Human Foods You Can Actually Feed Your Pet


Holiday season is here! From a pet’s perspective, delicious opportunities abound when family and friends gather to feast during the holidays. Perhaps your pup is particularly talented with the sad dog eyes, and even likes to throw in the ever-adorable tilting of the head to one side? Or maybe you have a particularly food motivated cat who seems to know exactly how to manipulate you into offering him a piece of whatever you are eating? If you are one of those pet owners who feel your pets make it seemingly impossible to resist handing them something from the table, then this blog is for you! Today, we want to share what types of human foods our doctors would actually be OK with if they heard you were feeding it to your pets.

Let’s get something important out of the way before we go any further. There is a long list of reasons why you should not share your food with your pets. Surely you have heard some or all of these before:

  • Some human foods are toxic to pets.
  • Even if not toxic, many human foods can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets (AKA vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia).

  • Some dogs and cats can develop pancreatitis – a condition with a wide spectrum of severity from mild to severe and life threatening (pancreatitis – dogs, pancreatitis – cats).
  • Items such as bones can become stuck in the gastrointestinal tract (causing a foreign body situation), or splintered bones can penetrate the esophagus, stomach or intestines (another life threatening situation).
  • Your pet could become so inclined to eat human foods that he or she does not eat enough of his or her well-balanced, nutritious pet food.
  • Teaching your pet that human food is OK could cause your pet to be more likely to raid the counter, or other areas where human food is kept.

This list leaves many pet owners wondering if there is anything they can share with their pets. Yes, in fact, there are some types of foods that can be shared – with some caveats.

  • If your pet has food allergies, he or she may not tolerate some of the human snacks. If you are going to introduce a new snack item, you should do it slowly, with only one item at a time. Offer your pet a snack with the new item, and then give it a few days without adding anything else. This will give you some time to see if your pet can tolerate the new item.
  • Any snack, no matter how healthy, has calories. If your pet is on a diet, then you must count the snack calories in with the total daily calorie intake.
  • Pet treats – whether they are “real” dog or cat treats, or human food treats – should not account for more than about 10% of the pet’s daily calorie intake.

Now, to get to why you have continued to read this blog…

While some pet owners embrace and happily stick to a “no human food for pets” plan, other owners feel like they want to find some things they can share with their pets. We checked in with Lawndale Veterinary Hospital’s veterinarians to see what foods they feel like are OK for pets to get from time to time.

Here is what they said:

  • In general:
    • Make it bland
    • Use moderation – calories count!
    • Small amounts
    • No fats or spices
    • Make sure it’s not a toxic food
    • Don’t let it contribute to your pet gaining weight
    • Don’t let it take away from your pet eating his or her nutritious pet food
  • Vegetables: Green beans (especially for pets on diets), carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, blueberries, pears
  • Protein: Chicken breast (boiled or grilled), turkey breast, scrambled egg (limited)
  • Grains: Rice (White or brown), pasta
  • When pets are having gastrointestinal signs or not eating well, in addition to white rice and chicken breast or lean hamburger meat, we might also recommend a little cottage cheese or even plain yogurt (in small amounts).

So, if you have been hoping to offer your pet something from the table this holiday season, make sure it fits in with the suggestions above. Or, if you ever have a question about what you can offer your pets – feel free to give us a call!

Author: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS

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