There are some dogs that have the uncanny ability to persuade their human owners to give them a share of what’s on the dinner table. Some can give a sad, doleful look complete with a pleading gaze. Some dogs will let out a soft whine or a whimper so you will give them a quick bite of what you’re enjoying on your plate. But, pet parents know that giving table scraps to dogs is a terrible proposition. In many cases, the way we prepare and cook our food produces a meal that is not safe for canine consumption. But why are table scraps bad for Fido?
Main Issues Why Giving Table Scraps to Dogs is a Bad Idea
There are three fundamental issues why giving table scraps to dogs is a terrible proposition. It can produce health problems in dogs such as kidney disease, obesity, and other canine diseases. Giving table scraps can also train dogs to beg for almost anything that they like. Table scrap-feeding our pets also has the potential to create a canine finicky eater.
- Health Problems
If you look at the food on your dining table, you may see a delicious grilled chicken or a savory beef stew. The ingredients of these dishes are, by themselves, not harmful to you or to your pet. After all, many commercial dog foods also contain ingredients like beef, chicken, fish, vegetables, grains, and fruits. So, how come you cannot give your pet what you have on the dining table when these ingredients are also found in dog food?
Take a look at your dish again and remember the “other” ingredients that you put into the meal. Oftentimes you will have garlic, onion, salt, spices, and herbs. In most instances, there will also be unhealthy oils. The list can go on.
You should know that there are ingredients that dogs should never consume. Grapes and raisins, for instance, are toxic to your pet. This can lead to severe kidney failure that ends in the dog’s demise. Too much salt in the food can cause the dog to have diarrhea and seizures. Table scraps that have chocolates in them can contain caffeine and theobromine. These two substances can lead to muscle tremors, internal bleeding, and seizures. If severe enough, the case always ends up in the dog’s death.
Cheeses are always good for dogs. However, if they eat too much of it, it can result in diarrhea. The same is true with cashews and almonds. These are healthy snacks. But they can also be too fatty. Macadamia nuts are always a big no-no for dogs because they can lead to tremors, vomiting, fever, muscle weakness, and depression.
Human foods contain far too many calories because of the way it is prepared. The addition of different ingredients increases the calorie count of each meal. Hence, a bite-sized portion of cooked beef contains more calories than a similarly-sized dog kibble. And you know where this leads to – canine obesity.
More than half of all dogs in the United States are either obese or overweight. This is not a serious problem in itself. However, the complications that canine obesity brings are what can warrant a closer inspection.
For instance, obese dogs are more prone to joint problems. The excess weight on their bodies puts tremendous stress on the dog’s joints. Now, there are dogs that are very prone to hip dysplasia. Obesity speeds up the worsening of hip dysplasia-associated arthritis. With arthritis, it will be almost impossible for dogs to move. There is pain or dysfunction in the affected limb. Without normal mobility, the dog can go into depression.
Fat that accumulates in the chest and abdominal cavities can also restrict the movement of the muscles of respiration. It will be very difficult for the dog to breathe in a normal manner. If this happens, it will experience tiredness or fatigue a lot faster and with greater frequency. Heart problems, liver problems, and kidney problems follow because of a reduction of oxygen in the blood.
Giving your dog table scraps can also injure their gastrointestinal tracts. Small cooked bones are more brittle than raw ones. When these bones break, they produce very sharp edges which can get lodged in the dog’s gut. Sometimes, it can scrape against the intestinal wall and cause internal bleeding.
- Behavioral Issue
Most pet parents will not care to admit that it is they who are being trained by their pet dogs and not the other way around. Don’t believe us? What do you do when your dog nudges you? You pet it, right? Or you may shoo it away. The thing is that you “reacted” to its action. When pets whine, their owners almost immediately give them a treat or their favorite dog toy. In some cases, they also get a big hug. When dogs bark, it always gets our attention. It is a habit that can be very challenging to break.
The same is true when giving our dogs food from the dining table. Every time you give it food from your plate, it learns that doing so will bring it a yummier treat. Hence, whenever it sees you munching on something or holding on a piece of food, your dog will go into its “food-begging” mode in an instant. Do not get mad at your pet. You taught it to behave this way, remember?
It will sit and give you that pleading look. It will run around and jump up. The dog will do almost anything to get your attention. It may create a scene, not to annoy you, but to let you know that it wants some of that morsel of food. If you pay attention to their “antics” and give them a piece of your food, then you are reinforcing the less-than-ideal dog behavior. Some pet parents may also share their food with their pets so that they can avoid these annoying dog behaviors.
Remember that dogs learn on an “if-then” relationship. If they do a particular action, it will result in a particular reaction. Dogs learn that creating a scene every time they see you with food will always result in you giving them some of your food.
This is a behavior that is never easy to break. Hence, if you do not want such a behavior from your dog, then don’t start giving table scraps.
- Picky Eaters
There are pet parents who report that their dogs have become choosy eaters ever since they started giving table scraps. This is not surprising. Human foods are more delicious than your dog kibble or wet dog food. In many cases, the dog will no longer want to eat its regular meals. Instead, it will wait for its owner to give it chicken, beef, or any other food on the menu. If it does not get what it wants, it will go on a hunger strike.
Some pet parents encourage the behavior by giving in to the “demands” of the dog. It is understandable. They don’t want their pets to starve, so they give them table scraps. Sadly, this only reinforces the behavior. Breaking this canine habit can be very challenging.
Not only are you encouraging undesirable behavior in your pet, you are also risking malnutrition. Dog food comes with formulations that are specific to the nutrient requirements of dogs. The meals we prepare are for our consumption; not for dogs. Giving them table scraps increases the risk of malnutrition in dogs.
If You Cannot Avoid Giving Table Scraps
There will always be instances when giving table scraps to dogs is unavoidable. In such cases, you should always adhere to at least three principles in the giving of human food items to dogs.
- Give Only in Moderation
Regardless of the type of food that you give to your dog, give only very small portions of it. As much as possible, try to learn the calorie content of your meals. You need this to account for your dog’s calorie requirements. For instance, a single serving of grilled chicken can contain 250 calories. If your dog needs 500 calories every day, then you have to cut up the grilled chicken into 5 smaller portions to get 50 calories per portion. Give only one small portion of this to account for the 10% dog treat rule.
- Pay Attention to Toxic Ingredients
Be very mindful of ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Examples of these are chocolates, garlic, grapes, onion, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, lemons, limes, nutmeg, alcohol, Xylitol, tea, and coffee, among others. Never give any human food item that contains any of these ingredients.
- Junk Foods are a Big No
No matter how tempting, never give your dog junk foods. These are often processed with excessive amounts of salt, preservatives, and artificial ingredients that may prove harmful to your pet. Many of these also contain way too much trans-fat.
Giving table scraps to your dog is never a good idea. Not only are you encouraging them to beg, you are also courting obesity and other canine health problems.
- Can My Dog Eat This? A List of Human Foods Dogs Can and Can’t Eat – Healthline
- Why Dogs Should Not Eat ‘People Food’ – PetMD
- Why Table Scraps are Bad for Dogs – The Dogington Post