Monday, November 17, 2008

This is That Time of the Year

"The Holidays" are an annual excuse for all sorts of pet advice in the media. There are common sense suggestions, such as being watchful that pets don't slip out the front door amidst all the comings and goings of holiday guests, as well as good advice on preventing dogs from eating anything toxic, such as chocolate. But then you get your old "No table scraps" warnings which can range from the overly cautious (as in: your dog might get sick if he is fed leftovers from the plates of 27 Thanksgiving dinner guests - true, but does this really require a warning beyond "Duh"?) to the outright chortle worthy (as in: if you feed your dog anything more than a morsel of turkey, you'll soon find him writhing in pain from abdominal cramping while vomiting and having diarrhea - whoa, really?).

Let's get a few things straight. Healthy table scraps are good for your dog. As in all things, one must employ the higher brain functions:

  • Do not feed excessive amounts of any foods (general guide - if the amount of table scraps in the dog bowl is more than the amount of food normally in the dog bowl, das too much)

  • If you know your dog has a sensitive stomach, don't introduce a bowl full of new foods all at once. On the other hand, if your dogs are like mine and could eat their way through a landfill with tails-a-waggin', don't be afraid to offer a variety of healthy leftovers.

  • Use caution with bones - if your dog is not accustomed to eating bones, don't feed bones on a whim "because it's a holiday" - do your research, form an educated opinion and make an informed decision.

But EVERYBODY says table scraps are bad. OK then, what is "good" - dog food? Well guess what - dog food is made up of the scraps leftover from the human food industry. These are not your healthy table scraps, more like bits and bobs humans won't eat because they are undigestible, untested, unsafe, unknown, and/or un-whatever. If you picture a turkey processing plant, you can imagine what gets tossed aside because it can't be sold to people. That stuff gets bought by pet food companies and put into your dog's kibble. I'm still not sure how feeding your dog these turkey throw away bits as an ingredient in kibble is A-OK but feeding him wholesome leftover turkey from your plate will send him into convulsions. Help me higher brain functions!

Anyway, if you decide to feed your dog healthy table scraps at the holidays, and he likes it, and you like it, maybe you don't have to wait for another holiday to try it again. At our house, healthy table scraps are part of the daily dog diet and have been for many years. Every day is a holiday!


Graham offers her ideal table scraps dinner (actually her "ideal" involves a bottomless bowl built into her dog bed but this is a reasonable compromise):

1/3 protein - meat (including organ meat), fish, eggs, plain yogurt
1/3 veggies - broccoli, green beans, and sweet potatoes are some of her faves
1/3 starch - rice, oatmeal, potatoes


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I have friends who feed raw (as I usually do) that are horrified I feed my dogs table scraps. --Part of that horror might be related to the fact that these are people who subsist largely on things like pizza and cookies...

One flatly refused to even listen to my explanation that the left over steamed veggies, pureed salad greens and meat scraps I added to my dogs' diet was (except for being a lot cheaper) not much different from the extras she adds to her home-prepared raw diet.

Jan said...

I share my food with my dogs on occasion and I am really tired of people telling me that I shouldn't do this. I maintain my weight, eat healthy food and certainly wouldn't feed them something that is not good for them.

Caveat said...

I've fed dogs table scraps all my life. Variety is good for them.

Obviously, there are things they don't get, duh. But meat, fish, birds, gravy, vegetables (any kind) with any sauce or butter rinsed off, etc, is GOOD for them. Even homemade macaroni and cheese in moderation seems to suit them as a special treat. Trust me, it's rich and cheesy.

If anything, feeding them a variety toughens them up, gutwise. Two of my dogs are what you might call 'frou-frous' and they will eat just about anything.

I have heard that turkey breast is hard for them to digest so I give them the dark meat.

Feeding the same diet year in, year out is what leads to sensitive stomachs in my opinion.

I think all this advice is just more nannying. We know what's good for you and your dog so don't get the idea you can wing it - ever.

Barb said...

This is a GREAT post! Very clear and about as close to idiot-proof as anyone can get!
I'm so impressed, I'm going to link to it from my blog - hope you don't mind!

Anonymous said...

I also feed my dogs table food, but I'm careful to only give them veggies and little pieces of meat, minus sauce or topping of any kind.