Science tells us that a natural healthy diet is directly linked to a healthier and longer life, this isn’t only true for us, it’s also true for our four-legged family members.
Including clean and unprocessed food in our pets diet helps them maintain a stronger immune system, have cleaner teeth, shinier coat, smaller stool, and generally healthier lives with increased lifespan of up to 3 years.
Dogs and humans may have different digestive systems and dietary requirements, but there are lots of human foods that are safe and healthy for dogs such as lean meat and vegetables, this cuts out excess carbohydrates from your pets diets and helps them maintain a healthier weight.
 List of safe high calorie human foods to feed your dog
Here’s a list of safe high calorie human foods that are safe for your dog to eat.
Chicken: chicken is a good source of protein for dogs and it’s usually one of the primary ingredients in dog food. Plain boiled chicken breast is especially great and it also helps with dog diarrhea.
Fish: fish is great for dogs, it’s a good source of proteins, vitamins and good fats. Salmons are especially great as they contain omega-3 fatty acids which is beneficial to dogs heart and coats. Never give your dog uncooked fish as this can cause stomach upset, the fish should be properly cooked.
Plain oatmeal: this is a good source of fibre, some vitamins and minerals. Avoid flavoured oat because it may contain ingredients that may be unfriendly to your dog’s system.
Potatoes: plain baked or boiled potatoes, is a good source of carbohydrates, iron, vitamins A, B, C and potassium. Potatoes should be properly cooked to avoid gastrointestinal distress, and avoid seasoning, just plain cooked is best.
White rice: plain boiled white rice can be a great for a dog with an upset stomach, it’s a bland meal and easy on the digestive system. However, this should be given in moderation as it can increase the blood sugar level of dogs, especially for diabetic pets.
Cooked eggs: dogs love boiled eggs and they are a good source of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Frying or scrambling is not ideal for your pet, boiled or poached egg are perfect but give in moderation to avoid excessive weight gain.
Peanut butter: this is a healthy treat for dogs, but it should be given moderately because it’s high in calories. Safe peanut butter for dogs should be 100% peanuts and not contain sweeteners like xylitol.
Cheese: dogs love cheese, and it’s a great source of protein and calcium. Only cheese with low fat and sodium content like mozzarella and cottage cheese are good for dogs.
Pork: pork is rich in proteins, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, niacin, vitamins B12 and C. However, only properly cooked pork without garlic, onions or any seasoning that may be harmful to dogs is okay. Bacon, ham and other processed pork products may not be ideal for dogs because they have high fat and salt content.
Beef: Lean beef is a common ingredient in dog food and it’s great for dogs. It’s rich in protein and some essential vitamins and minerals. Beef for your dog should contain no seasoning or extra sauce, just beef is enough.
 Why would you want to use high calorie food with your dog?
It’s not unusual for a dog’s weight to fluctuate throughout their life and just like people, dogs gain and lose weight. Despite that obesity has become somewhat popular with pets, there are still underweight dogs who can use some extra calories.
If you have a healthy dog who is a little underweight and needs a few extra pounds, creating a feeding routine with high calorie food is a great way to go. However, ensure you use only foods that contain the appropriate amount of nutrients. The list of high calorie human foods above with healthy vegetables and supplements will help your dog attain a healthy weight.
 What should you be wary of?
If your dog’s regular food is commercial kibble and you want to switch to human food or home-made diet, make the switch a gradual process. The digestive system of dogs do not react well to sudden change in diet.
A sudden switch from dry kibble to human food will most likely cause diarrhea and some digestive distress in dogs. Therefore, start by gradually adding some cooked boneless meat to their dish of dry kibble, avoiding high-fat food especially fatty meat and butter.
The change of diet for your furry friend should happen over the period of about 7 days, also gradually introduce vegetables and other healthy home-made meals to avoid gastrointestinal distress or pancreatitis. And finally, be cautious of cooked bones as they may cause choking or intestinal tearing.
 Feeding dogs human food vs feeding them dog food
Dogs and humans have different dietary needs, however, both eat meat and many other similar things. Feeding your dog only human foods is not the ideal thing because they may not get all the nutrients they need from human food alone.
