It’s understandable that most owners feel the need to feed people food to their pets; however it is important to understand that there are some risks involved. Knowing that some foods are okay to feed and some are not are all things to consider. With the commercial pet foods on the market today, your pet should be receiving all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and of course proteins; so supplementing with people food just is not necessary.
People food can pose a number of health concerns such as blockages, fractured teeth, renal or liver issues and certainly gastro-intestinal problems. Many foods are also known to alter the ph of urine thereby creating a more favorable environment for urinary crystals and stones to form.
Often, feeding people food fosters more bad behaviors like food scavenging, begging, and stealing food.
Some animals that have been well exposed to people food or offered table scraps often can develop an avoidance to their pet food. The concern with this is they may start consuming more people food then pet food (which most likely will not be well balanced or meet nutritional requirements) or if they do go on to develop any disease process (liver, kidney, or heart disease, diabetes etc), they may need to be put on a very specific diet-which they could resent and refuse to eat.
People food tends to be softer in nature and therefore can ‘hang around’ in the pets cheeks longer. This keeps the food particles, bacteria and saliva in the mouth longer which can contribute to dental disease.
We know it can be a tricky habit to stop, or simply the desire to offer a ‘treat’ other then the high calorie commercial treats available at the stores. If you are thinking of making a change for the better or just starting to offer people food, consider these options:
- If you regularly feed people food as a means to get your pet to eat, try slowly reducing the amount and frequency that you offer it. Try adding warm water to your pets food to make it smell more fragrant. After all, pets sense of smell is extremely important when it comes to their appetence.
- Some animals take well to cutting out the people food cold turkey, but watch out-many can be awfully stubborn! It’s fairly well known that cats can’t go for long at all without eating. They should really only go for 1-2 days before health concerns start to arise. But did you know that healthy dogs can go for much longer. If you’re dog is in a health state, some do just fine to wait them out. It’s the same theory of feeding a stubborn child-they will eat when they are hungry, they just don’t know how to starve themselves! The only time this rule doesn’t apply is if there is any underlying health concerns.
- Try offering healthier alternatives!
Healthier people food options:
- peas (frozen make a perfect summer treat)
- cooked, plain white rice
- popsicle treats (water with peas, carrots apple slices frozen inside)
- green beans
- acorn squash
- bell peppers
- broccoli stems (but watch out! May cause gas in some animals)
- cooked, plain popcorn
People food to avoid giving your pet:
The following foods can be toxic to your pet or can cause blockages in their intestines and therefore should be avoided to ensure the health of your pet.
- bones (cooked or uncooked)
- avocados (pits and skins)
- pitted fruit (peaches, plus etc pose a blockage risk, while plums and cherry pits contain cyanide)
Remember food can be a great way to increase the trust and bond between you and your pet. But, keep in mind if you are wanting to offer your pet people food, that you do so in the most responsible way possible. Avoid foods they can’t eat, and offer the ones they can eat-but only in moderation! Treats of any form should always be less than 10% of their daily requirements.