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Treats or Trouble: A Guide To Offering Your Dog Table Scraps

Published: December 27, 2021
Home / Health / Treats or Trouble: A Guide To Offering Your Dog Table Scraps

When you and your family are at the dinner table, it is never easy to resist when your dog begs for a bite off your plate. Some dogs learn to beg as puppies and, when encouraged, usually do not outgrow the habit. While some leftovers are safe for your adult dog, there are certain foods that could cause medical problems down the road, such as obesity and chronic digestive issues. Before you offer your dog any scraps, read through the following guide from BaxterBoo to ensure what you put into your pet's bowl is both safe and healthy. 

The Skinny on Fattening Foods

There are as many types of dog breeds as there are food choices, so your dog's ideal weight depends on a variety of factors, including: 

Just as with people, if a dog's daily caloric intake exceeds his activity level, he is likely to gain too much weight and could even become obese. However, this problem could grow worse if the scraps you feed him are high in carbohydrates or fat. Fatty cuts of meat, pasta and fast food like french fries can add up quickly and cause your pooch to pack on the pounds. Smaller breeds are usually more susceptible to obesity, although almost any dog can become overweight. Dogs with long bodies and short legs are sometimes especially prone to obesity, which can affect their spine. 

If you cannot resist your dog's begging, there are some safe meats, fruits and vegetables they might enjoy, as long as you follow some simple guidelines and the advice of your vet, who can offer you more information about your dog's nutritional needs. 

Meats 

Lean ground beef, turkey and small portions of boneless fish make for fine tidbits for your dog, but it is important that you ensure each piece is cooked to temperature and free of salt and fattening toppings like butter or cheese. While most dogs enjoy cheese, dairy may upset their stomachs. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, are prone to lactose intolerance and may vomit or develop problems defecating. It is also wise to offer dogs meat that is cooked to the recommended temperature to prevent the possible introduction of parasites or bacteria that could make your dog ill. 

Some types of meat offer a healthy serving of protein and fatty acids that support coat and eye health, especially fish. Tuna, cod and whitefish are all generally safe, and even finicky dogs will probably accept these treats. Remember to set aside an unseasoned cut of fish if you plan to prepare your dinner with garlic or onions, as these can upset your dog's stomach. 

Vegetables and Fruits 

While not all dogs are partial to fruits and veggies and most need some kind of meat or lean protein in their diets to stay healthy, your dog might enjoy them as an alternative to more fattening scraps. Many fruits, for example, contain vitamins that can support your dog's immune system. Apples, blueberries, carrots and broccoli can replace traditional scraps and prevent the kind of tummy trouble that might otherwise land your pet at the emergency vet. 

While most fruits and vegetables are safe for your pet, there are a few to avoid. Raisins, mushrooms, avocadoes and grapes are usually toxic and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Avoid offering any table scraps that contain these foods and do not dispose of leftovers where your dog might be able to reach them once your back is turned. Certain types of mushrooms, especially those found in the wild, can harm and even poison your dog. If you maintain a compost heap, gate it to keep your dog away from it and any foods that might cause him harm. 

When To Avoid Offering Table Scraps 

Some dogs can enjoy healthy table scraps as food toppers or an occasional treat on a holiday, but there are some instances where you may want to avoid this. One of the most important is when your dog has a history of food allergies or stomach sensitivities, as even small changes in his diet may cause stomach upset. In this case, you may want to ask your veterinarian what kind of store-bought treats are acceptable, as many are designed with dogs that have sensitive tummies in mind. 

You might also want to avoid giving puppies and very old dogs table scraps, as a puppy's digestive system is still developing and old dogs tend to develop problems with digestion as they age. Too many rich scraps may cause older dogs to develop pancreatitis, which causes lethargy, vomiting and internal damage. Discussing your dog's diet with a vet is usually the best way to prevent the kinds of problems that could result in a serious illness. 

Say No To Sugar

Sugary treats can put your dog at serious risk for a variety of health problems, just as they can for humans. Hyperactivity, tooth decay and diabetes are only a few of the issues dogs can develop when their owners constantly offer them cookies and other pastries. While the visual of a dog enjoying a sugary cookie can be cute, too many of these treats may compromise their health in the long run. 

To Treat or Not To Treat 

The decision to treat your dog with table scraps is a personal one, and unless your vet restricts his diet based on weight or health issues, certain human foods can supplement his diet with important vitamins and minerals. Searching for comparable treats with BaxterBoo, along with the advice and support of your vet, can help you keep your dog at his healthiest. 

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