Although it is true that we should refrain from feeding our canine friends anything that is not recommended by their veterinarian, it is also true that some human and raw foods provide lots of nutritional value and health benefits. Regardless, we still should be careful about what we feed our pets, as some human food is made with ingredients that can cause severe reactions in dogs.
Below, our Moline, IL, veterinarians talk about the ideal canine diet, the benefits of feeding your dog certain foods over human foods, which human foods are safe for pet consumption, and why grain free diets are not necessarily the best option for your dog.
What Should a Dog’s Diet Look Like?
Not every dog has the same diet. However, there is a general consensus on the number of nutrients each dog needs to eat per day, week, or sitting. For example, high nutrient-based dog foods that contain various vegetables with natural proteins and sugars provide natural energy to a dog’s body they can use to function, think, and move.
Protein and fiber are the most important nutrients or ‘food groups’ that your dog should be consuming daily. While some carbs and sugars are acceptable, they should be limited. Furthermore, high concentrations of carbs are not good, especially for dogs that suffer from diabetes or have a genetic link to the disease.
Possibly the most important part of a dog’s diet is water. Hydration is crucial to their health. If for any reason your dog does not drink as much water as they should, try mixing some water into their food or feeding them fruits like apples, watermelon, and pineapple (in reasonable moderation). Cucumbers are also a safe treat that can help your pup stay hydrated.
Why Do Dogs Eat Dog Food?
Dog food is designed to fulfill your pet’s specific nutrient needs. Kibble, for example, is made of proteins such as beef, pork, and eggs, various grains, vegetables, and various vitamins and minerals. It also contains preservatives to prevent the ingredients from becoming rancid.
Naturally, some kibbles are lower in quality, with extra sugars and carbs. Ideally, protein should be the prime ingredient, but the presence of corn, wheat, rice, and/or barley should not be cause for concern. Some dogs do have grain sensitivities, but overall, grains are generally safe for dogs to eat.
The Issue with Grain-Free Dog Food
Grain-free dog foods are marketed as being healthier for your dog. However, cases of a heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs have been linked to the consumption of grain-free diets. DCM causes enlargement of the heart muscle, which inhibits the pumping of blood. This can result in issues such as heart murmur, arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure.
A possible reason for DCM in canines is the presence of legumes in these grain-free foods. But a lack of grain may also mean that your dog is getting less protein, fiber, and important amino acids from their diet. Be sure to speak with your vet before purchasing grain-free food for your dog.
The Benefits of Dog Food vs. Human Food in Moline, IL
There are more benefits your dog has when eating dog food versus human food. There are a lot of toxic human foods that can potentially be deadly. To avoid this, it is best to feed your furry pet their very own special dog food.
For example, dog food is highly controlled. Once you buy one bag and brand, it is unlikely that the brand will change, meaning it aids in your dog’s digestive system. Some dog foods also have additional important nutrients like probiotics, which add valuable bacteria to their digestive system, aiding in digestion and immune system support.
5 Human Foods Dogs Can Safely Eat
Did you know that dogs can eat fish safely? Fish is a delicious protein with an alluring smell to our furry friends. Not only does it taste and smell good, but fish contains fatty omega-3 acids that boost your dog’s immune system and skin health.
Eggs are another protein on this list that dogs can eat. You can get creative and fry, scramble, or boil the eggs. However, don’t use oil or butter, as this grease can affect your dog’s stomach. It is best to simply use a little bit of water and a non-stick pan. Dogs can also eat raw eggs with little to no risk.
Cheese is a major dairy product. However, dogs can generally consume it without issue. Still, experts do recommend limiting the amount and the frequency of cheese your pup eats. Offer cheese as an occasional treat, instead of as a constant part of their diet.
Pumpkin is a safe, healthy, and palatable treat for your pet! Just make sure that you choose plain, canned pumpkin without any sugars or other additives. If your dog is having any GI issues, plain pureed pumpkin can help to soothe their stomach.
Carrots and Green Beans
Both of these veggies are perfectly safe for your pet to eat, and beneficial to their health. As with any human food, be sure the veggies you serve to your pet are plain, and not mixed in with garlic, onions, and other spices.
Foods Your Dog Should Avoid
Sadly, there are a lot more foods that dogs should stay away from instead of eating. This is because some foods are high in fat, grease, and carbs, which can cause severe issues.
One big problem is acid reflux. If you constantly introduce fatty foods that cause your dog’s stomach to react by increasing bile, this can lead to acid reflux, vomiting, and ulcers.
Things like grapes and raisins*, oil, garlic, onions, and highly seasoned foods should be avoided completely.
*Grapes and raisins are a common cause of toxicity in pets. They can cause acute kidney failure, which can be deadly in some cases.
A Healthy Diet Equals a Healthy, Happy Dog
Dogs have tough stomachs, and eating a little bit of human food once in a while will not cause them harm. However, your dog’s diet should not be filled with processed human foods made with oil and seasonings. Instead, they can occasionally indulge in things like fish, cheese, coconuts, apples, cucumbers, and eggs.