This is a topic that comes up frequently in vet exam room conversations. Pets are considered to be apart of the family. With this, they tend to humanize in such a way of wanting to give them treats and food as a way to show them affection. So are table scraps OK for animals? In moderation, some human food can be acceptable for animals. The real question, should be: “WHAT table scraps are SAFE for animals?”. Some human food could cause toxicities, could cause intestinal perforations, blockages, choking hazards, gastro-intestinal problems like gas, loose stool, diarrhea and vomiting. It is always recommended to consult with your vet or a trusted, reputable source to confirm the safety of the food you wish to feed your pet. Below is a quick list of foods that are acceptable in moderation and some that should never be offered to your pet.
Table scraps that are OK for your dog:
- small amounts of fruits
- small amounts of vegetables (NO salt/butter added)
- lean turkey, beef, pork, fish meat
- raw pumpkin
- peanut butter (sparingly, high in calories!)
- cheese (sparingly, high fat content!)
- yogurt (NO added sugar or artificial sugars)
Table scraps that are NOT OK for your dog:
- apple seeds
- onions and garlic
- food high in starch ex: pasta, bread
- desserts / sugar filled treats
- anything with alcohol
- macadamia nuts
- raw meat
- turkey/chicken skin
- turkey/chicken bones (too small, brittle and sharp to be safely gnawed on)
- avoid foods with high contents in fat/sugar/salt
If you do choose to give table scraps as a treat, please remember that you should be ideally decreasing their amount of regular food to avoid overfeeding and problems with obesity. These treats should not exceed more than 10% of their total caloric intake per day to avoid imbalances in their diet. If you wish to feed a completely home-cooked diet, it is highly recommended that you do so by discussing and making a plan with your veterinarian/nutrition specialist to insure your pet will be getting a nutrient balanced diet to prevent long term health issues.
It’s important to remember that it’s always the pet owner’s choice to give their pet table scraps or not. Some people don’t want to give their pet the chance of getting into a bad habit of begging under the table, some animals have severe food allergies that should be respected, some pets are prone to becoming overweight or obese and the owners are trying their best to monitor their caloric intakes. If you are having visitors over, or are bringing your pets over for a visit, don’t be shy to speak up and let your friends and family know that this is a decision you have made for the benefit and health of your pet’s life. For example, try suggesting a good old game of fetch or tug o’war instead of giving the pet treats; I can guarantee they will enjoy it just as much!