Sharing a snack seems the easiest option to score brownie points with your pooch and what could make your pet happier than a choco-chip cookie or a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken. More out of love than ignorance, dog owners often forget that their best buddies belong to a completely different species and that their body mechanisms are poles apart from ours. What seems perfectly nutritious treat for humans may prove to be toxic or even fatal to canines.
Awareness about foods can threaten the health and well-being of your beloved pet can help you chart out a safe and healthy diet plan for your pooch. Keep your dogs from digging their paws into these potentially dangerous treats.
Chocolates: None of us can resist digging our teeth into dark chocolate and neither can our pooches. There are few things more toxic and harmful for a dog, rather than larger amount of cocoa containing in the products. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and hyper-activity even in minute quantities. When ingested in larger amounts, it can lead to severe arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), cardiac seizure, coma and even death. Dark chocolate, which ironically has a protective effect on the human heart, is the most potent canine killer.
Bones: It is difficult to keep a dog away from a bone and most pet dogs receive left-over bones as ‘special treats’ after parties. It is important to bear in mind that our pampered pooches have long parted with their wild wolf-ish instincts and that their digestive systems could be a bit more fragile than we think. Splinters and sharp pieces can pose a choking hazard and lead to abrasions and injuries in the digestive tract. Large bones like beef and lamb shinbones boiled in water are the safest bet if you must treat your dog with bones. Chicken, pork and fish bones however, are a complete no-no, especially for puppies.
Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic offer countless health benefits for humans but the thiosulphate content in them can lead to gastric irritation in dogs. Long-term consumption has also been known to increase the risk of hemolytic anemia and permanent liver damage. Scan the labels of all food items for onion and garlic content before you serve them in your doggie’s bowl.
Caffeine, alcohol and tea: Natural stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can cause restlessness, confusion, lack of muscular co-ordination and disorientation. An overdose can lead to potentially lethal conditions like respiratory distress and coma. You may raise a toast to your best bud but don’t share your drinks with him.
Raw eggs and uncooked meat: Raw and frozen animal products may harbor disease causing organisms such as E.coli and Salmonella infections. Raw fish and eggs can lead to Vitamin B deficiency if included in the pet’s daily diet plan. Too much liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity. All meats and animal products should be sufficiently boiled or cooked to counter any risk of infections.
Salt: It is difficult to imagine human food without salt but a canine’s metabolism is simply not cut out to process this natural tastemaker. Foods with high sodium content like canned meats, table scraps, soups, gravies, sauces and preserved foods can lead to bloating, electrolyte imbalance and kidney malfunction.
Rich, spicy food: Akin to some humans, fatty and spicy goodies can cause vomiting, flatulence, bowel irritation and pancreatitis in dogs. Some dogs may be prone to obesity and indigestion, especially if they have not been doing adequate physical exercise. Reserve these for your human guests.
Grapes and raisins: These seemingly harmless treats are known to contain certain compounds that are likely to cause kidney failure in canines. Moreover, smaller dogs may choke on them.
Nuts and mushrooms: Nuts like almonds, macadamia and walnuts can cause muscle weakness, cramps, nervous disorders and digestive problems.
Yeast products: Live yeast spores in partially cooked breads can prove to be fatal for dogs even in small quantities as it can rise within the digestive tract and cause bloating, gas build-up, immense discomfort and rupture of the intestines.
OTC medications and supplements: Always consult your vet before supplementing your pooch’s diet with vitamins or synthetic nutrients originally meant for humans. Common drugs like Asprin and Ibuprofen can cause mortality in canines.
Safety tips for your pooch’s diet:
• A dog’s dietary requirements may vary according to breed, gender, age and size. A professional vet would be the best person to chart out a well-balanced and healthy diet plan for your canine. Keep the vet informed about any recent dietary changes or feeding habits.
• Buy dog foods of reputed companies only and feed your dog in accordance with the amount mentioned on the pack, which is in relation to his age and breed.
• Educate your children about the differences between a human and a canine diet and discourage them from sharing unhealthy treats like candies, chips and chocolates. Make them aware of the potential hazard that some treats pose for the pet.
• Check the labels on all food stuffs in detail before including them in your dog’s food chart.
• Feed your dog just the right quantity at fixed intervals and make sure that the diet is balanced in all essential nutrients.
• Make sure that your dog’s food is prepared under hygienic conditions. Old, spoilt or moldy food can lead to infections, toxicity and sickness. Your dog needs clean, well-cooked food just as much as you do.
• Keep toxic household products like cleaners, detergents, acids and aerosols well out of your pet’s reach.
• Discourage your pets from entering ‘food-laden’ areas like the kitchen, always monitor your dog’s diet intake and feed them under supervision.
• Don’t give in to your pooch’s fuss and tantrums regarding food – adopt training techniques to stop them from ‘begging’ and whining for food. Safety and health should always be at the top of priority list.