Friday, February 17, 2006

Treats vs Table Scraps

Most of us are guilty of sneaking a tasty table scrap to our pets during or after dinner. While there is not anything inherently wrong with giving your pet an occasional morsel left on your plate, there are some very good reasons to limit your handouts to treats made for dogs. Giving dogs a bit of leftover lean meat, non-buttered vegetables, and a little rice will not cause problems, but unfortunately, many people do not stop there.

Once a moocher, always a moocher.

Once you reward begging behavior with table scraps or something off your plate, you can expect to see the same hopeful eyes looking up at you every meal from that day forward. That is fine if you do not mind, but if you have a dog that whines, the behavior may disrupt your dinner. If you do mind, you will have a hard time training your dog to stay out of the room now that he knows he just might get a handout. Also, some dinner guests do not appreciate a tongue-wagging dog at their elbow while they try to eat their meal.

Table scraps do not offer the nutrition dogs need.

The more you fill your pet up with your food the less likely he is to eat his own. And since our nutritional needs are not the same as our dogs', your dog will get less of the vitamins and minerals he needs and probably more of those he does not need. Quality dog treats are developed with your dog's nutritional needs in mind.

Table scraps are the quickest route to weight problems.

Many times scraps are nothing more than empty calories. And since you probably save that hunk of fat or sweet morsel you know your dog will like, he gets all the wrong food for a trim waistline. Overweight pets, besides not looking their best, have a higher risk of many health problems.

Table scraps are a leading cause of digestive disorders.

The rich foods we eat can wreak havoc on your dog's digestive tract. A simple, consistent diet keeps their system functioning as it should. Throw in your very different foods and spices and do not be surprised if your dog has bad gas, bad breath, loose stools, etc.

You could end up with a finicky eater.

If your dog develops a taste for your food, he may stop eating his own. After all, which would you prefer, dry dog food or juicy steak and hamburger every night?

You may create a thief.

Pets that are used to eating human food are more likely to devour the turkey leftovers you left unattended on the kitchen table. Or bury their heads in the garbage can to get at that fish you 'forgot' to give them. As you know, many bones, chocolate, and other food items can be dangerous to your dog.
Treats are a better choice.

A dog treat gives you and your dog the same satisfaction as giving or receiving a table scrap. It promotes that special bond between you and your dog, it gives your pet a new, delicious taste to savor, and it makes both of you feel good.

Quality dog treats are usually more nutritious and tend to have far fewer calories than most table scraps. Liver products are great treats because they provide nutrients your dog is unlikely to obtain from any other food source.

There are other benefits, too, depending on the type of treat you buy. Biscuit-type treats are good for your dog's teeth as they help scrape off plaque and tartar that can cause dental problems. Rawhide satisfies a dog's urge to chew, relieves boredom, and is also good for teeth.

Treats also do not encourage bad behavior. In fact, it is usually the opposite. Treats can be used during training to reward good behavior, but be careful not to overdo it.

As with anything in life, treats should be used in moderation. Too many treats can add weight and affect your dog's meals. As a rule, treats should never account for more than 10% of your dog's food intake. Your dog's food is his sole source for the nutrition he needs, so do not 'fill' your pet up on treats before meal time. Remember, no chocolate, no bones that splinter easily, and no high-fat, greasy foods.

Foods To Avoid

Which foods could be dangerous for my dog?

A. Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death. The following common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to dogs. This list is, of course, incomplete because we can not possibly list everything your dog should not eat.

Items to avoid Reasons to avoid
Alcoholic beverages Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.
Baby food Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs. (Please see onion below.) Can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts.
Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.
Cat food Generally too high in protein and fats.
Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeine Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous systems.
Citrus oil extracts Can cause vomiting.
Fat trimmings Can cause pancreatitis.
Grapes and raisins Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
Hops Unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.
Human vitamin supplements containing iron Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.
Large amounts of liver Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.
Macadamia nuts Contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.
Marijuana Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and changes in the heart rate.
Milk and other dairy products Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.
Moldy or spoiled food, garbage Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.
Mushrooms Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.
Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder) Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.
Persimmons Seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
Pits from peaches and plums Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.
Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock.
Raw eggs Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.
Raw fish Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.
Salt If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.
String Can become trapped in the digestive system; called a "string foreign body."
Sugary foods Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.
Table scraps (in large amounts) Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.
Tobacco Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.
Yeast dough Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Dog's Purpose - from a 4-year old

A veterinarian had been called to examine a ten-year old Irish
Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their
little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping
a miracle.

The veterinarian examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. He
told the family that nothing could be done for Belker, and offered to
perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

While arrangements were being made, Ron and Lisa told the veterinarian
they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe
the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the

The next day, the veterinarian felt the familiar catch in his throat
as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old
dog for the last time, that the veterinarian wondered if he understood what
was going on.

Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy
seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

They sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud
about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane,
who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, they
all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned everyone.

I've never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "People are
born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving
everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old
continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have
to stay as long."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Basic Dog First Aid Kit

Activated Charcoal (available at drug stores) for absorbing poisons
Adhesive tape to secure bandages
Antibacterial ointment or powder for cleaning wounds
Artificial tears for flushing eyes
Benadryl, for allergic reactions, as directed by the vet (usually childrens benadryl at half a teaspoon)
Blunt-tipped scissors to trim hair from wounds and cut bandaging material
Chlorhexidine for cleaning wounds
Cloths or sanitary napkins to help stem blood flow
Cotton balls
Cotton swabs
Disinfectant solution
Eye dropper, turkey baster, or syringe to flush wounds
Gauze pads and rolls to make bandages and a muzzle
Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) to induce vomiting as instructed (Do so only on the vets instruction. Do not induce vomiting unless the vet advises you to; in some cases of poisoning, throwing up can make the situation worse.)
Kaopectate (ask your vet what amount is appropriate to control your dog's diarrhea)
K-Y Brand Jelly or petroleum jelly to lubricate the thermometer
Needleless syringe for giving liquid medications
Plaster splint for broken limbs
Rectal thermometer
Some pet stores will sell already made up first aid kits for your dogs, however, they may not include all of the items listed above. These items are good to have around so you can be ready for just about any situation your dog can get into. Having a well supplied first aid kit around the house for your dog will help to control the situation before it gets out of hand and help the vet out as well.

Doggie Goodnight Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
The queen-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove,
My human being can hardly move!

I've trapped her legs,
She's tucked in tight,
And here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude,
Till morning comes and I want food!

I sneak up slowly and it begins,
My nibbles on my human's chin.
She wakes up slowly and smiles and shouts,
"You darling beast! Just cut it out!"
But morning's here and it's time to play,
I always seem to get my way.

So thank you Lord, for giving me
This human person that I see.
The one who hugs and hold me tight,
And shares her bed with me at night!

- Author unknown
Thanks to Nellie's mom and her friend Julie for this!

Thanks to Debbi for photo of model Kyzer!