Step 1: Admitting Guilt
We’ve all done it. Sneaking some scrumptious table scraps to our furry children while eating a meal, or inadvertently sharing spilled ingredients while cooking. If you’re one of those people who do this all the time, don’t beat yourself up about it- but do read on to make sure you’re not giving your animals anything that could potentially harmful to them. And if you’ve never fed your animal table scraps, still read on because you never know what you might leave on the counter within reach of your animal that could pose a threat.
Step 2: Have Some Compassion
My dogs are like little living breathing vacuum cleaners. In fact, we call one of our kiddos “the catfish” because she’s a bottom feeder and will eat anything we drop on the floor. It’s better than having a Roomba! Let’s face it, many of us show our love to our animals by giving them our food. It’s a natural way to express our desire to please our animals. And, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you stay informed about what is appropriate to share and what isn’t. Before I get into the “thou shall not feed” category, I’ll go ahead and share with you the foods that I often share with my dogs. These foods are not only safe for you animals, but are healthy supplements to a balanced dry food diet.
Step 3: Green Light!
Some of our dogs’ personal favorite human foods include but are not limited to: fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cucumber, carrots, melon, orange slices, apple slices, broccoli (raw or cooked), Brussels sprouts (cooked with no seasoning), and sweet potatoes (raw or cooked with no seasoning)- just to name a few. Now, I’m pretty lucky. My dogs LOVE fruits and vegetables. I’ve been told by my friends that their dogs would never eat a piece of broccoli, so maybe my hounds are just weird, but honestly, I think if your pets see you enjoying some food, they’ll want it regardless of what it is. As long as the foods are safe and even better- healthy for the animals- they can make a really great alternative to store bought treats that are full of extra calories and carbohydrates that our animals most likely don’t know.
Step 4: Thou Shall Not Feed
Before I share a basic list of “PLEASE Do Not Feed These Foods to Your Animals,” let me first say that there are plenty of human foods out there that are labeled as toxic but might not pose a threat to your specific animal. Some dogs and cats can ingest these foods without any issues, as you might have already found out in your own personal experience. I’ve had lots of friends tell me, “but I feed my dog avocado all the time!” All I ask is that you re-evaluate what you might have shared in the past, and even if a listed “toxic food” hasn’t posed a threat to your animal in the past, please be aware that it most certainly can for another animal. Better safe than sorry, right? Without further ado, here’s a list of common foods that can pose serious health risks to our animals:
One more tip that you might not have considered is poisonous plants in the house. There is an exhaustive list of poisonous and harmful plants to pets (I encourage you to search the internet if you are a plant collector), but for me, lilies, poinsettias and ferns immediately come to mind when I think about common house plants and pet owners.
In the grander scheme of things, feeding our pets human food and overfeeding at meal times are the leading causes of obesity for cats and dogs today. Scientists who study animal obesity essentially call this an issue of “non-compliance” because many of us feed our animals more than the recommended portion. In that same vein, don’t let the labels on pet foods trick you. It is very common for dog food companies to advise us to feed our animals more than is actually necessary. Why? Because the more food you feed, the faster you go through a bag, and the more bags you buy. It’s that simple.
I feed my animals a wholesome dry food from Canada called Acana Wild Prairie. It is completely grain free with no added water, so I get away with feeding them much less than your typical run-of-the-mill dry dog food. Recent studies find that 1 out of 4 pets is considered obese, and obesity can shave years off of an animal’s life. Years! That’s a lot of time when you consider an average pet life span. Do your part, show your pets you love them with belly rubs, walks, and lots of fruits and vegetables (but please no grapes or avocados).
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