Seeking supplements for a dog that only eats human food.
October 14, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Seeking supplements for a dog that only eats human food.

My 92 year old grandfather has a prized toy poodle that is basically his child. This very spoiled pup only eats people food. Grandpa basically makes two of whatever he is eating and puts one plate on the floor. The dog never eats dog food. He doesn't like getting told what to do and attempts to educate him about dog nutrition and health fall on deaf ears.

I know this is horrible and I have tried in so many different ways to get him to stop. I even bought dog food (Natural Balance Rolls) and told him they were dog treats in an attempt to get him to feed at least some dog food to the dog. He is aware of foods that are poisonous to dogs and avoids those.

The reality is that this table feeding is not going to stop.

** My question is, are there minerals and other ingredients that the dog needs that could be given to him though a supplement? Please let me know if there are particular brands that you can suggest. **
posted by dottiechang to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
What kind of food are we talking about? If your grandfather is a home-cooked meat-and-two-veg kind of guy, careful about avoiding poisonous stuff, and the dog is getting adequate protein and not a ridiculous amount of cheap carbs, it's probably eating as well as dogs on cheap grocery store kibble.

(Cats are the ones that are more delicate, dietarily - dogs can and will thrive on a wider range of food.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:06 PM on October 14, 2012 [8 favorites]

What does the dog's vet say regarding the dog's health? It is totally impossible for anyone, let alone a layperson, to make a worthwhile and non-harmful recommendation over the internet in this instance. There's no magic ingredient in dog food.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:09 PM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dogs can eat basically the same diet as humans and remain healthy. Avoid sweets, avoid too much salt (again, basically the same things you would say for humans), and just beware of a few things we eat that you should not give to dogs. But otherwise, nothing to worry about.
posted by pla at 2:29 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're overreacting.

I often feed my dog the same meat and veggies that I cook for myself (but zero ingredients that didn't come from the meat or produce department, and no salt in his food) and healthy carbs like sweet potatoes or brown rice. I have a healthy, happy dog with a shiny coat who no longer suffers from the painful skin allergies that he had when we rescued him (but he also gets Orijen kibble for some meals, salmon oil and raw eggs for his coat). Depending on what your grandfather cooks for himself, the dog could have a pretty good diet, as long as it's not the same few meals over and over again. Getting a variety of foods is essential if the dog doesn't eat a decent-quality, balanced kibble. Of course, if your grandfather eats crap like macaroni and cheese or celebrates Taco Tuesdays, that's a different story and the poodle may well be on his way to diabetes and other ailments. Supplements will not help.

Including organ meats like liver on a regular basis should be plenty sufficient as far as essential ingredients go. Considering that cooked bones are a no-no for dogs (mine gets raw meaty bones – think chicken drumsticks – often and devours them with gusto), the poodle is probably deficient in calcium. Feed him some raw bones.
posted by halogen at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The very best dog foods use high-quality, human-grade ingredients. Most commercial dog foods use terrible ingredients and by-products. As long as the dog isn't getting toxic foods and your grandfather has a decent diet, the dog is fine. A major concern for small dogs is tooth decay and as long as that's ok, I'd relax. We also feed our dog, at the vet's recommendation, UNCOOKED chicken legs and that's kept his teeth super-clean and he gets minerals from the bone.
posted by quince at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2012

There probably isn't a lot your dad needs to add to the dogs diet, dogs tend to need a lot more good fats in their diets than humans. Think safflower oil, fish oil and the like. Unless your grandfather eats a very bad diet, and if he's made it to 92 I imagine it can't be too fatty but that might be worth bringing up with him. I have had good luck buying safflower oil and adding to their food, raw eggs or even olive oil added can all help and make sure the dog isn't getting too many fries etc. Some dogs will even eat a fish oil tablet like a treat, though my dogs won't I do squeeze some onto their food from time to time.

I feed my dogs on a diet of "people" food that I cook specially for them, my dog has had terrible reactions to even top quality dry food and almost died from HGE so we are very careful with his diet now. As an idea my dogs get cooked meat, and some rice, sweet potato or pumpkin and veg all mixed up together for every meal with an omega 3 rich raw egg once or twice a week as I remember.

As long as the dog is not getting onions, garlic or chocolate and absolutely no cooked bones, and gets enough fats and protein and some veggies it should be fine.

Also make sure the dog has things to chew or it's teeth cleaned regularly as cooked food is soft and can get stuck, small dogs get bad teeth very quickly. Raw and meaty bones are good for this for small dogs raw chicken necks are also great. If the dog is getting a variety of foods every day that will also help make sure that there is less chance of any important vitamins and minerals being missed.

