Wednesday, 2 November 2011


WHAT IS PEOPLE FOOD ANYWAY? People are animals, so people food is by default animal food! In general, the type of people food that is bad for dogs is the same food that is also bad for humans. For instance greasy, fat, salty, sugary fast foods.

Dogs in their natural state will eat some fruits and vegetables of their own accord. My first dog 'Shanny' a German Shepherd x Malamute, would go out and pick the small white mushrooms that would come up in the lawn overnight. I never showed her to do this - I wouldn’t know which mushrooms were safe to eat and which were not! She would also pick her own blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. If she was permitted she would also pick her own vegetables such as tomatoes and green beans. Dogs eat grass as there are enzymes present in the grass that aids their digestion.

Jordie picking Raspberries
All of my ten dogs pick their own fruit and veggies if permitted just as Shanny did. Eighteen years ago when Shanny was just a puppy I came home only to find that she had taken a banana for herself, somehow managed to perfectly peel it - she left the peel on the living room floor (this was how I knew what she had accomplished!) and ate the banana. It didn’t adversely affect her and having seen her previous interest in grass and mushrooms it occurred to me that she might enjoy and benefit from having fruits and vegetables in her diet much as I did. I started to make her a salad everyday - she thought of the salad as a great treat and looked forward to it!

A friend of mine - a dog trainer in India made a great point one day, during a discussion we were having - he noted ‘Dogs have lived in the company of humans for centuries under all imaginable conditions. The dogs of shepherds in the Himalayas live entirely on bread made of coarse maize flour fortified occasionally with milk or curd and sometimes with meat. They live in the open as the flock and its shepherd’

Now, I am not suggesting that you take your dog’s specially formulated kibble away and replace it with ‘people’ foods but should you decide you would like to introduce some new food stuffs to your dog’s diet, you may find that your dog enjoys other food stuffs while deriving the benefits of a varied diet.
Some veterinarians do not believe in mixed diets while other veterinarians support a mixed diet. So, where you to call your vet and ask advice the outcome is much like 'Russian roulette' may get a response that says unequivocally 'no' or a response that says 'great'. I believe that common sense and logic should always be a persons 'guiding light' when making such decisions.

Salads aren't for every canine - if your dog has a very sensitive stomach, it may not be a good idea to introduce fruits and veggies to their diet! At least not more than one at a time. My own dog pack and foster dogs have never had sensitive stomach issues so they do well on a mixed diet.

If you are going to introduce fresh or cooked fruits and veggies to your dog's diet it is best to introduce each new food one at a time - that way if their is any kind of negative reaction, such as stomach upset or allergies you will be able to pinpoint the culprit. None of my pack members have any allergies to fruits and veggies with the exception of Robbie my Boxer.

The ingredients may vary slightly depending on the season - for instance watermelon and cauliflower in the summer and oranges. The following represents a pretty typical list of my dogs' daily fare for fruits & vegetables: carrots, apples, blueberries, bananas, watermelon, tomatoes, ground flax seed, plain yogurt, mackerel and a little olive oil. I would suggest avoiding canola oil as it is a genetically modified (GM) product.  During allergy season (late summer, early fall) I also aid a couple of tablespoons of  100% Aloe Vera juice to Robbie's salads...he has environmental allergies too!

Robbie and Sarah waiting for permission to chow down

One day Robbie started scratching more than he would usually. By the process of elimination I was able to pin-point the cause of his discomfort. I knew the scratching was not a result of an infestation of fleas. My next line of thought turned to the possibility that he was experiencing an allergic reaction to something. I thought about whether he had been exposed to anything different in the last few days - either environmental or ingested. There was nothing new environmentally that I knew of so I focused on food. 

Other typical ingredients for my dogs' salads are: pineapple (canned in juice or fresh), blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, pears, mangoes, papaya, sweet peppers, broccoli in small amounts and infrequently (there is some thought that too much broccoli can cause issues with internal organs). Eggs are a great addition too.

I add a good quality oil such as Olive oil (Omega 6 fatty acid), Flax oil (Omega 3 -fatty acid). The oil provides them with good omega fats. 1/2 tablespoon for the really little guys like my 4 lb Pomeranian and my 8 lb Chihuahua, 1 tablespoon for my dogs who weigh 15lbs to 30lbs and 2 tablespoon for all my larger dogs 30 lbs to 70 lbs.

I also include a fatty fish such as canned salmon, mackerel or sardines; these are rich in protein and omega fats and ground flax seed - also a great source of omega fatty acids. The last ingredient in their salads is plain yogurt (usually 2% fat) for the protein and good bacteria it adds to their diet. It is interesting to note that the pet food industry recently added the active ingredients in yogurt to dry kibble products.

My dogs are so brainwashed into thinking veggies are a treat that they will, should occasion present pilfer from my rabbit’s salads! Jacob the 4 lb Pomeranian is the worst culprit as his little paws fit through the rabbits play pens with ease.

Jacob caught thieving from my Rabbits salads
It is important to make sure hard ingredients such as apples, carrots, cauliflower are cut up in small pieces as you would not want your dog to choke on a piece that became lodged in their throat. This happened to Zoey once (my 12 lb Pomeranian); his airway was completely blocked. Zoey quickly became unconscious and if I had not administered the Heimlich manoeuvre and mouth to mouth resuscitation he would have died in front of my eyes.

I also add herbs and spices to my dogs' salads. Herbs and spices have many beneficial health properties that help support a healthy immune system, fight ailments, disease and cancer and are rich in essential vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. You can find out more about adding herbs and spices to your dog's diet in this article, Herbs and Spices for Your Dog's Health.

My dogs' veterinarians always comment on the packs' healthy coats, skin etc. - their diet has a big part to play in their overall health. I know of other veterinarians who do not believe in 'mixed' diets. As our companion dogs don't get to decide what their diet should comprise of, their human guardians must make the choice for them based on the knowledge at hand and on any mitigating factors such as the individual dog's tolerance to various foodstuffs.

ON THE FLIP SIDE there are some foods that you should never feed your dog! You can click here to see an extensive list of foods that are dangerous, toxic and lethal for your dog.

Sarah is waiting for my permission to pick a tomato

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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats