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Is it safe to feed my dog human food?
Most vets and dog experts will tell you the same thing: you shouldn't feed your dog what you eat. If you're feeding your pet at regular times, and following recommended guidelines for the amounts, then there's no reason for him or her to be hungry in between meals. “Complete” dog foods are designed to be exactly what the name suggests. They contain all of the nutrients that your dog needs to be healthy and happy: carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, fats and oils, and water. If you're feeding a good, high quality “complete” food, there's no need for you to throw in table scraps as well. This is more likely to do your dog harm than good, and is the most common cause for dogs becoming overweight and unhealthy.
Many owners don't realise that feeding “treats” to their dogs can often be harmful rather than loving – it's just best not to do it. What your dog needs is a regular and well-balanced diet. You should feed your dog at the same time every day, so that he or she expects food at that time, and the body becomes accustomed to this regular intake of essential nutrients. Choose a good quality “complete” food – it really doesn't matter whether you use dried or canned food. This is pretty much down to personal preference – your dog's as well as yours! If the food is high quality, it will provide your dog with everything he or she needs.
And by feeding the same food each time, your dog will have no problems digesting what you provide. Dogs can be much more sensitive than humans to changes in the diet, which is why even though you might think you're doing a good thing by switching from one kind of food to another all the time, or by feeding a varied diet of human food, you are more likely to be causing your dog's digestive system to work harder. If your dog does seem to “go off” his or her regular brand, or if you need to change to a different food because the dog has gained weight or developed a medical condition requiring a very specific diet, then you should make the transition gradually to avoid upsetting the animal's digestive system.
Mix the new food with the usual brand, and gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food until it has been completely replaced. Also bear in mind that as well as it being better for your dog to have a predictable and regular diet, feeding scraps from your own meals can actually be dangerous if you choose the wrong things - which is surprisingly easy to do. Feeding fatty scaps and uncooked vegetables, for example, will almost certainly cause your dog to gain weight. But anyway you can find some great recipes to prepare.
Chocolate is a big no-no, as it is toxic to dogs' systems. Most people know this – but what you might not know is that the same goes for onions! Sugary treats, candy, fried food of any kind, anything that contains butter or grease... it gets to be quite a long list, with dairy products being on the “with caution” list, and a general warning that anything your dog isn't used to will likely cause an upset of some description.
If you want to give your dog treats, then choose ones that are made especially for dogs – and make sure that you cut down their main meals accordingly. But really, dogs don't need “snacks”. If you want to make a fuss of him or her, play a game of fetch or go for a walk together. That's the best kind of treat you can give your dog, and what's more, it will do you both good at the same time! Return to Dog Food Reviews Guide Home Page