Tag: foods to avoid

2014.09.16 05:07:28
Maggie Brown

Dog and ChickenMany higher end dog foods now tout their “whole food” ingredients, in part because of backlash against the subpar components that have historically been included in many popular dog food recipes. Pet parents want quality nutrition not only for themselves and their families but for their dogs as well, and companies have heeded that call by improving the ingredients in their recipes as well as offering more specific varieties, such as grain or gluten free offerings. On many dog food labels now, wet or dry, one can find meats, veggies, and grains listed, as simply as that. Rather than a list of chemicals and hard to pronounce words, pet parents can now pick up a can of dog food listing chicken, sweet potatoes, and rice as primary ingredients. But does that mean it is okay to feed our dogs “people food”? That is, if we are feeding our dogs the leftovers from our own meals, what effect will that have on their nutrition?


If a small business owner needs their books done, common advice is to find a subject matter expert. Hire an accountant or a bookkeeper, someone with the training and expertise to do it right the first time and ideally at a lower time investment. Similarly, when one needs to overhaul a website or tighten up marketing for their company, it is often advisable to outsource those activities to someone who does them on a regular basis. In theory, our dog’s nutrition is no different. We can do the research and feed our dogs from our own kitchens, but care must be taken to include all the elements of a balanced diet. High quality dog foods contain the right balance of fats, proteins, carbs, and other elements (vitamins, amino acids, etc.) that our dogs need, and even with careful research we may miss an important component of their diet. However, if pet parents are willing and able to dedicate the time to research and prep to feed their dogs via whole foods, it can be done! It is advisable to work with your vet and follow his or her recommendations to make sure all the important nutritional components are included. Also, keep in mind that buying, prepping, and portioning out whole meats, grains, and veggies is going to take a LOT of time!


When referring to “people food” or “table foods”, we are including whole foods. Processed foods such as pastas, crackers, and casseroles are not designed for our dogs! In fact, your dog may even be allergic to common table foods that include elements such as chocolate and raisins. Even though they may present you with the sweetest eyes ever under the dining room table, the reality is that supplementing their regular diet with leftovers and table scraps may introduce foods that are not beneficial to your dog’s health and may also up his intake beyond what it needs to be, leading to obesity and other health issues. That being said, with planning and structure you can treat your dog with what may be considered people food. For example, make sure to verify just how much of his dry food he needs, and you can offer special, high value treats as part of your training program, such as small chunks of chicken breast or slices of banana. Make sure your dog understands the difference between the “people food” you set aside for him as a reward and the food on your own plate, though, because many pet parents will tell you that once a dog learns he can beg successfully, that is a very hard habit to break! You want your dog to be healthy AND happy, and that means making sure he understands his limits and boundaries.

Images courtesy Rob and Sonny Abesamis

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2014.07.29 05:43:37
Maggie Brown

Shoe DogIn Wisconsin last month, longtime pet parent Lois Matykowski noticed that her granddaughter’s ice cream pop had vanished. Naturally, all eyes turned to the family pup Tucker, a notorious food and snack snatcher. It turned out that Tucker had not only grabbed the ice cream, but he’d even ingested the stick! And the story gets better: when he got sick later, he also managed to cough up a wedding ring that had been missing from the family for FIVE years. Tucker’s vet thinks the stick may have loosened the ring up from wherever it was hiding. Luckily, Tucker was just fine, and other than a sad little one over an irretrievable ice cream treat, everyone else in the family came out unharmed as well. However, Tucker’s adventure highlights all too common issues that pet parents face: keeping their dogs away from choking hazards and knowing what to do in the event their dog does get into something they shouldn’t.


Inside our homes, from the perspective of a mischievous dog off limits treats and treasures are quite abundant. This is where watching your dog and knowing his patterns may come in handy. For example, some dogs are quite fond of shoes, while others are more interested in anything made of leather. In contrast, some pups are quite interested in eating paper or photos. When your dog does show interest in things that aren’t his, try and track what his main targets are. You may be able to learn what you need to be extra careful about keeping out of reach. Additionally, if your dog is young or just never quite outgrows scavenging, watch out for the usual suspects: small articles of clothing, chicken bones in trash cans, and even smaller hazards like marbles and individual keys. Both outdoors and in, it is imperative that poisonous hazards are kept secure and out of reach, including pesticides, soaps, and motor vehicle fluids. Practicing good housekeeping can save you significant time, heartache, and money by keeping your pup out of things she shouldn’t be snacking on, so if in doubt, put an item up on a shelf or safely behind a cupboard door!


