Is it Okay to Feed My Dogs People Food?

Is it Okay to Feed My Dogs People Food?

If you're like most pet owners, your pooch probably has its own preferences when it comes to treats. Some dogs are picky eaters some even have allergies or other dietary restrictions, so they might not be able to enjoy the same foods as their friends. And we humans aren't exactly known for our great taste in snacks either. 


So why do we feel compelled to give our dogs the occasional snack from our plates? After all, if we can't handle it ourselves, how could our best friend? The answer lies in knowing where those tasty morsels come from.


Most people know that dogs are carnivores, which means that they get their protein by eating meat. If you've ever seen a puppy playing with bones or chewing on rawhide chews, then you've witnessed one example of this. However, there's also another important source of nutrition for dogs: plants. 


In fact, about 50 percent of the calories consumed by American households' dogs come from plant-based sources. These include vegetables (such as broccoli), fruits, grains and legumes. Many experts believe that these diets provide optimal nutritional value because they're lower in fat than animal based ones.


This doesn't mean that every dog will love everything you cook. It seems that some breeds just don't care for certain types of food. For instance, German shepherds won't eat carrots, while dachshunds may struggle with spinach. What's more, some animals simply need a higher caloric intake than others. 


This is especially true of large breed dogs who have longer lifespans than smaller dogs. Therefore, you shouldn't automatically assume that anything you prepare is fit for your canine companion. You must first determine whether or not your dog likes the food before serving it to him or her.


The Pros


Dogs are naturally predisposed to being clean freaks. They spend time licking themselves after going to the bathroom, plus they groom each other constantly. To keep up with their hygienic habits, dogs consume lots of water, which helps wash away waste products. 


Since our pets often lick themselves, they ingest bacteria and germs along with the saliva. By giving them human food, you're providing them with an opportunity to get rid of any potential health issues caused by licking themselves.


It's possible that giving your dog human food could help reduce his or her appetite for table scraps. When researchers fed rats dry cereal mixed with milk powder, they started eating less junk food later on. Likewise, studies performed on children indicate that consuming breakfast cereals high in fiber can decrease snacking later. While this isn't conclusive evidence that it works with dogs, it certainly shows that something as simple as adding fiber into their diet can make a difference.


Another reason you might want to feed your dog human food is that it provides them with additional nutrients. Dogs need vitamin B12, which is found only in animal products such as liver. A supplement such as VitaminanB12 can help replenish the nutrient lost during digestion. 


Also, since dogs require carbohydrates, they typically turn to table sugar instead of veggies. Mixing some fresh fruit into their meal could offer them both energy and vitamins. Finally, most veterinarians recommend that their patients eat a healthy mix of proteins, fats and carbs because it keeps their digestive tract operating properly.


You should never feed your dog chocolate or onions, as well as dairy products or alcohol. Chocolate contains caffeine, which can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs. Onions can upset their stomachs. Alcohol can dehydrate your dog.


The Cons


Some critics say that giving your dog human food raises two major concerns. First, it's bad for their teeth. Canines don't have the ability to grind down tough pieces of food like humans can, so they end up swallowing hard chunks that damage their teeth. 


Second, they might accidentally ingest harmful substances. Even though they lack the enzymes needed to digest some foods, they still have salivary glands. If they happen to swallow something dangerous, such as poison ivy, they could experience life threatening complications.


Other detractors argue that it's unfair to force your dog to eat foods that he or she doesn't enjoy. Just because you like Brussels sprouts, it doesn't mean that your poodle wants to try them. According to some vets, forcing your dog to eat foods that he or she would rather avoid can lead to behavioral problems.


Finally, some people worry about the safety of preparing food for your dog. Humans use knives, spoons and forks to eat, but dogs don't have opposable thumbs. Does this mean they can't safely partake in human fare? Actually, it's quite safe. 

Your dog can easily grip plastic utensils without getting hurt. In addition, the risk of injury is minimal compared to what happens if you leave sharp kitchen objects lying around the house. There's no need to fret about poisoning your dog.


Don't forget to check your dog's mouth immediately after feeding him or her  human food. Signs that your pup ate something foreign include foam coming out of his mouth, blood or drool. Take your pet to the vet right away if you notice any unusual behavior.


Bottom Line


While some people claim that your dog will grow dependent on human food, that's not necessarily the case. As long as you stick to offering your pet specific foods, he or she will likely adapt quickly. 


Of course, if you plan to take your pet to a new home, it's always better to practice good hygiene. Make sure you thoroughly dispose of leftovers and wash off any contaminated dishes. Never feed your dog food that was prepared for yourself.


As you learned earlier, it's perfectly fine to serve your dog human food provided that it meets his or her nutritional needs. This includes making sure that it contains sufficient amounts of calcium, iron and phosphorus. 


Although it's recommended that puppies receive 1 percent of their total dietary intake from protein, adult dogs usually need between 10 and 20 percent. Regardless of age, it's important to ensure that you supply your dog with enough balanced nutrition.


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