You sit down to dinner and enjoy a lovely meal. When you are finished, you decide to share your leftover meat with your beloved canine companion. But when you scrape your leftover meat into your dog’s bowl, they are not interested. Why don’t dogs like pork? Should you feed your dog cooked meats? Is it safe to give them? What’s the difference between a wild canine hunting a wild pig, and your dog eating pork? Should you cook it or leave it raw? What foods can you feed your dog other than kibble? Should you let them have people food at all?
The Root of the Behavior
Canines are born to be carnivores. They have sharp front teeth that have evolved specifically for the use of tearing apart meat. They also have grinding teeth, similar to humans, that allows them to grind on bones or even plants. But domesticated dogs rarely get the opportunity to tear apart chunks of meat anymore, nor do they need to. Dog kibble contains processed, cooked meats and other vegetables and even grains. The short of it is, domesticated dogs require a certain balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Their nutritive needs may vary depending on age, size, activity level, health condition, and whether they are pregnant. High-quality kibble has been formulated to address most (if not all) of your dog’s needs. However, they are not wolves or coyotes, they cannot subsist on meat alone anymore, nor can they thrive on scraps or scavenged food. It is easy for your dog to be affected by the things that they eat. And if you give your dog “people food,” you may not be aware of all the many things that could make them sick.
There are some things that are considered a “no-brainer.” Some of these include that you should never give your dog caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. But there are many other human foods that are harmful to dogs and can have effects varying from digestive upset to death. Some of the foods you should never feed your dog include sugar (and sugar alternatives like xylitol), raw meat or fish, cooked animal bones (which may splinter and damage your dog’s digestive system or cause a blockage), onions, garlic, chives, and spices, milk and dairy, and a number of fruits including avocados, grapes, peaches, pears, and persimmons. Ask your veterinary professional for a more comprehensive list of foods you should not give to your dog.
Encouraging the Behavior
You can give your dog pork, beef, chicken, eggs, and even fish, as long as it’s thoroughly cooked. Raw meats can cause parasites in your dog, which may lead to more severe health problems. Also, make sure you choose lean cuts of meat and remove excess fat and skin before cooking it. High amounts of fat aren’t good for your dog. With fish (the exception being sardines), make sure it’s fully cooked and all the bones are removed. It might be tedious, but it will help keep your dog safe. Salmon, as long as it’s cooked, is a great source of lean protein for dogs. Canned tuna, in water and not oil, is also fine for dogs in moderation.
Do not give your dog processed meats like bacon, ham, or sausage, since they often contain high amounts of salt, onion, garlic, or other spices that are toxic to dogs. Also, do not give your dog cooked bones, and especially never chicken or turkey bones, since they can splinter and form blockages or perforations in the digestive tract. If you want to give your dog some cooked meat on occasion, you can add it to their kibble for a more enticing dinner bowl. You should always prepare your dog’s meat separately and leave it bland. Marinades and spices, in addition to containing high salt, may have other ingredients your dog should avoid. Also avoid cooking meat with too much oil or other fat.
Other Solutions and Considerations
It’s no surprise that pork is a
common ingredient in dog foods and treats. It’s generally easier to digest and
relatively healthy, as long as the fat and sodium content is low. So, while
giving your dog pork and other meats may actually be healthy for them, make
sure you’re not giving them too much or too often. It may upset their digestion
and cause problems like gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Pork can also cause an
allergic reaction in some dogs. It’s also a good idea to keep your
dog’s treats confined to their bowl, so they don’t start expecting your dinner
as theirs. Having a clear boundary between your food and theirs will keep
misbehaving and food stealing to a minimum. And as always, moderation is
important with any treat.
Not all treats are considered equal. Some products sold in pet stores have been linked to health issues. Always ask a vet if you think a food or product is affecting your dog. But cooked and bland pork, chicken, beef, fish, and eggs are great options for the occasional treat. They also make great motivators during training. A well-placed high-reward treat can sometimes be the key to turning a behavior around.