Dogs & Human Food

I have a friend that gets onto me every time I give my dogs something that could be considered human food.  Here’s the deal, my vet doesn’t care if I give them a chocolate chip cookie or chunk of roast or a carrot.  My vet cares that my dogs are happy, healthy, and not overweight.

As a matter of fact, I spent two years getting lectured about giving Lola more cheeseburgers, preferably from McDonald’s or Wendy’s because it was close to the vet’s office.  She didn’t want me to do this less, she wanted me to do it more.  Lola while not underweight, was dangerously lean.  My vet kept telling me she’s half collie and collie’s need more body fat that pit bulls, dobermans, whippets, and greyhounds, and even German Shepherds.  And while she was taking into account that Lola was also half German Shepherd, she was at only 3% body fat sometimes and that was not good for her.  She wanted Lola to be a few pounds heavier and between 5% and 10% body fat.

It took us getting Kelly before that happened and at Lola’s last appointment, she’d gained 2 pounds and was finally at 6%body fat.  And her vet was ecstatic.  She wants Lola to stay under 75 pounds (she’s currently 63 pounds) and she is still very active all the time.  And we specifically discussed cookies because Jude the Great Nephew feeds them chocolate chip cookies and Oreos.  Plus anything Jude has, he thinks the girls should get part of it too.  They’ve gotten pizza, fruit, veggies, even part of a freaking hot pocket from Jude.

The vet was fine with that too.  She knows they get cheese too, every day, and that we use it to give them their pills since Lola chews everything, even peanut butter.  There are a couple of things that they shouldn’t have:

  • Grapes/Raisins (although some dogs are fine with them, others can suffer kidney failure)
  • Tree Nuts (but Peanuts once in a while are okay – peanuts are actually a dried form of pea and not a tree nut)
  • No Olives
  • No gum, no breath mints
  • No Xylitol
  • Mushrooms (this one is weird, dogs cannot tell poisonous mushrooms from regular mushrooms so you don’t want them to get in the habit of eating mushrooms, so they don’t eat one that might kill them)
  • Meat with huge amounts of fat on it or chunks of fat from meat

That’s it.  Everything else is okay in moderation.  Even onions and garlic are okay in moderation.  I had to ask about this one because I love both and I have been known to drop onions and not get them picked up before either Lola or Kelly (both seem to love them) get them, but I had been told onions and garlic are very bad for dogs.

The key is moderation.  Chocolate is poisonous even to people.  But it’s based on weight.  A 120 pound woman would need to sit down and eat around 17 pounds of chocolate in one sitting for it to become toxic.  Sometimes I have trouble getting an entire candy bar down in one sitting, let alone 17 pounds of chocolate.

My 63 pound German Shepherd/Collie mix and my 44 pound Beagle/Collie mutt are large enough that a couple of peanut butter cups and a couple of chocolate chip cookies aren’t going to hurt them.  If it did, little kids would also die of chocolate toxicity.  Now, Lola can’t handle bread, especially pizza crust, but Kelly does just fine with it.  So we just don’t let Lola eat anything that might rise in her stomach and cause her to vomit.  And on the rare occasions we’ve missed Jude doing it, we’ve just cleaned up the mess.

Remember I said no grapes/no raisins?  Lola has eaten both without ill effects.  The vet told me some dogs handle them just fine.  We don’t make a habit of it and if Jude has either grapes or raisins, we try to monitor him really close.

And some human foods are great treats for your dogs and I’m not talking just steak bones.  Lola loves cooked carrots and carrots cooked or raw (and Lola will eat them raw) are good for them.  Kelly does not like carrots in any way shape or form unless Jude gives them to her.  And during the summer, our vet told us to use cold watermelon chunks as treats because it can be beneficial to dogs, helping to keep them hydrated.  Kelly likes watermelon, Lola doesn’t.  Go figure.

Obviously, before you decide to feed your dog a chocolate chip cookie after dinner tonight, you should talk to your vet.  We’ve trained Kelly and Lola both not to beg, so while they may sit under the table during dinner or lay right next to the chairs, hoping for something, they don’t paw at you as you eat.

Also, if your dogs are medicated (like mine) talk to your vet about cheaper alternatives.  I thought I was going to have to buy the super expensive doggy Dramamine for Kelly who gets car sick.  It’s like $60 a pill.  So I hadn’t bought any, instead J and I just don’t let Kelly travel with us as often.  The vet eased my mind though, Kelly is big enough to take a human dose of 25 milligrams of Dramamine.  Which is $1.99 for a bottle of 10 or so.  And instead of buying special antihistamine medications, both dogs can take Benadryl or Claritin or Zyrtec.  Neither Claritin or Zyrtec seem to work as well for either dog as Benadryl, but at least we have options beyond doggy antihistamines which also aren’t cheap even though they are basically Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec.

Both dogs are on doggy Prozac which I get from the vet, but it’s cheap.  Both my dogs have compulsive behaviors that are problematic and anxiety issues (Kelly is afraid of wind, Lola has as many phobias as most people I know, including claustrophobia… she hates closed doors and she goes nuts if you put her in a room and close the door).

Communication is key.  I had a middle of the night phone call with my vet recently.  Kelly ate a quick dissolve 4mg Zofran that had been put on a counter (probably by me).  And I wasn’t sure exactly when she had eaten it, the blister pack was found on the futon covered in doggy teeth marks.  At first, I was like “oh, it will be fine” and then I was like “holy shit”…  So I called for a midnight consultation.  Turns out Zofran is a human and zoological medication and Kelly at 44 pounds wasn’t going to suffer any ill effects from it.  I was even told that if something were to happen where Kelly needed anti-nausea medication that’s probably what she would be prescribed is 4mg quick dissolve Zofran tablets.  Interesting.

I keep an open line of communication with the vet.  Lola has eaten extra Benadryl tablets during the day… but she’s slick, because she will not eat a Benadryl inside a piece of regular cheese or inside peanut butter…. She finds them and spits them onto the floor, and I totally believe she has figured out if she does this, she gets more cheese/peanut butter.  And when we have vet visits I will flat out tell the vet “Oh their on this type of dog food, but a couple times a week we give them food during or after dinner.”  I’ve also told them that if my mom cooks herself breakfast, she’ll cook stuff fro the dogs as well and eggs (even) fried are good for their coats, so my vet really doesn’t care that this happens, as long as we monitor it so that neither Kelly or Lola gets overweight, then human food is fine, even chocolate.



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