Should Dog Really Eat Human Food? 3 Pros and Cons to Help You Decide | Pupford
October 31st, 2023
Filed under Health + Wellness
One common inquiry that pet parents go back and forth about is whether we should really be giving our dogs human food. Of course, we only want the best for our dogs, and they deserve to be spoiled every once in a while, right?
This blog post will cover the pros and cons of feeding dogs human food, and if you choose to do so how to go about it in a safe and healthy way that will not result in health risks or behavioral challenges down the road.
Here’s what we will cover:
- The Human and Dog Food Dynamic
- Pros of Feeding Your Dog Human Food
- Cons of Feeding Your Dog Human Food
- Human Foods That Are Safe & Toxic For Dogs
THE HUMAN AND DOG FOOD DYNAMIC
Food is one of the ways we can bond and communicate with our dogs. Because of its primal nature, food is a natural reinforcer. Food is a great way to implement training, reinforce behaviors, and help create positive associations with things in their environment.
Over the years, sharing our food with our dogs has become an act of companionship, an expression of love, and even a way to clean up table scraps. However, not all human foods should be shared with our dogs, and doing so excessively can lead to health and behavioral problems.
So let’s talk about the pros and and cons of feeding our dogs human food.
3 PROS TO FEEDING YOUR DOG HUMAN FOOD
1. High-Value Treats
As a dog trainer, I will often use human food items like string cheese, hot dogs, or deli meat when working on more difficult cues or behaviors that require a higher-value reward. I always recommend doing this in moderation for both health reasons and to keep the treat novel and exciting.
2. Potential Nutritional Benefits
Certain human foods, such as lean meats, vegetables, and fruits, can offer additional nutritional elements like protein, vitamins, and minerals, complementing your dog's regular diet. Some items like carrots, can also help to keep their teeth clean and reduce plaque and tartar buildup as well.
3. Enhanced Bonding
Sharing a special treat with your dog can foster a stronger human-dog bond. It’s an act of care and attention, reinforcing the emotional connection between you and your pet. I mean who doesn’t love to get their dog a pup cup when they go to their favorite coffee shop?
3. CONS OF FEEDING YOUR DOG HUMAN FOOD
1. Behavioral Consequences
Behaviors that are reinforced are repeated, this goes for desirable and undesirable behaviors.
This means every time you give into those cute puppy dog eyes when they beg at the dinner table, they are going to think they can have food every time you are at the dinner table.
Trainer Tip: If you are going to give your dog human food, avoid doing so at the dinner table or off the counters. Instead, walk to another location like their food bowl or bed. This way they don’t associate those locations with receiving food.
2. Digestive Upset
Abrupt changes in diet, especially the addition of rich or fatty human foods, can lead to gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, vomiting, and inflammation.
3. Potential for Obesity
High-calorie human foods can contribute to weight gain and obesity in dogs, a concern that is on the rise with the canine population.
HUMAN FOODS THAT ARE SAFE AND TOXIC TO DOGS
If you decide to give your dog human food, it is vital to understand which foods are safe and which foods to avoid.
Safe Human Food For Dogs:
- Lean Meats: Cooked chicken, turkey, and lean beef (without seasoning or bones) are a good source of protein.
- Eggs: Plain eggs are a great source of protein and Omega-fatty acids
- Vegetables: Carrots, green beans, and peas (plain and unsalted) are just a few of the safe vegetables that can provide fiber and essential nutrients to our dog's diet.
- Fruits: Apples (seedless and coreless), blueberries, and bananas can offer a sweet, nutritious treat for your furry friend. You can shop our and treats at Pupford.com!
- Grains: Plain, cooked rice can be a bland and easily digestible addition to a dog’s diet, especially if they have an upset stomach.
Toxic Human Food For Dogs:
- Grapes & Raisins: Even small quantities of grapes or raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs.
- Chocolate & Caffeine: Both of these contain theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to dogs and can lead to various health issues.
- Onions & Garlic: These foods can damage a dog’s red blood cells leading to anemia and other health problems, Always check ingredient lists for these foods, even in powder form it can be very dangerous to their health.
These a just a few human foods that can be toxic to dogs, for a more in-depth list, check out our blog post:
In conclusion, while sharing human food can be both a fun and enjoyable experience for us and our dogs, you want to make sure you do it in a safe way. If needed, consult your veterinarian about any nutritional or diet questions to ensure you are providing your dog with a healthy, balanced diet.
If you are going to give high-value treats, do so in moderation and make sure it is a dog-safe food item first. With all this in mind, you can make an informed decision on giving your dog human food that will promote a happy and healthy life for your canine companion.