Sharing food from the table can be great for your dog’s health
By Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott| moderndog
Most of us have heard that giving “people food” or table scraps to dogs is not a good thing. While sharing food directly from your plate probably isn’t the best idea, there are lots of table scraps that are safe and healthy to share with your canine companion. Just because it comes from the table or counter doesn’t mean that it’s bad for your dog. Many people make their own dog food, and their dogs eat “people foods” without a problem.
Moderation is the Key
A common concern with feeding table scraps is that it causes obesity. While this is certainly a concern, it does not need to be the case. Any time you give your dog extra food, you are adding extra calories, so if the food you choose to share with your dog is high in fats, sugars, and calories, then there is a real risk of your dog becoming obese. This risk is higher for small dogs, as it takes very few extra calories to cause weight gain. However, sharing healthy foods in small amounts or reducing your dog’s regular food by an equal amount will help to prevent your pooch from packing on the pounds.
Foods which are high in fat can also contribute to pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas with symptoms that range from mild discomfort to a blood infection (sepsis) and internal bleeding. High-fat foods to avoid include bacon, paté, sausage, gravy covered meat, beef trimmings, and poultry skin. A little piece (not more than 1 cm x 1 cm per 20 lbs of dog body weight per day) of any of these items is unlikely to cause a problem as long as your dog does not have an underlying health issue.
Carbohydrates can be an excellent source of highly digestible energy. For this reason, we need to be careful in the amounts that we feed dogs. Dogs that have diabetes should absolutely avoid table scraps that have high amounts of carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice. Table 1 (see next page) gives a basic guideline for the maximum amount of extra food that your dog should be consuming a day per pound of body weight. Letting your dog have the last bite of toast or some plain spaghetti is a fine way to share these types of foods; giving him a plate of pancakes complete with syrup is not a healthy choice.
In human nutrition, high salt intake has received a lot of press lately. Consuming a high salt intake may put you at risk for health problems; however, this is not true for healthy dogs. The only exceptions to this are dogs with chronic kidney problems, since research has shown that high-sodium diets can exacerbate kidney failure. So, dogs with kidney problems should avoid excess sodium intake. Remember also that salty foods are often high in calories and fat, so should be limited for that reason.
What Can You Feed Fido?
Healthy foods are the same for us as they are for dogs. Fresh fruits and veggies are the best treats for your dog. Fresh fruit is high in water and a good source of fiber, so you don’t want to share large amounts as it can result in gastrointestinal upset. In addition, dried fruit can be a good treat, but it tends to be sweeter than fresh fruit because the sugar is more concentrated. It is very easy for dogs to binge on dried fruit and end up with severe diarrhea. A shared piece of watermelon on a warm day is a great treat for your dog. For dogs that are picky drinkers, including fruit in their diet can be a good way of increasing water intake.
Lean meat is an excellent treat for your four-legged friend. Lean chicken, turkey, fish, or beef are great sources of protein. High quality sources of protein (without visible fat) will have approximately 3.5 kcal/gram of meat. So, as with the added carbohydrates, follow the guidelines listed in Table 1. Saving a few small pieces of leftover meat without sauce to share with your dog after dinner or to add to his breakfast the next morning is a good way to share these healthy foods with your dog.
|Dog’s Weight||10% of caloric requirement|
for a healthy adult dog
|Amount of extra lean meat|
|5 lbs||16 kcal||4.5 g|
|10 lbs||29 kcal||8 g|
|20 lbs||49 kcal||14 g|
|40 lbs||83 kcal||83 kcal|
|60 lbs||112 kcal||32 g|
|80 lbs||140 kcal||40 g|
|100 lbs||165 kcal||47 g|
Many herbs and spices are recognized as having health benefits, and research is being done to determine exactly what they do and how they can benefit both humans and animals. While there is limited information available on this subject, cinnamon has been suggested to have anti-cancer and anti-bacterial benefits. Adding a small amount (a half teaspoon or less for large dogs) to your dog’s regular meal may have beneficial effects. There is also room in your dog’s diet for those special, once-in-awhile treats. Marshmallows are loved by many dogs and are safe to share occasionally. For a little dog, make sure that you are using small-dog portions (i.e., mini marshmallows). Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt make great special treats. As for people, these should not be part of your dog’s everyday diet, but saved to celebrate birthdays or special occasions such as passing puppy school.
How to Share People Food
Dumping all the leftover food from your plate and feeding it to your dog is not the healthiest way to feed table scraps. While this may have been a common practice in the past, dogs today eat a properly balanced diet and adding large amounts of table scraps will upset that balance and can lead to problems. If your dog is used to a kibble diet, he may get an upset stomach if you suddenly introduce a number of new foods. Start with foods that are similar to what is in his kibble (i.e., chicken or plain pasta noodles) and branch out from there.
