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Why You Shouldn't Feed Your Dog Leftovers

Updated on November 2, 2009

It seems most dog owners allow their dogs to eat the scraps from their own plates as a meal. Yes it might cut down on the cost of dog food, but it isn't very good for your pet. Most people have heard that dogs shouldn't have chocolate (it acts as a stimulant to dogs, making them extremely hyper but also speeding their heart rate up to a dangerous level), but there are several other foods that dogs should eat either. Unfortunately some of these foods are frequently in human foods. If you feed your dog leftovers from your own meal, please be extra careful.

We can start with the beverages a dog can't have because that list is smaller. Caffeine is a stimulant like chocolate and speed up your dog's heart rate to dangerous levels. Dogs are not capable of handling even small amounts of alcoholic beverages and even a little bit can cause problems and possibly death. While it might be funny to a college kid to watch their dog stumble into things, it isn't funny at all and can do permanent damage.

There are several fruits that dogs can't have including avocados, grapes, raisins, and fruits with pits - but not all for the same reason. The pits of fruits have been known to contain trace amounts of cyanide, which can be fatal for a small animal like a dog. Also a dog could choke on a pit, or if he can swallow it, it could become lodged in his intestine. Grapes and raisins cause problems for a dog's digestive system. Avocados are toxic to many animals and can cause damage to a dog's organs.

Garlic and onion (even onion powder) contain sulfoxides and disulfides that damage a dog's red blood cells and can cause anemia. Yeast dough can cause problems in a dog as well. If a dog swallows dough it can then rise in their stomach - causing discomfort and possibly even rupturing the stomach of intestines. Macadamia nuts can also cause digestive problems. Mushrooms can also be toxic for dogs.

Dogs really like meat, but too much fat is not good for them. There is also the risk of bones. Bones can cut a dog's insides or become lodged on the way through. I once had a dog that ate an entire chicken carcass out of our garbage (it was covered even). The vet bills were astronomical and our dog really suffered. Not fun!

While you might not actively feed your dog leftovers or table scraps, if you have an indoor pet (and if you have children, since they like to feed pets) then you need to be extra careful about what is left out. I think all pet owners want the best for their pet and I bet that most owners don't want to spend unnecessary time or money on a sick dog. So take my advice and make sure that your dog doesn't get any foods that would harm him.


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    • profile image

      Elaine 3 years ago

      I agree with Len. After reading what's in Most dry dog food (all sorts of animal parts including road kill, etc), we do feed our lab most of what we eat except for foods we read were not good for her such as garlic, onions, chocolate, grapes, etc. We don't feed her bones unless they are cooked chicken neck bones. Our vet told us that was ok. She is a happy and healthy lab and not a pound overweight.

    • profile image

      VictoriaAnn 7 years ago

      Byproducts are something that pet owners should also be aware of when choosing what to feed their animals. Byproducts are basically what a hot dog is to humans, except in the animal realm it can consist of animal carcass remains, diseased parts, even roadkill animals, leashes, collars, etc. Pet food industries are allowed to use these "byproducts" as filler, and they are not regulated by the pet food industry as of yet because the method of "sanitizing" is seen as sufficient enough to be permissible. Sorry, but eating a "sanitized" roadkill or a diseased cow is not sufficient enough for me to feed my dog! Many reputable dog food companies do use byproducts in their pet food ingredients, make sure to look at the labels! Especially if it is listed toward the top, then it is a main ingredient, YUCK!

      Corn and wheat are also fillers that are not needed, you would never see a wolf raiding a corn or wheat field! It's the meat they're after, it's the meat that your pets need! Make sure to find a good pet food that stays away from byproducts and other fillers like corn and wheat. One of my favorites that my dog loves is Nutro Ultra! Nutripet is also a good one, sold through

      Happy pet food hunting!

    • profile image

      stellathestaffy 7 years ago

      I think your title of the article is wrong, Jennifer, you've said you shouldn't feed a dog scraps but then gone on to list mostly things which a sensible dog owner wouldn't feed their dog anyway.

      I give my dog the occasional scraps, food which doesn't contain any of the stuff you've listed (ok, maybe the odd trace of garlic or onion, but nothing drastic in proportion!), plus bits of apple etc, in addition to his normal food. I'm no expert but I think that she should get some 'fresh' sometimes in addition to his Eukanuba (which I know is one of the best foods) for additional vitamins and minerals.

      It's useful advice about bones and I agree with what your article is saying, but I don't think leftovers should have to be totally avoided.

      Anyone who feeds their pet alcohol/caffiene is just an irresponsible idiot.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Didn't know about the pork chop bones and the pits from fruits thanks for the information

    • dogluver1 profile image

      dogluver1 8 years ago

      Sometimes I feed my dog leftovers to. My mother always gives my dog all sorts of human food! >:-( I try to tell her stop! But she doesnt listen I don't do that to my dog.

