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Family Matters: Safe diets for dogs


Those big brown eyes, that puppy dog gaze. Even if your dog isn’t usually a beggar, it can be tempting to want to “reward” him or her with the occasional people-food treat.

But in trying to reward your dog, you can actually do it harm. Some common foods can actually be poisonous to your pet.

You have probably heard that you’re never supposed to feed chocolate to your dog, but there’s actually a much-longer list of foods that can be dangerous.

Even a small amount of some of these foods can harm your dog.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts (and many other nuts, including walnuts)
  • Alcohol
  • Rhubarb
  • Avocados

Just avoiding that list, however, isn’t enough to keep your pet healthy. Hidden ingredients like garlic, onion powder and extra salt can lurk in many prepared foods. And most dogs do not need the extra fat and salt that’s present in many “table scraps” that you may be tempted to offer. Too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to obesity, heart problems and other health problems just like in a human. And because most dogs are so much smaller than the average person, it doesn’t take much of the bad stuff to cause illness or obesity.

That’s because dogs, like people, have specific needs when it comes to calories and nutrients. Commercial pet foods tailor these formulas specifically to these needs, and in the past few years, have increasingly created specialized foods for the different stages of a dog’s life.

While puppy food, for instance, has long been available, you can now also buy foods especially for older dogs,  for those that need to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, or formulas made from all-natural ingredients.

If you still want to give your dog the occasional treat, consult your veterinarian for recommendations on vet-approved, made-for-dogs snacks. However, it’s generally considered safest to keep any “people food” to a minimum, and limited to simply cooked, lean foods like chicken, beef and plain white rice. Since your dog can’t exactly make his own lunch, you owe it to them to give them the food they need to thrive.

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Posted in: Family Matters

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