The habit begins innocently enough. You drop a french fry on the floor, and your dog quickly vacuums it up.
Good boy! you might say. Way to clean up after me.
Then, you start to notice him paying particularly close attention to you whenever you enter the dining room carrying fries. He watches your every move. What would it hurt to just toss him a couple? He seems to really like them, and how can you resist those big, begging brown eyes? You give in.
From that day forward, he isn’t just begging; he’s demanding his share of your food!
Whether you are eating at the dining table or relaxing on the couch with a bag of potato chips, your pet is right at your side pleading for something tasty. You snack while doing your homework, and your dog is salivating at the thought of you dropping a cheese doodle. Face it; your pet has a monkey on his back. He has lost his proper perspective about food and is now addicted to the odor of junk food.
What can it hurt to share? For starters, it can hurt his health.
If you want to give your dog a snack, use whole baby carrots instead, says Dr. Marty Becker, resident veterinarian on ABCs Good Morning America and co-author of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul (HCI, 1998). Carrots crunch, snap, are sweet and add virtually no calories to your pets diet.
Besides being too spicy, human foods are too fatty for dogs and just too tasty. The cycle of begging, giving food, begging and getting more food continues until the pet swells up like a fur-covered, helium party balloon to use Beckers comparison.
These obese (very overweight) dogs, however, are being set up for a shorter lifespan due to real health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, joint pain and an increased risk of cancer. A bad diet also can lead to a condition called pancreatitis, which when left untreated can cause an early demise. Although their owners mean well by giving them what they want, they are literally loving their pets to death.
Some very common foods that you eat actually can poison your pet. Sharing these foods can trigger anything from a minor reaction, such as vomiting, to a major crisis.
Becker even warns about giving bones to your dog. No rib, fish or poultry bones, period, he says.
Choking is a major problem with bones. They also can cause stomach and bowel perforations (holes); the bones break apart into very sharp pieces, and some dogs tend to swallow without completely chewing their food.
He also cautions against fatty trimmings from rich meats such as ham, turkey and steak. Fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis.
On the list of foods not to feed your pet are a few that might surprise you. Beckers list of foods to avoid includes:
- Avocados - This fatty food can cause indigestion.
- Chocolate – Chocolate contains something called theobromine (like caffeine), and ingesting high enough doses of it can cause heart problems and even death in dogs.
- Food allergies – Common foods such as cheese, sausage, tuna, eggs and tomatoes can cause an allergic reaction in your pet. Instead of sneezing, you might find him scratching his skin until it is raw.
- Macadamia nuts – These fatty treats can cause indigestion in your pets system.
- Milk – Some pets cannot digest a sugar (called lactose) that dairy products contain. This can cause diarrhea.
- Onions – This vegetable can cause a blood disorder in dogs. Now, dogs very seldom sit down to a big plate of grilled onions but it makes sense to avoid feeding your pup foods that may cause an adverse reaction.
- Raisins/grapes – Raisins and grapes can cause kidney problems in dogs leading to a fatal condition. So, don’t share your box of raisins with your pooch.
Dogs also have in-gested tobacco products such as cigarette butts, loose tobacco, medicinal patches and gums, and suffered from nicotine poisoning. It is amazing that dogs will eat loose tobacco, but I guess when they see their owners putting it in their mouths, they must think its a treat. Wow, this sure is bad human and canine judgment!
While some common household products aren’t considered food, they are extremely toxic to dogs, which have been known to ingest them. Antifreeze/coolant, which is used to cool a cars engine, has a sweet taste to dogs. If they lick up just a small amount off the driveway, they can become extremely ill. If you see any antifreeze or coolant leaking from your parents cars in the garage or driveway, ask them to please mop it up immediately.
Some pesticides such as snail bait contain poisons that will kill your pet if eaten. Ask your parents to check the labels on pesticides that they use in the yard. Be sure that they are safe to use, especially in areas where you and your dog play.
Obviously, because there are so many food-reaction bombs out there, the best practice is to ask your veterinarian, Becker says. There is only one food that is best to put in your pets bowl, and only your vet can analyze your dogs life stage (puppy, adult or senior), lifestyle (couch potato or tennis ball fanatic), current health status and potential future risks to determine what that specific food is.
So while those beautiful brown eyes are begging you for just one more french fry, be strong and tell your pet: No, I’m doing this for your own good.
Hmm, those words sound vaguely familiar, don’t they?