Is your dog a gourmet, or just a gourmand?

July 17, 2015

Everyone has a hobby, even your dog! If you were able to ask him what his favourite hobby is, we bet he’d answer you with “eating”. The gourmand in him may love to gulp down his food or take one of your fingers with his treat.

As with humans, introducing a variety of foods outside your pup’s daily routine could be stimulating and beneficial. Encouraging your pet to be more “gourmet” than “gourmand” is simple, and you’ll have fun experimenting together.

Why experiment?

Expanding your dog’s palate can be helpful in several ways. Like with children, a pet with an acceptance of a variety of foods can be easier to select meals and treats for. It has the potential to enhance his nutrition, but also, allowing more flavours during meal/treat time will increase his enjoyment and stimulation.

Searching for delicious and safe foods together can be a fun and rewarding bonding experience. Having a snack yourself? Why not let your pet share in the joy of discovery by testing out a small piece of your snack. Treating your dog is one of the most rewarding aspects of pet ownership, adding to the bond you’re building together.

Senior dogs become a little more selective in their food choices as time goes by. For health or dental reasons, the range of foods he’ll accept may shrink. But, if a senior pet has been exposed to a variety of tastes over time, this could leave you with a broad range to choose from.

Remember that treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Also, pay attention to how his body reacts to different foods. Did he feel lethargic after eating the food? Was his stool the same as usual? Did he digest it without regurgitating it? Your dog may be sensitive to some foods, so make sure you feed small pieces at time and keep track of the foods that don’t agree with him.

Keeping manners in check

Perhaps you don’t mind a begging dog – but your dinner guests might! Trying out new foods may excite a dog so much he forgets his manners. Remember to offer these new foods at his usual treat time or as part of a simple training exercise, but no little extras at the table. Be strict about table scraps as they can do more harm than good to your pup.

Ready? Set? Test!

What delicious foods can your pup safely test out for taste? Vegetables and fruits, like peas, squash, carrot and apple, are easy to find and prepare, inexpensive, and bring a range of colour, texture and flavours.  Make sure the fruits and vegetables have no pits/seeds and cut the treats in small pieces. Cheese can be introduced as a delicious source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but keep portions small to avoid adding extra weight to your pup. Also, watch out for any unusual stools since your dog may be lactose intolerant. Getting your dog accustomed to rice may help if ever he needs a bland diet for a troubled digestive system.

Always be cautious

Some foods may be toxic or otherwise dangerous to pets. Start here for a list of foods from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

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