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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Party pooper

Hi there

I have lots of family members invited for dinner this Christmas, probably 15 in total, and imagine quite a bit of the food I serve will end up being fed to my five-year-old Lab, Charlie (who could resist those begging eyes?!).

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can help aid his digestion over the Christmas period? Sprouts don't have a great effect on my other half either (!) and last year Charlie wasn't exactly welcoming with some of the smells he produced! I'd usually go for more traditional medicines/methods, but I'm open and happy to try any supplements or natural remedies that may help. He's currently fed a well-known brand's kibble, so a mixture of that and human food may be part of the reason he can get a bit smelly.

I'd be grateful for any suggestions which will make those few days a little better for everyone in the room!


Pam Tyrrell, Totteridge

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

I’m afraid you are not going to appreciate my immediate response to your query: don’t change his diet. By that I mean that it is perfectly possible to resist those begging eyes. If you know that adding food to his usual kibble upsets his digestive system, which is what the smell is telling you, then I would take positive action to avoid it happening.

I have two Labradors who will eat at every opportunity, but they have never begged at the table simply because they are not allowed to do so. When our original labbie was a puppy, she was not allowed in the room whilst we were eating, and I trained my then toddlers to never give her titbits. She is now twelve and takes herself off to her bed when we are eating.

We took on her half-nephew last year when he was two years old so he did not receive the same training, but he lies quietly in the dining room, knowing that if he shows any sign of begging then he will be banished from the room. I really do not like to see dogs begging at the table.

Food scraps are few and far between in our household, but it is family policy for any to go straight in the bin, by-passing the dogs’ bowls altogether.

From a professional stand-point, so many upset stomachs follow on from a change in the diet, either from scavenging or given on purpose (at the table or in the food bowl). It really is not worth it for anyone’s sake. Your dog’s digestive system is used to the food he eats and that will keep it happiest. Christmas is notorious for dogs with stomach upsets, because many owners like to give their pets their own Christmas lunch. Worst of all is when bins are raided for the turkey carcase and other tasty morsels, resulting in a emergency visit to the veterinary practice and potentially surgery.

Play it safe. Keep Charlie out of the way at meal-times and stick with his usual diet. If your visitors want to treat him, then suggest they take him for a walk – much better for everyone’s health!


  1. It may be boring, but the best thing for all concerned would be either to control your guests, or control your dog. Either way, I would always argue that prevention is better than cure, that way Charlie doesn't learn the begging habit, and you can be sure what he's eating and adjust his kibble accordingly.

    You could either use a physical barrier, such as a door or baby gate; or teach him to go to his bed/the sofa or to generally stay away from the dining table. Your guests would probably appreciate it too - I love my dog, but I really disliked it when he would try and beg food from my partner or I.

  2. Feeding dogs off the Christmas table is not ideal for your dog's digestion, we humans eat a very rich diet that dogs don't need. From my experience with dogs, we have 2, it can alot of things can be down to the feeding. We feed our dogs on the best quality natural dry foods on the market. They do not get table scraps. We have a deal with our dogs ... we don't eat thie food, they don't eat our's! Thus our dogs generally do not produce unwelcomed smells.

    I make no claims to be a dog nutritionist, I am just going by observations of our dogs, both what smells are made, the consistency of what comes out of the back door, plus their behaviour. When I first had dogs I used to feed what ever dog food was on the shelf of my usual supermarket and it was not until a few years ago I had a conversation with a friend who is very well respected in the dog behaviour world that I realised that what you get out of a dog is dependent on what does in. I changed our dogs diet, and I noticed a big change in odours, behaviour and their poo! I also realised that although I was paying more per kg I was paying less per ration as our dogs needed less food as what was being fed was goodness.

    Another route to think about is feeding raw meaty bones. This is not something I have personal experience of but there are many websites that can offer very good advice on raw feeding.

  3. Hi,
    I can suggest a digestion suplement that I swear by. Its Vet's Kitchen Healthy Digestion Supplement made exclusively by TV vet Joe Inglis. Before I used this, Izzy had the most terribly upset tummy all the time, even on the best hypoallergenic diet. I had to carry wet wipes with me all the time to clean her up and I was afraid to take her in public sometimes, and I had run out of things to try. Within 4 weeks of using this supplement, she was a changed dog. She can now be taken anywhere and can even manage to eat more treats other than chicken. She even competed at Crufts last March and she was fine. Its a tasy turkey sauce and you only give a teaspoon in their tea every day. I strongly suggest you give this a try, its certainly worked for Izzy and I wouldnt be without it now. Find out more at