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What food is good for your dog and what food is bad

With so much home cooking and baking going on at the minute, it’s the perfect time for a wee reminder of what foods we should avoid giving our dogs.
 
We also want to reassure you that there are lots of healthy options out there too, including carrots, kumara and many others. Read on to find out more.
 
Foods we should avoid giving our dogs
 
Top of the list for this one has to be chocolate. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which humans can easily metabolise but which dogs have trouble with. A small amount can lead to diarrhoea and vomiting, larger amounts can have more catastrophic effects. Coffee and caffeine are also dangerous due to the similar chemicals contained in them.
 
Onions and members of the onion family, such as chives and garlic, are bad for dogs. Be careful with these foods when preparing dinner and if you drop any, ensure to get to it before your dog does.
Bacon, ham and meat trimmings can lead to pancreatitis in dogs and the salt content can lead to bloat in severe cases, which is a very dangerous condition for dogs.
Sweeteners. Anything with the sweetener Xylitol is dangerous for your pet. Xylitol is found in many gums and other sugar free products, and even in some nut butters. Check your nut butter ingredients carefully before giving any to your dog.
 
Grapes and dried grapes, i.e raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
 
Sugar. Dogs should avoid sugar for the same reasons that we should.
 
It’s too easy for us to be tricked by that sad and pleading face at the dinner table. If we feed dogs the food that we eat, it leads to bad habits but it can also be very dangerous for them. The simple message is, dogs that are not fed human food are less likely to eat toxic food. So, don’t feed your dog the food that you are eating.
Here is a handy link to a good resource on harmful foods by PET First Aid and Training.
 
So what can dogs eat?
 
The best thing food you can give your dog is their own pet food. That’s not to say you can’t give them healthy treats. But, as with all treats, we recommend not over indulging. We suggest, for our own Healthy Dog & Co dog biscuits that you limit them to 2 per day, for smaller dogs, you can break them up to a more appropriate size. You’ll notice that many of the natural foods we recommend below are actually used as ingredients in our dog biscuits.
 
Orange Kumara – A great source of fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese and carotene.
 
You can dehydrate these to make chewy yummy snacks, either in a dehydrator or in the oven. Slice them, the thicker you slice them the chewier they will be. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 hours at 120 degrees Celsius. Flip them over halfway through and if you want them to be crunchier keep them in for a bit longer.
 
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Bonus: they can even be frozen.
 
Carrots – Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, beta carotene. We recently saw a great game that someone set up for their dogs, involving a cardboard box with lots of holes cut in the top, a carrot, and a whole lot of whack-a-mole fun. Of course, you don't need to do anything as adventurous as that. Simply giving your dog a carrot, is enough in itself. Buzz and Sprinkles love their carrot treats.
 
Another option to create some play time using food is to make your own apple kong toy. You have to be a bit careful with both of the main ingredients, but if you are you will end up with a fun and fully edible toy. We recommend using Granny Smith apples because they contain the least sugar. Ensure your apple is cored properly and all seeds are removed. The core and stem provide a choking hazard and the seeds are toxic. Fill your cored apple with peanut butter, ensuring you use a brand that has no added sugar, salt or sweeteners. You might even add in some other small treats or bits of your dog’s dry food. Give it to your dog and watch it go wild with excitement.
 
Alternatively, you could simply give your dog some apple slices which help to freshen breath and contain a multitude of helpful vitamins.
 
Blueberries – Fresh or frozen are a great source of antioxidants and fibre.
 
Green beans – Fibre, vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese. Not sure about you, but I always have a few limp green beans left at the bottom of my vegetable drawer. You could give the green beans fresh or make some delicious crunchy green beans snacks that are really easy to create in the oven. Set your oven to 75 degrees Celsius. Spread your green beans on a baking paper covered tray add a tiny bit of olive oil, mix, then bake for about 8 hrs or until they are crunchy. Alternatively, you could use a dehydrator if you have one. Store in an airtight container.
These are just some suggestions and there are a lot more options out there to explore. Whatever you give your dog, please make sure to give them only a little at first to make sure they don’t upset his/her stomach. Have fun experimenting and let us know how you get on.

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