Realistically, if you come home to a spilled bottle of detergent in the laundry room you will have definite cause for concern. But what if you don’t directly witness any mischief and your pup seems off? If an item is inexplicably missing or your dog’s behavior has changed (he is sluggish, hasn’t gone to the bathroom, loses his appetite, or is having trouble keeping food down), you can take immediate steps to help him. In the case of suspected ingestion of a poisonous substance (such as rat poison or auto coolant), call poison control, an animal hotline, or your vet’s office immediately. Time is of the essence! If you suspect your dog may be experiencing blockage of some sort, call your vet! You may need to bring her in for imaging to see just what exactly she has gotten herself into. If necessary, call the after-hours care number for your vet. It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your dog, and pups can be quite creative when they get themselves into trouble. Which also brings us to a final point on prevention: our dogs tend to get into trouble when they are bored or anxious, so keeping them happy and safe can help prevent incidents such as these. Even the most well cared for and happy dog will get into trouble at some point, but pet parents can consider crate training their dogs when they have to be out and making sure their pups are getting adequate attention, exercise, and supervision in order to keep them from eating all of the forbidden things!

Images courtesy of RPavich and Beanie1988

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2014.07.01 01:27:26
Noelle Tripp

Dog PopsicleWith the mercury rising and the long, sunny days that are at hand, it can be challenging for our furry friends to stay cool. We can keep them in the shade, limit outdoor time, and make sure they stay hydrated, but we can also whip up some tasty cooling treats for them. Every pup enjoys a good snack, and every pet parent loves to keep their furry best friend happy – cooling them down and providing them with treats, sounds like a win-win!


A long walk (or even a shorter one in very hot weather) can be depleting and downright exhausting for our dogs. Some dogs enjoy it if you grab them an ice cube after a warm stroll, but some dogs just aren’t that interested in that plain old ice cube… luckily there are options! You can freeze pretty much anything into a treat for your pup, and you can use a variety of shapes. For example, you can blend up water, peanut butter, chunks of bananas, and even some berries and pour that mix into a cupcake pan or the bottom of a bundt pan. Or if your dog is more motivated by meaty treats, try blending up a mix of shredded, plain chicken, plain yogurt, water and peanut butter, and freeze that. When it comes to ingredients, get creative! Think about the meats, fruits, and other ingredients that he or she enjoys and that are acceptable for consumption (for example, skip the raisins and the chocolate as those are not dog-safe ingredients) and blend it up. As mentioned, cupcake pans and bundt pans work well for making frozen treats, and you can also use mini muffin pans, ice cube trays, or even small Tupperware containers to freeze up your dog popsicles (also known as pupsicles!). One word of warning: you may want to keep an eye on where your dog is when you give him his treat! Depending on the ingredients, your pupsicles might get a little messy while getting eaten. A shady spot in the yard or keeping your dog in one area (such as the kitchen) may not be a bad idea. He might get so excited about his new snack that he wants to run off and enjoy it, and that may not end well!


Just as in cooler weather, we can help our dogs to stay healthy and happy by feeding them a nutritionally balanced diet, with appropriate quantities to ensure they remain a healthy weight. When temperatures rise, a dog at a healthy weight and with proper nutrition will fare better than a dog carrying excess weight or not receiving proper nutrition. But how do treats and snacks fit into that picture? When putting together homemade snacks for your dog, whether frozen, raw, or baked, pet parents can give their dogs the advantage of solid nutrition by using whole food, dog-safe ingredients and providing proper quantities. The ASPCA has a handy list of foods to avoid for your dog here: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/foods-are-hazardous-dogs. For example, making frozen treats with plain yogurt, a fruit such as bananas, and a healthy fat such as peanut butter or coconut milk and then providing that treat in reasonable quantities will help your dog cool off and also won’t undermine his overall health. Non-frozen treats are no different! You can bake healthy, wholesome treats such as Tidy Mom’s Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits (http://tidymom.net/2014/homemade-peanut-butter-dog-biscuits/) or the easy Sweet Potato Dog Treats found at Allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/super-simple-sweet-potato-dog-treats/) and provide your pup with healthy fats and other important nutrients. A homemade cookie or biscuit is a great way to add extra nutrients to your pup’s diet while he’s under the stress of hot weather, and it’s also a fun way to make sure you have healthy rewards on hand after a long walk or when he’s done well with a new skill. Or let’s be honest, perhaps just because!

