It's one of the classic golden adages of pet ownership: avoid giving your dog 'people foods'.
But why is that? After all, most high-quality pet foods are made with human grade ingredients, so what’s the difference? Fundamentally, nothing.
The reason many people discourage feeding human foods to dogs is not necessarily because of the act itself, but rather the negative ramifications that comes with feeding people food irresponsibly.
Feeding human foods to dogs is not a problem, providing you are selecting safe and healthful options in the proper portions. In fact, supplementing your dog’s diet with the right ingredients can provide a nutritious boost and improve their quality of life.
Before we delve into the best human foods to help your pet, let’s have a look at some of the reasons why feeding human food should be discouraged:
Changes in Behaviour
Because food is such a powerful motivator, many dogs will go to great lengths to get more of their favourite treat – especially when that treat comes from our plate. This is great when it comes to positive behaviours, like fixed attention during training sessions.
However, dogs are master manipulators, and often misuse their abilities to force the hand that feeds them. Begging is the most common negative behaviour associated with feeding human food, especially from the table.
Give them an inch, they will take a mile.
Furthermore, many dogs may show diminished interest in their regular, everyday dog food. They know if they hold out long enough they can trick us gullible humans into tasty dinner leftovers. When this behaviour is rewarded, more manipulation follows, and the cycle repeats.
Now, I’m not saying you should never add anything to your dog’s food, I’m saying just watch out you’re not being taken advantage of for the wrong things. I have seen too many pet owners stressed to the nines because they cannot get their dog to eat meals consistently without adding other foods for enhancement.
Allergies and Sensitivities
Another common issue with giving your pooch people foods is that it can be quite difficult to control all the ingredients they consume. Many ingredients in people food aren't safe for dogs, including onions, grapes, raisins, yeast dough, and chocolate.
Dyes, preservatives, and processed sugars can cause everything from digestive issues to skin and coat problems.
Always read and understand the ingredients. By keeping a keen eye on the foods you expose your pet to, you can ensure you are making safe and healthy choices for your best friend.
More than half of all domesticated dogs in North America are overweight or obese.
When it comes down to how human foods negatively affect our pets, this is the biggest problem. While it is relatively simple to control your dog’s caloric intake when feeding measured servings of dog food, it can be difficult to keep track of all those 'extra' calories. Extra calories from people food can quickly pack on unwanted poundage.
Weight gain can have a significant negative impact on your dog's health, too. Not only does the extra weight affect their heart, it can also cause joint pain and mobility problems, particularly in the hips and spine.
With all of this said, it does not mean you shouldn't give your dog people foods. Ensure you're giving your dog the right foods, in the right amounts. Whether your dog eats kibble, cans, or raw, there are many foods that are not only healthy for your pooch, they are also pretty tasty.
Here are my top five health-boosting people foods to feed your dog.
High-quality lean meats are low in fat, high in protein, and easily digestible. Poultry meats, like turkey, chicken, and duck are popular options.
4. Green Tripe
Yes, tripe is kind of gross. Green tripe is the stomach lining from a grazing animal, like beef or lamb. However, tripe offers a ton of nutrition as it’s loaded with nutrients, enzymes, probiotics, and essential fatty acids.
An effective digestive solution for dogs, oatmeal is a good source of fibre. It is also considered a hypoallergenic alternative to other grains, like wheat and soy. Cook it plain, no need to add sugar.
Another great source of fibre, pumpkin is a mainstay for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Go for canned 100% pure pumpkin; it’s inexpensive, palatable, and nutritious.
Sprouted seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. They contain enormous amounts of highly digestible enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and probiotics. Sprouted seeds are a wonderful source of soluble fibre, so they are a quick fix for digestive and gut-health issues. Adding sprouted seeds to your dog’s diet will provide a unique health boost unlike anything else.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour and lifestyle. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca