The Pros and Cons of Feeding Table Scraps
To me, the thought of feeding my dog table scraps is not offensive in the least, but the debate is out there and people come down very strongly on both sides. I can understand some of the arguments against feeding table scraps; however, I think that they can each be countered with a remedy, and I will discuss those below. First, here are some pros and cons:
Good Source of Nutrition
I enjoy feeding my dogs the tops of carrots and the bottoms of celery stalks as I am prepping food for a meal in the kitchen. All three of my dogs really enjoy eating them. They actually mistake veggies for treats! These vegetable scraps are a good source of vitamins for people and for dogs. Other foods that are safe for your dog include lean meats, cheeses in moderation, and most fresh fruit and veggies. Processed lunch meats, chips, candy, and other pre-packaged and processed foods are not great for dogs just like they’re not great for humans.
No food scraps go to waste in my house! If I have enough to make a stock, I will feed vegetable scraps to my dogs. If I feel full when there is still a bite or two of dinner on my plate, I share with my dogs instead of throwing it away. Those calories will be put to use to give my dogs energy instead of being thrown away to rot. Just make sure that you adjust your dog’s next feeding to account for the calories you have fed him in people food!
When food is spilled on the floor in my house, I never have to clean it up. That can be very helpful.
I find that sharing my food with my dogs brings us closer together, and the dogs are very excited when they are given this treat. I understand how some people may find begging while at the dinner table annoying, but to me, it can be a good way to teach patience to your dog. Don’t reward your dog with table scraps when he is pushy at the table. Reward him for sitting or lying quietly nearby, or even in another room, and being patient through your meal.
One of the main concerns and arguments against feeding table scraps that I can truly support is that it can easily lead to obesity in dogs. Many people will let their dogs finish half of their plate of food at every meal and think of it as a treat while still serving that dog his full daily allotment of calories in kibble as well. This will obviously lead to weight gain. Your dog needs to be burning as many calories as he consumes each day to maintain his current weight just like we humans do! This is why very active dogs can eat and should be fed a lot more food than lazy dogs who like to sleep all day. It is your job to keep track of this for your dog, as he will most likely eat whatever is put in front of him. Responsible pet owners can walk this line by monitoring their pets’ overall health daily, keeping track of what their pets are eating (by not free-feeding), and keeping lazy dogs active by making them go on walks and get up and play. It is not the act of feeding table scraps in itself that leads to obesity, but instead consuming way too many calories! Don’t be a sucker and over-feed your dog. It is bad for his health and quality of life, it reduces his life span, and it costs you more money in food and medical expenses, not to mention lost quality time with your pet.
Some Human Foods are Harmful to Pets
Another legitimate concern when feeding table scraps to your pet is the concern that it may cause him some kind of harm. For example, did you know that cooked chicken bones can be very harmful to your dog while raw ones are usually fine? Did you know that most fruits and vegetables are very healthy for your dog to eat while grapes (and raisins) and onions can be harmful? Did you know that fatty meats can cause digestive upset while lean meats are usually okay? Too much sodium from processed foods can also be harmful to pets. If pet owners arms themselves with knowledge and research (the internet is at our fingertips after all) then we can safely decide what we can feed to our dogs!
I Hate Begging
Some people feel very strongly about their dogs begging for food while they are eating dinner. I can understand this. And it is, of course, your right to not feed your dog table scraps! But teach your dog to wait patiently until the end of the meal for a small reward, and begging really isn’t so bad.
Dogs can also learn to refuse to eat their kibble and instead hold out for you to feed them the rest of your dinner. Don’t get bullied by your dog! If this happens, stop feeding human foods to your dog COMPLETELY. Offer your dog his regular serving of kibble twice a day and take it back up if he hasn’t eaten it in 5 minutes. Dogs are NOT likely to starve themselves and may be able to hold out more than a couple of days without getting too hungry before gobbling up a bowl of food. If your dog already has some (ahem!) extra fat reserves, then he can probably go longer without eating and will burn some fat for energy instead.