Should you let your dog eat scraps?

Every dog owner has been there: you’re sat at the dinner table, about to finish your meal or with some leftovers on your plate, you look down beside you and what do you see? Your pet pooch staring longingly up at you with a cuter-than-cute expression.

Who can resist those puppy dog eyes!? Many owners at this point give into temptation and end up feeding their hound the remainder of their meal. But is it actually safe to feed them food designed for human consumption? And are there any ingredients that we really need to avoid giving to our pets?

Before we delve into this subject a little more, is your pooch protected with insurance? As fellow dog lovers, the Purely Pets team want to make sure that if your pet becomes poorly, you’re able to provide them with the care they need to ensure they make a swift recovery.

Dog insurance can help to recoup the costs associated with vets bills if your dog needed treatment for an accident or illness. We’ve designed 15 cover levels so that you can choose the right policy for your and your pet’s needs. We offer a 24-Hour Vet Helpline and Manage My Policy portal, giving you the flexibility and freedom to manage your cover at a time that suits you.

 

Feeding scraps to your dog – should you do it?

Two dogs leaning on their owners leg begging for treats

So, should you give food scraps to your dog? Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, advises against it. Here’s what it says:

‘It is best to avoid feeding table scraps as treats since many human foods can cause digestive upsets, contribute to obesity and unbalance your dog’s diet.’

It goes on to explain how feeding your pooch a slice of leftover toast is equivalent to a human eating one portion of chips. Surprising, right?

By feeding dogs scraps we also run the risk of feeding them food that’s dangerous to dogs. Some foods could lead to digestive issues or even be fatal for them, including:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions and garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Food containing the artificial sweetener xylitol

 

Are any leftovers safe?

Now, while Dogs Trust says it’s best to avoid table scraps, other sources say that feeding your dog leftovers is fine – so long as they are healthy foods and so long as you don’t make a regular habit of it. Moderation is key.

You need to avoid any of the foods listed above, as well as unhealthy foods, such as fried dishes or packaged foods.

Whole, fresh foods such as meat, vegetables and fruit are the best, particularly in their natural state or very lightly cooked. But you still need to be careful of certain ingredients that may seem healthy – for instance, a tomato that’s slightly green could be toxic to your hound. You just need to be totally sure the scrap you’re giving them is safe.

It’s best to follow the rule: if in doubt, throw it out!

And it’s worth mentioning that these scraps – even if they are healthy – should never replace foods or meals designed specifically for your pet. Letting them finish off your carrots and mixing with some fresh chicken is great as a healthy snack for your dog, but it won’t count as a balanced meal.

If you’re interested in feeding your dog a diet comprising all fresh ingredients, you’ll need to pick recipes created by a veterinary nutritionist. It’s also a good idea to seek advice from your vet.

In the event your pooch ended up with a poorly tummy because they ate something they shouldn’t have, it’s likely to result in a trip to the vets. This is when it’s really important to have dog insurance, which can help to cover vets costs.

A dog sitting at a table with its owner preparing various foods

Teaching your pet table manners

Does your hound stare longingly at you during every meal time? If so, then it’s understandable that you end up giving in and feeding them your leftovers!

It’s time to teach your pooch some table manners. Here are some tips that will help you to enjoy your meals in peace:

 

Feed them at the same time

It makes sense to feed your pooch at the same time as you sit down to eat. Their dinner will distract them from bothering you!

 

Establish a routine

If it’s not feasible to eat at the same time each day, then it’s important to establish an eating routine. Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit, so spend time teaching them that their breakfast, lunch and dinner will be ready at certain times. It won’t be long before they learn the difference between their mealtime and yours!

Feed your dog before you sit down to eat if possible – because a full-up dog is likely to be less of a bother than a starving one!

 

Set restrictions

 This one might be tough, but if your dog is a nuisance every dinner time then it’s best to keep them from the dining room or wherever it is you eat. If you know that they’ll end up scratching the dining room door, then you might want to consider keeping them separate using something like a pet gate.

 

Resist!

If your dog is begging for scraps at the table, giving in to them will only encourage that behaviour. When you tell them ‘no’, stick to it! Refuse to give them any food as this will teach them that it’s yours regardless of how much they try and beg for it.

 

Give treats for good behaviour

When your dog displays good table manners, reward them with their favourite (doggy) treat! This will help to reinforce good behaviour and hopefully mean that you won’t have to deal with a begging dog again!

An owner passing a treat to a dog

Dog insurance from Purely Pets

With Purely Pets, you can choose from 15 cover levels and multi-pet policies that allow you to keep all your insurance in one place. The benefits of our policies include:

 

  • Lifetime cover from £1,000 to £15,000
  • Select your excess
  • 24-hour Vet Helpline
  • Online policy management

 

Start protecting your well-mannered pooch today and get a dog insurance quote!