Almost every dog owner has given in to their beloved dog’s ‘puppy dog eyes’ at one time or another and given them a treat right from their plate. Dogs will sniff at what you’re eating and maybe even beg you for food, but resisting their charms is crucial. Not only could feeding your dog scraps from your plate make them seriously sick and cost you a lot of money, it can teach them bad habits that it’s almost impossible to get them out of.
Here, we’re going to explore the dangers of feeding your dog table scraps. As hard as they may be to resist, it’ll be the best thing you do for them.
There are so many downsides of giving your dog scraps. Human food can cause digestive issues in dogs, which with continued scraps, could become permanent. Initially they may have symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, but soon it could become a more severe issue like pancreatitis. Your dog will be in pain and extremely uncomfortable when they develop chronic digestive issues, and you will likely have to deal with vet bills and other problems. If you want the best for your dog and to have them with you as long as possible, do not feed them scraps.
It doesn’t take much to make your dog gain weight – a scrap to us can be like a large snack or even a meal to them! It’s worth doing your research on this. For example, a small block of cheese may seem a snack to us, but to them it could be the caloric equivalent of one and a half burgers. They need far less calories than we do, so a ‘small’ snack wreaks much more havoc on their overall calorie intake. Small bites can quickly add up, so even if you’re giving your dog healthy and safe treats, make sure you factor this into their overall calorie allowance for the day.
Your dog should not be consuming more than 8% of their total calorie intake from treats.
Table food can be toxic to dogs. Not only can it make them ill, it could result in death. Knowing what not to feed dogs is so important if you’re going to keep your dog safe. Under no circumstances should you feed them chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, almonds, onions, or garlic. These are bad foods for dogs and can have serious consequences. Even a little bit of this type of food can cause an extreme reaction.
It’s especially important to avoid giving your dog restaurant leftovers that you haven’t cooked yourself. You don’t really know what’s in them, and they have likely been cooked in oils, herbs, and spices that not only make the treat fattening, but dangerous for your dog to eat.
One of the biggest things to note is that you will encourage unwanted behaviour in your dog when you get into the habit of feeding them table scraps. Once they realize that their puppy dog eyes actually do the trick, you will see them hovering whenever somebody is eating, and they may even go one step further and refuse their own food in the hopes of filling up on human food. Your dog needs the vitamins, nutrients, and other healthy ingredients that go into their own specially made food, so if they start refusing this you’re going to have a hard time making sure they get what they need.
You may also find that allowing your dog to take scraps from your plate encourages even more bad behaviour, such as them taking bites out of food left on the table or counter whenever they like.
If you’re trying to train your dog to be well behaved and do as you say, then allowing them scraps is a huge mistake. This behaviour is very difficult to reverse, and can be particularly embarrassing and troublesome when you have guests over for food.
Treating your dog helps to enrich their lives and encourage positive behaviour, but you need healthy ways to treat your dog. High quality treats that have been specially made for dogs will go a long way and ensure they are getting just the right amount of calories and enjoyment from their food, without impacting their health or behaviour.
If you do buy your dog some special dog treats, make sure you factor them into their daily calorie allowance. In some cases, there will be a limit on what you can give them based on the size and weight of your dog. Smaller dogs should be given much smaller portions. If you overfeed your dog on treats, even healthy ones, then they can end up with diarrhea and other health issues.
Having a good idea of safe food for dogs will ensure you don’t make any mistakes. There are some human foods that are good for dogs, but they should also be given in moderation. Avoid processed and prepared foods. Single ingredient foods are best. They can have the occasional bite of fruit, some unsalted vegetables, and some egg if they like. You still shouldn’t feed them from your plate if you want to avoid behavioural issues, though, and you need to be careful if they have been cooked in different ingredients. Very plain foods are best.
So, what human foods are ok as snacks for your dog?
If you’re ever unsure, don’t throw caution to the wind and give it to them anyway. Be very careful and check multiple resources online to ensure your dog’s health.
Now, what snacks should be avoided at all costs?
Get very familiar with the foods that are not good for dogs, and remember that the foods vary slightly with different animals, so your dog/cat will need separate lists of treats that are ok for them. Don’t just feed them the same things and hope for the best.
People have traditionally given dogs bones to gnaw on, especially during the holidays when there’s plenty of them around. However, the bones are often too small and sharp, and they are very brittle. This means dogs cannot chew on them safely, and ultimately, they can cause intestinal perforations and blockages.
When you have guests over, make sure they also know not to give your dog food from their plate. It can be tough to monitor your dog’s diet when you have guests in the house, but having the right kinds of treats on hand can make it easier. Suggesting a game of fetch or even a quick groom with a brush could also be a way for your guest to bond with your dog (if they want to) without giving them a treat.
Your dog should be given treats properly – not at the table. If you feed them at the table or from your plate, even if you are giving them one of the healthy human foods, they will develop behavioural issues. Putting the treats in their bowl shows them that that is where they get to eat food from. Giving treats as a reward for obedience is great, but you can also give them a couple a day for variety and enrichment. Avoid giving them treats when they beg, as they know what they are doing. Dogs are master manipulators!
You should also make sure everybody in the household is on the same page when it comes to feeding the dog or it could seriously sabotage your training efforts. Have a supply of treats that are good for them and make sure everybody sticks to their treat schedule. You should also remember that sometimes, you can treat them by playing with them. A game of fetch can be just as delightful to them as a treat, and all dogs need plenty of stimulation!
Maybe your back was turned for a second and a young family member gave the dog something they shouldn’t have, or maybe the dog got curious. Whatever the issue, knowing what to look out for will ensure you can get your dog to a vet ASAP. You should act immediately if you notice any of the symptoms, as fast action is key to helping your dog.
Maybe somebody already made the mistake of feeding your dog something from their plate, and you want to work on undoing the damage to their behaviour. To discourage begging, you can:
Getting out of the habit of feeding your dog table scraps can be tough. It’s much easier to avoid doing it in the first place – but that’s easier said than done. Changing your dog’s behaviour and helping them to learn to behave the way you want is not easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it.
Your dog’s regular diet should have all of the calories, nutrients, proteins, and vitamins that your dog needs to live a healthy life. A few healthy treats here and there are fine, but you should never feed them table scraps.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of health issues in pets, and if your dog becomes obese, it could knock 2 years off their life. Your dog may also suffer with any number of illnesses related to obesity, like kidney disease, joint disorders, diabetes, and heart disease.
You may feel like you’re being cruel by denying your dog these table ‘treats’ and scraps, but actually, it’s the kindest thing you can do for them.
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