Don’t Love Your Dog To Death!
I don’t know about you, but I love to share food with my dog. I see those adorable eyes pleading with me as I shove food in my mouth and think why not, she’s a good girl! I feel guilty because I am eating this delicious aromatic dinner and all she has is her boring dry kibble. It's sad!
But while it is tempting to give my beloved a delicious morsel from my plate, it is not doing her any favors. Yes, some human food is great for dogs, for example, boiled chicken, raw eggs, some healthy vegetables, and fruits…. but we must be discerning. There are so many seemingly harmless foods that over time can end up really hurting our dogs.
We all know a poor diet can make your dog fat. I personally think fat dogs are cute, “there is no fat shaming in my house”! But seriously, if you don’t know if your dog is fat, look at his ribs. If you can’t see or feel them, he might be fat! Obesity is not just cute though, it can really shorten a dog's life through heart disease and diabetes. It also add a lot of stress on a dog's joints, usually resulting in hip dysplasia and arthritis, which is extremely painful, but that is the obvious stuff. I want to talk about the other dangerous stuff most people don’t think about.
High Salt Content
Let's look at salt. Dogs, like humans, need sodium. It is important for proper body function. Too much salt, however, can lead to salt poisoning which could potentially kill your dog. What happens is, the salt dehydrates the cells in his body which can damage brain cells causing neurological symptoms. It can also make the muscles shrivel and become stiff causing convulsions. In a lot of cases if a dog eats too much salt, they will drink a bunch of water to counter the effects, but if he ate a toxic level of salt or there is no water readily available then he is in trouble! A lethal dose of salt would be about 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. So, let’s put this into perspective, my German Shepherd puppy is 77lbs and my maltipoo is 12lbs. The shepherd would have to eat 77 slices of deli meat to reach toxic levels of salt (I’m sure she could do it!) but my maltipoo would only need to eat 12 slices of deli meat. That doesn’t seem too bad, but I should note that an adequate amount of table salt has already been added to your dog's kibble, so they really don’t need the extra sodium. Okay, so aside from death, here is what you need to look out for if your loved one gets into a bag of salty snacks:
- Lethargic or “drunk” behavior
- Extreme water consumption
Diet High in Fat
Depressed yet? A high-fat diet is a major “trigger” of pancreatitis in dogs. (I say trigger because there is no direct evidence that a higher fat diet will cause pancreatitis, but it does trigger an immune response that triggers pancreatitis. Apparently, that’s an important distinction!) I was stunned when I heard that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for pancreatitis-related emergency visits to the vet! I figured something like that would take years to develop (which it can), but a single large helping of high-fat food can inflame the pancreas and cause an emergency situation. Chronic pancreatitis can have a more severe impact of your dog because it is essentially many acute pancreatitis attacks over time. It is true that some breeds are more prone to pancreatitis such as miniature schnauzers, cocker spaniels, and poodles, but any dog who is overweight or has a high fat diet can develop it. Whether it’s acute pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis you're looking to avoid, do not give in to those eyes! And in case you were wondering; according to the American Kennel Club, the signs you would need to look out for are:
- Hunched back
- Repeated vomiting
- Pain or distention of the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
If the long-term effects of a poor diet don’t concern you, how about this….DIARRHEA!!! Does your dog ever randomly have diarrhea? That’s not just bad luck. A dog's digestive system doesn’t process food the way ours does. When we feed our dogs foods high in calories and fat, it can disrupt the flora and fauna in your dog's GI lining causing inflammation. That’s a fancy way of saying DIARRHEA and vomiting. It can also lead to poor appetite, stomach aches, and lethargy.
Foods Poisonous to Dogs
Since we are talking about people food, I should quickly point out some of the foods poisonous to dogs:
- We all know chocolate, raisins, and grapes are a no-no.
- Hopefully, we all know cooked bones are bad too (yes I know you grew up throwing bones to your dogs and they were fine. Cooked bones can splinter and kill your dog, so stop it!)
- Garlic and onions can damage a dog's red blood cells, in some cases causing them to burst
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener) can cause liver failure and death
- Raw potatoes can cause congestive heart failure and death
So basically, what I’m saying is, it’s a wonder you haven’t killed your dog yet! No, I’m just kidding. Seriously though, what I’m saying is, next time your dog is looking at your plate longingly with those big, beautiful, pleading eyes remember that you want to keep them around for as long as possible. I know how hard it is to say no, and in the moment, it feels like it’s no big deal, but we have the power to make good choices for the dogs in our care. In the end, it’s our decisions that mold our best friend’s behavior, bodies’ and what I believe to be the most important of all… Their health!