Let’s face it; many of us have a bond with our pets that borders on obsession, so keeping our pets healthy is a priority. We treat our pets as if they were borne of us and we speak to them as if they understand every word. When we leave them for any length of time, we miss them as if they were a newborn babe. When they get sick, our reactions are the same as if a family member has fallen ill. We spend possibly more money on our pets than we do ourselves to ensure they see the vet and get better. So when it comes to our pets and their food and dietary needs, knowing the rules could add years to the life of our furry loved-ones.
Most pet owners have heard it said that table scraps are not good for our animals. We have heard they should only eat dog or cat food and that feeding them directly from the table can lead to unwanted begging and an eerie stare every time we try to enjoy a meal. Though both of these are true to an extent, there are some foods that are safer than others. Sure, it is not recommended that we share our foods, but if we must, rules are very important to secure many years of happiness and health.
One of the biggest concerns with animals eating the same food as humans is the possibilities of obesity. Adding calories by giving him or her extra food can lead to unhealthy weight gain, especially in small dogs and cats. Foods high in fat, fructose and calories should be avoided. Sharing healthy foods as a replacement to the animal’s normal diet is a good way to assure a normal, healthy weight. This does not mean Fido gets his own full three-course dinner, of course; but it does mean a tablespoon of rice can replace a tablespoon of kibbles.
When deciding on what table scraps to feed your pet, remember that what is healthy for us is many times healthy for them. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber for the animal, though in large amounts it can also result in gastrointestinal issues. However, not all healthy foods, fruits and vegetables can be consumed by animals, so please take note of these deadly no-nos. The rules for pets and the foods they consume could not only add years to their lives; but also could save you thousands in vet costs.
Adult cats and dogs are lactose intolerant and though many people assume they can have milk because they love it, they can become incredibly sick from drinking it. Remember, humans who are lactose intolerant still love ice cream; but the result of ingesting it can be painful and highly unhealthy. Cheese is okay in small amounts as a treat, though it is very important to monitor the animal’s bowel movements after ingestion. This does take a bit of the fun out of it, though.
Avocados contain something called persin, which, in large amounts, could prove deadly to both cats and dogs. If you are growing your own, it is important to keep the animals away from the plant, entirely. Since there is no clear-cut amount that is toxic for each animal, the best approach would be to avoid it altogether; no matter how sweetly the animal looks at us and begs.
Onions and garlic have the capacity, no matter the form, to destroy a dog’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. Onion powder, garlic powder and all dehydrated forms can have the same effect. In large amounts, onions and garlic can cause immediate poisoning. It is one thing to have a dog with onion-garlic breath; it is entirely another to watch them suffer with anemia or poisoning.
Recently, more stories of animals dying from kidney failure have been surfacing. It isn’t clear why, but grapes and raisins have been linked to the failure. Even in small amounts, it can cause immediate sickness included, but not limited to: vomiting, lethargy and depression.
The more commonly known poisonous foods for animals are chocolate, nuts and splintering bones. These all have the ability to not only cause sickness, but also kill the animal. Bones that splinter; usually any cooked bone, can cause the animal to choke or end up with lacerations in his or her digestive tract. Chocolate and nuts can cause heart problems, seizures and death.
The key to safely giving in to our pets and handing over the table scraps is always moderation and knowledge. The best practice is to avoid anything other than specially-made foods for our pets, but many of us fail to stick to this rule, even knowing the possible outcomes. Owning a pet is a huge responsibility, so knowing a few rules to spoil them properly with food could add many wonderful years to their lives.
Editorial written by: Amy Magness Whatley