While Indian Pet owners now have access to and happily indulge their pets in commercial pet food brands like Royal Canin, Pedigree and the likes, which provide wholesome balanced meals for their pets, it is almost impossible for them to resist the urge of sharing a few morsels of their meals with their furry friends.
Though these actions are purely out of love, Indian cuisine comes with a lot of ingredients and spices that cannot be categorized as pet friendly. However, the good news is that some of the dishes that are staples in Indian households can be a source of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals for our beloved furry friends.
In this article, we will explore the list of approved v/s disapproved food items for your dogs and discover how we can enhance the health benefits hidden in staple foods in Indian households.
First Things First!
No matter how nourishing we feel a particular ingredient is for humans, it may not have the same effect on our pets. Therefore, it is extremely important to always check with your vet about the kinds of food that can be beneficial v/s harmful to your pets as it can differ from breed to breed. What to feed your pet and how much of it to feed them depends on not just the breed but also their age, level of their physical activity, and surroundings that your pet is growing up in. It is important to build a suitable meal plan for your dogs by consulting with your vet.
Can The Combination Of Roti/Chapati & Milk Be Constituted As A Meal For Your Pet?
Providing roti & milk is almost an age-old tradition in Indian culture. Be it feeding strays or feeding our pets, at some point in their lives, we have provided them with a bowl of roti dunked in milk. However, based on a survey conducted by the department of livestock products technology at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), it was found that a diet consisting only of roti & milk is insufficient for the overall development of your dog’s health. Therefore, it is essential to include fruits, vegetables & meat in your pooch’s diet plan and not rely only on the humble roti/chapati & milk for all the nutritional needs of your pet. Please note that milk should not be given to puppies below 6 months of age and for adult dogs, it should be diluted with a little water.
How Important Is It To Include Eggs & Meat In Your Pet’s Diet?
Animal protein should be a primary component in your pet’s meal plans. Protein sourced from eggs & meat is highly beneficial for your dog’s health. Meats like Fish, Chicken, and Mutton are common in a few households; however, it is crucial to ensure the meat is uncooked and does not have any seasoning or spices. Cooked bones are not recommended as they are brittle and have the potential of causing oral injuries and can also cause obstructions in intestines, which could need surgery.
When it comes to Eggs, it is recommended to either boil or scramble the eggs without adding any condiments as raw eggs contain an enzyme called ‘avidin’ that is known to decrease the absorption of vitamin B and may cause problems with the coat and skin.
For vegetarian households, introducing meat/egg into their pet’s meals can be tricky, however, is crucial for the pet’s wellbeing. That is when the combination of home-cooked meals, grains, vegetables, fruits & commercial dog food brands comes to the rescue.
Role Of Grains & Pulses
Contrary to popular belief, grains do not harm your pets and instead are a rich source of vitamin B-complex, fibre, and iron. Therefore, when pet owners fall for the deceiving hype around grain-free diets for their pets, they end up robbing off essential nutrients that contribute to their dog’s health, growth, and functioning of bodily enzymes. A mix of brown rice and boiled mashed vegetables constitutes for a healthy, light meal for your pet. Like some of us humans, a few dogs can be allergic to gluten, however, for the majority of dog population whole grains like brown rice, wheat, oats, barley, millet, and quinoa are healthy & nutritious. You can also test small portions of soya bean to see if your pooch acquires a liking to it.
Optimal Utilization Of Vegetables
Vegetables are a powerhouse of essential nutrients and can be included in your pet’s meals to provide variety in terms of taste, texture, and colour. Vegetables like potatoes (avoid using green areas that develop on potatoes), sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin, bottle gourd, and peas should be boiled and mashed, especially, if they are in larger quantities.
Fresh & texturally crunchy vegetables like cucumber, carrot, broccoli, and spinach can also be included in your pet’s diet, which can provide the necessary relief and variation from regular food for your pooches. These can be served fresh or boiled.
Tomatoes (need to be ripe) can also be included in your pet’s diet; however, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that your dog does not consume leaves or stems of tomatoes as they can do more harm than good.
Vegetables that should NOT be included in your dogs’ diet are Onion & Garlic (in any form – raw, cooked, powdered, dried), as these contain a toxic ingredient called thiosulphate, which can cause potentially fatal hemolytic anaemia in canines. Therefore, it is extremely important to resist the urge of feeding your pets our day to day curries/dals.
Including Fruits During Snack Time
A great option to use especially for snacking for both humans and dogs between meals are fruits. However, ensure that you do not feed your dogs with grapes, raisins or currants as they could irreversibly damage their kidneys. When feeding them with apples, ensure that they do not consume seeds as they contain cyanide and are poisonous for dogs.
Other fruits like melons (water & musk, without rinds), berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries) can be included in your pet’s diet. Serving a bowlful of a variety of fresh seasonal fruits, cut up in bit sizes can help in encouraging your pooches to have these healthy treats.
Similar to gluten, some pets might be lactose intolerant. However, for the majority, boiled milk/ homogenized carton and pasteurized milk can be provided. Milk is not inherently bad for your adult dog; however, providing milk in moderation and in diluted form is the key.
You can also add small quantities of cottage cheese, curd/buttermilk from time to time for your pets to enjoy.
Apart from the above-mentioned food items, below are other food items that you should NOT feed your dogs:
- Chocolates: Dark chocolate, baking chocolate & cocoa beans contain high levels of theobromine and caffeine, which can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle twitches, increased urination, and excessive panting, if consumed in large quantities. It is best to avoid feeding any kind of chocolate to your pets.
- Coffee/Tea: Like chocolate, coffee & tea also contain caffeine, which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, and is harmful to the heart and nervous systems of your dog.
- Avocado, Plum, Peaches: Though these fruits are not necessarily included in the list of toxic foods for dogs, they contain a type of cyanide compound that can poison your dog if he eats enough of the stems, seeds, and leaves, which can result in dilated pupils, breathing difficulties, hyperventilation, shock, and apprehensiveness.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg is a popular spice used when preparing Indian sweets & mithai. Accidentally consuming nutmeg can cause seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems, and even death in some canines.
Like anything else, even the items that are nutritional to your pets like grains, fruits & vegetables, treats, and meats when given in excessive quantities can be harmful. Therefore, it is essential to portion your pets’ meals and check about the frequency of their meals with your vet. Additionally, allergic reactions to particular food items vary from dog to dog, so it is always a good practice to observe your dog each time you feed it a new food item.