By Alexandra Seagal
For centuries, the kitchen table has been a gathering spot for family, friends, and new acquaintances. Somehow sharing a yummy lasagna makes conversation more stimulating and relationships stronger. Maybe this is why first dates usually involve dinner!
As a pet parent, you may want to share the love with your dog by inviting him to the table, or at least letting him lick your plate clean.
But before you set a place at the table for Fido, consider these important issues about people food:
1. Setting the bar high
Before dog food was manufactured, humans fed their grateful canine companions leftovers. No big deal. What else was a pup to do?
But dry dog food revolutionized pet ownership; it was cheaper, balanced, and delicious — at least to dogs. Even though kibble manufacturing is still a huge industry, people are returning to homemade dog dishes to rekindle the solidarity that comes with sharing a meal. But what’s the cost?
Well, anyone, whether four-legged or two-legged, would have trouble switching between (relatively bland) dry dog food and a tasty juicy steak. (Don’t try this.)
Whatever human food you feed your dog (even an unappealing sardine!), you are setting the bar high. He may find his own food unappealing.
So unless you are really ready to home-cook all your pup’s meals from now to eternity, you should stick to the stuff that’s conveniently pre-made to satisfy all of his doggy needs.
2. Dog bodies are different
If you’re a dog owner, you are likely familiar with the embarrassment of dog indigestion — your embarrassment, that is. Whether you are hosting a small gathering for a tea chat or a large rager, a gassy dog is not an ingredient for success. In order to avoid this embarrassment, stay consistent with what you feed (and don’t feed) your four-legged friend.
Not all food that agrees with you agrees with your dog. In fact, food you like may be toxic to dogs, and I’m not just talking about chocolate.
Human foods that are toxic to dogs include: bacon (and anything with a lot of fat), foods with added salt or sugar, garlic, onions, all dairy and all candy.
You and your pup may be kindred spirits, but your genetic makeup and digestive systems are very different!
3. Keep it plain and simple
If you do decide to feed your pup an occasional human treat, keep it simple.
Do not choose food with added preservatives, sugar, or salt. Plain foods that are good for humans (like whole grains, cooked meat and fish, and pumpkin) are also good for dogs.
In fact, many dogs develop joint problems with age, and these can be helped — and maybe even prevented! — by fatty acids in fish. (But remember he might get hooked!)
Peanut butter is a doggie favorite, but it can be toxic to dogs if it contains artificial sugar. Dogs are (usually) smaller and more sensitive to toxins and additives than humans. But these foods aren’t the best for you either!
4. Your dog is not your dishwasher
Before you let your pup lick your plate clean, know what he needs to avoid.
The idea of feeding dogs “table scraps” is misleading because dogs should never eat leftover bones and undesirable food.
Ingested bone particles can cause nasty bowel blockages. And your dog deserves to be better than as substitute for the trashcan!
5. Slow and steady wins the race
Whenever you decide to change up your pup’s daily menu, do so slowly.
Even if you just switch him to another dog food (due to different nutritional requirements of aging, etc.), make this transition slowly, spacing it out over an entire week.
And when doing so, do not confuse his digestive system even more by mixing human food into this gnarly equation!
Your furry friend surely appreciates all your efforts to include him in family activities.
But when it comes to food, think twice before inviting him to the table.