But when it comes to dog food or treats, every dog owner should be extra careful when choosing. Those that we buy from the stores are usually processed foods. Just like humans, processed foods can cause adverse health effects to our canine pets.
Going for natural foods can also benefit our pet dogs. The issue with natural or plant-based foods is that they may not suit the taste buds of our furry baby.
Have you come across capers and you are wondering if they are safe for your pup? Read on to find out.
What Are Capers?
If you enjoy going to Italian restaurants, you must have wondered about those green little oval-shaped ingredients in your pasta or dishes that give a burst of a unique flavor.
They are capers which are actually immature flower buds of the caper bush or Capparis Spinosa. After harvesting the buds, they are either dried or brined.
Capers are now used in different cuisines worldwide adding textures to a wide variety of culinary creations, including pasta, stews, and sauces, as well as meat and fish dishes.
But do you know that capers are not only used for culinary purposes but also have been helpful in traditional medicine for their healing properties?
In the olden times, the roots of the caper bush were used by Romans to treat paralysis. Likewise, the Egyptians also used caper roots for kidney and liver issues.
Parts of the caper bush were also utilized for painful menstruation, sciatica, rheumatism, toothache and other painful conditions.
7 Great Nutrients Found In Capers
While capers may not be big in size, they are packed with powerful flavor and nutritional benefits. Here are some of the nutrients in capers that can help ensure your dog’s optimum health:
• Antioxidants – Dogs may be more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression disorders than humans. Accordingly, all dog breeds can suffer from these conditions. Another health issue affecting dogs is cancer with lymphoma as the most common, affecting 20% of dogs.
Capers are rich in antioxidants. The two powerful antioxidants in capers are rutin and quercetin. Quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and analgesic properties. On the other hand, rutin prevents platelet clump formation and improves capillary integrity. Indeed, many health issues among dogs can be prevented by including capers in their diet.
• Vitamin A – Capers are also rich sources of vitamin A. This vitamin is required for the skin, coat, muscles, and nerves to function properly. Puppies need vit. A for growth and neurological development. With vitamin A deficiency, dogs will not look healthy and they may also have weak and deteriorated muscles.
• Vitamin K – This vital vitamin for the prevention of blood clotting and production of bone tissue are found in capers. While the importance of this vitamin on dogs may have not been well-researched, it is said that it has the same benefits with that of humans.
• Riboflavin and Niacin – Also referred as Vit. B2 and Vitamin B3 respectively, they play an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins in dogs. They also help in maintaining good digestion.
• Calcium – This mineral is much needed for dog health. It makes the dog’s teeth healthy and strong. It also makes a canine’s heart rate more stable.
• Copper – In dogs, copper is needed in the production of neurotransmitters, bones, connective tissues, and collagen. Moreover, it also provides skin and hair pigmentation, development of red blood cells, and antioxidant defense.
• Iron – This mineral is one of the most important that should not be missed in a dog’s diet. It has the role of transporting oxygen while helping in strengthening the immune system of your dog.
Why Might Capers Be Unhealthy for Dogs?
With all the nutritional benefits of capers, they can be negated instantly with the relatively high sodium content of the capers we buy in cans or sealed bottles. They are usually preserved and stored in brine which makes commercially-packed capers not so healthy for our dogs. Accordingly, for a dog weighing 33 lbs., the allowable salt intake daily should be 100 mg or less. Furthermore, the lethal dose of sodium to a puppy, according to many websites, is 1.5 grams per pound of body weight.
Do you know that a tablespoon of canned capers can contain sodium to as much as 250 mg? How many tablespoons are there in a can of capers that you bought? That means serving one or two tablespoons of capers can be too much for our furry babies. There are many side effects of too much salt which can lead to a host of health complications and death of dogs.
Another health issue is that capers can cause blood sugar to plummet. If you frequently give more capers to your dog, its blood sugar can get too low which can cause your dog to faint, experience seizures, or get into a coma.
Why Is Eating Too Much Salt Unhealthy for a Dog?
The use of excessive salt in dog food is not recommended. Salt in large quantities can cause vomiting, dehydration, nausea, and diarrhea, a condition called salt poisoning. The first sign that you may see when your dog has eaten so much salt is consuming too much water. Salt can dehydrate your dog instantly, so the natural reaction of a dog is to drink a lot of water. Your dog may also seem overly tired with a swollen stomach and stiff and dry muscles. Other symptoms include lethargy, tremors and seizures. If it takes longer to treat, it can lead to death.
Salt is not bad to your dog if taken in small amounts. Dogs need sodium for electrolyte balance and to keep their nerves functioning properly.
3 Healthier Alternative to Capers to Feed Your Dog?
If your dog loves capers but you are scared of the ill-effects of too much salt, anchovies can be an excellent alternative. They are considered one of the best fish meals for dogs as they are packed with nutrients. Anchovies are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can support brain development in puppies, fight inflammation and cancer, strengthen the immune system, boost skin, coat, heart, and kidney health, and increase the stress levels of dogs.
Besides the health benefits, anchovies can also come cleaner than bigger fish species because of their small size. And because of their small size, dogs can easily eat them without having to worry about large bones. Your dog will surely love anchovies. But if you are not near a body of water where anchovies are abundant, you may have to settle for packed anchovies which may also be salted or stored with some preservatives.
Olives can also be ideal alternatives to capers. Like capers and anchovies, olives are natural foods that are perfect for your dog’s snack. They are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can help improve circulation and digestion, boost immunity and skin and coat health, reduce inflammation, and prevent cancer in dogs. But while olives are excellent snacks for dogs, be careful of pitted olives. The pits may get lodged in your dog’s airways. If you are buying canned olives, they may also contain too much salt like capers.
When it comes to texture and taste, pickled gherkins can come closest to capers. Dogs will surely love them. They are also rich in prebiotics which are food for the good bacteria in your dog’s gut. But because pickles are stored in brine, they may lead to salt poisoning of your dog. Pickles also use a lot of spices which are not suitable to dogs, like garlic and onion. So if you want to serve pickled gherkins to your dog, you can make the pickles yourself and reduce the salt and spices.
Flavor-Packed but Toxic Vegetables to Never Feed Your Dog
Not all plant-based foods are safe for our dogs. There are some flavor-packed vegetables out there that can be toxic to our pets. Here are some of them.
• Garlic and Onions – You should never feed your dog with these flavorful spices. They can damage your dog’s red blood cells which can lead to hemolytic anemia.
• Broccoli – This delicious vegetable has many health benefits for a dog owner but never to his dog. It can cause serious stomach irritation on our furry babies.
• Potatoes – If you have a vegetable garden, be careful that your dog does not play around the area of the potatoes and munch on the plants. The potato plant has solanine which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and confusion on your canine pet.
• Mushrooms – There are some toxic species of wild mushrooms. If you live in the suburbs or in rural areas, they may be nearby your home in rotting tree trunks. These toxic mushrooms can cause diarrhea, vomiting and restlessness in dogs.
• Unripe Tomatoes – Tomatine is a substance that is present in unripe tomatoes. This substance can damage the nervous system, digestive tract, and kidneys. Fencing your vegetable garden can prevent your dog from foraging on them.
Can Dogs Eat Capers?
The answer can be yes and no. With all the health benefits of capers, it may be unwise not to give them to your dog. Dogs also love them because of their rich and flavorful taste. But because most commercially-bought capers are stored in brine, dogs may be predisposed to many health conditions and even death. This may be enough reason not to give capers to your dog. But if you do some precautionary measures, like thoroughly soaking and rinsing the capers before giving them to your dog, it may be safe to give capers to your furry baby as a snack or treat.