We are all familiar with those sweet, hopeful eyes staring longingly at us while we try to eat our dinner. Do we sneak a little something under the table? Do we wait until dinner is over, but add a little leftover bite or two to Fido’s food bowl? Winter calendars, in particular, tend to be packed with holiday dinners and rich seasonal dishes. Are table scraps okay for dogs or not?
This question comes up all the time for veterinarians, which means that answer may not be as obvious as some of us might think. Most foods aren’t toxic, but there is plenty we should think about before handing over that morsel to our little beggars.
Some Human Food are Poison for Dogs
As much as we would like to think they are just like us because they sit on the furniture, like our friends, enjoy similar activities, and maybe even watch TV, dog digestive systems are different. Foods like chocolate, caffeine, and grapes are truly toxic for dogs. If it’s definitely going to happen, only choose scraps that are healthy and nutritious. The answer to the question, are scraps okay for dogs, is yes, as long as we are careful.
Tolerance For Some Food May Be Low
Even though a food item may not be toxic, it can be something doggy digestive systems don’t tolerate very well. The fat we cut off our meet, for example, is hard on dog digestion. We tend to hand it over without thinking because it’s our discard and the dog will love it. However, our canine companions can end up with upset stomach and other digestive disturbances, like diarrhea.
Sensitivity Can Be High
Some dogs are more sensitive to foods than others. So, even though our pup may have a high tolerance for most scraps, we should know that they can be more sensitive to some scraps more than others. When we have guests over, we should go ahead and make a quick announcement right there at the table that even though a certain dish will be tempting to share, even though it isn’t poisonous, our pup’s digestive system just won’t handle it well.
We all (or most of us) share a table scrap now and then. We don’t necessarily think about the question, are table scraps okay for dogs, when we see those little puppies dog eyes. We just need to keep in mind that we are hurting our canine companions ability to be a good dog when guests are over. Our pup won’t know that difference between table manners when we have guests and when we don’t. Be consistent and limit table scraps to avoid teaching them bad table manners.
Accidentally Training Ourselves
It’s also worth noting that even if we wait until dinner is completely over to share something in Buddy’s bowl, we are training an expectation. When we don’t have scraps we can safely share, it will hurt us to see him sitting by his bowl waiting for his after dinner share. Let’s make sure we limit expectations so we don’t train our pup to eat people food, and so we don’t train ourselves to be tempted to always give them extras.
Treats Are For Training
Even though we may have a pup who is praise or toy motivated, most of us use treats to train. When we share table scraps we not only create the misunderstanding that they are being a good dog for begging, we are also taking away some of the value of the treats we do use for training. Keep using treats as rewards and food as a meal. It will make training the right behaviors less confusing. That doesn’t mean we take away the scraps altogether. If it’s safe and nutritious, but will otherwise go to waste, put it in a ‘doggy bag’ in the fridge and share a safe amount with their regular meal time food.
Mealtime Can Be Shared
There are many different philosophies about dog training and feeding time. Some feel we should just feed them before or at the same time as human-dinner. That way their stomach won’t growl as they suffer through watching us eat. That’s a great solution. Just be sure to train them, not crate them. Pets are family and family are taught to have good table manners. Some guardians want to reinforce that they are the alphas by eating first and then feeding their pup. They already know we are in charge because we are the ones giving them their food. Give up trivial rules and concentrate on real training, not arm-chair pack psychology. For dogs who already have a begging problem, the timing of their mealtime and ours can play an important role.
While conventional rules leave us with a big fat “no” about feeding our dogs table scraps. Everyone knows people do it. So why not talk about how to do it safely? These final tips are all you need to know to answer the question: are table scraps okay for dogs?
- All things in moderation. Scraps are not treats and they are not going to provide a nutritious alternative to a balanced dog food diet. If we are going to share a little human food, make sure it’s just a little.
- Save table scraps for the doggy food bowl where eating takes place, rather than at the human table. Keeping Fido focused on the food bowl for food and treats for praise, it will be easier to train them away from begging.
- Be sure to choose safe, nutritious foods that are good for dogs and would otherwise go to waste. We should know what’s poisonous and our dog’s tolerances and sensitivities so we don’t cause discomfort or worse.
- Don’t forget to train houseguests. If we haven’t yet trained our pup out of begging behavior, train the guests not to feed our pup at the table and let them know what our pup definitely can’t eat.
Are table scraps okay for dogs? The answer is up to those who would share human food with them, but one great way to avoid the question altogether, is to give them nutritious, healthful food at mealtime, regardless of whether the label says its for dogs or humans.
EcoEats is the closest we can get to a whole food diet for dogs, without the hassle of preparing, cooking, slicing, and dicing all the whole foods included in a single Eco Eats serving. Give EcoEats a try and you’ll find out it’s a tasty alternative to table scraps that tastes great to dogs.