Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
Feeding the family dog from the dinner table will make her happy but it won't make her healthy. Most foods that humans eat are not good for dogs and may make the dog sick or cause long term-health issues, including obesity. There are several human foods that are not bad for a dog and when fed in moderation, these foods actually add some nutritional value to a dog's daily diet.
Most dogs love food, and they’re especially attracted to what they see us eating. While sharing the occasional tidbit with your dog is fine, it’s important to be aware that some foods can be very dangerous to dogs. Take caution to make sure your dog never gets access to the foods below. Even if you don’t give him table scraps, your dog might eat something that’s hazardous to his health if he raids kitchen counters, cupboards and trash cans. For advice on teaching your dog not to steal food, please see our article, Counter Surfing and Garbage Raiding.
Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark may contain a toxic principle known as persin. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found in stores, appears to be the most problematic. Other varieties of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential.
Birds, rabbits, and some large animals, including horses, are especially sensitive to avocados, as they can have respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death from consuming avocado. While avocado is toxic to some animals, in dogs and cats, we do not expect to see serious signs of illness. In some dogs and cats, mild stomach upset may occur if the animal eats a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel. Ingestion of the pit can lead to obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a serious situation requiring urgent veterinary care.
Avocado is sometimes included in pet foods for nutritional benefit. We would generally not expect avocado meal or oil present in commercial pet foods to pose a hazard to dogs and cats.
Raw bread dough made with live yeast can be hazardous if ingested by dogs. When raw dough is swallowed, the warm, moist environment of the stomach provides an ideal environment for the yeast to multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach. Expansion of the stomach may be severe enough to decrease blood flow to the stomach wall, resulting in the death of tissue. Additionally, the expanding stomach may press on the diaphragm, resulting in breathing difficulty. Perhaps more importantly, as the yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can be absorbed, resulting in alcohol intoxication. Affected dogs may have distended abdomens and show signs such as a lack of coordination, disorientation, stupor and vomiting (or attempts to vomit). In extreme cases, coma or seizures may occur and could lead to death from alcohol intoxication. Dogs showing mild signs should be closely monitored, and dogs with severe abdominal distention or dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.
Chocolate intoxication is most commonly seen around certain holidays—like Easter, Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day—but it can happen any time dogs have access to products that contain chocolate, such as chocolate candy, cookies, brownies, chocolate baking goods, cocoa powder and cocoa shell-based mulches. The compounds in chocolate that cause toxicosis are caffeine and theobromine, which belong to a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. The rule of thumb with chocolate is “the darker it is, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate has very few methylxanthines and is of low toxicity. Dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines, and plain, dry unsweetened cocoa powder contains the most concentrated levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, the signs seen can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures and death. Dogs showing more than mild restlessness should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Ethanol (Also Known as Ethyl Alcohol, Grain Alcohol or Drinking Alcohol)
Dogs are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Dogs may be exposed to alcohol through drinking alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine or mixed drinks (those with milk, like White Russians and “fortified” egg nog, are especially appealing to dogs), alcohol-containing elixirs and syrups, and raw yeast bread dough (please see the above section on bread dough). Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur. Dogs showing mild signs of alcohol intoxication should be closely monitored, and dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins have recently been associated with the development of kidney failure in dogs. At this time, the exact cause of the kidney failure isn’t clear, nor is it clear why some dogs can eat these fruits without harm, while others develop life-threatening problems after eating even a few grapes or raisins. Some dogs eat these fruits and experience no ill effects—but then eat them later on and become very ill. Until the cause of the toxicosis is better identified, the safest course of action is to avoid feeding grapes or raisins to your dog. Dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicosis usually develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion. As signs progress, dogs become increasingly lethargic and dehydrated, refuse to eat and may show a transient increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages. Death due to kidney failure may occur within three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may persist in dogs who survive the acute intoxication. Successful treatment requires prompt veterinary treatment to maintain good urine flow.
Cultivated hops used for brewing beer have been associated with potentially life-threatening signs in dogs who have ingested them. Both fresh and spent (cooked) hops have been implicated in poisoning dogs. Affected dogs develop an uncontrollably high body temperature (often greater than 108 degrees Fahrenheit), which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Dogs poisoned by hops become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent death in these dogs.
Although macadamia nut toxicosis is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care, which may include intravenous fluid therapy and pain control.
