Home cooked fresh meals are getting more popular by the day. Most people that choose to feed their dogs fresh food or (human food) do some research online to check for what is ok and what is not. However, in my practice as a canine nutritionist and on social media, I frequently come across several instances of bad choices of ingredients. So here are a few of the top harmful ingredients I see, and why they should be avoided.
white processed sugar. Its bad for our dogs for the same reasons its bad for us! You will often come across materials that warn you about the toxic and addictive effects of sugar on dogs. It can lead to all the same illnesses and problems in our dogs like they do in humans, only humans tend to have more of a tolerance for it. Dogs are more susceptible to the ill effects of it.
Milk with bread or rice or roti. All of these are a bad idea for dogs. Most dogs are lactose intolerant and would not in their natural environment continue drinking milk after weaning off from their mother's milk, much less continue to drink the milk of another mammal. Bread is a byproduct of yeast and processed flour (even brown bread) and caramel (sugar). This simply provides no valuable nutrition to the dog. In fact it can actually be the root cause of a lot of gastric trouble. Roti/ chapati are the lesser evil as they are homemade and have no yeast in it or white flour and caramel. But wheat is high in gluten and although not all dogs are gluten sensitive, the ones that are will often start reacting due to being fed wheat on a daily basis! Also, Wheat can act as an inflammatory in the presence of inflammation in the body. It can aggravate it and make it worse.
in any food including processed dog food. Human leftover foods, like daal, vegetables chicken or bones from our mutton curries etc all have salt in it. And so does kibble and other processed treats. This is why human food and kibble is so highly addictive to dogs. excess sodium can lead to a variety of health issues and must be kept to a minimum. Dogs do require sodium and they get the required quantity from meat protein sources if fed on a well balanced homemade diet.
Comfort food for humans and now very commonly becoming an addictive food for dogs. Cookies, birthday cakes, muffins etc., it all adds up. The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much slower, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system. Now it's true that a dog will need to eat obscene amounts of chocolate to die from toxin poisoning, but this shouldn't be used as an excuse to feed them small amounts of chocolate, that's like saying, its okay for my dog to have a small amount of toxins but not large enough to kill him! Chocolates are toxic to dogs in any amount.
Tea, Coffee and Flavored Baked Goods. I do know of dogs that drink evening tea with their families. It's only bad because it has caffeine in it. Coffee, on the other hand, has concentrated doses of caffeine. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. This is very similar to chocolate. It does take about 5 cups of coffee to reach life-threatening toxicity in a small dog, however, that is no excuse to feed them half a cup on a regular basis.
Tomatoes - cooked or raw. Solanine, a substance found in the stem and leaves of the tomato and related plants, is harmful to dogs. The leaves, stems, and young, green tomatoes contain higher amounts of solanine than ripe fruit. Tomato plants are also in the Nightshade family and contain tomatine. In the fruit, the level of alpha-tomatine is present in small amounts in the green unripened tomato and in tiny amounts in a ripened red tomato. Tomatine can be toxic to the heart. All nightshade plants and fruits are to be avoided for dogs.
They are in all processed foods and treats. Researchers have long advised pet families to pass over dog food that contains artificial preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin; because they are proven repeatedly as carcinogens. It can not be stressed enough how harmful these preservatives can be to liver, kidneys and other organs. If your dog is already having problems with these organs or the skin, then it might be a really good idea to remove all preservatives from their diet immediately.
Bleach, Glue, Hydrogen peroxide:
I know that this does not sound like any of you are giving your dogs anything with bleach in it, or glue and hydrogen peroxide. You might think, why would this even make the list? Rawhide chews have all of these ingredients in it. There are several other treats that have many such dangerous ingredients. Ingredients we would never choose to feed out dogs knowingly. Its imperative to know whats in the food and treats we choose to feed. The fact that they are in the market on the shelves is not enough reason to trust them blindly.
Refined Oils, Chilli Spices, Garam Masala, etc:
Tandoori chicken as a treat is definitely a no-no! Refined oils are just as bad for our dogs like it is for us. Chillies can cause a host of gastric problems and in general spiced food can lead to GI issues.
Mild hypoglycemia will typically cause weakness and a lack of coordination. More pronounced hypoglycemia, such as that which often happens with xylitol ingestion, can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in your dog's blood sugar in as little as 30 minutes! A lot of people opt for sugar free variants of cookies and biscuits to avoid sugar, but Xylotol (A commonly used sugar alternative) can be very dangerous.
I can not stress enough how important it is to know your ingredients and read labels and research what we are feeding our dogs. I hope this has shed some light on some dangerous ingredients that may find its way into your dog's dinner plate. If you found this article interesting then you might be interested in some other health and nutrition related articles too.