The Truth About Table Scraps for Dogs

table scraps for dogs

Winter is a golden opportunity for our dogs to make their way under heaping, warm dinner tables, sniffing for scraps of garlic potatoes and roasted chicken. It’s a good time to review the most dangerous foods for your dog (toxic ingredients like onion and garlic are often hidden in dishes like soups and stews), but contrary to popular belief, not all table food is bad for our dogs.

So where does this myth come from? Marketing, for starters. After the invention of processed dog food, manufacturers were still struggling to successfully convince pet owners to replace real food with new, commercial varieties. So in the mid 1960s, the pet food industry launched a marketing campaign imploring consumers to “Ban All Table Scraps” from their pets’ bowls and switch to dry kibble. It worked, and we’ve been scared to give our dogs human food ever since. While the kibble guys were right in that you don’t want to train your dog to beg at the table or feed those garlic potatoes you just fried up, most people are starting to understand that a fresh food diet is a much healthier option for dogs. What some pet owners may not know is that even feeding the right table scraps can also be healthful and beneficial.

How do I know what “real” foods I can feed my dog?

Avoid anything fried or cooked with additives and stick with whole, fresh foods like meat, vegetables, and fruit. These are best in their natural states or lightly cooked, and are not only safe for your dogs, but also beneficial for their health. Fresh food is also easier for your pup to digest than processed dog food and can lead to better breath, a shinier coat, and a trimmer waistline. How many brown balls of kibble can promise that?

Remember, a few pieces of fresh turkey or broccoli in your dog’s bowl can be an amazing snack, but doesn’t count as a regular, balanced meal. If you want to experience the benefits of switching your dog over to an all-fresh diet, make sure you’re feeding nutritionally balanced recipes that have been formulated by a veterinary nutritionist.

Any specific table scraps I should avoid?

While certain table foods are safe to share with your dog, you should keep the pizza and French Fries for your own cheat days. Everyone knows about chocolate, but here’s a quick recap of the table scraps that still deserve their bad rep.

– Fried foods or dishes with added salt and spices (most Americans cook with copious amounts of butter and oil, making many holiday dishes a potential nutritional land mine for dogs — and humans.)

– Garlic and onion (they contain allium, which can damage your dog’s red blood cells and even cause them to burst)

– Grapes and raisins (the exact toxin in this fruit family hasn’t been pinpointed, but grapes are high on the No Fly List for your dog’s bowl)

– Packaged foods (artificial sweeteners like xylitol can sneak into packaged desserts, candies, and condiments and are some of the most dangerous ingredients for dogs)

– Peaches and avocados (peach pits are poisonous, to say nothing of their danger as a choking hazard, while avocados contain a toxin called persin)

– Tomato plants (a ripe tomato is fine, but a green tomato or any part of the plant itself can be toxic)

– Cooked bones (chicken bones, we’re looking at you)

– Raw potatoes (cooked is safe, but skip the buttery mashed variety)

While your pup would no doubt love a plate of macaroni and cheese this holiday, rich foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis if consumed in high quantities. The good news is that your dog will be just as happy enjoying a plate of steamed Brussels sprouts dressed in Turkey broth. So go ahead, put some leftover superfoods in that bowl and let the dogs join in on the holiday fun this year.

Image: @ps.ny