Feed small amounts and be aware of exactly what you are giving your dog: is it meat, fat, carbohydrates, fiber? Noting the specifics will help you balance extras from meal to meal and understand what is happening if Fido experiences digestive troubles. A safe rule of thumb is to introduce one new food every couple of days. Following this rule will also help you keep track of any food item that causes gastrointestinal upset.
Feeding your dog directly from the table can result in bad manners and begging. If you wish to avoid this, share people food like you would any other treat: away from the table and not at meal times. You may want to ask your dog to do his favorite trick before you give him a treat or even just place the treat in his bowl. If your dog tends to be a finicky eater, make sure he has eaten his regular food before you share any extras.
While viewing Fido as a walking garburator will definitely lead to problems, sharing a few bites of healthy foods with him can be a safe and nutritious way to supplement his regular balanced diet and build that extra special bond between you.
Easy Homemade Dog Treats
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup coconut oil (room temp)
- 1 egg
- 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed for texture
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients and mix until well incorporated. If needed, add a little extra coconut flour to get a dough that is slightly thinner than Play Dough.
- Form into 1-inch balls and flatten with hand.
- Make “paw print” shapes with your fingers or a formed cutter. (optional).
- Bake for 20 minutes until slightly browned at edges.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing.
- Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for several weeks or freeze for several months.
Best Dog Brushes
For dogs with very short hair such as Mastiffs, Bulldogs, Boxers or Bassett hounds, the best dog brush is called a Rubber Curry. The Rubber Curry brush can be used during the bath or afterward for Desheding.
Dogs like Pugs, Labs, Huskies, Goldens or Shepherds, the best brushes to use are Slicker brushes or FURminator. The thickness of coat determines how long the FURminator should be used for. If the dog has a lot of undercoat, a combination of the Slicker brush and FURminator can be used.
Dogs such as St. Bernard’s, Bernese Mountain dogs, Samoyed, Pyrenees or Newfoundland’s, the best brushes to use are Pin brushes or a Slicker brush. Pin brushes will cause the least amount of hair breakage. Slicker brushes will cause some breakage but it is more effective in removing the undercoat. It is also possible to use the FURminator on these coat types, but it does cause the most breakage. A combination of these tools also works.
Barking problems are among the most common complaints that dog owners have. Why do dogs bark? Well, for a variety of reasons. Dogs will bark if they feel threatened. They may bark when they play and get excited. Some dogs will bark for attention. Some will bark if they are in pain and they’ll even bark when they’re lonely, bored or stressed. Certain breeds or breed types are also genetically inclined to bark more than others.
How you’ll prevent or resolve your issue with barking will partially depend on what is triggering your dog to bark. For example if your dog is barking or vocalizing because he’s in pain, treating the source of his pain would be the obvious solution. If your dog is barking through the front window as dogs pass by your house, blocking off his access to that window is a simple way to help prevent his barking.
Keep in mind that the more your dog practices barking the better he’ll get at it. So identifying what is triggering your dog to bark and if all possible, removing the trigger or trying to stop the barking before it occurs is the simplest way to prevent the barking.
Anti-bark collars which use shock are inhumane and are inappropriate for most kinds of barking problems (and often make the problem worse!). With the right kind of help and a strong desire to stop the problem, most pet parents can successfully resolve barking issues in a safe and humane way.
The Alert Barker
If your dog is barking to alert you to someone or something outside, the answer is quite simple. Remove the source of what triggers his barking. For instance if your dog barks at people as they walk past your home, prevent his access to the window using furniture, closing blinds, blocking off the area with a baby gate or confining him to a room or his crate while you aren’t at home.
The Lonely Barker
Fortunately the remedy for the lonely barker is often simple. Try changing your dog’s environment a bit. Remember that your dog probably wants to be with people. Dogs who are left outside for long periods of time are often the worst offenders of barking. Your dog needs to play with you and feel like he is a part of the family. Dogs typically don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Make sure you set aside time for regular walks, playtime – even some training sessions. You’ll want to be sure that you give him the social contact that he needs to keep his body and mind occupied.
Barking when left alone may also indicate separation anxiety. If you think that anxiety is the source of your dog’s barking, contact a professional dog trainer in your area who specializes in working with anxiety. You may also want to work with your veterinarian to see if medication is necessary to help improve your dog’s behavior.
Attention seeking barking is a learned behavior! When your dog brings a toy over to you, drops it on the floor, barks and you pick it up and throw it. You have just taught your dog, “When I bark you play!” Even if you look at him or verbally scold your dog when he barks, you will still be teaching him that his barking is a successful way to get your attention. How can you remedy it? You need to ignore his demands. His barking may initially increase and so don’t give in or he will learn that persistence pays off. However, if he barks and you really ignore him or even better if you ignore him and walk away until he is quiet, he will eventually learn that barking doesn’t work and it will decrease.
For more information on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers,
visit our Web site at www.apdt.com or call 1-800-PET-DOGS (738-3647) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.