Food Fit for Dogs

No matter how small an amount of Fido’s favourite treats, strawberry ice-cream, for instance, the damage is consequential. Wise up to what is good and not so from the foods we humans consume and oftentimes indulge our furry ones in, in this informative feature on food fit for dogs Is garlic good? What about chocolate, a small piece every day? Cake for his birthday, just once a year?

Milk, every little one needs milk to fortify their bones! Bones, canines are descendants of wolves, they can chew a bone once in a while, right? Rice is a staple, how can you go wrong with it? Oh but she loves mango ice-cream, so why not? Egg yolk, papaya, honey, meat, so on and so forth run the gamut of foods that dogs are fed regularly by their parents who would do well to bring about a few changes in their diet. The dos and don’ts remain standard but yes, each one is wired differently, so you work out what can be best implemented keeping in mind that at the end of the day, it’s the furry one’s health that comes top on the priority list.

On that note, we go in-depth into the myriad of ingredients across a spectrum of foods, from vegetables and spices to meats and sweet treats, dairy and dairy products, eggs and grains, fruits and nuts, seeking information and advice from professionals in the pet food and nutrition sector of the country. One factor that is well-established and echoed is that a dog’s diet should be high in animal-based protein.

Read and learn.

Rashee Kuchroo
Pet Nutrition Expert/Owner of Doggie Dabbas on Spices &Vegetables

Spices are not advisable for dogs to ingest unless absolutely necessary in medicinal circumstances. As an application on wounds, spices such as turmeric works but very small amounts when it has to be consumed for anti-inflammatory purposes. Garlic is a natural antibiotic that can be used for ticks, under thorough supervision and cinnamon in treats for a flavour to a limited extent. Ginger for an upset tummy if only required, but that’s about it. Coriander improves calcium absorption and can be used in cooking in limited quantities.

Vegetables such as tomatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, for instance, are good for your pet. Soy, however, is not. Though the complex protein is an alternative to those with dietary sensitivities and dairy allergies, it cannot be guaranteed that the source is organic and hence there is a risk of chemical exposure. Similarly, peels of vegetables are alright if organically procured. Basically, with vegetables, you have to avoid seeds as they contain the chemical compound cyanide which is terribly toxic to the system. Corn is not good and with avocados, research is still underway. Green beans and leafy vegetables like spinach are a good source of calcium and iron. Pumpkin is a fighter against cardiovascular diseases and sweet potato is a great source of vitamins. A pet parent should stay wary of food additives, artificial colourings, high amounts of glucose, and read labels well before purchasing any dog food.

Bhavini Bangera
Quality Food Technologist/Owner, Gourmutt Bakery on Grains and Fruits

Dogs are carnivorous by nature and gluten is not an ingredient that will work with this species. Grains are overall unhealthy for them and an imported grain-free product is the best option to ensure thorough quality. Gluten in varying quantities poses a threat to the dog’s digestive system. When baking, you can substitute 50% whole wheat flour with 50% oats and also offer gluten-free versions.

Fruits, now this is widely discussed in pet circles. First off, no citrus and no seeded ones. Fruits like papaya can be given with the seeds carefully removed. Fruits low in sugar can be fed and all fruits should be in limited quantities as they do not contain high levels of any protein. No sucrose/fructose is allowed. In your cakes, you can use apples, bananas, even carrots, sweet potato, honey, hung curd and cream cheese for filling. Olive oil is used widely and is extremely healthy when cooking for dogs.

Shruti Saha
Owner/Baker at Bone Appetite on Treats and Nuts

When baking doggy cakes and treats, it is important to ensure the right ingredients go into the final product which is served to our beloved ones. So sugar is a complete No. You can use honey and
sometimes jaggery, and peanut butter is good but all in very limited quantities. Even gluten-free ragi is used in baking. And no raisins as they are toxic, or nuts as they can cause a gastric intestinal obstruction and are high in fat! Even if soaked, nuts are overall not good for your dog.

No sweets or chocolates are good for dogs, so why risk it when studies have proven most of what we eat are not fit for dogs. Take corn, you may think it’s healthy but only if it’s popcorn, corn off the cob is very tough for the tummy to digest.

Jamshyd Cooper
Vet/Proprietor of Integrity Dog Food on Dairy and Sweet Treats

Paneer, yoghurt and vanilla ice-cream are safe as can be for your pooch. Only vanilla and no other flavour works to treat diarrhoea especially! Paneer is a good source of vegetarian protein and yoghurt is a natural probiotic. No milk in its natural form at all. It is better to avoid soy-based ‘dairy’ due to possible allergies. Today, there are a few options for frozen yoghurt for canines, too, which are yet to be marketed here.

Chocolates are completely out due to the alkaloid theobromine which cannot be assimilated by the liver. Mithais that we love indulging our pets in courtesy the festive seasons or even otherwise are not the best options on account of sugar. For which reason cakes are avoidable, also given the uncertainty of the flour used. Honey is a good sweetener. Dog food is such a vast arena and there is a convention of home-made and commercial diets for pets today. However, home-made food is the best in my opinion and while good quality commercial food brands may be employed in a diet, breed-specific foods are irrational as breeds are conditioned differently in an environment such as India.

Ishmeet Singh Chandiok
Dog Chef/Founder of Harley’s Corner on Meat and Eggs

Dogs are animals and a species-appropriate diet calls for animal-based protein which is a quick release protein as compared to vegetarian protein. So meat is essential in their regime. Before we get into the variety of meats, it is important to note that while soft raw bones and meat are principally good for a canine on an occasional basis, in India, with the quality offered, you stand a risk of food poisoning with illnesses such as salmonella. So meats have to be cooked, in some form or the other. Similarly, when travelling abroad, a pet parent can indulge their pets in protein-rich meats which are not easily accessible here such as duck, game and turkey. Now back home, you have the following:

  1. Beef is the highest form of protein but should be limited. Lean cuts are the best, such as undercut/tenderloin. Tripe which is the neck part of the animal is effective in treating renal failure.
  2. Lamb is also a wonderful meat for protein but is an expensive source on a regular basis.
  3. Chicken is the most common source of daily dietary provisions for canines but should be sans bones and skin. The liver is high in soluble vitamins and high-quality fats.
  4. Pork meat is especially advisable if your dog is allergic to poultry. It should be consumed without skin as it can lead to tapeworms. Pork fat contains fat-soluble Vitamin D which helps to fight against hypothyroidism, it can be boiled and served to your pooch.
  5. Fish is rich in omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.Whitefish is one of the best meats to serve your dog and if you decide to feed red flesh such as tuna, consult a vet and try a little in the daytime first under supervision as it contains histamine which can cause allergy in some dogs. Baked skin of the fish is good as a healthy treat and shellfish is a No-No, foods high in cholesterol.
  6. Eggs are a major source of protein, but that’s the albumen, yolks are very heaty, especially in summer. Suffice to say there is a lot more on pet food and nutrition that one can get acquainted with and put into practice, such as coconut being safe for your dog, though it contains certain triglycerides that can cause intestinal discomfort. Or good ole coffee, which is most definitely toxic due to the caffeine content which can cause increased heart rate in dogs.

But start now and make the change. As it was rightly said above, ‘why risk your loved one’s life?

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