Commentary: Dietary concerns as important for your pet as it is for you

John Tamiazzo, PhD

John Tamiazzo, PhD

Former senior editor, Cliff Weathers of AlterNet reported that there are certain foods that you should never feed your pet. Included on his list are chocolate, avocados, cookies, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic. The main ingredient in chocolate can be deadly to a dog or a cat. Avocado consumed by a dog or cat can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Grapes and raisins can lead to acute kidney failure. Onions and garlic can disrupt the digestive system of dogs and cats and can act as a poison.

Cookies are typically full of sugar and sugar is not good for your dog or for you! Animal author Liz Palika writes, “Small amounts of naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in the foods that make up your dog’s foods, are not bad. Sugar provides energy for the dog’s bodily functions and for activity. However, added sugars, especially those added to dog foods and treats, are not good for your dog. They can create an addiction and lead to health and dental problems.”

The concern about giving your pets sugary foods is that you might think that a cookie now and then couldn’t hurt. The problem is that you might now realize how often and how many sugary foods you give your pet. Pets can develop the same health issues that people develop from eating too much sugar.

How much sugar do American’s consume? The statistics are shocking. Americans consume, on average, 152 grams of sugar every day which equals 38 teaspoons. Americans consume, on average, 125 pounds of sugar every year and that is for every child, adolescent and adult. The American Heart Association recommends that we consume less than 10 teaspoons of sugar a day. One can of soda often contains 44 grams of sugar and this is equivalent to 11 teaspoons of sugar. Each 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. I am not talking about naturally occurring sugar in vegetables and fruits. I am talking about added sugar.

Liz Palika writes, “It might surprise you to know that many dog foods contain sugar. Sugar in the food can mask the bitter taste of some other ingredients, can make the food more palatable and changes the texture of the food. Most importantly to many dog food manufacturers, however, is that adding sugar to the food creates an addiction to a particular brand of food. After all, if your dog wants to eat one brand of food (and only that brand), then you’ll buy it over and over again. Plus, when dogs become addicted to dog foods containing sugar, it can be difficult to convince the dog to eat a healthier food or a food without the added sugar.”

Each one of us needs to be very watchful of how much sugar we consume on a daily basis. Food manufacturers add sugar to just about every product they sell. I suggest for your health and safety and for the health and safety of your pets, read the ingredients of the foods you purchase. Become an informed consumer. You might be surprised at how much added sugar you are eating.

John Tamiazzo, PhD, is the executive director of the Verde Valley Humane Society.


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