Human Food: Safe or Harmful for Pets?Published August 9, 2010
Since cooked foods for humans may lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals contained in commercially prepared pet foods, I am generally not an advocate for feeding table scraps or "people" food to pets. Of course there are times when our cats look at me with their soulful big eyes after catching a whiff of freshly roasted chicken or rare roast beef, (prepared sans herbs and spices) and saying "no" seems to be out of the question. While feeding "people" food to pets on a regular basis is not recommended by experts in the field of canine or feline nutrition, there are those times when even the most organized fur-mom or dad runs out of pet food and has a ravenously hungry pet to feed. Knowing which human foods are safe and which are toxic can really save you from a potential disaster. However, before you open your cupboards and refrigerators to your pets, it is wise to consult with your veterinarian about which foods are appropriate for your pet. Food sensitivities, calorie counts, and any health conditions to which you are aware, are certainly important things to take into consideration before sharing your dinner with a fur-kid. Generally, food items that contain chocolate, coffee, raisins or grapes, avocado, onions or macadamia nuts should never be fed to a dog or cat. Some nutritional experts even frown on feeding tomatoes, claiming that they can cause tremors and heart arrhythmia. If your pet has ingested any of these foods, contact your veterinarian immediately. For more information about "dangerous" people food, visit http://www.treshanley.com/cic/dangerousfoods.html. However, according to pet expert Liz Palika, human foods such as cooked chicken, liver and beef are safe for pets. Some feline nutritionists even suggest feeding raw chicken necks occasionally as treats. I carefully wash and freeze these treats, and after defrosting, I cut them up at the joints, making it far easier for our cats to eat. Some pets even adore healthy snacks like fruits. Watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe are safe to feed. One of my cats went "bananas" when fed a small amount of this yummy tempting fruit. And if anti-oxidants are something you want to add to your pet's diet: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries are just the thing. In fact, many of these berries are already included in several high-quality commercial pet foods. Some dogs adore baby carrots as a treat (and they are good for their teeth), while some cats and dogs love to munch on low calorie cooked or canned green beans and spinach. In fact, since my father's cat rivaled Popeye in his love of spinach, he was immediately named in honor of the highly nutritious, green, leafy vegetable. And if you want to give your kitty an extra special and fancy treat, defrost raw frozen shrimp, remove the shell, cut them into bite size pieces and enjoy watching the fun! Since some cats and dogs may be prone to lactose intolerance, that saucer of milk or bowl of ice cream should be avoided. But our cats love yogurt, and go bonkers for strawberry Activia! Visit the ASPCA's page, which lists safe and toxic human products at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/a-poison-safe-home.html for more detailed information. Image source: Flickr user Luweewu.