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Healthy Leftovers Your Dog Will Love

Feeding your dog table scraps is okay at times.

Feeding your dog table scraps is okay at times.

Feeding table scraps to your dog is okay. There are a lot of new dog food brands being marketed since the commercial diets with tainted ingredients from unregulated manufacturers outside of North America started killing pets. Some of these new dog foods are high-quality, and you may even prefer these brands. The most amazing part of the new dog food kibble diets, however, is that they all claim to be “human-quality food,” and yet, they all cost more per pound than human-quality food!

If you think those "holistic" dog food prices seem too high, there are a couple of alternatives to buying these expensive kibble brands:

  1. Make up your own diet with high-quality raw ingredients. This may or may not be any cheaper, depending on where you find the ingredients for the dog's food. It is better for your dog.
  2. Make up a raw dog food with much cheaper ingredients. Even if you buy only human-quality ingredients, this is going to cost considerably less than the food out there on the market.
  3. Make up a homemade diet and cook it at home.
  4. Feed your dog whatever you are eating. Your dog's GI tract may not appreciate this alternative. It might cost you both in visits to the emergency vet and in late nights cleaning the carpet.
  5. Get the store-bought stuff that is mainly cheap carbohydrates like corn and might contain cheap ingredients that are laced with toxins. It is AAFCO approved, right?

Which Leftovers Can I Feed My Dog?

If you decide to feed your dog leftovers, are there healthy foods that you can give him? Sure there are, and here is a list.

  1. Scrambled or boiled eggs. Omelettes are more likely to have onions, but if you have plain eggs, they make a great treat for the dog and are one of the foods most likely to improve the quality of his coat and decrease shedding. I would share my eggs-over-easy with my dogs, too, but there are never any left over.
  2. Chicken giblets. The liver, gizzard, and heart that are included with a whole chicken can supply extra vitamins to your dog and are best given raw. These do have more fat than meat like the breast, so if your dog is overweight, giving giblets is not a good idea.
  3. Plain yogurt. Yogurt is useful for replenishing the bacterial flora of the GI tract. If you use it and have any left over, your dog will benefit, too.
  4. Cottage cheese. Although this does not have the same bacterial culture as yogurt, it does contain high-quality protein and some calcium. Dogs love it.
  5. Carrot sticks. Your dog might not care too much for some veggie leftovers, but they provide extra antioxidants and some important vitamins. My dog will usually take a piece of raw corn on the cob but would no more be seen with a carrot stick than with a Border Collie.
  6. Fish. Your dog can benefit from the high-quality protein and extra fatty acids supplied by fish, but this is one of those "all things in moderation" foods. If you give your dog a piece of salmon or tuna cooked in butter or oil, it may upset her stomach or cause some other GI problems. Give fish only in moderation.
  7. Peanut butter sandwiches. If you are the kind of person that cuts the edges off your sandwich, you do not need to throw them away. Peanut butter is a great source of vegetable protein, and your dog will enjoy the crusts. Be sure to read the label on the peanut butter to make sure it is not made with xylitol or any other artificial sweetener that may hurt your dog.

The main point to remember is that a little bit of the right types of leftovers won't harm your dog. If you have any questions about the contents of the food or about the danger to your dog, throw the leftovers in the trash.

You can feed your dog pasta (without the sauce) and lean beef trimmings, but they do not have the health benefits of the other foods, so do not overdo it!

Which Table Scraps Are Bad for My Dog?

If you just follow that list above, you are never going to give your dog anything that might hurt her. There are a few table scraps that are dangerous, though, so I added this list of things you need to avoid.

  1. Anything with a lot of onions: You may have forgotten about the onions by the time you feed your dog. Feeding onions to dogs can cause severe anemia.
  2. Anything with artificial sweeteners like xylitol: There are a lot of recipes out there that use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar. A small amount of xylitol is enough to kill your dog. Some other artificial sweeteners may cause problems but have not been tested.
  3. Dishes containing alcohol: Most dishes have very little alcohol added, but it is better to avoid them.
  4. Anything with grapes and raisins: If you are making a salad with apples and carrots, your dog will probably like it. If you have thrown raisins on top, avoid it.
  5. Leftover chocolate cake, chocolate pie, and even chocolate chip cookies can be toxic. All toxins are only poisonous if given in excess, but you are best off to just avoid them.

Why Have I Been Told to Never Feed My Dog Leftovers?

