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Human food for dogs (and food you should keep your paws off).

Human food for dogs (and food you should keep your paws off).
We were always told, "Don't feed the dog from the table." But times have changed. As attention and concern for our dogs' health and nutrition increases, it's safe to say that human food is ending up in our dogs' bowls now more than ever. 

But how do you know what foods are good for your dog? Not everything we eat is good for dogs. Read on to learn the pros and cons of feeding your dog human food.

The Doggy Do's

Blueberries: Blueberries provide many of the same benefits for our dogs as they do for us humans! The berries are a bomb of great ingredients, providing a high dose of antioxidants and fiber that are perfect for digestion and the immune system.  Pro tip: Freeze them to have a delicious and cooling bag for you and your dogs on hot summer days!

Green Beans: Green beans are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are essential to a healthy eating plan for your dog. They contain vitamins A, C and K as well as on and calcium. Replacing calorie-dense baked treats with green beans can also help your best friend lose weight when paired with a consistent exercise plan and an otherwise healthy eating plan.

Pumpkin: Adding pumpkin to your dog's food is a simple and easy way to increase fiber and regulate digestion. Pumpkin naturally soothes the stomach and has been shown to support urinary tract health. Pumpkin is naturally low in calories, making it a great way to "treat" your dog without feeling guilty. Because of its digestive properties, pumpkin is also a great way to keep older dogs healthy.

Apples: like many other fruits, apples can be a nice, healthy, low-calorie treat for your dog. However, be sure to remove the core and seeds before feeding apples, as they are a choking hazard and can be harmful over time.

Bananas: A high-potassium snack! Bananas should be fed in moderation due to their high sugar content, but are generally a healthy alternative to greasy, packaged treats. If your dog isn't a fan, try freezing them! This makes them a more interesting snack to chew and lick.

Carrots: Carrots are low in calories and fat and can be a wonderful vegetable to incorporate into your dog's diet. They are packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene and offer many benefits to the dog. Be sure to cut the carrots open for small dogs to avoid ingestion. Frozen carrots are also great for teething puppies. 

Lean Meat and Fish: Lean meats and proteins are great for dogs. Things like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and even salmon provide dogs with added benefits like good fats and amino acids. Lean meats and fish are a healthy way to increase calorie intake for your dogs. Just be sure to prepare the meat and fish properly and not use any oils or spices. It's best to steam or boil the fish and meat in water. 

Sweet Potatoes: Another low-fat, high-fiber option to help your dog's digestive system is sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have been shown to have a positive impact on your dog's health, including reducing the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

The Doggy Don'ts

Chocolate: If you know anything about dogs, this is most likely the one food that is consistently banned. Chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well as seizures or even death in your dog. Eliminating all products with chocolate is the safest way to ensure your dog is not harmed by its effects.

Grapes: they may seem small, but grapes can cause serious problems. Grapes and raisins can cause stomach upset and in severe cases, sudden kidney failure. Grapes can be highly toxic to dogs, so you should contact your veterinarian if your dog has accidentally ingested a large amount. 
Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic are both members of the Allium family, which damage the hemoglobin in our dogs' red blood cells. Onions and garlic can cause digestive or intestinal distress if eaten. Your dog may also develop anemia if these products are consumed over a long period of time. It's worth watching out for the chopped onions that fall on the floor when cooking dinner - a quick pick up and disposal is best for your dog.

Xylitol: This substance is found in many sugar-free baked or artificially sweetened products, including dogs' favorite food, peanut butter. Xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs, causing seizures, weakness and vomiting. The best way to prevent xylitol ingestion is to read labels carefully to make sure xylitol is not in the products you feed your dog. As reports of xylitol poisoning increase, it is important to avoid this ingredient. 

Caffeine: Humans may get their fill from coffee, but our dogs certainly don't. Dogs (and cats, too) are much more sensitive to caffeine than we are. Caffeine can cause cardiac arrhythmias, tremors and seizures, as well as fever and weakness in dogs. Avoiding caffeine altogether is the best option for your furry friend.

There are many human foods that have been shown to provide many additional benefits for your dog. As with any new supplement, you should pay attention to how your dog reacts to the changes brought on by new foods. A slow introduction of these new foods to the bowl is the best way to reduce the risk of stomach upset and other adverse reactions. Healthy foods can have a big impact on your dog's well-being, they just require a little extra effort!

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