Dogs need to be treated like dogs and not like children in every respect; this isn’t being mean, it is simply a case of understanding the differences between us and providing the appropriate care and lifestyle for your dog, acknowledging their needs as a different species.
Never is this more important than when it comes to food, both in terms of what you feed to your dog and the rules in place around this. All too many dog owners think that sharing their meals with their dog means sharing love; but in fact, it simply creates problems, both for your dog and yourself, doing neither of you any favours.
This article will tell you about five big and completely avoidable problems you can create for yourself if you feed your dog table scraps. Read on to learn more.
First up, the most acute, immediate, and often unexpected problem you can cause by feeding your dog table scraps is poisoning.
Some dog owners think that food is food, and that if you can eat it, so can your dog; but this is far from the case, and a large number of human foods are outright poisonous to dogs. That said, most dog owners are aware that some foods we humans enjoy are toxic to dogs, thanks to large-scale campaigns and plentiful availability of information letting us know this; like chocolate, which is a canine toxin that most dog owners are aware of.
However, the whole list of foods that can poison dogs is a long one, and few dog owners would reliably be able to name or identify every single food on it.
Some of the foods that are poisonous to dogs also seem on the surface of it like the fact they’re toxic isn’t a problem per se, as they’re unlikely to be foods dogs would like anyway; like leeks, grapes, and even macadamia nuts.
However, not only will some dogs eat absolutely anything and do this so fast they barely taste it, but all of the foods mentioned above and more that are poisonous to dogs can be found as masked ingredients in other foods, or combined with other foods that dogs like very much… Such as gravy and roast dinners for leeks, onions and garlic (all toxic to dogs) and in fruit cakes and other sweet treats in the case of nuts and grapes (the latter in the form of raisins).
Even if you’re religious about ensuring you never cook with anything that is directly poisonous to dogs, if your dog’s meals consist of table scraps or human foods instead of dog food or if you supplement their meals or give them table scraps regularly, you are going to make them overweight.
Dogs need different amounts of food than humans, a different balance of nutrients, and different key ingredients. Even a healthy diet for a human isn’t the right fit for a healthy dog, and few of us could say in total honesty that we don’t eat too much fat or sugar, or other ingredients that should always be eaten in moderation.
Feeding your dog table scraps will make them gain weight, and most dogs fed regularly in this way are seriously obese. Just two crisps are the equivalent in terms of calorie rations for some dogs as a big juicy cheeseburger is for us, and it contains no nutritional value for them either.
Giving a dog scraps not only means risking poisoning them or making them fat, but it can also result in physical injuries too! This is particularly the case when it comes to foods like cooked bones, with small bones from poultry being the worst. These are brittle and sharp, and quickly splinter when your dog crunches them up. This can result in puncture wounds in and around the mouth, or internal injuries too.
Foods like toffees and sweets that are very chewy can even pose a hazard too, if your dog swallows them half-chewed in a thick mass that lodges in their throat; or if they swallow a string of toffee with part of it stuck to their teeth, causing choking.
Feeding a dog table scraps doesn’t just come with the risk of physical problems alone, but also causes behavioural problems in short order.
A dog that is used to sharing your food, being given your food or turning on the charm to get scraps will absolutely push their luck in this respect, and quickly develop bad manners.
This is apt to result in classical begging behaviour, pushiness around meals, stealing food that is left unattended, and bothering people while they eat. All of which is annoying, and sets the tone for other forms of bad manners to develop too.
Finally, feeding your dog human food can also cause more acute behaviour problems as well as bad manners, particularly dominance and even aggression. Feeding your dog with you, before you, from your plate, or whenever they ask for something teaches them that they hold the upper hand where food is concerned, and as food is a dog’s most valued resource, teaches them that they hold the upper hand in your relationship in general.
If you then don’t provide your dog with scraps when they expect them, ask for them or push for them, they’re likely to act up, potentially physically pushing your hand or helping themselves even when you have said no.
This can easily result in the development of aggressive behaviours like growling, snapping, or bullying someone weaker out of their food if they want something and it isn’t handed over.