Is Giving Human Foods to Dogs During the Holiday Season a Good Idea?
Some human food might be ok for dogs, but not everything. Find out what food you should and shouldn't give your pet this holiday season!
Feeding your pet that side of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving may not be the best thing. Letting them get that early stockpile of Christmas chocolate also isn't a good idea. The fact is, when feeding your pet human foods, you need to make sure you're giving them the right ones. While some human food is safe and beneficial to dogs, some of it might be downright harmful. If your pet does swallow something they shouldn't, call or visit your vet as soon as you can.
"Don't wait for your pet to show symptoms; it's easier to treat problems earlier," says Dr. Justine Lee, author of It's A Dog's Life But It's Your Carpet and It's A Cat's World ...You Just Live In It. "If you go to the vet sooner, they can induce vomiting and the dog goes home in a few hours."
It's not just about being sick either. As Americans get larger, so do our animals. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of all dogs and cats in this country are overweight or obese.
According to Lee, much of this comes from their owners over-feeding them and the extra food they provide regularly from table snacks. She points out that while one slice of bacon doesn't seem like much, it could be a fifth of the calories a smaller dog needs for the entire day. If you do feed your pet human food, concentrate on good proteins.
Human Food for Dogs – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
For now, here's the skinny on keeping your dog slim, healthy and safe this holiday season:
Vegetables: Some good human foods dogs can eat include canned pumpkin, fresh or frozen vegetables, especially green beans and carrots. These are healthy, low fat, high fiber foods, which means your dog will feel full after consuming them so they won't eat too much and will poop more. You can mix these foods in with your dog's food or give them it as a snack.
Eggs: Give your dog an egg a day, which is an excellent dose of protein. To make it easy, boil a 12-pack of eggs in one go. Dogs can also eat eggshells, which contain protein.
Canned tuna and salmon: These fish, canned in water, are also easy to give to your pet and can both be mixed with dry foods. These also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which do everything from keeping joints healthy, to maintaining a healthy coat and protecting heart health.
Yogurt: Full-fat yogurt can be added to a dog's food to help with digestion and relieving gas.
Chocolate: Most of us know that chocolate is bad for our canine friends, but in fact, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the worse it is for them. And of course, the more they eat, the more serious it is.
According to Lee, "It can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, and it can cause a racing heart rate". "It can even lead to heart arrhythmias in dogs and cats--and it can be fatal in a massive amount or a concentrated amount." Pets can also aspirate the chocolate into their lungs, which can cause severe pneumonia", she points out.
Lee says dogs only need about an ounce of dark chocolate to get sick, but they can eat up to eight ounces of milk chocolate before they feel bad.
Caffeine: Found in chocolate, coffee and teas, caffeine can result in hyperactivity and seizures, according to Amy Zalcman, DVM, NYC Veterinary Specialists.
Onions: Onions, garlic, and layered vegetables can bring changes to your pet's red blood cells, making them fragile and liable to burst. Onions and onion-flavored foods can also cause a specific type of anemia.
Apple seeds: These contain cyanide and though they usually take a while to show, symptoms include rapid breathing, vomiting, and seizures.
Bread: Moldy bread or bread in large quantities can cause significant problems including convulsions and vomiting.
Macadamia nuts: These nuts cause a temporary paralysis in dogs but it's typically not fatal and lasts for 24 to 36 hours. They can also give your pooch weak back legs. If your dog does swallow some of these nuts, call your vet or local poison control center so they can induce vomiting or tell you how to do it.
Fatty foods such as bacon and fries: These are not poisonous, but can cause really severe reactions in your dog. When dogs have a fatty snack, it can inflame the pancreas causing profuse diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain. "Foods that have a high fat content can be challenging to digest for dogs and cats," explains Zalcman.
Vegetables: Veggies, especially asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, beans, and nuts, are likely to give your dog gas. And it's fairly certain that it will be more offensive to you than to him!
Grapes: Grapes and their dried cousins, raisins, or even certain currants, can cause kidney failure in dogs, and possibly cats.
"In general with most poisons, the more you eat, the sicker you're going to get," explains Lee. "I warn parents who have small children to beware of them throwing grapes and raisins off the high chair." Don't forget that grapes and raisins can be found in everything from grape juice to Raisin Bran, fruit cake and trail mix.
Yeast: Unbaked bread dough or anything that contains yeast is attractive to dogs because of its smell. But once your pet has eaten the dough, their stomach becomes the new oven, its warmth making the dough expand.
"It expands so rapidly that they can need surgery to get it out," says Lee, "and it can be life threatening if the dog bloats too much. It also creates alcohol and carbon dioxide so they can get alcohol poisoning and get really drunk and lethargic."
Lee points out, while cats may nibble on some dough, they're unlikely to eat much of it.
Will you let your pet indulge in any of these human foods as a treat during the holiday season? Would you reconsider what scraps you let your dog have after reading this article? Tell us in a comment.