dog and cat nutrition Tag

On this episode of Chat with a vet, we chat with Dr. Shawna Garner about what we should be careful about when it comes to our pets and this Sunday’s Superbowl party foods!

You can find a transcript of this episode of Chat with a vet below. 



Chat with a vet:   So with the Super Bowl coming around and a lot of us are going to have parties. A lot of us are going to have children and pets and inebriated adults and everybody mixing together. And the question really becomes, it’s impossible to tell everybody in a big group of people to tell everyone not to feed the dog human food. You can try but at some point a child might you know hand Hulk a piece of celery or worse a rib with barbecue sauce on it, hot dogs or whatever it may be. Not that we’re condoning giving your dog human food but if you were to, what are some of the OK foods you can share with your pet during the Super Bowl?

Dr. Garner:       OK one of the big ones people usually have a relish tray out for their veggies and dip. And honestly, baby carrots are perfectly fine to give your dog. Now in saying that, what we usually tell people and this is going to sound drastic, but anytime you feed your pet human food it’s like playing roulette. Because you’re going to be pulling that trigger every time you give him a treat from the table. You’re not going to know which time is going to set them off. I’ve had patients before that have had table scraps their entire life and it’s just going to be one thing that will set them off to where they have vomiting, diarrhea and it can progress to pancreatitis which can be fatal. So, you know abstaining is always the best but people will also, especially clients will say you no table food but when my dog has an upset tummy you say to make them a bland diet with rice and chicken, so how is that different? So yes, we do concede there are some safe human food. So carrots are certainly one of them. White rice is perfectly fine, so if some people want to do some Thai theme or something like that, they’ve got rice that is perfectly fine to give your dog. Chicken is kind of OK if it’s not fried if you have a baked chicken. That’s fine. Make sure you want to take the skin off. Seasonings are a big thing. Dogs don’t tolerate it, they like it but their GI tracts don’t take some of the heavy seasonings that we would use like your peppers, chilies and things like that. Some other good food, they can have a piece of bread. They can have a cracker or two. Things in moderation are going to be fine. You just want to be sure you’re not feeding your dog 52 crackers you’re putting into that guacamole dip or that cream cheese dip because that’s going to be way too much for them.

Chat with a vet:   So dips are probably bad, and clearly, nuggets are bad for Hulk. I’ll let him know.

Dr. Garner:       Fried foods are always going to be bad. Their bodies just overact to them. And again, every dog is going to be different. So we can’t always say with 100% certainty “Yes, your dog is going to suffer.” We don’t want that. We try to play things safe. But some dogs, their GI tracts just overreact to sometimes even the simplest of fried foods or spicy food and you’re going to be cleaning up a lot after your pet and we want to try to avoid that situation as well.

Chat with a vet:   So, what about some meat items that are popular these days at Super Bowl parties like ribs and wings? I mean I’ve heard and it makes sense to me, you don’t want to give your dog any sort of foul bones or poultry bones because they’re hollow. Is that true? Or did I just read a bad Google article somewhere?

Dr. Garner:       Probably read a bad Google article. Sorry. So we have a lot of people who will just ask us about bones for their dog and they’ll say “well in the wild, wolves eat bones”. And usually I chuckle a little bit, and I will tell people no, they don’t and they just look at me. I’ll say if you look at… we have forensic ology and if you’ve ever been hunting yourself in the woods or on a trail somewhere hiking you might come across an animal skeleton, and we find that all the time. And why is that? Because nothing eats the bones. What wild animals do is that they will break open the bones and they suck out the marrow because that’s the protein portion, but they don’t actually eat the bone. Because they can’t digest them. When we cook the bones it totally changes the composition of the bone and it makes it even worse because then it’s no longer digestible in any shape or form. Rawbone can be dissolved in the stomach acid and bile but typically not. Cooked bones don’t dissolve at all. So, bones, in general, are always a bad idea. We see a lot of foreign bodies where we actually have to perform surgery to take out rib bones, pork chops, steaks, things like that. The dog loves it. Domestic dogs they forget that they’re not supposed to eat them. It smells good, it tastes good and down the hatch, it goes. So, avoiding bones at all costs is always gold standard for that.

Chat with a vet:   It’s like humans. We know we’re not supposed to drink beer but eh? [laughs]

Dr. Garner:       [laughs] Exactly.

Chat with a vet:   So probably, if we are going to give the dog the wings, we should probably debone them, take the sauce off, things like that.

Dr. Garner:       And you know if you want to prepare ahead of time, you can make pet-friendly treats. I know with a lot of my friends and family members, when we get together, we take our dogs or pets with us. So if you know your dog is going to be around, you can actually have your own little dog platter. So and the best way of cooking things for dogs is going to be baked or boiled water. So you can take a few of the wings and boil them in water and just put the meat off. You can have specific carrots for them. One thing I love for dogs are green beans. They can have them raw, they can have them cooked. You can lightly season them with some salt and regular black pepper. But you can have stuff like that out. You can Fido’s tray so that the guests can feel bonding with your pet as well by giving them treats that they like so sometimes that’s also a good alternative to do as well.

Chat with a vet:   Now that we have Holt covered and the dog who is more of the social being in my house. Now let’s get to the other bundle of joy that I have surrounding me and that’s my cat. My ever anti-social, hisses-at-human-beings cat will find her way into food.

Dr. Garner:       Really?

Chat with a vet:   Yes. So, my cat started off as a stray, she was my cat at the office. I was feeding a stray cat at the office and I now affectionately call her Billy which is… and I’m a lazy marketer, Billi is what you actually call a cat in Hindi.

Dr. Garner:       OK.

Chat with a vet:   So I just translate it to Billy or Bill. So, what can I do for Bill outside of shooing her away from food? What if I see that Bill has eaten chicken wings or Bill has gotten into the ribs. Is there something, I should be concerned about? Because while Billy doesn’t jump into the food as regularly as Holt does, I have been tempted to give her hot dogs before.

Dr. Garner:       [laughs] You know in general when we talk about it, just from my experience alone, cats don’t seem to have as horrific GI upset like vomiting or diarrhea like dogs do when they get into human food. And it’s one of those do as I say, not as I do. I’ve got a giant cat named Samson and yeah, he gets my table foods from my lunch or dinner. He gets some turkey. He’s a total carboholic, so he loves bread. He will hunt you down and take it from you. I do the same thing, I know we’re not supposed to. My dogs, they abstain. I don’t allow them because I know what’s going to happen. But my cat’s fine. So, cats generally do better. Most cats are strict meat eaters, especially in the wild. Then there are your outdoor cats, they are eating mice and moles, so they’re eating hair and bones. So they have everything going in there. They usually go a little bit better with their GI tract. So again, the same thing they can have little bits of chicken. You want to make sure it doesn’t have spice on it. Most cats will turn their nose if it’s really spicy things or if they try to lick it, they’ll spit it out. But your peppery things with red chili flakes, serrano or jalapenos. That will usually give them raging diarrhea, no pun intended. They get a lot of times, they’re very salty so that can induce vomiting in cats. But for the most part, what you can do for your dog, you can do for your cat. So you want to give them little pieces of chicken here and there so that’s perfectly fine. Turkey is fine as well. A lot of people will be have popcorn when they’re watching the game. I love butter popcorn. They can have little bits of popcorn so cheeses are fine with cats. Again, make sure there’s not a lot of flavoring added. They might not like it. But most cats love cream cheese. They’ll eat the cheese. So if you have some dips like that. A spinach dip would be fine. Most cats probably like that. Those things are OK. They should be tolerated.

Chat with a vet:   Excellent. So with dogs I know there’s chocolate is a no-no. You never want to give dogs chocolate. Are there other things that you shouldn’t give dogs or cats? What’s the… every child in my family knows do not give Holt any sort of chocolate. These are all my nieces and nephews, I go as crazy as scaring them that you’ll kill him. And they start crying. But at least my points have been made and they’ll never feed chocolate to any dog ever again. Is there any other food items I should add to that list while I terrorize my nieces and nephews?

Dr. Garner:       Yes, after chocolate the biggest one in my opinion, and again a lot of people have this out, is because they have pre-purchased trays for celebrations. And fruit trays are another one. Grapes are extremely toxic to dogs and their counterpart, such raisins your dry grape. They have the same toxicity as antifreeze. It causes crystallization of the kidneys and it can kill them very, very quickly. So, grapes are a huge no-no. And then after that, we look at your onions. I personally stay away from onions. I don’t like them but raw onions, when we say that they had to have eaten quite a bit of it. So a dog that’s about 25 pounds would have to eat 3 or 4 medium-sized onions to get toxicity from it. And usually one of the first things you’re going to see is vomiting, diarrhea, and they progress from there to significant sickness where they need to be hospitalized. Anything high in caffeine. So again, that usually goes along with chocolate, but if you’re having coffee and my dog loves coffee, so we try to stay away from that. Or if you’re cooking with coffee, some cakes will require you add in instant coffee for flavoring and things like that. And candy. Different types of candy are going to have really high sugar content. And again, that can cause severe pancreatitis or severe GI upset in our pet. Avocados could be toxic. And of course, everybody is going to be eating these or drinking these. Alcohol can be toxic to animals as well if they drink too much or have too high of a volume depending on what alcohol is being served. And macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to animals. When they eat a lot of them it can cause neurological signs. They can get tremors and progress to where they can’t walk and even have seizures.

Chat with a vet:   Oh my.

Dr. Garner:       They key thing is the amount. It’s not like a person accidentally drops one macadamia nut to the floor and your dog’s toast. They have to really eat a tonne of them. So, if you’ve got 70 people at your house and they each give one then it adds up. So, kind of monitoring your guests as well and making sure they know what is or isn’t you know friendly for pets is a big thing.

Chat with a vet:   OK great. So, here’s my last question for you when it comes to Super Bowl parties and pets. So, you mentioned alcohol. [laughs] You know where this is going? So, Bud Light is the official sponsor of the NFL Super Bowl. So, let’s say Bud Lights are going around the room. Should I be tackling anybody that’s giving my dog beer?

Dr. Garner:       Not necessarily tackling them. Be polite and ask them to stop. And again moderation. You don’t want to get your animal drunk because their liver doesn’t process alcohol the same way we do. So, they can go into liver failure. But again, moderation. If they sat down and drank a whole 24 pack, then I’d be worried. But you know some people will if they’re done with a bottle of beer they’ll let the dog lick off the bottle and get a taste of it.  That’s not going to hurt your pet. Pouring it out quite a bit of it into a bowl so they can actually drink it to watch them get drunk, that can be detrimental. So a little sip here and there is not going to hurt them. But yeah just kind of go with it a little bit.

Chat with a vet:   Now, you’re just taking the fun out of life. [laughs] I’ve always wanted to see my dog drunk but I’m afraid he’s such a jerk sober .

Dr. Garner:       Exactly. I think about all the mess humans make when they’re drunk, I can’t imagine the dog. You’re supposed to have manners.

Chat with a vet:   Right. The dog doesn’t know anything. My dog personally I think knows a lot, and this isn’t any owner saying “my dog knows a lot”, sometimes I swear he’s screwing with me. And I can see that.  Get me drunk, well you’re the one getting me beer, so it’s on you. Dr. Gardner, thank you so much for the wonderful advice. For anybody listening, these are the questions you can actually ask a licensed veterinarian on Ask.Vet. You can get started by texting the keyword PET to 67076 and you’ll be connected to a licensed veterinarian right away. Dr. Gardner thank you so much for being a part of the Chat With a Vet podcast. Thank you so much for the wonderful advice, and we hope to have you here soon.

Dr. Garner:       Awesome. Thank you.



Cut visits to the vet and turn the frown upside down on an unhappy pet by focusing on good dog and cat nutrition. We outline how to do that through nutritious treats for your pet.

If it is good for you, it is good for your pet.  Well, not exactly.

For dogs, I do recommend fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats as treats, but you should always avoid grapes, raisins, as well as, fresh onions and garlic.  I also recommend my dog patients stay away from tomatoes.

Dog and cat nutrition: Comfort food

Giving your dog comfort foods once in a while can be okay, in moderation. For instance, if you give your dog a bite of pizza crust every now and then (not the whole slice), it won’t hurt him as long as he is not overweight or doesn’t have any underlying medical issues.


For cats, only use protein such as plain chicken or turkey as a treat.

Dog and cat nutrition: Read the ingredients

For both dogs and cats, commercial pet treats are always an option. Read the labels. Treats should be made in the USA, and I recommend whole food products with the fewest number of ingredients. Avoid by-products, gluten and grain-based products such as corn or soy. (And, I use the same guidelines in choosing a commercial brand for their regular meals). When it comes to commercial treat brands, here a couple brands I’ve found to be good from a nutritional standpoint:

  1. Steve’s Real Food for dogs and cats
  2. CloudStar

To keep your dog or cat healthy, what treat you give them is important. How you give it to them is also important. For healthy treating, the key is moderation—too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

For more information, read part 1 and part 2 of the series.


-Juli Potter, DVM 

Cut visits to the vet and turn the frown upside down on an unhappy pet by focusing on good dog and cat nutrition. We outline how to do that by feeding supplements for your pet.

Have you ever noticed the supplements shelf at your local pet store and wondered if you should be giving them to your dog or cat? Or, maybe your pet is already on a supplement, but you aren’t sure how to tell if it is doing any good. Dog and cat nutrition is more nuanced than you might think. While commercial pet food must meet basic regulated standards, the truth is that most pets on a commercial diet would benefit from a good multivitamin everyday.  Prebiotics or probiotics and joint supplements can also promote overall health. In fact, good-quality supplements can be beneficial for your dog or cat in both health and disease states.

Dog and cat nutrition: supplements

If your dog or cat has a disease, supplements can be an important part of their treatment plan.  For example, fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories that can help treat skin, joint, heart, or kidney disease, as well as behavior disorders.  Glucosamine products can help protect the joints in the presence of osteoarthritis (OA) and they have been shown to help treat cystitis in cats. When it comes to liver disease, there are several liver supplements, such as S-Adenosyl-Methionine aka SAMe and milk thistle, that help protect the liver and prevent further damage.  SAMe has also been proven to be helpful in the face of OA and cognitive dysfunction.  L-Theanine has been shown to help with anxiety in both dogs and cats.

Prebiotics and probiotics can supplement prescribed treatments to aid in GI, urinary and renal disease.  I prefer prebiotics over probiotics; unstable probiotic bacteria can make it unreliable, whereas a plant-based prebiotic feeds your pet’s own good bacteria to stimulate a healthy gut and immune system. With prebiotics, you can help build a healthy gut biome without adding foreign bacteria.

Make sure you do your research before adding a supplement to your dog or cat’s diet.  Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so I recommend choosing a supplement endorsed by the National Animal Supplement Counsel (NASC) The mission of the NASC is to ensure animal supplements are safe, high-quality products. NASC members are required to have their facilities regularly audited.  You can spot endorsed products because of the NASC seal on the label and the members listed on the NASC website.

Dog and cat nutrition: Research vet and product

In determining which products are optimal for your dog or cat, also consider the credentials of the people who create and recommend them. For example, the founder and President of In Clover, Rebecca Rose, is a biochemist who worked in the health-care research industry for many years before developing supplements for small animals.  She is also a board member of the NASC. In addition, you can get supplement recommendations from veterinarians who have experience with putting their pet patients on them. My clients have taken supplements from several different manufacturers such as Vetriscience, Nutramax labs and most recently, In Clover.

