Top Dog Tips - Should Your Dog Eat People Food?Hey readers! I hope you are having a great week and you had time to check out my column from last week about Dog Park Etiquette. These columns are meant to generate a dialogue between writers and editors here at Top Dog Tips and all of you. Dog owners are a very strong community and we could all benefit by sharing our knowledge with each other. We want to hear your opinions, experiences, and advice too. Please leave any comments, questions or concerns that you may have in the comment section below, and Let's Talk!

Everyone raises their dogs differently, and my husband and I are very understanding of that. However, when people come to our home we expect them to follow our rules regarding our pets. That’s not always the case. We have friends and family members who choose to feed their dogs table scraps and other people food, and we only allow our dogs a few types of people food – table scraps and processed foods are at the top of our “Do Not Feed” list.

We try to talk to our friends and family about the dangers of feeding their pets people food, but it never works. I thought that I could do my part this week to explain those dangers to all of you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying your dog is never allowed to have anything aside from food and treats made specifically for dogs. There are numerous people foods that are actually very beneficial to pets. I’ll talk about those too.

Should Your Dog Eat People Food

Let’s get started with the dangers of most people food…

First of all, obesity is a major problem in the canine world. More than half of the family pets in the United States are overweight or obese, and that is a staggering statistic. The Center for Disease Control also reports that over one third of American adults are overweight or obese as well. In both cases, much of the problem can be contributed to a poor diet.

Many human foods are processed, which sucks most of the good nutritional value out of them and adds a lot of refined sugars, artificial preservatives and additives, and increases their fat content as well. Similarly, many commercial dog foods are filled with the same types of ingredients. It is these types of food that are aiding the obesity epidemic in our country for both the human and canine species.

Whole foods are the exact opposite of processed foods. They have been processed and refined as little as possible, and they have no artificial ingredients. Whole foods are the foods that offer the most nutritional value. As pet owners we should be looking for dog foods that are made with whole food ingredients, and whole foods are the only type of people food that we should be sharing with our canine companions.

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You need to be careful when feeding your pet any type of people food, even whole foods. There are some types of plant foods that can be toxic to canines. Always be sure to research any food you feed your pet to be sure the ingredients are safe for him to ingest. Your veterinarian may also be able to give you a list of people food that will be beneficial to your pet’s health.

Did you know that wild dogs are omnivores? They hunt for meat, but nuts, berries, and plants also make up a large part of their diet. Dogs require the nutritional benefits that these types of plants offer. Some dog foods include supplements of some of the key vitamins and minerals found in plants, but it would be much better for your dog to get them naturally through his diet than through a supplemental form.

Should Your Dog Eat People Food

You’d be surprised at the types of foods that most dogs will try. Some of the best human food treats you can share with your dog include:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Apples – but the casing of the seeds are toxic to dogs, so be sure to cut out the seeds
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Sweet potato
  • Squash
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Unsalted and unbuttered popcorn
  • Yogurt
  • Flax Seed
  • Pumpkin
  • Oats

It may not be so easy to get your older dog to eat these foods at first, but if you keep offering them and try to entice him to try them, eventually he’ll be happy to receive these treats. It is easier to start with puppies. If you start from the beginning feeding them these healthy whole foods your dog will grow up enjoying them. If he gets used to eating unhealthy, albeit delicious, processed dog treats and people food for snacks he will have a harder time adjusting to snacking on fruits and vegetables.

Not all human foods are good for dogs to eat though. Stay away from:

  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms (especially wild mushrooms)
  • Fruits with pits (as the pit may cause a choking hazard)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes and raisins (they contain a chemical compound that is toxic to dogs)
  • Onions and chives
  • Garlic in large quantities, like whole pieces or cloves – if it is used to season dog treats, it’s not a threat
  • Chewing gum, peanut butter, or any product containing xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Beer – the hops in beer is toxic to canines

Your pet’s health should be your top priority when it comes to feeding him. He needs a high quality dog food to give him the nutrition that his body needs to be healthy and have energy. Of course, everyone likes snacks and your dog is no exception. Snacking on top quality dog treats is great, but if you want to share some of your food with your Fido be sure that it is healthy.

Should Your Dog Eat People Food
Photo: sakura

Giving your dog empty calories, artificial ingredients, and added fats and sugars will only diminish his quality of life, and possibly take years off his life expectancy as well. These types of foods won’t give him the energy that he needs and he’ll begin to turn sluggish and start gaining weight. The more weight your pet gains the less healthy his body is and the less energy he will have. It’s a terrible cycle, and you are the only one that put a stop to it and get your pooch on a better health track.

Now it's your turn

Are you fighting the same battle in your house that we are in ours? Do your family and friends insist on spoiling your pets with people food? How do you deal with it? Maybe it's you that has been feeding your dog people food. Has this article changed your opinion?

We'd love to hear about your experiences! Share the healthy snacks that you feed your dog(s). Do you have any great recipes that other readers may enjoy? Tell us what you think about the topic and what you do to foster your dog's health and well-being. Let's Talk!

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.