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!