A wide variety of molds grow on food. Some produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine whether a particular mold is producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, so the safest rule of thumb is to avoid feeding dogs moldy food. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, neither should your dog. Promptly remove any trash or moldy debris (road-kill, fallen walnuts or fruit, etc.) from your dog’s environment to prevent him from eating it. The signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning generally begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to very coarse total-body tremors and, finally, convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. Left untreated, these tremors can last for several weeks. Fortunately, they usually respond well to appropriate veterinary treatment.
Onions and Garlic
All close members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. A rule of thumb is “the stronger it is, the more toxic it is.” Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions, on an ounce-for-ounce basis. While it’s uncommon for dogs to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk of toxicosis. The damage to the red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn’t become apparent until three to five days after a dog eats these vegetables. Affected dogs may seem weak or reluctant to move, or they may appear to tire easily after mild exercise. Their urine may be orange-tinged to dark red in color. These dogs should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed.
Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely used in sugar-free gum, as well as in sugar-free baked products. In humans, xylitol does not affect blood sugar levels, but in dogs, ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels. Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of ingesting xylitol-containing products, or signs may be delayed for several hours. Some dogs who ingest large amounts of xylitol develop liver failure, which can be fatal. All dogs ingesting xylitol-containing products should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.
Top 10 Human Foods for Dogs
Mix a few scraps of lean beef into your dog's regular dog food to give him an extra boost of protein and flavor. Do not use meats that are heavily seasoned or that have been prepared with onions or are covered in salty gravy. Veterinarians recommend using cooked meat to avoid exposing dogs to toxic bacterias that are found in raw meat.
Combine chunks of boneless chicken and turkey with your dog's dry food to spice up his daily meals. Remove all skin, as it contains fat and salt which are unhealthy for dogs. Chicken and turkey bones are dangerous to dogs. They splinter easily, and when swallowed they may cause internal injury. Remove all bones before feeding poultry to your dog.
Although it's common to think of feeding fish to a cat, dogs like it too. Add pieces of freshwater fish to your dog's food to give him a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which support the immune system. Fish also provides protein and vitamins to the dogs food. Remove bone fragments from the fish to avoid injury. Don't feed dogs fish cooked in rich sauces.
Low-fat, unsweetened yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein for both humans and dogs. Blend a few spoonfuls of yogurt with dry dog food or serve yogurt frozen as a sweet summer treat for the dog. Select yogurts that have live active bacteria for added benefits to the dog's digestive system.
Feed your dog a small bowl of oatmeal or mix cooked oats into his dry food every few days. Cooked, unsweetened and unsalted oatmeal provides dogs with important soluble fiber. Oatmeal is good for older dogs who are beginning to suffer from irregularity; the fiber in the oatmeal helps maintain normal bowel movements. For dogs who are allergic to wheat, oatmeal is a good grain substitute.
Add a sprinkle of ground flax seed to your dog's dry food or feed her a few whole flax seeds as a treat. Flax seeds are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain healthy skin and a beautiful fur coat. Flax seed goes rancid quickly, so remove and dispose of any uneaten portions of flax seed-covered dog food after your dog is done eating.
Eggs are highly beneficial to dogs and are a good source of riboflavin, selenium and protein. Mix a scrambled or diced hard boiled egg in with food or serve them on their own. Raw eggs are not good for dogs, so always cook them. Hard boiled eggs make a healthy and nutritious treat and are ideal to use as a training reward.
The apple is a sweet, crunchy treat for dogs, and it also provides them with vitamins A and C and a good dose of dietary fiber. The skin of an apple contains chemicals called phytonutrients which may be helpful in protecting humans from cancers; dogs may reap this benefit as well. Don't let your dog eat the core or seeds of the apple. Apple seeds contain cyanide which may build up in his system if he consumes too many seeds.
Dehydrated sweet potatoes make a chewy, delicious treat or snack for any dog. The sweet potato is a good source of fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It also contains manganese and beta carotene. Dogs will eat them cooked and mixed in with food or in a bowl on their own. You may sometimes find dried sweet potatoes in the dog treat aisle at your local pet store.
Green beans are a good dietary aid for dogs who have put on a few pounds as they've gotten older. Substitute a meal of dried dog food with a bowl of green beans to cut a few calories. The beans are a healthy, low-calorie food and are filling to the dog. Green beans are a good source of fiber and contain the mineral manganese as well as vitamins C and K.
Choosing a Dog Food
There are many different dog foods on the market. I won't get into which one is best. All I can say that is I use a Food that Meets my dogs and puppy nutritional needs. I use 4health, witch is a premium food witholut the preium Price manufactured at Diamonds foeed for and Sold at TRACTOR SUPPLY.