And on the other hand, dog food is specially made for dogs, therefore it contains most of the nutrient and calorie requirements your furry friend needs. So instead of going for either one, it’s much better to strike a healthy balance between dog food and human food, and go for dog food made with human-grade ingredients or home-made dog food.
 What are the best human foods for dog treats?
Here are some of the best human foods that are great treats for your dog.
Green beans: these are a great source of proteins, calcium, iron, fibre and some vitamins. Green beans are low in calories and serve as a great treat for dogs.
Pumpkin: canned or fresh pumpkin is great for dogs with stomach trouble, it’s rich in protein, fibre, beta-carotene, copper, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Apples: this is an excellent treat for dogs and a great source of vitamins A, C and fibre. It’s great their digestion system
Bananas: bananas are high in fibre, potassium, copper and vitamins, and makes an excellent treat for dogs. Make sure you remove the peels, they are not toxic but are difficult to digest.
Watermelon: this is a healthy snack with high amounts of potassium and vitamins A, B-6 and C. Ensure you remove seeds and rind to prevent digestive distress.
Strawberries: strawberries are rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C, and they contain enzymes that whiten dogs’ teeth.
Blueberries: these are great treats for dogs. Blueberries contain high amounts of fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Carrots: excellent low-calorie snack to help your dog’s immune system and dental health. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, fibre and beta-carotene. But they should be given in moderation because too much vitamin A can be bad for dogs.
Cucumbers: great hydrating snack with plenty vitamins and minerals.
 What human foods are toxic for dogs?
Not all human foods are great for dogs, some are highly toxic and will cause immense distress with life-threatening symptoms that can lead to death in very severe cases. Here are some human food you should never give your dog.
Chocolate: chocolate and other cocoa-based products contain theobromine and caffeine which are dangerous to dogs. It affects their heart and nervous system and may cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, etc.
Avocados: this fruit contains persin which is dangerous to dogs and make cause some gastrointestinal distress.
Foods containing Xylitol: chewing gum, toothpaste, chewable vitamins and some peanut butter brands contain xylitol as an organic sweetener. Xylitol is dangerous to dogs and may cause life-threatening symptoms.
Macadamia nuts: these nuts is poisonous for dogs and will cause vomiting, lethargy, increase in body temperature, etc. They can also affect the nervous system.
Grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas: these are all toxic to dogs and may cause renal failure with life-threatening symptoms. Foods containing any of these as ingredients shouldn’t be given to dogs.
Onions, garlic, chives, leeks: these spices are highly toxic to dogs. They may cause anaemia, rupture of blood cells, increase heart rate, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, etc. Avoid giving your dog food containing any of these spices. It’s even better to avoid spices altogether.
Salty foods: these can cause dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and other symptoms.
 What are the signs that your dog is underweight?
Finding out if your dog is overweight is very easy and you can do this by looking at the prominence of their bones. A dog with a healthy weight will have just the right amount of flesh under his coat.
To check for bone prominence, run your hands over your dog’s body and take note of what you feel. Your dog may be too skinny if;
- The ribs are easy to feel and see with very thin flesh and no layer of fat beneath his fur
- You can easily make out the spinal cord and shoulder bones with your hands
- The spine, hips, and ribs are easily to see and you can count the ribs with your fingers.
 What are the main causes of “skinny” dogs?
There are a vast number of reasons as to why a dog will be skinny. In some cases, it could be due to an underlying illness, recovery from an illness, a serious injury, or sometimes it could due to an unbalanced diet.
A healthy dog can be underweight if he doesn’t get the appropriate amount of calories and nutrients his body needs from his daily diet, and in this case a vet consultation and change in diet is all he needs.
You should also know that some dog breeds like Greyhound, Whippet, Saluki, Ibizan hound, kanni, Azawakh, etc., are naturally skinny. But if you fear that your dog may be too skinny, the safest course of action is a visit to the vet for complete examination to find out what may be the cause.
You can use high calorie human food to fatten a skinny dog, but remember that some human foods are great for dogs while some are highly toxic and may be poison to a dog’s system. And even safe and healthy human food should be given in moderation to prevent excessive weight gain.
Also, changing your dog’s diet from dry kibble to human food or home-made dog food should be a gradual process because the digestive system of dogs do not respond well to a sudden change in diet. Start by gradually introducing the new diet in small quantities while gradually withdrawing the old diet, this should take at least a week.