Could your love actually be harming your dog?
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Could your love actually be harming your dog?

Dogs
Health & Safety

Man's best friend - the dog. We all love our dogs. They are our constant companions, ever loyal, never question us, are always happy to see us, they are literally "reservoirs of love". We cosset them, we indulge them, sometimes we even treat them as children, attaching human traits and emotions to them. We all want our dog to be happy, well cared for and most of all well fed. We often feed them specialist diets or little trays of gourmet food. I bet the majority of you reading this buy your dog special treats and food for Christmas. However, have you ever stopped to consider that giving your dog human food and treats can seriously jeopardise its health? That you could literally be signing your pooch's death warrant? A bit melodramatic, maybe but read on and you might be surprised at the things that can cause our canine friends problems if eaten. Just like a human, a dog's diet is the basis of its health and well being. Dog foods are scientifically formulated to ensure that they get all the nutrition and vitamins that they need to live happy, healthy lives. However we are all tempted at times to supplement their diet with our leftovers or some sort of treat. Whilst some foods are perfectly safe for dogs, you should be aware of foods they definitely shouldn't eat and the consequences of doing so. So when he stares at you with big soulful eyes, beating his tail on the floor, don't be tempted to indulge him. Read the following and then decide whether you should be giving into him.

Chocolate

We have all probably given our dog some chocolate at some time. The odd bit here and there, especially at Christmas. Well it does taste so good and they love it and well those special dog chocolates look a bit odd, not like chocolate at all. However chocolate is one of the worst things possible to give to a dog. Theobromine is the culprit - this is the toxic ingredient that will make dogs vomit and cause diarrhoea. They may become excessively thirsty, develop abnormal heart rhythms which may lead to seizures and ultimately death. The worst offender is actually baking chocolate, followed by dark, milk and then white chocolate. Make no mistake, this seemingly innocent treat can be fatal. So if you wish to share a chocolate eating binge with your dog, buy them their own supply of doggy chocs.

Milk and other dairy products

Hands up those of you who have given your dog a bowl of milk or allowed them to lick out an empty yoghurt pot? I must admit I have been guilty of that! Have you shared a bit of ice cream with them on a hot and sunny day? Dogs are unable to digest milk in the way that humans can. They don't have significant amounts of lactase in their bodies. This is the enzyme which breaks down lactose which is contained in milk and other milk products. Once again this can cause digestive problems, such as diarrhoea. Dogs can also develop an allergy to milk which can cause itching and skin problems. Just stick to giving your doggy fresh clean water to drink!

Onions and Garlic

Whilst we love to flavour our food with onions and garlic, you should be careful not to give any left over food containing these items to your dog. Onions and garlic in all forms, whether raw, cooked, powered or dehydrated can destroy a dog's red blood cells and cause anaemia. Just eating one large portion containing these can cause problems as can small but regular quantities. Symptoms can include vomiting, weakness, breathlessness and loss of interest in their food.Did you know? Onion powder is often found in baby food.

Tea, Coffee and other caffeinated drinks

Do you let your dog drink tea or coffee from your cup? As we all know coffee and tea contain caffeine. If any of these are drank in a large enough quantity, this can be fatal to your dog. There is no antidote. There are many symptoms to be aware of, from restlessness, to rapid breathing, muscle tremors, heart palpitations, fits and bleeding. Just think how excess caffeine affects us as humans, it affects dogs in the same way. Did you know? Caffeine is also found in cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks and so called energy drinks like Red Bull and other similar products

Grapes and Raisins

A handy little snack to feed your dog? I know my dog loves to play games, catching these in her mouth. But think again - whilst these are very common treats for dogs, they can in fact cause kidney failure and just a small amount can cause a dog to be ill. Scientists have still not worked out the exact reason why but early signs of poisoning are vomiting, lethargy and depression.

Macadamia Nuts

I love macadamia nuts and I certainly wouldn't share them with my dog, but they are often unknowingly contained in biscuits and sweets. These delicious nuts can be fatal! Even a few raw or roasted nuts is enough to make your dog ill. Eating them may cause your dog to be affected with muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of its hindquarters, vomiting, raised temperature and rapid heart rate. Strangely they can also cause hypothermia! Symptoms will usually appear within 12 hours and can last between 12 and 48 hours. Be careful of chocolate coated nuts, they can just exacerbate the problem.

Sugary foods and drinks

In exactly the same way that sugary foods and drinks can cause obesity in humans, they can lead to our canine friends putting on excess weight. In addition they can also develop dental problems from all that sugar and more seriously it can lead to the onset of diabetes. So the simple rule: Don't give your dogs sweets, biscuits and cakes!

Cat food

Run out of dog food and you think you can just substitute their meaty chunks with some cat food? Think again - cat food is made with an entirely different formula and is actually far too high in protein and fat for a canine stomach. You are better off just giving your dog a plate of plain pasta or rice if you have run out of food.

So you can see the importance of ensuring that your dog doesn't eat these common foodstuffs. But I would never give that to my dog I hear you say. Remember dogs can be inquisitive and they will eat anything and suffer the consequences later. Always make sure that your foodstuffs and particularly your medicines are out of reach of dogs and next time you are tempted to just slip them a little treat - think of what could happen.Of course, should your dog display any of the symptoms mentioned here or you think they may have eaten something they shouldn't it is always wise to get them checked out by a vet. It's also wise to keep the number of your vet handy in case of emergencies.

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