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For humans there are very few fruits or vegetables that need to be avoided, as a matter of fact most health professionals recommend eating as many servings of each as possible. They also recommend a good variety, including some of the more exotic and unique types of fruits and vegetables that are imported from around the world. While this all may be true and wonderfully healthy for people, the same cannot be said for our four-legged companions.
Dogs, contrary to popular belief, are not solely carnivores. Cats, on the other hand, are known as obligate carnivores, which means they absolutely have to have meat to survive. Dogs are what are known as omnivores, which means that to stay healthy they do require a variety of types of foods in their diet ranging from fruits and vegetables through to meat. Meat does form the basis of the diet and is required to provide protein and other essential nutrients and elements to the metabolic system. Fruits and vegetables are also required to provide vitamins, minerals and of course fiber. Whole grains are not a natural requirement in a wild canine diet, but they are often consumed in limited amounts and are not unhealthy for most dogs. Some dogs can have allergic reactions to corn and other grains, so it is very important to limit their quantity in the diet and remove completely if there is any concern.
The vegetables and fruits that are healthy and good for your dog include many of the common items you would find in your own garden at home. There are also some potentially dangerous fruits and vegetables you may grow yourself, so knowing what to feed your dog is going to be important, especially if your dogs are on a raw foods or natural food type of diet.
The good types of vegetables for your dogs include carrots, broccoli, celery, spinach and red peppers, known as capsicum. These are not the hot red peppers, but rather the sweet red bell peppers that are commonly grown in almost any area either outdoors or in greenhouses. These vegetables should be fed raw as much as possible, typically grated or chopped into small pieces. Many dogs will find a small slice of carrot or a piece of broccoli a good rewards for a job well done, but others may be less thrilled with this offering.
Vegetables that need to be avoided because of possible problems with toxicity or negative interactions within the digestive, neurological or metabolic systems of the dog are actually fairly numerous. Two of the most commonly used vegetables in almost all types of savory cooking can be very serious health risks to your dog, whether they are eaten raw or in a cooked form. Both onions and garlic can cause a condition known as hemolytic anemia that results in a bursting of the red blood cells in the blood. Since these cells carry oxygen to the body when they are low in the system there are wide range of health problems. In all fairness to garlic, it is not a problem in small amounts, unless the dog already has blood disorders or is recovering from some type of trauma or injury. Many BARF or bones and raw foods diets include small amounts of garlic in their preparations; however large quantities or a dog chewing on a garlic bulb is a much different story. Onions are by far the most problematic and dogs should not be fed foods containing onions, even in small quantities. Since the symptoms of hemolytic anemia will not develop for two to three days after eating even moderate amounts of onions it is often misdiagnosed as a dietary issue. Green potatoes, potato peelings, tomatoes and mushrooms also all need to be avoided in your dog's diet.
If you live in a southern or warm climate and have an avocado tree in your yard you need to be very careful that your dog cannot eat the avocados that fall. Any avocado parts from the skin to the flesh or even the seed can be highly toxic to a dog. The symptoms of poisoning from avocado include a swelling of the abdomen, difficulty breathing and increasing heart rate due to internal pressure. The excessive fluid will also gather around the heart sac, leading to heart failure in many cases.
Fruits, like vegetables, can be wonderful for your dog. Apples, grapefruits, oranges and pears are all treats your dogs may enjoy. Avoid feeding the seeds and the core or the peelings of citrus fruits to increase your dog's enjoyment of the treat. The seeds of apples and pears, if fed in large quantities, do contain cyanide that will lead to toxicity problems.
Fruits that are found in your yard that need to be avoided in your dog's diet are actually relatively common in many gardens. Rhubarb, a staple in northern climate gardens, is very deadly to a dog. Thankfully the sour taste isn't that appealing, but even the leaves and roots can be fatally toxic if consumed in small quantities. This often happens in the spring when the rhubarb first sprouts, so carefully fence off the area or prevent the dog from accessing the rhubarb bed.
Grapes and the dried raisins produce compounds that are highly toxic to dogs. Even a few grapes or a few raisins can result in very serious symptoms for small or toy dogs. The exact mechanism of poisoning from grapes and raisins is not completely understood, however the toxin moves to the kidneys and rather quickly slows down or completely stops their natural filtration process, resulting in full toxicity issues in a short period of time. Unless the owner is aware of the dog eating either grapes or raisins the cause of the kidney failure may not be known and treatment can be very difficult and largely unsuccessful. Grape vines, both decorative and for consumption, need to be located in areas away from where dogs are housed or exercised to avoid any possible consumption.
The hops plant that is used in brewing beer and also as a decorative vine is highly toxic to dogs. When the hops are ripe they give off a wheaty-yeasty smell that seems to attract some dogs as well as birds and other animals. While the exact amount a dog needs to consume is relative to his or her weight, even a relatively small quantity of hops will produce significant side effects. Heavy panting, vomiting, high fever, rapid heart rate are often noticed shortly after consumption, followed by seizures, coma and death if not treated.
Providing the right types of fruits and vegetables to your dog is a good thing, however giving them exotic foods or fruits or vegetables you aren't sure of is not a good idea. Talk to your vet, breeder or a holistic animal specialist to find out what types of natural garden produce your dog can safely enjoy.
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