Dogged Out

By Kristen Hoffman

I have a sixteen-year-old Shih Tzu with a sensitive stomach. When Frodo was still a pup, my mom gave him table scraps and he was hooked up to an IV within 24 hours. Still another time, Mr. Frodo got a hold of some chicken bones and lay faint for days. These events struck so much fear into my eight-year-old body that I placed Frodo on a strict Science Diet nutritional plan for the next 15 years. Only recently, have I started to let up. Frodo is in his retirement years now and I don’t want him to say he never experienced anything. Therefore, I give him five Cheerios in the morning, which I figure are good for anyone, and for dessert he is allowed either popcorn or strawberries. I wish I had been better educated about canine nutrition. Then I could have given Frodo a tastier, but still healthy diet. Is it OK to give table scraps to dogs? Can I make a homemade treat for my best friend? The answers to these questions are affirmative, however we must not mistake our dog’s diet for our own. These special friends have special needs. Educate yourself and make your dog’s life happier with some homemade helpings.

The book Better Food for Dogs sheds light on the unique nutritional needs dogs have. One big difference in a dog’s diet is that they require more protein and calcium intake than humans do. Also, dogs should be given protein that is easily digestible because of their short digestive tracks. Feeding your dog table scraps is dangerous in a few ways. If table scraps are used to supplement your dog’s regular processed dog food diet, you may be overfeeding your dog and predisposing the dog to obesity. If you are giving him table scraps but are decreasing the nutritionally balanced dog food you normally give him, your dog could have nutritional deficiencies that could lead to health problems in the future.

Instead of treating your dog with table scraps, pay attention to their nutritional needs and make some healthy homemade treats yourself. Protein sources chosen for your dog should be both digestible and high quality according to the book The Complete Holistic Dog Book. These may include high quality meat, poultry, fish, eggs and organ meat. Good sources of carbohydrates include cooked whole grains, whole-wheat flour products, potatoes and vegetables and fruits that are safe for dogs. Look below for a list of food items that are toxic to your dog and should never be given. If you are interested in feeding your dog solely off of a home cooked diet, look at either of the aforementioned books for advise and for recommendations about vitamin and mineral supplements that will enhance your dog’s diet.

Your dog’s nutrition is just as important to his or her health as your nutrition is to you. If you would like to feed your dog a homemade meal or treat, use the nutritional information on the back of your dog’s store bought food or treats to adjust the number of calories you give to your dog that day. Also, use recipes either found in the books mentioned or other veritable sources. This will ensure not only that the ingredients you use are safe for your dog, but also that you are compensating his or her diet with a nutritionally balanced meal or treat. The web site has a section on homemade dog food and treats. For homemade recipes for all your pets, take a look at

I have often heard not to feed dogs people food because it is bad for them. This is a myth. The truth is that in order to feed your dog a well balanced diet, you have to consider his or her nutritional needs. Do not feed your dog food that you wouldn’t feed yourself and watch out for any foods that could be potentially dangerous to your dog. It is important to adjust your dogs diet if you would like to treat your dog to homemade snacks. But if you keep these special considerations in mind, there is no reason that your dog can’t enjoy a home-cooked meal or treat alongside you at the dinner table. n