Table Scraps Dos and Don’ts for Your Dog
Can you share any part of your delicious meal with your pup, or maybe give them a few table scraps?
Pets are part of the family, so shouldn’t they have a spot at the dinner table, too? You don’t want them to feel left out, especially on special occasions!
But then again, you don’t want to spend the day at the emergency vet, full of guilt, or thinking about the bill that will come with the trip.
Can you share any part of your delicious meal with your pup, or maybe give them a few table scraps? Here are some do’s and don’ts about what dogs can eat for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals.
Don’t Let Your Dog Lick Your Plate (and No Scrap Plates!)
It’s best to resist the urge to put your plate down after you are finished for your dog to lick clean. And you certainly shouldn’t scrape the scraps off everyone’s plate and give all of those to your dog.
In general, dogs don’t do well with novel foods. their bodies were not designed to handle the extra fat, salt, seasonings, and many ingredients in our foods. So that means no scraps like turkey skin, meat fats, cheesy casseroles, mashed potatoes, pastas, bread crusts, sauces, gravy, and so on.
Best case, you may have a one-night case of stomach upset that might lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting, which is still not fun for anyone involved.
Worst case, your dog could end up with gastroenteritis, pancreatitis or intoxication, all of which may lead to a visit to the pet emergency hospital. Your dog may even have to be hospitalized for extended treatment.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which causes abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. It can happen when dogs eat fatty foods, and there’s plenty of fat in most table scraps. The pancreas normally produces enzymes to help break down meals, but when the pancreas becomes inflamed, the enzymes can be released into the abdominal cavity and cause pain. If severe, pancreatitis can be life-threatening.
You’re better off sneaking them an extra piece or two of Sundays if you really want them to feel included while everyone is at the table.
Don’t Throw Your Dog a Bone
Dogs love bones, and you may be thinking you may as well give your dog the bones from your holiday meal so they don’t go to waste. It’s a nice idea, but they will certainly do more harm than good.
This goes for cooked and raw turkey bones, chicken bones, ham bones, prime rib bones, or any other bone.
Cooked bones become brittle and can easily splinter and break. Bone fragments can tear up your dog’s mouth and cause trauma to their esophagus and intestines.
Raw bones aren’t much better. They may be harder to break, but they still can, and even worse, your dog could swallow the entire bone. Bones are also at risk for becoming stuck in the gastrointestinal tract, and can require endoscopic or surgical removal. Raw bones can carry harmful bacteria if not handled properly - those will young children and the elderly should be especially careful when handling raw meats or bones.
Do: Treat Your Dog to Some Safe Foods
Even though your best friend can’t enjoy the full meal experience, they can still snack on some doggy-safe foods. That sounds better than waiting around for a few scraps, anyway! Certain foods, like garlic, onion, grapes, raisins, and chocolate, are also toxic to dogs, so be sure to steer clear of feeding your pup anything with those ingredients.
But when you’re making up a plate for your dog, there are a few guidelines you should follow, even with foods that are safe:
- Always cook meat, poultry, or fish to kill any bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.
- Remove pits, seeds, and rinds from fruits and give them in moderation due to their high sugar content.
- Cut up the foods into bite-size pieces to avoid choking hazards.
- Serve these foods without seasonings or butter.
Here’s a list of pup-approved ingredients and foods that you might find in your kitchen at this time of year:
- Green beans
- Canned pumpkin
- Small amounts of lean turkey (remove all large obvious pieces of fat)
Do: Secure the Garbage Can From Curious Pups
You may not mean to feed your dog scraps, but if they are crafty enough, they might try to treat themselves to some right from the garbage can. Even the most innocent pups can’t resist the deliciousness of a trash bin full of table scraps. Don’t assume that your dog can’t get in just because there’s a lid, either.
There are a few ways to keep your dog out of the trash after a meal. One is to patrol the can every minute and keep taking out the trash as soon as any scrap is dropped into it. We’re pretty sure no one has the time or energy for that.
A better way is to get a trash can with a lid and a childproof strap. These are inexpensive and easy to install. One side sticks to the lid, and the other to the side of the can.
If you store your garbage can in a cabinet, make sure you secure the cabinet doors with a childproof lock or a bungee cord if you have one.
If none of these is an option, you may need to place the garbage on the porch or in the garage until you can take it out.