Can Dogs Eat Table Food?
We’ve all been here. Your family is gathered around the table for a delicious dinner, and your four-legged fur child appears at your side, hoping to receive a bite.
It’s hard to resist sharing your table scraps, but their begging eyes beg the question: Can dogs eat table food?
No, dogs can’t eat table food.
However, that’s not to say dogs can’t eat some of the same foods you, their pet pawrent, enjoy. Some single-ingredient or lightly cooked hooman foods are safe – and even healthy – for dogs to consume, but there are several factors you must consider before serving them to your pooch.
With howliday meals coming up, your pack needs to decide Fido’s involvement in dinner. Keep reading to get the dish on table scraps for dogs.
Is Table Food Bad for Dogs?
Yes, most table food is bad for dogs, for a variety of reasons. Let’s dig into them.
Obesity is a major health concern for dogs, especially when hooman food is added to their diet. According to Sykesville Veterinary Clinic:
Dogs and humans are different on many levels, including their digestive and nutritional needs. As we know, human foods are often full of empty calories (albeit delicious, bold flavors and ingredients) which means they have a greater chance of increasing your dog’s weight, without meeting [their] vitamin and mineral needs.
Most dogs already have a balanced diet thanks to their regular kibble feedings. Any additional treats – whether they’re intended for dogs or hoomans – can spike up your dog’s daily caloric intake and cause them to pack on the pounds.
When it comes to table scraps for dogs, weight gain might be a primary issue, but it isn’t the only health risk.
The phrase might be “Give a dog a bone,” but that doesn’t include the bones from hooman meals. Bones from turkey and chicken might look like a tasty treat for your pup, but they can splinter and get lodged in your dog’s throat or stomach. Any bones not purchased from the pet department should go straight to the trash.
Hooman foods often include ingredients that the doggie digestive system simply cannot handle. Too much salt and/or fat can lead to some poopy situations – literally.
Table scraps can make dogs sick and lead to vomiting and diarrhea. In more serious cases, they can even cause pancreatitis. On the topic of fats and pancreatitis, the American Kennel Club writes:
Human food is especially dangerous, though even high-fat dog food may cause pancreatitis. So owner vigilance is particularly required around holidays and other festive occasions – they can bring well-meaning guests who slip your buddy a fatty piece of lamb, or a tray of buttery cookies left within reach of an eager muzzle. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is known for more than just Black Friday bargains. It’s one of the busiest days of the year [for] pancreatitis-related emergency vet visits.
Fido’s moment in taste bud heaven isn’t worth a trip to the emergency vet. Keep their paws off the table scraps!
Some table food is toxic to dogs, putting them at risk for far worse than an upset tummy. Some toxic foods listed by the ASPCA include:
- Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
[Chocolate, coffee and caffeine] all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure.
Nuts, including almonds, pecans and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage and anemia.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure.
If your dog gets sneaky and consumes any of these foods, you should note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
If you give your dog table scraps once, they’re always going to come back for more. Do you want your pooch to hover around the kitchen table during every meal? Don’t allow this bad habit to even begin. Food should never go from your plate to your dog’s palate.
Should All Human Food Be Off Limits for Dogs?
Is table food bad for dogs? Yes. Is human food bad for dogs? Not necessarily. Hounds Lounge owner and pooch pawrent, Mandy, explains how you can treat your dog to some hooman holiday foods:
“If you want to give your woof a lil’ something special to wag about, try some canned pumpkin – not canned pumpkin pie filling – with a label that reads ‘100% pure pumpkin,’ a dollop of whip cream or even some sweet potatoes with a modest amount of turkey with no bones.”
–Mandy, Hounds Lounge Owner
Healthy, whole foods that are either served raw or cooked without any additives can make for a tasty doggie delicacy. They include:
- Skinless and boneless cooked turkey, beef, pork or chicken
- Plain canned pumpkin
- Scrambled eggs
- Peanut butter – make sure it does not contain xylitol, a sweetener in some peanut butters that is toxic to dogs
- Veggies including baby carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes
- Plain yogurt
Remember, these human foods should be served in small amounts so they don’t throw off your dog’s already balanced diet. Treats – including dog-safe human food – should only make up a small percentage of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
Impawtant Note: If you choose to give your dog small amounts of healthy human foods, present them in the same way you would regular dog treats or dog food. Furr example, place a few small pieces of chicken in their food bowl at meal time, or reward them with a baby carrot for following a command. This way, it’s clear to Fido that the food on the kitchen table is not just up for grabs!
How to Keep Dogs out of the Kitchen
If your nosy dog isn’t in the kitchen to begin with, it’s easy to prevent them from eating table scraps. While you’re meal prepping, cooking or eating, you can try out these solutions.
- Keep your dog in another room with the door closed. Make sure they’re comfy and distracted with a toy!
- Put your dog outside in the backyard. This way, they won’t even smell the tasty dishes you’re cooking. Fido won’t know what they’re missing!
- If you have an especially important meal to cook or eat, you might need your pooch out of your space entirely. Take them to doggie daycare or book an overnight stay at Hounds Lounge! We’ll welcome them with open paws!
Your pooch can come back into the kitchen once it’s clear or once all the food is out of their reach – whatever works best for your fur fam.
A Howliday Recipe for Your Dog
While you shouldn’t feed your dog table scraps, you can still include Fido in your special meals! All you have to do is plan ahead and add dog-safe foods to your grocery list. You can even create a dish specifically for your pooch! Here’s an easy and delicious howliday recipe that calls for only two ingredients you might already have on hand.
2-Ingredient Frozen Pumpkin Dog Treats
By Kiki Kane at Rover
- Pumpkin puree
- Nonfat plain yogurt
- Clear a flat space in your freezer for your treats to set
- Place a silicone mold onto a small cookie sheet to make it easy to move from counter to freezer
- In a small bowl, add equal parts pumpkin puree and yogurt
- Stir to combine
- Pour into molds and freeze until solid
- Un-mold the treats and place in a Tupperware or plastic bag for long-term storage
Scrap the Table Scraps for Dogs
Can dogs eat table food? No, dogs cannot eat table food! However, you can allow your dog to enjoy some healthy hooman food in moderation, especially during the howlidays! Consider it a special, festive treat… kind of like a visit to Hounds Lounge for a self-serve dog wash or grooming appointment. Fido’s gotta look good for all the family coming into town!
It takes a lot of strength to resist sharing your dinner with your sweet fur child. Keep up the pawesome pet parent work, and keep the table food away from the pooch!