Images courtesy John Wright and Taro the Shiba Inu

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2013.12.24 03:07:46
Noelle Tripp

Dog and TreatIt is officially December and time for holiday treats, so why not get your pup in on the action? Table scraps and baked goods are typically no-nos for your canine best friend, but there are many simple and dog-friendly recipes out there to show your dog (or the pups of friends and family) some extra love this season. The first thing to keep in mind is watching out for ingredients that can be harmful to dogs; this includes raisins, grapes, chocolate, and for some dogs, gluten-containing grains such as wheat and barley. If your dog is routinely fed a food that includes these grains without any adverse effects, then you should be in the clear. But if you opt for a grain free dog food for his daily meals, then it would be wise to choose grain-free treat recipes as well.


Rachel Ray is well known for her recipes and kitchen tips, and she is also the purveyor of a line of dog food and treats. But what about her website’s trove of dog-targeted recipes? One pup owner decided to make and review several of her recipes under the pen name of Oscar (Oscar is his dog). He takes a look at recipes such as the Power Pooch Smoothie and Sweet Pooch Pancakes. Interestingly, when author Seamus McKiernan ran the recipes past his trusted vet Dr. Bradley T. Emott of New York City, the concoctions were given the greenlight. However, his vet did caution that “dogs have sensitive GI systems. If you’re going to feed them human food, try to avoid anything rich or too fatty, oily, or spicy” (the full writeup can be found here: http://firstwefeast.com/eat/rachael-ray-dog-recipes-reviewed-by-an-actual-dog/).


Rather than taking on an entire entrée as a treat for your pup, perhaps a quick and more mild cookie recipe will do? Whole Foods Market offers a very straightforward banana peanut butter
dog treat recipe on their website, with only six ingredients: banana, oat flour, oats, parsley, peanut butter, and an egg. The parsley freshens your pup’s breath, and if you do not have oat flour simply toss some regular oats in the food processor or blender until they are the consistency you’d like. The recipe can be found here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/homemade-peanut-butter-and-banana-dog-treats. As always, for our dogs (and for ourselves as well!) simpler is better. If you can find natural peanut butter at the store use that, the ingredients will likely be just peanuts and salt. The website also suggests that you can sub out half the parsley for mint to up the breath-freshening ante. Alternatively, if you think your pup may not be a fan of either parsley or mint, simply leave it out! Every dog loves a simple peanut butter and banana mix.


We may be pumpkin spiced out on the human side of things, but our pups have likely not yet overindulged for the season. Another simple, six ingredient recipe can be found here at AllRecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/peanut-butter-and-pumpkin-dog-treats/detail.aspx. All ingredients are easy to source and dog friendly, and you can even choose cute cookie cutter shapes to increase adorableness on this. And! I know I personally love frosting… so when I bake for my pup I like to give him some, too. Usually a little dollop of peanut butter does the trick. However you decide to decorate and no matter which baked good you choose, snap a photo fast! These holiday treats will likely vanish pretty quickly.

Images courtesy MattJP and Jespahjoy

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2010.10.20 22:58:48
Maggie Brown

Many pet parents enjoy treating their pet to a table scrap but there are some foods you should avoid when sharing your dinner with Fido.  Foods and drinks you digest easily, like the following, can cause trouble for your pooch:

Dinner rolls — Dough expands in the stomach, creating distressing gas.

Onions and garlic — These flavor enhancers contain a compound that could damage a dog’s red blood cells, causing anemia.

Rich sauces — Gravy upsets the stomach and may lead to pancreatitis.

Bones — Sharp pieces of bone can choke a dog or pierce or block her gastrointestinal tract.

Alcohol — Even slightly spiked eggnog can be toxic, so don’t leave any drinks unattended.

Grapes and Raisins — Can cause canine kidney failure

Chocolate  — Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, abnormal heart beat, tremors, seizures or even death.

Santa Monica, California

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