July 19

Dog Health Part 8: Human Food?


Anyone who has ever shared a dining experience with a dog knows that this may be a time when human resolve is tried the hardest.  Some dogs will beg with all they have, while others will lie quietly at the side of the table with not so much a whimper, but those expressive eyes and ears say it all.

Whether your dog whines, pleads with his eyes, or simply turns into the cutest thing wrapped in fur that you have ever seen, the resolve that dogs should only eat dog food is very often thrown overboard at the dinner table.


While it is generally held that dogs are carnivorous, the may actually more precisely fall into the omnivorous classifications since they do not need meat in order to survive, just like cats.  Dogs can actually survive well on alternate protein sources and also grains as well as plant foods if meat is scarce.  This should not encourage you to scrap your dog’s commercially blended dog food and instead cook your own for her or him.  As a matter of fact, human food can make your mutt as sick as, well, as a dog!


Fun fact – Did you know that onions are toxic to your dog?  Ingestion of onions may result in Heinz body anemia, a condition recognized by veterinarians as the premature death and rupture of red blood cells, thus leaving the dog deficient and anemic.  This illness is especially insidious since it may result from the ingestion of raw, cooked, freeze dried, or any other form of onion product.


Considering how many products manufactured for human consumption actually contain dehydrated onions or onion powder, a dog that is fed from the table is likely to have onion introduced to her/his system.

If the exposure is cumulative, the bone marrow may very well not have enough time to regenerate the red blood cells that are lost and a serious case of anemia might necessitate a visit to the veterinarian.


Another innocent looking food that may hasten your canine companion’s untimely demise is grapes.  Yes, grapes are a deadly poison to your dog.  The same is true for raisins.  While veterinarians are still uncertain as to what exactly causes the reaction in dogs, the symptoms are repetitive.


At first vomiting occurs within a few hours of ingestion of the grapes or raisins, thereafter the dog becomes lethargic and shows all the signs of abdominal pain; when veterinary care is sought, blood tests reveal that the calcium level in the blood is dangerously elevated, as are other substances that indicate that kidney functions are severely impaired; as the illness progresses, complete renal failure finally kills the little dog.


Of course, perhaps the most familiar toxin that is a great no-no in the dog-human interaction is chocolate. Chocolate contains a chemical named Theobromine, which is a pleasant stimulant to humans, but to a dog it packs a serious punch to the canine central nervous system and heart muscle.  You will be able to tell that your dog is in trouble soon after she or he ingests some chocolate because odds are that there will be copious vomiting and diarrhea.


Additionally, the dog will appear to be hyper, its muscles twitching uncontrollably, and its heart rate skyrocketing. In extreme cases, or in cases of a high dose of ingested chocolate, a dog may suffer from seizures, coma or death.


Probably a surprising culprit in canine sickness is the highly favored treat of the macadamia nut. It does not appear that other animals are affected by this delicacy the way that dogs are.  Depending on the amount of nuts that the dog has eaten, within about a half day or less, you will be able to notice unusual lethargy, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, and an overall muscle weakness with accompanying muscle tremors.


Thereafter your dog will quite possibly not be able to stand or walk without your help for about another day or two.  Fortunately, the effects of these nuts wear off and soon your canine companion should be back to her or his former self.


Granted, it’s really hard to resist those puppy dog eyes – a single glance can send your resolve right down the abyss.

While that is true, it definitely helps if you make no eye contact with your dog during meals (harsh i know, but it usually works), or eat somewhere your dog cannot access.

In the rare times we DO succumb to allowing our dog to eat human food and it so happened that your pooch is munching on dog-toxic food, DO NOT HESITATE TO MAKE YOUR DOG VOMIT IT OUT, OR SEND TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY.

Doing the above can possibly save the life of your beloved pooch before the ingested toxins work its way to the organs of the dog.


As you can see, it is best to resist the temptation to feed “just a bit” to your begging dinner guest.  In the long run, he will thank you!


However, should the rare and unfortunate case occurs when your dog DOES consume some life-threatening food, costs to the vet (as well as recovery and medication) can be expensive. This is the reason why getting proper pet insurance is advocated amongst the pet owner’s circle.

Get your free pet insurance quotation free here!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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