Perhaps not surprisingly people feed their beloved dogs and companion pets a variety of foods that are not really healthy or may even be downright poisonous. They do this not because they are uncaring owners but because they may not understand the nutritional problems they are causing. Most people care a very great deal about their dog's health and really want to see their pet as happy as possible, which is where the dog's diet sometimes gets a bit dangerous.
First it is important to realize that while humans like a different type of food every meal, dogs are very happy and quite content to eat the same, nutritious, balanced kibble every single meal every day of their lives. Many people mistakenly, and with only the best of intentions, constantly change up their dog's diets on a routine basis. Not only is this unnecessary, but it can lead to serious digestive problems such as chronic diarrhea, vomiting and even lead to bloat and other conditions. So, even though it may seem boring to you as a person, try to find one dog food that your pet loves and stick with it.
One of the most common human additions to dog's diets and food are dairy products. In reality a dog does not need any dairy, and it can cause upset stomachs, vomiting, bloating and excessive gas. Dogs do not have the necessary enzyme, called lactase, to digest the milk protein, resulting in the above mentioned digestive disorders. Feeding even small amounts of whole milk to a dog can cause these symptoms, depending on the individual pet. It may be possible to give a dog small amounts of certain dairy items such as non-flavored plain yogurt or cottage cheese, however careful monitoring is important. If you do want to give your dog milk look for lactose-free products that are specially formulated for dogs. These may be available at your pet store or through online orders.
Cooked eggs are good for dogs but raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that can cause the dog to lose hair and have dry, flaky and irritated skin. Avidin inhibits the intestinal tract from absorbing Vitamin B, or biotin, which is actually what causes the skin and hair problem. In addition dogs can also get Salmonella that can be found in raw eggs and uncooked or undercooked poultry. Just like with humans this digestive condition is serious and can be life threatening in puppies, older dogs or dogs that are already ill.
This may seem a bit counter intuitive as many dogs will gladly dig a hole and cover up bones and food only to dig it up later and enjoy a tasty snack, but spoiled food can cause serious health risks in dogs. Any food that is moldy or has obviously started to rot should be disposed of in an area where the dog cannot find the food. They will typically show mild to severe signs of distress including vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, general illness and food refusal if they have become ill through eating rotten food. Sometimes the resulting symptoms happen almost immediately but other times they may not show themselves for a day or more.
Many people feel wasteful when they throw out the leftovers from a great dinner and don't feed it to the dog. The dog, in turn, learns quickly to turn on the charm when the table is being cleared to get those few taste treats. Even though the food that we prepare and eat is similar to the food that our dogs naturally consume, there is a great difference in how it is prepared. When we cook our food we add salt and spices, both ingredients that are not good for your dog. Too much salt can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Both of these conditions can cause symptoms of seizures and neurological disorders if they are severe.
Leftovers also may contain garlic and onions, both which can be toxic to dogs. In large enough quantities or with dogs with low red blood cell counts eating garlic or onions can result in anemia. Even potatoes may cause a reaction in some dogs and unfortunately you cannot tell how sensitive the dog is until he or she has eaten the food and is having a reaction.
Grapes and Raisins
This is a relatively new addition to the list of harmful foods for a dog. Toxic compounds in the grapes or raisins cause problems with the functioning of the kidneys. This in turn prevents the proper filtering of the blood and the dog becomes very sick. Often this does take time to develop and owners may not be able to trace the condition back to the dog consuming grapes or raisins. It is highly unlikely that one or two would cause a problem, however in a small or toy dog it may. A good habit is just not to feed your dog any foods with either grapes or raisins, even in small amounts.
Chocolate and Caffeine
Caffeine, found in chocolate, coffee, tea and many soda drinks are very dangerous to dogs. Just like with humans it increases heart rate and metabolism, often resulting in seizures, excessive panting, vomiting and can lead to death if not treated. The problem with these compounds is that they contain a methylxanthine derivative that is very toxic in small doses. The smaller the dog the smaller the amount of chocolate or caffiene that has to be consumed to cause the symptoms.
Human Vitamins with Iron
If you are ever tempted to give your dog a vitamin supplement, make sure it is specially formulated for dogs. Don't give human vitamins, especially those containing any type of iron to your dog. The iron supplement, even though it is very small in the vitamin, can lead to bleeding in the digestive system as well as toxic build up in the liver and kidneys. This will occur over time and usually by the time the symptoms are evident the damage has been done and there is little to do with regards to treatment.
Dogs love yeast dough but it is deadly for dogs. It is not toxic in itself, but the uncooked dough starts to rise in the stomach and digestive tract, producing gas as it does. This gas then builds up pressure, which can actually cause ruptures and severe abdominal pain.
There are many other foods you shouldn't feed a dog including raw liver, raw fish and poultry and of course any type of bone that has been cooked or that can splinter. Doing a bit of research and identifying common foods that may cause problems for your dog is an important part of being a responsible owner.