Daily Dawgs: The dos and don’ts of human food
April 9, 2023
Hi guys! It’s me Rufus! There’s been a lot of talk around my house in the last few weeks about food. I know food is a major topic for everyone – I mean, we all have to eat, right? But these discussions have been different. It sounds a lot like how everyone was mentioning food a few months ago. When that happened, the smells in the house were paw-mazing! I couldn’t even begin to describe them to you! Mom says these times with special food are called holidays and that some people celebrate a holiday called Easter every year and have lots of tasty food! I always forget the names of the holidays, but I never forget the food!
Something I may not have already told you about myself is that I love food! And I’m not talking about those dry bits of kibble; I call those rations, and Mom puts them in my bowl every day. I’m talking about human food! There is such a wide variety of smells from human food! And the tastes! Don’t even get me started! But mom doesn’t let me have a lot of human food. It seems like every time I sniff the air in the direction of her plate of food, she says, “No, baby, you can’t have this. It’s bad for doggos.” Sometimes she even tells me it’s “poison.” But here’s my question: if it’s poison, then why is she eating it?
When I look at her questioningly, she always explains. She teaches me lots of stuff all the time! She’s a good mom! What she says is that there are some human foods that are perfectly safe for humans to eat, but because humans and dogs are different in lots of ways, those foods can sometimes be harmful to dogs. Personally, I think this is a flaw in the food chain – literally – but I’m getting off topic.
Sometimes, I wonder if mom isn’t just being stingy and wants to keep all the good stuff to herself and not share with me. I think she could sense that I was having some doubts about her motivations for not sharing, so she decided to ask our friend Dr. Doggett at Striegel Animal Hospital about the different human foods that dogs can and can’t have. Dr. Doggett gave us lots of good information, but I don’t remember everything, so I’ll let mom tell you!
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Most individuals, regardless if they have pets or not, have heard over the years that there are just certain human foods dogs shouldn’t eat. Searching the internet for the answer will produce a sea of results, some more accurate than others. Rather than wade through the seemingly bottomless depths of those results, Dr. Brandy Doggett of Striegel Animal Hospital was generous enough to provide some trustworthy answers to these questions. The most common thing that springs to mind is often chocolate, which is deadly to dogs.
“Chocolate, due to theobromine: depending on type of chocolate (milk to baking) and amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, seizures and death,” Doggett said.
Perhaps a lesser-known human food that is toxic to dogs is grapes, even in the form of raisins. This one is particularly dangerous because, as Doggett said, the amount ingested does not always indicate a particular level of toxicity.
“Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. This is difficult because it is not “dose dependent” and it is not every pet. A [five] pound Yorkie may eat a dozen grapes and have no problems, [but] a 60 pound Labrador may eat [two] and go into kidney failure,” she said.
Many adults are aware of the negative health effects of too much sugar in the diet and will opt instead for sugar substitutes. There has been much debate over the years about the safety of many of the artificial sugar substitutes available, which has caused a rise in popularity of natural variations. The jury is still out on their health effects on humans, but it is well known that one such natural sugar substitute, Xylitol, is extremely toxic for dogs.
“Next would be xylitol, aka Birch Sugar, although it is a natural sugar found in plants it is considered an artificial sweetener. It can be found in foods like sugarless gum, sugar-free candy and baked goods. It can also be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, chewable vitamins, cough drops and deodorants. Symptoms include vomiting, seizures and loss of coordination, which can occur anywhere from a few minutes to several hours after ingestion and lead to life threateningly low blood glucose levels, blood clotting disorders, and liver failure,” Doggett said.
The outlook on human food for dogs isn’t entirely bleak, however, as there are quite a number of fruits and vegetables dogs are permitted to have. Doggett cautions that any seed or pit fruits on the ‘okay list’ must have the seeds or pits removed before being fed to your dog. Additionally, these foods should never be seasoned with herbs, spices, salt, pepper or butter.
“Apple, banana, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), strawberries, baby carrots, regular carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, snap green beans, green beans, green bell pepper, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), zucchini, butternut squash (raw or cooked with no salt or butter),” she said.
For those who celebrate the Easter holiday, Doggett said to avoid feeding your dogs ham because, “It has a lot of salt, and the fat may cause pancreatitis which can be life threatening.”
Eggs, too, should be avoided for the same reason, she said. Caffeine is another thing to be avoided, as it can lead to, “high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms.”
Speaking in more general terms, and strictly of the foods that are safe for dogs to consume, Doggett cautions against offering your dogs too much of their favorite human foods.
“A good rule of thumb to use is always restrict “treats” to less than 10% of daily calorie intake,” she said.
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Ok, back to me! Oh my dog! I guess mom was right after all! I’ll have to give her extra snuggles for ever doubting her! She assures me that my rations, or dry kibble, is perfectly satisfactory in keeping me strong and healthy. She said there are measurements of necessary nutrients that dogs need, and most maintenance dog foods fulfill the health requirements for dogs. But here’s the thing – I prefer human food, so I always wait until I know Mom isn’t going to grab a snack before I eat my rations for the day.
Well, I’m out of time right now, but next week I’m going to tell you more about my visit with Dr. Doggett and some information she told mom about me!