4health™ Premium Pet Food
Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health
Available exclusively at Tractor Supply Co., 4health™ wet and dry dog food and cat food formulas for puppies, kittens, dogs and cats offer more nutrition in each bag to keep your pet happy and healthy. With fresh meat in every formula and less filler than some other brands, 4health™ brand pet food allows you to feed them more with less. 4health™ offers exceptional taste and more quality nutrition per bag, allowing you to save money while providing your pet with a rich balance of vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein. Compare 4health™ dog food and cat food formula to other premium pet food brands, and you’ll see why 4health™ is the best food choice for your pet.
Here are some important things you should look for when choosing the right food for your pet.
-Lots of animal protein at the top of the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed by weight, so you want to see a lot of top quality animal protein at the top of the list; the first ingredient should be a “named” animal protein source (see next bullet).
-A named animal protein – chicken, beef, lamb, and so on. “Meat” is an example of a low-quality protein source of dubious origin. Animal protein “meals” should also be from named species (look for “beef meal” but avoid “meat meal”).
-An animal protein meal in a supporting role when a fresh meat is first on the ingredient list, to augment the total animal protein in the diet. Fresh (or frozen) meat contains a lot of water, and water is heavy, so if a fresh meat is first on the list, another source of animal protein should be listed in the top three or so ingredients. Fresh or frozen meats do not contain enough protein to be used as the sole animal protein source in a dry food; they contain as much as 65 to 75 percent water and only 15 to 25 percent protein. In contrast, animal protein “meals” – meat, bone, skin, and connective tissue that’s been rendered and dried – contain only about 10 percent moisture, and as much as 65 percent protein.
-Whole vegetables, fruits, and grains. Fresh, unprocessed food ingredients contain nutrients in all their natural, complex glory, with their fragile vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants intact. Don’t be alarmed by one or two food “fractions” (a by-product or part of an ingredient, like tomato pomace or rice bran), especially if they are low on the ingredients list. But it’s less than ideal if there are several fractions present in the food, and/or they appear high on the ingredients list.
-A “best by” date that’s at least six months away. A best by date that’s 10 or 11 months away is ideal; it means the food was made very recently. Note: Foods made with synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin) may have a “best by” date that is as much as two years past the date of manufacture.
What You Don’t Want to Buy:
-Meat by-products or poultry by-products. Higher-value ingredients are processed and stored more carefully (kept clean and cold) than lower-cost ingredients (such as by-products) by the processors.
-A “generic” fat source – such as “animal fat.” This can literally be any fat of animal origin, including used restaurant grease and fats derived from roadkill. “Poultry” fat is not quite as suspect as “animal fat,” but “chicken fat” or “duck fat” is better (and traceable).
-Added sweeteners. Dogs, like humans, enjoy the taste of sweet foods. Sweeteners effectively persuade many dogs to eat foods comprised mainly of grain fragments (and containing little healthy animal protein).
-Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives (i.e., BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin). The color of the food doesn’t matter to your dog. And it should be flavored well enough to be enticing with healthy meats and fats. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. Note that natural preservatives do not preserve foods as long as artificial preservatives, so owners should always check the “best by” date on the label and look for relatively fresh products.
Victor High Energy Formula Dry Dog Food is naturally formulated for highly active sporting dogs. This delicious recipe is free of corn, wheat, soy and gluten as well as processed grain by-products. The result is a highly digestible food that will require less intake to meet your active pup’s energy demands and also yield minimal stool volume. Additionally, multiple scientifically advanced ingredients are included in High Energy Formula to support excellent digestive and immune system health.
- 79% of the protein in this recipe comes from meat and poultry
- Formulated for highly active sporting dogs
- Free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten and processed grain by-products
- Highly digestible
- Supports digestive and immune system health
Victor Professional Formula Dry Dog Food has been used for years by professional dog breeders, kennels and parents of active sporting dogs. This nutritious food has a true high-protein, low-carb ratio that works for lactating females, growing puppies and highly active dogs of all ages. Plus, multiple scientifically advanced ingredients are included to support excellent digestive and immune system health. Like all super-premium Victor formulas, Professional Formula is free of corn, wheat, soy and gluten as well as processed grain by-products. The result is a highly digestible food that requires less food intake to meet energy demands and yields minimal stool volume.
- 78% of the protein in this recipe comes from meat and poultry
- High-protein, low-carb formula for active dogs
- Highly digestible
- Supports digestive and immune system health
- No corn, wheat, soy, gluten or grain by-products
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