Week 10 Lesson 2
Are table scraps and human foods a complete no-no?
Table scraps and human foods are a big contributor to dog weight gain. In an ideal world dogs would be fed entirely on nutritious portion-controlled and specially formulated dog food (of either the commercial or the home cooked variety).
However, this is the real world! A world in which 90% of us are feeding our dogs left-overs and human foods.
So instead of saying we’ll put a complete stop to sharing human foods and left-overs (which let’s face it – is unlikely to happen), let’s look at how we can do it responsibly!
Follow these 4 feeding guidelines to prevent unintended health consequences when sharing food with your dog.
1. All human foods must be accounted for.
Human foods tend to be calorie dense and can easily contribute to a daily calorie blow out for your pet. On a repeat basis, the feeding of left-overs is indeed culpable for many of our overweight dogs.
So, remember to apply the golden rule of keeping treats and extras (this includes table scraps) to less than 10% of your dog’s total daily calorie intake. Not only will this help prevent a calorie blow out, it will also help prevent any nutritional imbalances.
When feeding left-overs it is important to know the calorie count of everything your dog eats. The best way to do this is to use human calorie calculators. Check out the food search tool at www.myfitnesspal.com
2. Avoid highly processed, fat, salt and additive-laden foods.
Avoid takeaway foods. Most takeaways contain high fat and salt levels which can have serious consequences for our pets. In addition to providing a huge calorie hit, these foods can induce a serious condition called pancreatitis.
Dogs are particularly sensitive to high fat levels and an excess intake can trigger serious inflammation of the pancreas gland. This sometimes-fatal condition causes severe pain and suffering of affected dogs and treatment relies on intensive and costly veterinary hospitalization.
Bacon, salami, pizza, burgers, gravy, donuts, cake, crisps, chips and deep-fried chicken are some of the worst culprits. Never feed these to your dog!
3. Avoid toxic foods.
Plenty of human foods are toxic to our dogs and can make them very sick.
Avoid avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes, sultanas and raisins, chocolate and dishes containing onion and garlic. Avoid processed foods and baked goods and sweets containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol. Xylitol is lethal to dogs and its consumption should be treated as a medical emergency.
4. Avoid cooked bones.
Chop bones, steak bones and chicken carcasses may seem like a tasty treat however the cooking process renders them brittle. Cooked bones are prone to splintering into sharp shards which can cause serious internal injury e.g. intestinal perforation. Bones can also fracture teeth and cause intestinal obstruction.
When dieting it is best to avoid bones altogether as it is almost impossible to get an accurate calorie count for them. Raw meaty bones have varying composition of fat, meat, tendon and marrow and are often very high in calories- easily exceeding your dog’s calorie allowance.
Is Medication Making Your Dog Fat?
As with humans, some pet medications can have the side effect of weight gain. The three main drug types responsible are:
- Phenobarbital- an anti seizure medication used to manage epilepsy.
- Prozac and amitriptyline- behavior modifying drugs.
- Glucocorticoid drugs such as prednisolone and methylprednisolone- used to treat allergies, inflammation or used to correct low cortisone levels.
All three types of drug tend to cause polyphagia (increased appetite), resulting in weight gain.
Occasionally there is scope to adjust the dose of medications in a bid to reduce side effects. However, dose alterations must be under your veterinarians’ guidance with close monitoring.
Alternative medications may be available for your dog. Discuss this possibility with your veterinarian.
As always, the best solution for weight gain is prevention. Hence the importance of being forewarned of the possibility of weight gain.
Upon commencing treatment, regularly monitor your dog’s weight and make dietary adjustments as needed.
Has your dog experienced a change in appetite or have they gained weight following medication? Have you personally experienced this when taking your own medication? We’d love to hear your insights.
Healthy Treat Recipe – Sweet Potato Cookies
Reward your dog with this easy recipe for Sweet Potato Cookies.
Feel free to share and compare photo’s of your creations in the coaching group 🙂
Woofs and wags,
Your WAGSTA team.