The food combo I feed my dogs is what my vet has told me and of course each dogs case will be different.
posted by wwax at 3:44 PM on October 14, 2012

Thanks for the input! As far as health problems, the dog is overweight and has a very dull coat. He vomits and has runny stools regularly. These are the main reasons for my concerns.

I am trying to think of what kinds of food the dog eats and I am pretty sure this dog has 1-2 scrambled eggs every morning and a cut up hot dog for dinner every night. Other regular items include corn flakes, cold cuts, pasta with meat sauce, bread, cheese, salami, corned beef, pastrami, fruits (I told him to avoid grapes), oatmeal, pastries like pound cake, boiled chicken, meatloaf, rice and hamburger patties. He also used to give the dog Coca Cola (!) but he now knows that caffeine is a no-no.

If there's nothing he's missing then that is fine, I was just worried about him missing something that would keep him healthier. I'll try to get him to try some organ meats and look into calcium supplements.
posted by dottiechang at 4:48 PM on October 14, 2012

Pasta with meat sauce might be a problem because of the garlic content. Garlic and onions are a no-go for dogs, especially over time. Check out the list here and let grandpa know about the more surprising items. For the coat, would he be opposed to giving the dog fish oil? It's supposed to be good for skin and might help bring back some shiny. Brushing will help, too.
posted by Addlepated at 4:56 PM on October 14, 2012

Eesh, yeah, that's not so much what I was envisioning. It's not so much a matter of something lacking as way too much of a bunch of bad things - salt, carbs, sugar, artificial whatever, and probably much-too-big portions.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:58 PM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Whoa, that totally changes your question, and I revoke my previous answer. There is absolutely no excuse for feeding a dog pastries. None.

The supplements won't make much difference at this point. Can you reason with your grandfather and explain to him that he is actively hurting the life quality and shortening the life span of someone he loves so much? I'm sure he thinks that food brings joy to his dog, but can he channel that into something else, like games of fetch or tug-of-war, even in his living room?

I can relate – I have a food-obsessed dog (but I'm on the other extreme of the spectrum: I bake his own treats so I know exactly what goes into them) and I still force myself to find other ways to make him happy – a never-ending stream of $0.50 children's toys from Goodwill that he is welcome to destroy, short games of tug, etc.
posted by halogen at 5:12 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry I wasn't more clear to begin with. I thought all grandpas enjoy the same "grandpa food" that mine loves. :) Grandpa is allowed to eat whatever he wants because food is his greatest joy in life and, as he likes to say, he fought Hitler so he is allowed to enjoy some pizza.

Many relatives have tried to intervene but the dog is so used to people food that it cries and shrieks if it doesn't get what it wants. This is horrible behavior and I would never allow it in my own house but I can tell that he does not have the heart to change now. Grandpa lies and pretends to stop but he can't even stop for one meal. The last time I was there, my own dog emerged from under the table with half a slice of pizza (!) that grandpa mistakenly thought he was secretly slipping to his own dog.

Thanks for the feedback.
posted by dottiechang at 6:02 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite] cries and shrieks if it doesn't get what it wants.

Would you and your relatives consider paying for an at-home professional dog trainer for a few of sessions so that she can talk to your grandfather about his poodle and teach him alternative, non-harmful behaviors? He could actually have a happier, more confident dog with simple and effortless techniques such as NILIF that would have the benefit of getting your grandpa to be more aware of the amounts of food he is feeding his dog. Consider the likely future veterinary expenses he will have if his behavior continues, and call it an investment.
posted by halogen at 7:43 PM on October 14, 2012

I know there is a lot you shouldn't give a dog. My 30 pound dog ate a chocolate birthday cake last night ( while we slept). He is fine. Your gramp loves food and his dog. Other than maybe leaving a little list about what is poisonous for his dog on his fridge I wouldnt do a thing. The thought of my dad sneaking our dog fudgicles makes me miss them both so much. I think the dog will be just fine.
posted by beccaj at 8:11 PM on October 14, 2012

I would gladly pay myself for a dog trainer but grandpa would chase them out of the house with his electric scooter! He can be very stubborn when he feels he is being told what to do. Believe me, I have tried. I even tried to find the most attractive female dog trainers (he loves to be around pretty ladies) to try to sway his opinion and I didn't get anywhere.
posted by dottiechang at 10:26 AM on October 15, 2012

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