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Expert Advice on Pet Health and Nutrition

 
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WebMD Expert Discussion: Do You Feed Your Dog Table Scraps?

He looks so cute, gazing up at you with those big eyes. His tail wags. He gives you a doggy grin. If he could talk, he’d be saying “Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease…” You know what your dog wants: a bite of your burger. Is there any harm in feeding your dog a few table scraps every now and then?

There could actually be a lot of harm, says WebMD guest veterinarian Will Draper, DVM, in the online discussion Caring for Your Pet. Dogs may eat meats and plant-based foods just like people, but they don’t digest certain foods as well as we can. For example, unlike people, their saliva isn’t designed to break down carbohydrates.

Some perfectly healthy and nutritious “people foods” can be very dangerous for dogs. Chocolate and coffee can cause cardiac arrest. Grapes and raisins can produce kidney failure. Onions and garlic can destroy red blood cells and produce potentially deadly anemia. Even seemingly benign fruits -- like peaches, apples, and tomatoes -- are dangerous for dogs.

So the best bet, Draper advises, is to keep the people food on the table. Give your dog the dog food made for his age and size.

Many pet owners confess that they haven’t always stuck to Dr. Draper’s rule. One woman admits that, over the years, she’s fed her many dogs a variety of nibbles from her plate, including meat, rice, and cheese. When she once ran out of their morning dog biscuits, she replaced them with slices of American cheese. She makes sure not to allow them even a taste of the dangerous foods, and keeps them out of the kitchen when she’s cooking.

The only disastrous results she’s experienced from people food are when the dogs have broken into the kitchen trash. She treats the diarrhea aftermath with a few days of homemade boiled chicken and rice.

Others say they also have occasionally shared a taste of a steak or a burger with their dogs. And one woman even noted that she had a dog in the 1970s that lived entirely on table scraps. Since he passed away at 15 -- after a fall down the stairs -- he didn’t seem to have any noticeable illnesses from his diet. She asks, “What did dog owners feed their pets before commercial dog food was available?”

Good question! What’s been your experience? Has your dog ever suffered from eating table scraps?

Discussion led by William Draper, DVM Guest Expert
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Dr. Will opened Georgia’s first accredited small animal emergency room in 2000. He’s been named Best Vet by Atlanta Magazine since 2004... More

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Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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