When it comes to feeding your dog table scraps, that is the question.
You sit down to eat a wonderful meal, and then you happen to glance down. Your dog looks up at you with a sweet, plaintive expression. Clearly, he wants a taste of your food. However, you hesitate—is it safe to give your dog human food or “table scraps?”
Like most things in life, the answer is “yes”—and “no.” Again, like most things in life, moderation is the key. If you want to share your meal with your dog, do so in small doses and consider the shared bits a treat for your pet—not a substitution for his regular meals.
Just like with humans, though, too many treats can add up to too many calories. Because obesity in dogs can lead to serious health issues, keep track of how many table food snacks your dog eats, and make sure it doesn’t impact his waistline. Don’t treat your dog like a living garbage disposal, either. If you don’t want to eat that leftover crust of pizza, your dog probably shouldn’t eat it, either.
Keep in mind, too, that if you feed your dog bits from your plate during your regular meals, he will come to associate your time at the dinner table as snack time for him. You might want to consider where and when you share human food snacks to discourage your dog from developing bad habits such as begging and avoiding his own dish in favor of yours.
What to Serve
Many human foods, such as many fresh fruits and vegetables and most lean proteins, are safe and even healthy for dogs. That said, it’s always a good idea to ask your veterinarian if feeding table scraps is safe before you start sharing your meals.
If your vet gives you the go ahead, the next time your dog convinces you to give him a sample from your plate, offer him one of these (but be sure to follow the recommended serving size so you don’t impact his weight or his health):
- Lean cooked meats, such a turkey, fish, chicken and beef. Avoid giving your dog pieces with rich or heavy sauces
- Small amounts of peanut butter
- Plain cooked pasta (again, without sauce and in small amounts)
- Finely chopped raw vegetables, with the notable exceptions of avocado and onion
- Fresh fruit, with the exception of grapes or raisins
If you have any doubts at all about whether a food is safe for your dog, don’t give it to him. After all, you would much rather have his sweet, plaintive face staring up at you than give him something that harms him.
Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years’ experience in the pet industry. She is the former editor of Pet Product News and a former staff editor with Cat Fancy, Cats USA, Critters USA and Ferrets USA. To learn more about her work, visit stacynhackett.vpweb.com.