You’ve probably heard time and time again that table scraps should not be fed to pets, but how true is that old adage? Like most absolute statements, it’s not that simple. Some scraps could be lethal; others might be more nutritious than your pet’s regular food! Most human food falls in between. Too much could cause obesity, which is more dangerous in the long term than almost any single food item.
When Table Scraps Are Okay
In moderation, some types of human food are harmless or even healthful. For example, cooked green beans are an excellent snack for a dog or cat (though most cats won’t eat them). If you’re having green beans with dinner, go ahead and serve a small portion to your pet.
Eggs are also a great treat, and can help with skin and coat problems. Avoid seasoned eggs like scrambled or deviled eggs, but raw or hard-boiled egg is fine for pets. They’re high-calorie, though, so save them for pets who could stand to gain a little weight, or reduce the pet’s usual food accordingly.
Most raw or lightly cooked meats are also healthful for dogs and cats. However, if you feed more than a very small amount of raw meat, don’t give any kibble for 12 hours. Kibble can delay the much more rapid digestion of raw meat, which could cause a stomach upset or an infection. Turkey necks, chicken thighs, and London Broil beef are among my pets’ favorite raw meals.
When Table Scraps Are Dangerous
Cooked bones are dangerous and should never be given to pets. Large bones like steak bones could chip pets’ teeth, and small bones could splinter and cause choking.
Grapes, raisins, and onions are also on the “no” list. They can cause anemia or pancreatitis. Garlic is also hazardous in large quantities, but a very small amount can actually be beneficial. A little bit of garlic promotes a healthy immune system and can help to keep fleas away.
Of course, don’t feed chocolate to pets. While most dogs would have to eat an ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight to have a serious reaction, some dogs can react poorly to even a tiny amount of chocolate. Just don’t risk it!
In addition, most carb-heavy foods shouldn’t be given to pets. Bread, pasta, and potatoes are all fattening. While they’re okay as treats in moderation, avoid giving any of these items to pets on a regular basis.
Finally, most highly processed foods won’t do your pet any good, and could be harmful in the short or long term. Potato chips, buttered popcorn (unbuttered and unsalted is okay), sweets, and french fries should all be avoided.