People often tend to have strong feelings when it comes to feeding table scraps. Some dog owners will refuse to feed anything from their table, some veterinarians advise heavily against feeding them. But does that mean feeding table scraps is actually bad for your furry friend?
This topic really interests me - I have grandparents and great grandparents that I talk to often about how they cared for their pets and what they used to feed their pets back in the day. They ask me “Why are you always asking me about dog food?” Or the best question yet “Nichole, don’t you want to know about something, you know, more important.. Like the war?” You see, it’s a passion of mine and it intrigues me that before canned food or kibble was invented for convenience, the old fashioned way was to actually feed pets table scraps! My grandparents and great grandparents fed their dogs meat scraps, bones and whatever else the butcher had leftover that he was going to throw away (more meat scraps, organs, raw bones) and all the dogs they had throughout their lives lived to be at least 15 years old - 18 being the oldest!
Veterinarians do not recommend feeding table scraps for a few reasons:
Balance: Table scraps are not a balanced meal and can lead to malnutrition. This is absolutely true! Maybe around 100 years ago when pet owners would raise their own food and feed leftover meat, eggs and other crops would this be considered balanced. Unfortunately, nowadays “table scraps” to us are uneaten pizza crust, french fries and other foods that lack nutritional value. I think it goes without saying that pizza crust and french fries are not a balanced meal!
Pancreatitis: It tends to get a bit more crowded at the Vet after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Vets say that they deal with more pancreatitis cases after the Holidays than they ever have due to dog owners feeding the leftovers from their Holiday feasts each year. Considering the average pet owner feeds kibble, rich foods such as honey baked ham or honey roasted turkey can cause pancreatitis if given too much. Personally, every Holiday dinner I have ever attended I see everyone feeding the dogs plates of leftover food - ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and even the cranberry sauce! Feeding these types of fatty, oily foods in large quantities every year can have an effect on their health. (Luckily Real Dog Box offers a whole Pig Foot as a super chew, I give one to my pup for the Holidays.. Much more satisfying than some yeasty potatoes.)
Canned dog food was invented in the 1920’s and kibble was invented between the 1940-1950’s. If you do the math, the first canned food was only invented roughly 98 years ago with horse meat being the main ingredient. Before that, dogs were eating scraps of meat, organ and bone. Sound familiar? A balanced, biologically appropriate diet for dogs is meat, organ and bone! Like most fast food restaurants, canned food and kibble were invented to make a lot of money from the convenience. By the time World War II ended, pet food sales had reached $200 million! Just because canned food and kibble were invented does not mean that is what our dogs are meant to eat. History says so!
Fun Fact: Feeding goat milk to sick dogs started in the 14th century and goat milk is still used as probiotics to aid in gut health to this day!
So, Can I Feed Table Scraps?
The short answer - yes. If you want to feed a table scrap every so often, most pups will have no issue with that. To avoid any potential stomach upset, try feeding fibrous scraps such as broccoli, cauliflower or carrots versus carbohydrates or oily foods. Pieces of meat whether they are raw or cooked is fine too as long as they are not covered in butter or salt. Feeding buttery, salty scraps can cause your dog to become picky (or pickier) since they will always be wanting something buttery and salty. Keeping the table scraps you feed at low calorie, low fat, and low salt will ensure your pup stays healthy! If you have a bone leftover that is NOT cooked and still in its raw state, feed it while supervising! Raw meaty bones have amazing benefits!
What Scraps Are Safe?
Bits of chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish
Raw vegetables - a few such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery. Do not feed onions.
Cooked vegetables without butter and salt
Pumpkin (great for the tummy as well)
Certain fruits such as blueberries, watermelon, banana (small doses). Do not feed grapes or raisins.
Eggs without butter or salt (raw or cooked - raw is more beneficial)
What Scraps Are Not Safe?
Garlic (in large doses, but smaller dosages are not only safe, but also extremely beneficial)
Anything with sugar
Anything starchy (skip potatoes, they are yeasty)