The Dos and Don'ts of Feeding Pets People Food
Posted February 21, 2019
When a pet is begging for food, it is sometimes hard to resist
giving them a little taste of your meal. Before you do this,
though, it is important to know which foods are OK to give as
treats and which can cause serious health concerns.
Kaitlyn Upton, a veterinary student at
the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, discusses some common human foods that are either safe or
toxic to pets.
Though pets of all kinds are known to
beg, dogs tend to do so most often. There are several human foods
that can be given to dogs occasionally.
“Lean meats can be a great treat if
you want your dog to feel a little bit of extra love,” Upton said.
“You can easily add them in to one of your pet’s meals—just avoid
fatty pieces or meat with lots of spices or seasoning.”
Meats with high fat content can cause
stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. It is also best to
avoid seasoned meats that may contain high levels of sodium or
toxic seasonings such as onion. Pets should also never be fed
bones, which are a serious choking hazard.
Raw vegetables such as green beans and
carrots also make great treats for dogs; green beans can be great
for training because of their low calorie content, and carrots can
help with teeth cleaning.
Upton also recommended occasionally
adding canned pumpkin to meals to increase a dog’s fiber intake,
which can help with weight loss. Like meats, these vegetables
should not have any extra flavorings or seasonings.
While there are several human foods
that are safe for dogs, there are also many that can cause serious
health problems. The most well-known of these dangerous foods is
“In addition to potentially harmful
levels of caffeine, chocolate contains a compound called
theobromine, which is toxic to dogs,” Upton said, adding that dark
and pure baker’s chocolate contain the highest amounts of
theobromine, but all types of chocolate should be kept away from
Upton also said to avoid feeding dogs
grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney failure, or plants from
the onion family, which can damage red blood cells.
“Most people do not try to feed their
dogs whole onions or garlic cloves,” she said. “However, it is easy
to forget that we often use garlic and onion salts on our meats or
when cooking vegetables.”
All of these toxic foods have the same
effects on cats as they do on dogs, though Upton said garlic can be
even more harmful to our feline friends.
Cats can also be given the same human
food treats as dogs, but because of their carnivorous diet they
should not be given too many vegetables.
She advises keeping toxic foods out of
the reach of pets and being aware of the types of seasonings you
use when cooking.
Symptoms from eating toxic foods can
take up to a day to develop and may not be noticed right away. The
most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and
It is helpful to keep a phone number
for an animal poison control center or emergency veterinary clinic
in an easily accessible location. The ASPCA poison control line is
open 24 hours every day at 888-426-4435.
Upton says pets should generally keep
a consistent diet to avoid any gastrointestinal tract issues, and
any major food changes should be done gradually and discussed with
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