is nothing wrong with treating our beloved dogs to tiny bites, yummy chews, and why not – even dessert. This act of giving increases the human-animal bond and quality of our time together, not to mention it being the foundation of positive reinforcement training.
Let’s revisit some simple rules, so that treats are all about fun and games, and don’t end up with a sad pooch and a visit to the vet.
Some food basics first: avoid fatty meat trimmings, bacon and other meat products that are high in fat, as they are likely to cause pancreatitis. Some dairy products will likely lead to diarrhea, as adult dogs lack an enzyme needed to digest them. Bones can cause chipped enamel or broken teeth, or even worse, sharp shards wreaking havoc in their belly, and so can hooves, antlers and such hardy products. Many pig’s ears are contaminated with Salmonella, and they have overall been frowned upon by the FDA.
Depending on how ravenous your dog is, even some rawhides and dental chews, when swallowed whole or in bites that are too large, can get stuck in the dog’s throat.
Some foods known to be toxic to dogs are onions, garlic and chives cause anemia; grapes and raisins lead to kidney failure; anything sweetened with xylitol – chewing gum! – will damage their liver; raw meats are often contaminated with bacteria; alcohol, chocolate and coffee – just simply a no no.
So, what is safe? Lots of good things, in moderation and using common sense: veggies and fruits, lean meats, yogurt and cheese (of cow origin and low fat preferably), small amounts of unbuttered popcorn, peanut butter.
And when you get lost in the treat isles at your favorite pet stores, ideally choose products made in the USA and take a moment to read the list of ingredients. Pick the ones made with few ingredients that you can read and understand. Your dog will love you even more for it.