When your pooch gazes at you with those heart-melting eyes, just begging for a bite of what’s on your plate, it’s so tempting to give in. And, in many cases, this might actually be just fine…as long as you don’t replace their proper diet with it, and stay away from certain ‘no-no’ foods.
Here’s what your dog needs you to know about eating your food.
- I love variety!
Many dogs get just one kind of food and, if it’s really good food, that’s fine. But, as they say, variety is the spice of life – it’s nice to get different foods. Plus, when I eat different things, I get different nutrients. You just have to be careful what you share with me (yes, even when I do my very best ‘I’m starving’ expression!)
- Paws up for colourful veggies
Most veggies you enjoy are a yummy addition to my bowl, like butternut, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, courgettes, marrow, and broccoli are all just fine for dogs to eat. Actually, crunchy raw carrots make great fat-free replacements for biscuits and are ideal for dogs that can’t eat grains and gluten.
- Tail wags for juicy fruit
I won’t say no to some sweet, juicy fruit* either, like apples, blueberries, watermelon, bananas, and spanspek (melon). In summer, I’d love it if you made me ‘ice lollies’ by freezing pieces of fruit – yum yum!
Fruit contains fructose (a type of sugar) which can make me gain weight, so rather don’t give me too much – it’s just as a treat.
- Perfect protein
Having a juicy steak or maybe a piece of fish? I’d like some too please – and I can (if it’s plain and non-fatty). Lightly-cooked chicken, duck, lean meat, or fish is tasty and healthy; lightly-cooked egg is also great.
As long as it’s not deep-fried, battered or covered in butter.
- Carb me up
If my vet says it’s ok for me, I can have plain, cooked oats, rice or mielie porridge in my bowl every now and again as long as I’m not allergic. In fact, if I have an upset tummy, plain white rice is just the ticket to help me feel better.
- Please leave these out of the shopping trolley
Onions, tomatoes, avocado, potato, milk, macadamia nuts and citrus fruits can give me an upset tummy or make me really sick. And never give me *grapes or raisins – some dogs can get kidney failure or even die from eating them.
- Special treats
Cheese, peanut butter (without sugar or sweetener), and biltong are delicious – I love them. Vets say it isn’t good to give it to me often because of the fat and salt so, even if I do my very best ‘I’m starving’ impression, we’ll keep it for special occasions.
- Tasty but terrible
Please don’t let me drink coffee, tea or alcohol, or eat chocolates. I know that time I stole your choccies off the table and snaffled the lot, I was ok, but next time I might not be – and lots of other dogs can’t have any at all. Even if your friend’s dog regularly eats those things, it could be shortening their lives or even kill them.
If you want to share your celebration with me – and I’d like that too – please give me safe treats.
- Xylitol can kill me
People use xylitol to make things sweet but not fattening – good for humans on diet, not good for us dogs. Even a tiny amount can cause my pancreas and liver to fail; most dogs die from it. Please check all labels – even peanut butter and yoghurt – and never leave anything containing it (like chewing gum) where I can get at it.
- Down with junk food
Does it come from a take-away shop or in a shiny, colourful, rustling packet? Is it artificially sweetened, coloured, or flavoured, or very sweet or salty or oily? Then it’s probably not good for either of us. Those foods have lots of sugar, salt, and artificial things added to them – and none of those things are good for dogs.
- Bad to the bone
Chicken, fish, pork and lamb bones, or any cooked bones can get stuck inside my tummy, break and hurt me internally, or even kill me. Corn cobs cause blockages because we can’t digest them. Wrap them up and throw them in the bin so I can’t get at them.
If you want to treat me, a good raw beef or ostrich marrow bone or hoof (with your supervision), or a special made-for-dogs chewy toy is great.
If I’ve eaten something that could be dangerous, please take me to my vet straight away. Tell the vet what I ate, how much, and when I did it. The faster you get the right help, the better the chances of me getting better – and us spending many more years together.
Note: Please consult with your vet before giving your pets out-of-the-ordinary foods, especially if they’re on any medication or special diets, and check for possible allergies first. Remember: if in doubt, throw it out.