Can My Dog Eat This?: Emergency Dog Food Alternatives
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has evolved more quickly than most pet owners could’ve anticipated. Across the country, all but essential businesses have shut their doors and Americans are hunkering down for an indefinite quarantine.
It’s still possible to head out for pet food, but there’s no guarantee that shelves will remain stocked for very long. Even well-prepared dog owners could find themselves scraping the bottom of the bag in the next several weeks.
Your personal supplies and local pet aisles have both run dry? There’s no need to panic. Dogs and dog owners alike can subsist on many of the same fridge and pantry staples.
Rules of Thumb
Before you head to the kitchen to whip a homemade meal together, make sure you’re keeping these three guidelines in mind:
- Aim for a colorful, nutrient-rich meal — like you’d prepare for yourself. This should offer a good balance of lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
- Avoid unnecessary salt and fat which could upset your dog’s stomach and lead to weight gain in the long-term.
- Consider any allergies or other unique dietary needs your dog might have.
You don’t have to be a vet to prepare a healthful meal, but you should take your vet’s advice seriously. Adhere to any special guidelines they’ve given regarding your dog’s diet.
Safe Table Food
If you’ve cooked recently, feeding the family dog could be as simple as tossing some leftovers in their bowl. Rover suggests that recently-cooked meats, grains, and vegetables are all safe for canine consumption, so long as they’re not overly oiled or seasoned.
Plain meats and all-natural cold cuts are perhaps the best protein option for a hungry dog, but even vegetarians should have plenty of options in their fridges. Mild cheese, low-fat yogurt, and eggs are all suitable protein sources. In the event of a prolonged quarantine, canned meats and vegetables could also provide a shelf-stable alternative to fresh foods.
Unsafe Table Food
As you can see, your dog has plenty of options if wet or dry food supplies ever run out. It’s important to remember, however, that many human foods lack necessary nutrients and several more are toxic to dogs.
The American Kennel Club and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals caution dog owners away from these foods:
- Garlic, Onions, Leeks, and Chives. While delicious to humans, the entire allium family is highly toxic to dogs. Side effects can include weakness, elevated heart rate, and pale gums. Worse still, these side effects are often delayed for several days. Monitor your dog closely if you believe they’ve eaten a toxic allium plant.
- Chocolate. Here’s one every dog owner has heard. Chocolate contains harmful substances called methylxanthines. Even a small amount of these substances can cause intestinal distress. Larger quantities can lead to seizures and death.
- Raisins and Grapes. The toxic substance within grapes and raisins has not yet been identified. They are known, however, to cause occasional kidney failure.
- Macadamia Nuts. These are among the most dangerous foods a dog can eat. They can cause a host of symptoms and even affect your dog’s nervous system. While many other nut varieties are safe, stay away from mixed nuts to avoid poisoning.
In general, you should also avoid anything that’s overly fatty, salty, sweet, or spicy. Anything you’d call junk food is even worse for your dog. Keep an eye out for artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives, too. These can make your dog sluggish and depressed in the long term.
Stay Safe and Calm
The COVID-19 outbreak remains a developing story. Pet owners are advised to keep themselves informed by identifying credible sources and to follow all government guidelines. You can’t give COVID-19 to your pet (or get it from them), but hygiene best practices are still encouraged. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and avoid unnecessary trips out of the house.