When it comes to feeding our dogs, “table food” can in fact be a healthy addition to your dog's diet. Indeed, most people consider their dogs members of the family, so sharing foods is not a far-fetched idea.
He may not actually pull up a chair -- a Saint Bernard might need a couch instead -- but there are several healthy food items that dog parents can add to their furry friend's bowls.
History Supports the Idea of Sharing Foods With Dogs
Feeding dogs healthy, whole foods that people eat at their own tables is in fact a positive approach toward canine health.
Throughout history, our dogs’ ancestors curled up by our ancestors’ campfires and received portions of the day’s harvest. For Saint Bernards, who originated in Switzerland, these foods were relatively specific based on what was available in that region.
Today’s Saint Bernard parents can use that information to serve foods designed to match their dogs’ genetic background and dietary history.
Breed-Specific Meats to Share With Saint Bernards
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Like most dogs, Saint Bernards will likely accept any meats offered to them. That makes sense; meat should be the base of any dog diet, and most dogs crave it.
Historically, the Saint Bernard's genetic makeup is coded to recognize foods from their original geographic location. In this case, these include lamb and poultry.
Dog guardians can offer leaner cuts of lamb and poultry, especially if their furry friend is not accustomed to these ingredients in their fresh, whole form.
Breed-Specific Vegetables to Share With Saint Bernards
Although meat forms the base of the diet, dog parents should also serve vegetables to their furkids.
The history of Saint Bernards suggests that breed-appropriate vegetables include green vegetables and root vegetables. Other vegetables and fruits may also be offered.
Back in the day, dogs' wild ancestors ate not only the meat of their prey, but partially digested vegetables remaining within the prey. They also scavenged for fruits, nuts and other plant materials. Therefore, vegetables remain an important part of the diet.
Taking it Slow
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Any dietary change should be done in a gradual manner to reduce the risk of tummy upset or other adverse reactions. You don't want to have to carry your Saint Bernard to the vet.
If your gentle giant is not accustomed to eating meats, vegetables and other table foods in their whole, fresh form, begin with small amounts in cooked form. A general guideline is to add 10 to 25 percent of the new food per week, and monitor your pup's response.
If done carefully, you can share table foods with your Saint Bernard. Poultry, lamb and vegetables are healthy options that target his historical diet.
As you know, your dog is an individual and will respond to foods in his own way. If he respond poorly to a certain food, it's best to remove it.
But with care, your Saint Bernard can join the rest of your family in its culinary adventures around the dinner table -- or couch.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.