Pet lovers have always considered their fur-babies part of their family. Their walks, vaccinations, breeding seasons, and above all, their diet is as important as that of any other member of the family. While most of their physiological needs can be taken care of by observing their behaviour, food is a more confusing subject. Seeing countless advertisements on the telly and elsewhere only add to the confusion. Despite this ambiguity, it is pertinent to understand that what you need to feed your pets is quite different from what humans eat. The kind and amount of food for each pet might differ with age, physical activity, size, breed and the type of environment the pet is from. The dietary requirements for a mountain dog breed is very different from that of a dog from the plains. Moreover, it is equally important to know what not to feed your cats and dogs. In this blog, we cover a few of the major food items to avoid.
1. Spices and salt
Feeding home-cooked food is a good option. But, we Indians cannot think of food without adding flavour in the form of masalas. Too much spice disturbs the digestive system of pets, especially cats and dogs. Spices like chilli powder and nutmeg can turn a docile pet into an agitated one. Similarly, salt can dehydrate them. Salt is a major reason for sodium poisoning in pets. Salt and spices cause seizures, tremors and overexcitement. Overexcitement can also lead to death.
2. Caffeine and chocolates
Caffeine from tea, coffee or soda causes diarrhoea and vomiting in pets. Caffeine meddles with the functioning of the heart and nervous system. Chocolates in any form, like baking chocolate, cocoa, commercial chocolates, etc. can be fatal. Caffeine and chocolates can lead to restlessness and severe bleeding, which ultimately causes demise.
3. Fatty foods
Fried and fatty foods leaves your pets with an upset stomach. Dogs and cats are not adept at digesting fat. It either triggers violent vomiting or gives rise to diarrhoea. Pets cannot break down fat trimmings of meat as well. The trimmings also set off an upset stomach.
4. Onion and garlic
Raw, cooked, or any form of onion, garlic, and the rest of the allium family are a strict no for pets. They impede formation of red blood cells and aid in their loss. This ensuring anaemia in pets.
5. Sugars and sweets
Dogs and cats do not need sugar or sweets. Sugar and sweets cause lethargy in them. They also develop diabetes and dental issues. Sugars can affect their nervous system and cause seizures. Sweets are known to cause loss of coordination between limbs and liver failures.
6. Raw food
Any kind of raw food should be given with caution. Raw dough containing yeast, baking powder or baking soda are a big no-no. This type of dough expands in the stomach and causes disorientation and breathlessness. Likewise, raw fish is toxic to pets. Most raw fish contains bacteria that can lead to poisoning among pets. “Salmon poisoning” is responsible for severe vomiting, fever and enlargement of lymph nodes. Similarly, raw meat and eggs may contain parasites or viruses that are harmful to pets and cause food poisoning. Well-cooked dough, fish, meat and eggs can avoid all these issues.
7. Seeds and certain fruits
Though fruits are an ideal snack for pets, it is crucial to understand that the seeds or the pits of fruits should not end up in their bowl. Fruits like grapes and raisins cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and eventually, kidney failure in cats and dogs. As pits of apples, peaches and plums contain cyanide, they cause hyperventilation in pets. If the pet consumes the seed or pit inadvertently, they can also experience nervousness, dilation of pupils, shock and even death. Seeds can hence be fatal.
Sounds like a no-brainer but still deserves a quick mention; Alcohol is pure poison. As in human beings, alcohol damages the liver and brain in pets. Apart from coordination issues, vomiting, diarrhoea, strokes and heart failure can be expected. Alcohol causes breathlessness and nervousness in pets. Alcohol can also land the pet in a comatose state and eventual death.
9. Dairy Products
Butter, cheese, paneer or even milk are food items pets are not comfortable with. Most of them are lactose intolerant and suffer from an upset stomach. So it is advisable to give them pasteurised, boiled and diluted milk and limit the quantity of dairy products in their diet.
Every feline or canine might like certain foods and dislike a few. It is vital to give clean and well-cooked vegetables, fruits and meats. Apart from the above-mentioned list, individual allergies may exist and one should seek the advice of a vet in such cases. One should be considered consulting the vet regarding their pet’s diet plan.