By Janet McAfee

As a general rule you should not feed your dog people food, in spite of his pleading looks at the dinner table.  Several foods are extremely toxic to dogs including onions, chocolate, grapes, raisins, processed foods, garlic, macadamia nuts, avocados, and unbaked bread dough.  Xylitol artificial sweetener, used in sugar free gum and candy, can also be very harmful.  Don’t set food on coffee tables where pets can access them.  Keep your purse containing chewing gum out of reach from Benji.

Last Sunday I turned my back for 10 seconds leaving a meal containing raisins on the table and turned around to see one of my dogs smacking her lips.  The urgent care veterinary clinic in Grand Terrace advised me to immediately try to induce vomiting with a small portion of hydrogen peroxide based on the dog’s weight. It was also necessary to bring her into the vet as grapes and raisins can result in kidney failure.  Jolie later vomited up 7 raisins at the vet clinic, and thankfully her kidney function was normal during the 48-hour recheck.

With the apparent increase of cancer in canines, whether due to increased incidence or more reporting, dog owners are exploring ways to prevent illness through improved diet.  Not all human food is toxic to canines.  There are numerous human foods that benefit Benjie’s health.


Organic is best.  If you serve your pup bites of chicken, organic range-free without hormones added is preferable.  Make sure chicken has no bones or skin included.  Organic produce is best, otherwise be sure to wash pesticides off with a fruit and vegetable wash.  If you have questions about the safety of any specific food you are considering feeding your pet, consult with your vet and do some online research.  Here are some human foods that will provide variety to your dog’s diet and keep him healthy.

BLUEBERRIES – These healthy berries make great training treats for your canine companion.  Their deep blue color is the result of anthocyanidins which are powerful antioxidants.  This fruit is a great source of fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E.  The tannins found in blueberries help prevent urinary tract infections.

BROCCOLI – This can be cut in small florets and served to the pups either fresh or steamed.  This healthy vegetable supports the detoxification process in dogs and humans alike.  It is rich in potassium, calcium, protein, and vitamin C.

GOGI BERRIES – These berries are typically available only at health food stores.  Gogi extracts may prevent the growth of cancer cells and lower cholesterol levels.  They are a healthy alternative to use for training treats.

KALE – This healthy vegetable can be steamed and chopped and easily added to canned dog food. One to three tablespoons per day will keep your pup healthy.  When my cat Isis was a 19-yr-old senior in kidney failure, a homeopathic veterinarian recommended 1/3 cat food, 1/3 millet, and 1/3 steamed minced kale.  Her kidney failure reversed and Isis lived to be 24 years old.

CARROTS – Carrots are one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed your dog.  They are high in all vitamins, A through K, and low in calories.  They make a good crunchy in-between-meal snack.

PUMPKIN – Feeding your dog pumpkin loads him up on good fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidants to help alleviate diarrhea and constipation.  If your dog has diarrhea, a couple teaspoons of canned pumpkin can alleviate this condition.  As always, call your vet when your animal has diarrhea for more than a couple days, or in the case of any other serious medical issue.

SWEET POTATOES – Cooked sweet potatoes make a great tasty addition to your pooch’s food bowl.  This food is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals.

GREEN BEANS – Dogs love these.  If you have an obese dog, this low-calorie vegetable can be chopped up and substituted for 1/3 of his regular food.  Green beans have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent and improve chronic skin conditions.

Add the phone number for the 24/7 Animal Poison Hotline (855)764-7661 to your emergency contacts.  The VCA Jefferson Veterinary Clinic on Jefferson Street in Indio is the only 24-hour veterinary clinic in the Coachella Valley.  The phone number for VCA Jefferson is (760) 342-4712.

Certain human foods can be a supplement but should never replace your dog’s regular food.  Always consult your vet before adding human foods if your dog has a chronic or serious medical problem.  Adding a little variety to Benji’s diet will make him a healthier and happier companion!