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The old saying "you are what you eat" applies to pets as well as humans. Your dog's well-being depends on what you feed them. Dogs are natually carnivorous animals so meat should make up a large part of their diet. Most commercially produced dog foods provide well-balanced meals but we often like to give our dogs tasty little treats which can end up doing more harm than good.

The following foods are often given to dogs as treats when they can actually be damaging:

Bones
Most people think that bones are the ultimate dog treat. Chewing on bones can clean their teeth and exercise their jaw but the calcium the bones contain is not easily absorbed. A better way of giving your dog calcium is by using commercial preparations based on mineral salts. Only give your dog large, meaty bones as small ones can splinter and cause a blockage of the intestine or even an internal hemorrhage.

Sugar
Avoid giving your dog sugar as it is not a natural part of their diet and can upset their metabolism. If your dog has a balanced diet, extra sugar will be stored in the form of fat and as a result can lead to obesity.

Milk
Milk is a good source of protein and calcium and should be included in a puppy's diet. However, adult dogs do not produce the enzyme lactase needed to digest the lactose in milk and should only have dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt, which they find easier to digest.

Onions/Garlic
Eaten occasionally, onions and garlic help purify the system and discourage worms and parasites. However, onions, whether cooked or dried, contain chemicals that destroy red blood cells causing anaemia in pets, so it's not a good idea to give them too often.

Chocolate
Like sugar, chocolate is not a part of a dog's natural diet and so should be avoided. As well as being a possible cause of obesity, too much can actually poison your dog. If you want to give your dog a chocolate treat buy them special chocolate drops which are compatible with their digestive system from your pet shop.

Starchy Foods
Starch is a very important source of energy and should always be included in your pet's diet. However, dogs have difficulty in digesting starchy foods so you should avoid giving them large quantities of potatoes, beans or lentils.