With our greatly varied diet, there is a multitude of possible snacks and meals for our furry friends. But do we know what they should and should not eat? It is more than just a question of what is good for them and not good for them. Many “human” foods are actually dangerous for dogs to injest and can harm or even kill them.
It is crucial to know what food we should not leave lying around, drop while snacking, feed from the table, or make a meal of for our beastie besties. Before we answer the question: “Can my dog eat vegetables?”, let’s take a look at a more pressing matter…what they should definitely not eat.
Ten Things Not to Feed Your Dog
Before discussing nutrition and what dogs like, eliminating the dangers is priority.
- Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Pistachio, Macadamia: Here’s another holiday food to be careful of. Open dishes of these, on coffee tables are often the culprits. These nuts can cause serious digestive issues for our furry friends. Peanuts and peanut butter are OK. Warning: Make sure that the peanut butter does not contain xylitol. It can be deadly to dogs.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes fall into the “nightshade fruit” category and, like potatoes (a nightshade vegetable), contain solanine, which is, as I have said, highly toxic to dogs. Be especially careful if you grow tomatoes in your back yard and your dog plays there. They have been known to poach from the garden.
- Grapes and Raisins: My wife had a dog when she was a kid that wouldn’t eat grapes, but this is not normally the case. Most dogs love raisins and grapes, but they can cause kidney failure and death in dogs. Strangely it is not known why grapes are toxic to dogs. It has been suggested that the types of pesticides used on grapes, even in small concentrations, may be the issue, but conclusive studies are not available, or, at any rate are extremely difficult to find. My advice… while the mystery persists…better safe than sorry. No grapes for Gommer.
- Avocados: A substance called persin, which is a fungicidal toxin, is the culprit in avocados. It is present in the fruit in small amounts, which is harmless to humans. Even these small amounts, however, are highly toxic to dogs. Vomiting and diarrhea are the symptoms to watch for. It is worth mentioning that the pit of an avocado is a choking hazard as well.
- Apple Cors: We have all heard of the chemical cyanide and certainly have no reservations about its toxicity. What is a less known fact, however is that cyanide is present in apple seeds. While humans don’t normally eat the core of an apple, a hungry (or even not so hungry dog) will chew it and swallow it in a heart beat. The small concentrations presented in one apple core may cause limited harm, but over time can be very dangerous to your dogs health.
- Raw Potatoes: Raw potatoes contain a substance called solanine which is highly toxic to dogs. Be careful when you are peeling potatoes or preparing them for cooking that pieces don’t fall to the floor while rover is hanging around. After cooking however the solanine diminishes, but I wouldn’t recommend even the cooked version, just to be safe.
- Corn on the Cob: Corn cobs can create a very dangerous intestinal blockage that can kill them. If you see someone throwing corn cobs on the ground at a BBQ, where dogs are invited, make sure you pick them up immediately and explain why.
- Onions and Garlic: While small amounts of garlic and onion are OK, too much, over time can cause anemia in dogs (not to mention dog breath with onion…a double wammy)
- Coffee: Be careful not to leave your morning coffee unattended in a place where your dog can reach it. Certain concentrations of caffeine dependent on your dogs body weight can cause death. Another source of caffeine, which is particularly dangerous are diet pills. Because it is easier for a dog to injest higher concentrations of caffeine by eating the pills the risk of death is much greater.
- Chocolate: Kids and chocolate go together (or some adults, like me, and chocolate go together) which can sometimes put dogs at higher risk of danger from this food. Kids love to share with their dog. If you have kids and a dog, keep an eye out for this situation. Holidays such as Easter and Halloween are times to be especially careful. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which can cause tremors, seizures, internal bleeding and heart attacks in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. A half an ounce of bakers chocolate for a ten pound dog will require veterinary attention (or 3.5 ounces of milk chocolate for the same size dog). If your dog is twice that size, double the amount of chocolate for the same toxicity…3 times the size of the dog…etc. If you’re uncertain how much chocolate your dog has injested….off to the vet to be safe.
- Blue Cheese: Come on, who can afford to give their dog blue cheese, right? Well if you can, don’t anyway. Blue cheese may (if over aged) contain roquefortine. This substance is poisonous to dogs and can kill them. Not all blue cheese contains roquefortine, but don’t take any chances.
Vegetables For Your Dog
So how about those vegetables? Experts generally say yes to vegetables for your dog. In fact, some say that up to 25% of a dogs diet should be from the garden.
Vegetables can provide many of the same health benefits to dogs that they provide for humans…energy, digestive health and nutrition. Most dogs love vegetables and many of the better dog foods now list them in their ingredients.
Educating yourself about proper nutrition for your dog is extremely important to your dogs health and their safety. Some of us remember the days when dogs were fed everything that fell from the table and anything they sniffed out from our yard, our neighbors yards, or a dumpster. While we may reminisce about those “better days”, the consequences were not always better.
What we may forget is those traumatic trips to the vets, and our dogs that died too young, seemingly without cause. With access to new knowledge about good nutritional health and proper exercise, we can help our dogs can live longer, healthier and happier lives than ever before…and that’s what we’re after!
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