    • profile image

      Len_A 8 years ago

      Well, your advise on what not to feed your dog is correct, but I have news for those of you who feel that commercial dog food is good for your dogs - you've been misled. Unless the dog specifically says that it is made with "HUMAN QUALITY INGREDIENTS", all most all commercial dog food, which the USDA classifies as Animal Feed, contains: the very vague "meat by-products." The "meat" umbrella encompasses some very undesirable members: zoo animals, road kill, so-called, "4-D livestock" (dead, diseased,disabled and dying), and even (yikes!) euthanized dogs and cats. This later I know for an absolute fact, because as an industrial sales rep of over 25 years, I've called on the food processing industry, including pet food manufacturing, and rendering plants, which many municipal animal shelters PAY to dispose of euthanized companion animals. Then the rendering plants sell the processed "product" as "meat meal" to the pet food industry. About six years ago, the USDA tried to insult all of our collective intelligence by "developing" a DNA test, to "assure" we consumers that there was no companion animals in commercial pet food, but any junior high school biology student knows that cooking heat destroys DNA.

      Other ingredients in commercial pet food includes: moldy grain, vegetables labled "not fit for human consumption", meat processing plant trimmings that hit the factory floor, etc. Basically,it's things that we as human beings are not supposed to eat. Even horse meat is used,which wouldn't be so bad, except for one glaring, little known fact - the standard veterinary procedure for euthanizing a horse is to overdose it on sodium phenobarbital. That drug remains in the dog food in trace amounts.

      If you wouldn't feed it to your family, why in the name of all that's holy would you feed it to your beloved family dog?

      We took our Shih Tzu off all commercial dog food, and put him on a homemade food diet. Although it's temporarily out of stock, we have a decent supply of K9-Rx, and I use a teaspoon each meal to provide the vitamin fortification, plus give him a Pet Tab vitamin every day. The rest of his meals are one third whole grain pasta (Barilla Plus) or baked potatoes( or 50/50 of both), one third cooked vegetables (carrots and celery), and the remaining third protein source - lean chicken, turkey, and/or beef, and salmon, reducing the meat amount to compensate for the whey protein in the K9-Rx. Our Shih Tzu is fourteen years old, we just did a two and a half mile walk this morning, like we do every morning.

    • neysajasper profile image

      neysajasper 8 years ago

      I find your statement very interesting and useful for the dog’s health. Pet dogs are really very close to us or some time street dogs also. You have quoted your conclusion in a quite doctor’s manner that’s why it focuses your practical experience. It is useful for readers.

    • Katelyn Weel profile image

      Katelyn Weel 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Are seedless grapes a problem? I give my dog small amounts of apples, carrots, celery.. stuff like that, only raw, fresh fruits and veggies as I've read in many places that those are actually very beneficial to a dog's health.

    • profile image

      B.C. BOUTIQUE 8 years ago

      Very TRUE !!! its about time somone lets "Scrap Feeders" know the harm they are unknowingly causing to their beloved pet...PERMANENTLY!

      I have alot of respect for your knowlidge and care of your animals, not to mention your love of got a new fan today :) ( if you will have )

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      I didn't know about the grapes, it was our rotties' favorite food. However, I was told to never feed chicken, or other poultry, and pork bones to dogs as they shard and splinter easily. I make my own food for them, which at times, seems better than what I make for myself! lol Thanks for the important information.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you for all this good information. We have tried not to feed our Sheltie human food...but sometimes she'll get a crust of bread or a bit of a cracker because she has such big expressive eyes. :>)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      This is a great hub and it reinforces all that we've been told about leftovers for our dogs. Other than bread (not stale), we don't feed our dogs human food, just dog food. And we're often told that it is more expensive and that we should feed them leftovers because a lot of dog owners are doing that here. But we don't really want to take any chances because for one, we love them and for another, they're pretty expensive to maintain, especially when they're sick!

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      I do feed my dog leftovers but it's usually only the meat component of the meal and occasionally some plain cooked pasta, which is often found in commercially prepared dog foods anyway. Nice hub.

    • LeonJane profile image

      LeonJane 8 years ago from Australia

      Great hub and great advice. We feed our dog Eukanuba dried biscuits, it's more expensive than most dried dog foods but it gives our dog a balanced diet. Our vet advised to stay away from canned dog foods because they are mostly made up of water and are high in sodium (salt). Like you say, you have to be careful with bones, especially cooked lamb or pork chops as they have sharp edges. We usually feed our dog raw chicken bones and suitable table scrapes as an extra treat.

      Can't wait to read more of your hubs!