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Are you sharing your food with your pooch?

As pet parents, we all must have melted at the soulful eyes your pooch displays while you are eating.  But table scraps can be harmful to your pooch. Here’s a checklist on what to do.

Can we feed our dogs table scraps?

Dr. Sunita Patel

“Table scraps do not constitute a balanced meal for dogs. Some dogs cannot handle the spiceseither. It’s best to give dogs food which is meant for them and not us,” told Dr Sunita Patel. “Only certain foods like rotis, rice, eggs, some vegetables, fruits like papaya, chikoos, watermelon, ripe mangoes (without kernel) and apples (without seeds),” she added.
While, Dr Manvir Singh opined, “Food should provide balanced and complete nutrition to meet dog’s nutritional requirements at that life stage. Many food items are safe and healthy like well-cooked lean meat or fresh fruits but not to forget to reduce same amount from your pooch’s diet to make it balanced.”
“Picking food from your plate and feeding it to your dog is not the healthiest way to feed your pet. While this may have been a common practice in the past, dogs today eat a properly balanced diet and adding any amounts of table scraps will upset that balance of nutrition and digestion  and can lead to problems. Bad manner or begging can be a result,” said Dr Makarand Chavan.
Which foods are harmful for pooches?
Some of the harmful foods include dark chocolates, onion, grapes & raisins, items containing caffeine, alcohol, xylitol (non-calorie sweetener), raw eggs, small size bones and fish with spines. “Some of them may be ‘toxic’ and some may be ‘dangerous’ while some may cause allergy or disturb digestion,” told Dr Manvir.
Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate may be toxic as it is made from processed seed of theobroma cacao which contain theobromine and caffeine. If ingested in more quantity, it may lead to various complications,” said Dr Manvir.
Onion: “Onion contains thiosulphate which is toxic to dogs and cats. It may cause haemolytic anaemia in which red blood cells (RBCs) get destroyed. So, we should avoid onion containing food stuffs like pizza, tomato sauce, Chinese food, etc,” told Dr Manvir.
Grapes & raisins: Dr Manvir explained, “If grapes & raisins are eaten in large quantity, they may cause acute renal failure”.
Raw eggs: “As raw eggs contain enzyme inhibitor ‘Avidin’ which may interface with the Biotin. This can cause skin problems, if raw eggs have been fed for long,” said Dr Manvir.
Alcohol and Xytilon: Dr Manvir told, “Alcohol intoxication may commonly cause vomiting, loss of coordination and stupor as dogs are more sensitive than us. While, Xylitol a common non calorie sweetener used for various baked diet products. Ingestion in large amount may drop in blood glucose level (hypoglycaemia) which may cause nausea, disorientation seizures or it may be fatal if not treated in time.” Dr Sunita Patel added, “ Candies and gums contain sweetener Xylitol which causes liver failure in dogs.”
Small bones: “Small bones or fish with spines may pose threat to life of your pet as they may get stuck in oesophagus of your pet and lead to choking or its splinter may puncture any vital artery/vein in that area,” said Dr Manvir.
Macadamia nuts: Dr Sunita Patel explained “Macadamia nuts cause tremors and hyperthermia. Apple seeds cause cyanide poisoning.” In this, Dr Makarand added, “Macadamia nuts contain a high level of phosphorus and, along with other types of nuts, can cause bladder stones in dogs. If a dog ingests macadamia nuts, they can develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles as well as weakness or paralysis of the hind legs. All such dogs will face a hard time rising, get distressed quite often, they pant a lot and even some of them may have swollen legs which give them pain when touched or manipulated.”

Dr. Makarand Chavan

Raw meat:Raw meat and raw fish can lead to tooth fracture and food poisoning and acutegastritis. Fat trimmings and bones can splinter and get caught in or perforate a dog’s digestive system, pancreatitis and obstruction in gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and sometimes can lead to death. Even hard bones, like knuckle bones, are dangerous for a dog,” told Dr Makarand.
Mushrooms:Mushrooms are also toxic to dogs and certain types such as Amanita phalloides can even be fatal to dogs if ingested. Symptoms of mushroom toxicity include abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma and death,” explained Dr Makarand.
Other miscellaneous items: Dr Sunita Patel told, “Garlic causes anaemia in dogs. Coffee and tea (caffeine) cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures. Avocado can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs.” Dr Makarand added, “Tomatoes can lead to GIT irritation, ataxia and weakness and urinary calculi. Peaches and plums can cause inflammation in small intestine and abdominal obstruction. Milk can cause indigestion and lead to diarrhoea. Yeast dough can be responsible for gas accumulation (bloat) in dog’s intestine and stomach which can even cause rupture.”
What are the symptoms of these problems?
Various signs and symptoms may be shown by affected dog which are being listed below by Dr Manvir; however, this is not exhaustive list:

  • Allergy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Internal bleeding
  • Anaemia
  • Skin problems
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Renal failure
  • Nervous signs like seizures, tremors, etc
  • Cardiac signs like abnormal blood pressure, cardiac arrest.
Dr. Manvir Singh

Dr. Manvir Singh

What leads to obesity in dogs?“Obesity is because of lack of enough exercise and overfeeding – mostly table scraps, treats, imbalance in the protein-carbohydrate ratio. Obesity can lead to diabetes and its related problems, arthritis,” told Dr Sunita Patel.
“In my practice, I often encountered with obese dogs. After digging deep, I found that pet parents are feeding them table scrapes which were containing high fat and carbohydrates. Dogs were very finicky in taking pet food but they relish table foods. Pet parents were educated about balanced and complete nutrition and its affect on
health and longevity of dog. After following strict diet regime combined with exercise, obese dog returned to their shape,” told Dr Manvir.
Four basic preventive measures
According to Dr Makarand Chavan, there are four basic preventive measures.
No junk food: Never feed junk foods such as fries, potato chips, leftover pizza or candies. Only provide your dog completely balanced commercial pet food. You can consult your vet to choose correct food and feeding pattern for your pet according to his breed, weight, age and overall health.
Moderation is the key: If your dog is given healthy human food, you should carefully maintain his daily calorie requirement and reduce his own food so that he will not put on weight. Balance his diet since your dog would still need his regular food.
Watch out for toxic foodstuffs: Avoid foods that have been found to be poisonous to animals.
Emergency assistance: Be sure to call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may have ingested something toxic.

Definite ‘NO’ items
“Chocolates are a definite NO. Raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, alcohol, salt, avocado, macadamia nuts, apple seeds, candies and gums also,” explained Dr Sunita Patel

(With inputs from Dr Sunita Patel, Veterinary Surgeon, All India Animal Welfare Association and President, Pet Practitioners Association of Mumbai; Dr Manvir Singh, MVSc (IVRI) and Veterinary Nutritionist, College of Veterinary Sciences, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand and Dr Makarand Chavan, BVSc &AH, MVSc, Dogs and Cats Veterinary Clinic, Mumbai).

Do you ‘give in’ to the ‘soulful looks’?

Does your dog melt your heart for table scrap? That was the question we put to our friends in Bengaluru and here’s what they have to say.

Sangita & Snicker

Sangita & Snicker

“Snicker, my Golden Retriever, is mostly a placid happy-go-lucky guy… till his mealtimes.Then he becomes James Bond and Chulbul Pandey rolled into one. First comes the James Bond… he’ll stare up at you like he’s a spy…charmingly checking out the table, scooping out the yummies on display. Then he’ll dart look at you, like he actually doesn’t care. But when you start serving yourself, he’ll become debonair and the sexy Bond will come up. He’ll put his face on your lap and snuggle closer. He’ll stare into your eyes…or you must say, into your soul. But if you ignore that also, Chulbul Pandey will put his Dabangg paw on you. He will first paw gently, and then the claws will slowly come out and dig in. And he’ll let out a small sigh before drooling…so to answer your question – yes he does melt my heart for table scraps.”
–Sangita

Ashit & Fifo

“Two lives wait for me eagerly at home – Ishaan & Fifo. Ishaan is a Shih Tzu and Fifo is a Maltese. They love my wife’s cooking and love to chew her shoes too. Whenever we sit on the table to eat something, wherever they are and whatever they are busy doing, they will run to the table and start harassing us with their continuous pawing and jumping up on the table and even barking, just to let us know that the kings of the jungle are here and need to be given an offering of whatever we are eating. Their quirks amuse me day in and day out.”
–Ashit and Priyanka

Rupa & Maxim

Rupa & Maxim

“Maxim, our five-year-old Poodle, loves to follow me around, especially in the kitchen.Sometimes, I can just not ignore her pleading eyes and heartbreaking whimpers when he begs for some table scraps. Some of her favourites are bread, ice cream and cheese.”
–Rupa

Anant & Misty

“The most mesmerising thing about Misty is her eyes – when she sits at your feet and looks at you, no one can do anything but gaze into her most beautiful eyes. She loves eating- not what you give her but what she wants. And so many times she just ignores the food in her bowl to come and sit at your feet, while we are at the dining table, to look at me so expectantly that in spite of myself, I find me feeding her scraps off the table even though I know I am spoiling her silly. In just the four years she has been with me she has changed all my resolutions about rearing so much that I don’t know whether her behaviour is what it is because of me or mine is what it is because of her!”
–Anant

Raveena & Tanny

Raveena & Tanny

“We have a Golden Retriever named Tanny. In her earlier years, she often used to wait for table scrap. So, in order to stop this habit of hers, we had tried various tricks and out of which the following three worked: i) Give her food at the same time when we eat our meal or earlier to that. ii) Strictly say NO (a couple of times), which she understands and moves away from the table. And iii) We ignore her by not looking at her and then she would simply sit closer to the table without drooling for the food.”
–Raveena Jain