Sometimes it is difficult to know if a supplement is working.  Usually, supplements are part of a multi-modal treatment plan, so how can you be sure?  There have been some reports by my clients who claim that their dog seems more comfortable after starting a joint supplement.  Some studies have shown that fatty acids help to decrease the symptoms of inhalant allergies after chronic use.  After taking liver supplements, some animals have shown a drop in liver enzymes on a blood profile. Since it is difficult to tell and your pet can’t tell you, it takes close watching for behavior and physical cues as well as diagnostic testing.

My philosophy is “above all else, do not harm.” If a supplement is safe and will not cause harm, I always recommend adding one, when appropriate to the treatment plan. You should check with your vet about specific supplements that they recommend to help optimize your dog and cat’s nutrition. You can also always speak with a vet at Ask.Vet for advice on your specific situation by texting VET to 67076, or visiting for more information.

-Juli Potter, DVM

For more information, read part 1 and part 3 of the series.

Cut visits to the vet and turn the frown upside down on an unhappy pet by focusing on good dog and cat nutrition. We outline how to do that through nutritious meals for your pet.

Did you know that feeding your dog or cat high quality pet food with whole-food ingredients can prevent chronic health issues such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, renal and urinary disease, osteoarthritis, and other complications?  Your pet’s wellness over a lifetime depends on a good diet. Choosing a good diet will likely minimize visits to the vet and all the associated cost and discomfort that go along with that. In fact, making good lifestyle choices for your pet is an investment in a long, happy and healthy relationship together. Unfortunately, choosing a good dog or cat food is not as simple as it sounds.

While the Association of the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets the nutritional standards for commercial pet foods, determining the amounts of grains, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals needed for different animal species, it’s important to keep in mind that a variety of whole, fresh foods are important to a dog and cat’s nutrition requirements. For instance, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require an animal-based protein source, good quality fats and low carbohydrates/grains. Dry food, which is mostly grain based, should be limited or avoided in cats for this reason. In fact for both dogs and cats, I typically recommend good quality canned food over dry food.

I recommend always reading the label when buying commercial pet food. There are several things I consider when choosing a food for a dog or cat. First, the food must be made in the USA. I also prefer fresh, whole ingredients and limited grains. The protein source should be animal based such as chicken or beef and not plant based such as soy or corn. Ideally, the first 3 ingredients should be a named meat and not a meat by product.  The fewer manufactured ingredients listed, the better.

Sample ingredient list from pet food to avoid in dog and cat nutrition:

Beef meal, peas, cracked pearled barley, pea flour, ground white rice, chicken fat, fish meal, pea protein, dried beet pulp, egg product, natural flavor, flaxseed, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, quinoa, dried kelp, coconut, spinach, carrots, papaya, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, beta carotene, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Raw or Homemade?

Raw, frozen diets are a good option for owners who are willing to give it a try. Good alternatives to raw frozen include dehydrated/freeze-dried diets. Another good option is making your pet’s meals yourself. When you decide to give your pet a homemade diet, make sure you use a reliable resource for balancing the nutrition to make sure they are getting everything they need.

Resources for raw, frozen and freeze-dried diets:

Resources for homemade diets:

  • com
  • com
  • com
  • The Whole Dog Journal

If your pet has medical concerns or you have diet-related questions, your veterinarian is always a good resource. You can also text VET to 67076 and a veterinarian at Ask.Vet can help you navigate pet food questions. Other good resources include and, and several veterinary schools have a nutrition center for pet owners, Ohio State University, Tufts, and University of California, Davis, to name a few. Finally, the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition lists resources for veterinarians, students and pet owners.

Dog and Cat Nutrition Resources

I’m hoping these recommendations will help you choose your pet’s diet wisely. Stay tuned. In parts two and three in our nutrition series for cats and dogs we will be discussing supplements and treats.

For more information, read part 2 and part 3 of the series.

-Juli Potter, DVM