Pet Diet Tips – How to ensure your pet stays in shape over the silly season

Thanks to Dr Eloise from “Love That Pet” for our latest blog post!

Christmas is a time for giving but when it comes to our pets giving them extra treats here and there can be a real hazard to their health. In some cases having just one extra treat can be the equivalent to a human eating a Big Mac, so keep in mind even small things can have an impact on our pet’s waistline and wellbeing.

While as humans we often equate special occasions to overindulging in food, we are fully aware of the consequences of eating rich and fatty foods and can consciously pay the price the next day. That doesn’t always mean we act sensibly of course! Our pets rely on us to provide healthy choices for them. Rich and fatty human foods will often make our pets feel unwell and lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. There are so many ways to show your pet that you love them, a cuddle, a pat, an extra walk or brush can be good non-food ways to spend time with them and won’t make them ill.

Dogs and Taste

Interestingly, dogs actually have much fewer taste buds and less sensitivity to taste than humans. Humans have around 10,000 taste buds, while dogs have less than 2,000. Often the intricacies of human foods are lost on them and it’s probably why they are just as happy to eat a piece of carrot or possum poo. So save the fancy cheeses and exotic Christmas foods for the humans, they will appreciate them more and you won’t be cleaning up a steaming pile of poo afterwards!

Healthy Treat Ideas:

If you really want to include your pet in your Christmas celebrations, consider giving a Kong toy filled with steamed sweet potato and cooked turkey pieces to wrestle with while you are enjoying the special meal.

Some other healthy treats include:

  • Raw carrot pieces (you can chop them up and put them in a bag with regular doggy treats so they get all seasoned and delicious).
  • Greenies are great for the teeth and have the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval.
  • Natural raw treats like Ziwi Peak that have been air dried rather than heat treated.
  • Home made jerky is easy to make in the oven or a food dehydrator. Instructions are here.

Foods to Avoid:

There are a few things that dogs and cats most definitely should not eat, including:

  • Grapes, raisins or sultanas (so avoid the Christmas cake and pudding).
  • Chocolate.
  • Onions and Garlic (beware of the stuffing and gravy).
  • Cooked bones.
  • Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener.
  • Fatty foods like bacon or marrow bones can easily trigger pancreatitis or a stomach upset.
  • Nuts can be a choking hazard and macadamias are toxic to dogs.

While Christmas is a time of giving, we don’t need to overfeed our pets. I know how I feel sometimes after overindulging, so I’d love to save more pets from that discomfort! As a vet I regularly see pets during that week after Christmas with vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis because they’ve been fed rich foods that didn’t agree with them. Your pets know you love them by how you treat them, not what treats you give them!

Dr. Eloise is a Sydney based vet working for Love That Pet. She completed her training in Veterinary Acupuncture in 2010 and has since then been incorporating this eastern practice in with her Western medical training. Eloise has a passion for helping pets with anxiety and itchy dogs. You can chat with her here on Google+

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