Can I just have a bite?

It’s not easy to resist his big brown eyes looking at me when I’m eating, ears back and a longing look that says, “but I’m just soooo hungry.” Licking his lips as he does a little anxious dance that I find so cute, “no Brian, you can’t have this!” I say to my dog.

Feeding table scraps is never a good idea. There are certain foods that must be avoided as they can be very harmful to dogs in general, while certain breeds can be even more sensitive. We all have a friend, neighbor, family member, who says, “that’s not true, my dog eats everything I eat and she’s fine!” These people are actually either very lucky, or not aware of the harm they are causing their beloved canine family member including liver damage and obesity.

In vet school I became suddenly aware of a toxic food that I never expected- grapes and raisins. A fellow vet student had a cute little Bichon Frise named Norman. Norman loved grapes and ate lots of them. Our second year in school Norman developed kidney failure. His mom was just as shocked as I to learn the cause. Now don’t worry if you just fed your dog a grape or two, it usually takes a fair amount of grapes to make a dog sick, but don’t feed anymore! Luckily Norman survived. If your dog eats a large amount of grapes at once, it is a good idea to seek veterinary care immediately.

Other foods including chocolate, alcohol, salt, coffee, and tea might seem obvious, but did you know that avocados are dangerous too? This “superfood” can cause very severe vomiting and diarrhea. What about onions, garlic and chives? These cause red blood cell damage leading to low red blood cells (anemia), which could make your pet very ill.

Certain breeds such as the Schnauzer, Yorkshire and Silkie Terrier, German Shepard, Cocker and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and more can be at a higher risk of a horrible condition called pancreatitis.  This causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, to severe pain. One cause of pancreatitis can be feeding foods high in fat such as bacon, ham, steak, turkey skin and drippings, to dogs not normally fed high fat foods. Although these foods might make us feel like we are giving those who give us so much love something really great, don’t be fooled!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but might have you thinking, where can I find out more? The ASPCA has a really great resource for pet owners. You can access more information at the following link: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.aspx If you would like to know more regarding the specific breed of your loved one and the risk of certain diseases, check out the Canine Inherited Disorders Database- just find the link to your kid’s breed and you can learn what you might need to watch out for. http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/breedlist.htm

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