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D2005-21

Dear Daisy Dog

Can Coco, my German shepherd, safely eat foods high in cholesterol, like eggs? What about other human foods, like ham, onions and chocolate?

Daisy Responds

Supplementing Coco’s balanced dog food ration with anything will unbalance her diet. So any additional food should constitute less than five percent of Coco’s daily intake.

As you think about giving her more food, keep in mind that the most common nutritional problem we dogs confront is obesity. If Coco has a weight problem, she should skip the extra food.

Most of us dogs can consume cholesterol-rich foods like eggs without developing the atherosclerosis that plagues you humans. In fact, eggs are an excellent source of protein.

Make sure they are cooked, because raw egg whites contain avidin, which blocks the absorption of the B vitamin biotin.

Because I support humane treatment of laying hens, I eat eggs only from cage-free hens. Coco should consider doing the same.

Ham is safe, but I don’t eat it on principle. While pigs are as intelligent and social as we dogs are, most of them are raised, transported and killed using methods that would be considered inhumane if applied to dogs.

Onions break up red blood cells and cause anemia in dogs, so they are off limits.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to us dogs. Regardless of her name, Coco should abstain.

In addition, she should forego grapes and raisins, which can damage dogs’ kidneys.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs should not chew marrow bones, because they break teeth, and fat in the marrow can cause digestive upset and pancreatitis.

If you would prefer to cook for Coco, rather than buy commercially prepared dog food, purchase a doggy diet book by a veterinarian with additional training in nutrition.

When Mom cooks for us (which isn’t often enough), she uses Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD.

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