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Tips to safely give your dogs the real food they crave
I began cooking food for my dog Jackson when he was diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live. I resolved to send Jackson out in style by cooking food usually reserved for humans, only to find out that the transition to human food made Jackson feel better and live for four additional years cancer-free.
One of the most unfortunate reasons that people do not feed their dog real foods is they don’t want their pet to beg at the table. I wholeheartedly agree that dogs should not be begging at the table, but it’s the training, not the food, that is causing the problem. We practice a philosophy at my home called “Always or Never.” If dogs are fed from the table, in their mind there is always a chance they might get something. When you never feed your dog from the table, your pet learns begging doesn’t pay off; he gets bored and learns that a good nap feels better than watching somebody else eat.
At the same time, your dog so desperately wants a bite of something real, something delicious rather than the same fare day after day. Maybe you are simultaneously thinking, “Couldn’t I give my pup a little piece?” Sure, just not in the dining room.
The best place to provide your dog with real food is in her bowl. Start with teaspoons and tablespoons, not cups and handfuls, to see how your dog tolerates different foods as a way to augment commercial food. It doesn’t have to be a meal; it can just be a quick chop or a fast sauté of some ingredients you are making for yourself. Eggs, most meats, a little brown rice, several fruits and vegetables, even many spices are healthy and much welcomed by your pet (see “Off-Limits Food” (at right) for the few foods that should never be given to your dog). I would recommend giving your dog “people food” after you’ve finished eating rather than before, to reward good behavior.
“People Food” for Dogs Recipes
These foods can be toxic or otherwise dangerous for dogs and should never be given. Note: If you notice your dog panting excessively, drooling; shaking, disoriented, having seizures or muscle tremors, or vomiting, call your veterinarian immediately.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Fruit pits and seeds
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Nutmeg and mace
- Raw salmon and trout
- Turkey fat and skin