Will Table Scraps Hurt My Dog?

For centuries people have been feeding their dogs table scraps. The term “doggie bag” is even used to describe the container for tidbits of leftover food we take home from restaurants to presumably feed our dogs. Whether it’s the fatty parts of our steaks that we choose not to eat or simply the leftovers from an overindulgent meal, our canine companions have been the recipients of this bounty. But are table scraps good for our dogs? It all depends.

Like us, dogs are omnivorous. Their digestive systems are different, however, and they lack the enzymes to help digest some of the foods common in our diet, particularly carbohydrates. In addition to this difficulty in digestion, some people foods are outright harmful – even fatal – to our dogs.

Foods Harmful to Dogs

Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure and actually lead to a dog’s death. Alcohol is toxic to dogs, even in small amounts, and can also cause death. Onions can destroy a dog’s red blood cells. Chocolate contains theobromine, and according to the Seattle Veterinary Associates, can cause a variety of symptoms from “… vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis, seizures and death.” Artificial sweeteners contain xylitol, which can cause liver damage and a dangerous drop in blood sugar. Bones can splinter and get caught in or perforate a dog’s digestive system, sometimes causing death. Other foods that can seriously damage your dog’s health are caffeine, raw bread dough, avocados and macadamia nuts.

Myths about Certain Foods and Dogs

Although some dogs are lactose intolerant, they do not get worms from drinking milk. Even hard bones, like knuckle bones, are dangerous for a dog. Using garlic is not an effective way to de-worm your dog, nor does it repel fleas. In 99.9 percent of cases, dogs do not require vitamin or mineral supplements if they are on a high-quality diet.

According to veterinarian T.J. Dunn, Jr., limited amounts of carefully selected table scraps won’t harm your dog. You should keep in mind, however, that table scraps contain calories, and the amount of dog food they receive at feeding time should be adjusted accordingly.

Emergency Assistance – Be sure to call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may have ingested something toxic. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also has a 24/7 poison hotline – (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.


Will Draper, “Do You Feed Your Dog Table-Scraps?” WebMD.com

Bernie Delinski, “Human-Intended Foods May Be Harmful to Your Pet,” Seattle Veterinary Associates

T.J. Dunn, Jr., “Principles of Dog Nutrition,” PetMed.com

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