Find out which human foods are safe to feed your canine companion – and which aren’t.
Can dogs eat table scraps? Should they? The simple answer is “yes”. . . and “no”. Experts agree that the wrong table scraps, especially when given too often, can result in digestive upsets, obesity, and sometimes even life-threatening reactions. However, carefully selected human foods may actually benefit dogs because they add extra nutrients and variety to the diet.
If you’re already home-preparing or feeding your companion a healthy, natural premium food, you probably look at table scraps as treats rather than a substitute for a balanced diet. The basic rule of thumb is that if your table scraps are too unhealthy for you and your family to eat, they belong in the compost or garbage bin – not in your dog’s bowl.
Good judgment can make the difference between a healthy treat and an emergency trip to the vet’s office. Before you let your dog sample table scraps, refer to these charts to see what’s good for him, and what could make him sick.
Turkey and chicken
Cooked chicken and turkey are excellent treats for dogs, but watch out for bones, salt, and seasoning made with onions.
Lean red meat
Dogs adore the flavour and texture of red meat. Shreds of lean beef and mutton are chock full of highly absorbable nutrients.
Boiled or scrambled eggs
Free-range eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
A great source of beta carotene — dogs can convert cooked sweet potatoes into this non-toxic form of vitamin A. They’re also a healthy way to satisfy a dog with a sweet tooth.
Another great source of beta carotene, carrots have a satisfying texture dogs love.
Broccoli, green beans, turnip greens, etc. are excellent sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals — but shy away from anything that has been heavily seasoned or covered with rich sauce.
Fresh and frozen cooked fish can provide a dog with lean protein and highly absorbable vitamins. Cold water fish is also a good source of Omega-3 oils.
Dogs can benefit from fresh apples as an occasional treat. Avoid giving cooked apples that have been heavily sweetened.
Yogurt contains “friendly” bacteria that facilitate digestion and enhance the immune system.
Give in moderation
Dogs digest cheese products more effectively than milk. However, it can still cause gas, bloating and stomach cramps. Cottage cheese is easier on canine digestion.
Peeled, cooked ripe potatoes can be an enjoyable snack, but dogs get little nutritional value from them. Unpeeled and unripe potatoes contain phytotoxins that are dangerous to your dog.
Liver can be a healthy source of many important nutrients, but feed it in small amounts. Because liver contains such high amounts of vitamin A, it can actually be toxic when given in very large quantities.
Beans and soy products
Many animals become gassy after eating beans and soy-based foods. However, a bite of tofu can be a healthy source of protein and key minerals.
In small quantities, brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread can be healthy sources of fibre and vitamins, but on their own do not contain an appropriate nutritional profile for dogs.
Unripe tomatoes contain tomatine and atropine, both of which are toxic to dogs. In moderate amounts, ripe tomatoes contain too little of these compounds to be harmful.
This holiday tradition contains too much sugar, fat and salt to be healthy. If you choose to give ham to your companion, limit it to a few small bites.
Dogs lack the digestive enzymes necessary for breaking down milk sugars, so cow’s milk may cause diarrhea, gas, bloating and vomiting.
Canned tuna and salmon often contain a lot of salt. Select low-sodium options. Because of heavy metals, don’t feed tuna more than once a week, and opt for darker, flakier types.
Tea and coffee
Dogs are very sensitive to caffeine. Many have died after eating coffee grounds and tea bags, so keep these well out of your dog’s reach.
Grapes and raisins
These contain potent kidney toxins for dogs. While a dog may not show obvious symptoms of poisoning immediately after eating them, a single serving of these sweet fruits can cause long-term damage.
Hot dogs, tinned soups, deli meats, etc. contain far too much sodium for a dog’s body to process. They can cause electrolyte imbalance, kidney disease, tremors, seizures, vomiting, and in some cases even death.
Dogs are highly susceptible to alcohol’s toxic effects. Wine, beer and mixed drinks can cause vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and even liver failure.
Dogs are poorly equipped to handle sugary foods, and are uniquely prone to developing diabetes. Classic desserts like cake, pie and cookies offer no nutritional benefits to your companion.
This common veggie, used in many dishes, can destroy a dog’s red blood cells. This can lead to anemia, breathing problems, muscle weakness and death.
This favourite treat contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which can over-stimulate a dog’s central nervous system and cause life-threatening problems. Dark chocolate contains the strongest concentration of these stimulants.
Spoiled or moldy food
Spoiled leftovers are never an acceptable pet food, unless he happens to be a vulture. They can contain toxic fungal compounds and infectious bacteria.
Raw bones offer numerous health benefits for dogs. But avoid all cooked bones, poultry or otherwise! They easily splinter and snap and may cause serious internal problems if swallowed.
Gravy and sauces
Most sauces are too rich for a dog and may contain fat, seasonings, sugar and/or cream that can upset your companion’s digestion.
You don’t want to exclude your companion from quality family time, but keep in mind as you’re serving dinner that not all those table scraps make good treats for your dog. Feed her only what’s healthy and safe!