There is an advantage to feeding your dog whatever leftovers you have on the table: It is convenient! Imagine how easy it would be to just take a few leftovers and dump them in his bowl.

None of the safe items on my list are going to hurt your dog, but if you do make a habit of feeding your dog all types of table scraps, there are several possible disadvantages, so you need to be ready to deal with them.

  1. His GI tract may be upset from frequent diet changes, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. Some dogs have a "cast iron stomach" and have no problem with frequent changes.
  2. Not just any leftovers can be given. Some things that you may eat are toxic to your dog.
  3. If your dog is not able to handle the rich leftovers, he may also have problems with conditions like pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas aggravated by high-fat meals.
  4. Leftovers may be higher in fats than a home-cooked diet and can lead to obesity. This is why you need to feed him in moderation.
Eating some commerical foods leads to obesity.

Eating some commerical foods leads to obesity.

Those old-time dog owners out there argue, “But when I was a kid, dogs just got leftovers, and they were fine.” Okay. The ole timer probably did not worry if the dog was having the squirts since it was in the backyard and not in the family's living room. The ole timer was also not as concerned about feeding a dog toxic foods like onions. Dogs died young back then from diseases like distemper. Maybe the old timer didn’t even notice if Brownie passed on a little younger than the average of seven years.


Will My Dog Need Supplements?

Some supplements, given in adequate amounts, will improve your dog's health. Commercial dog foods that are labeled with "extra fish oil" or "extra glucosamine" do not have enough to meet your dog's needs. If you can afford to give them, no matter what kind of diet your dog is on, he should also be getting:

  • Fish oil: It has beneficial effects for the coat, GI tract, and the immune system. Research has shown that the fish oil derived from cold-water fish (like Alaskan salmon) contain more of the omega 3 acids that are beneficial to your dog.
  • Yogurt (live): This restores the normal intestinal flora and controls loose stools. This is very helpful if a dog has been on antibiotics or has had diarrhea for any reason.
  • Milk: It treats constipation in lactose-intolerant dogs. A teaspoon of powdered milk sprinkled over your dog's scraps will not cause loose stools in most dogs and can be used to add protein and calcium to the diet.
  • Brewers yeast: Vitamin B supplement that can help control fleas and aid in the functioning of the nervous system.
  • Egg shells: A dog needs calcium every day, and crushed egg shells are an easy and bioavailable method to supply her needs.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This has numerous potential benefits. The organic ACV that contains the "mother" is more likely to help your dog. It should be added to your dog's water every day.
Know what is toxic before feeding your dog table scraps.

Know what is toxic before feeding your dog table scraps.

What Foods Might Kill Your Dog?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 27, 2017:

Bella, it is not necessary to feed your dogs a commercial food. Homemade diets are a lot healthier than a product that has been cooked so long that it can sit on the shelfs of the pet store for months at a time.

That is a good point about begging. I have seen too many families create problems with feeding scraps from the table during their own meal time.

BellatheBall on November 26, 2017:

It depends. Just like this article says. Don't rely on feeding scraps or leftovers instead of a regular diet of commercial food.

And the manner in which you feed leftovers is very important. Never feed pets while you are eating! Always wait until all humans, including baby are finished eating before giving scraps to pets.

Insist that pets be patient and wait. Dogs must sit on command and wait to be given leftovers.

Otherwise meal times will become a tug of war.

Joyce Cogburn on October 21, 2017:

Very good info.

freewayryder on August 06, 2013:

My dogs get table scraps but it is mized in with their kibble..NOT from thetable..i cook from scratch so my food is healthy for us and forthem

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 14, 2013:

Our premium food is Pedigree (the Waltham diet, but down here they do not use carbs like corn), which is about $3.50 US per kilo. Most dog owners I know complain about that. If I told them about 10 dollars a pound they would probably not believe it.

Good reason to feed leftovers?

Bob Bamberg on February 14, 2013:

Hey Doc, just caught up to this one. You think 60 bucks for a 30 pound bag is expensive? That's chump change compared to ZiwiPeak dog food at $123.00 for an 11 pound bag on Amazon.

I had a lady call the store once to ask if we carried it and I told her that we didn't...but that we did carry such and such (a number of high quality, grain free holistic foods that run 50 to 60 bucks for a 26 to 30 pound bag). She said, "Oh no, those are far too expensive for my budget" and didn't believe me when I told her the price of ZiwiPeak.

Dog kibble at over 10 bucks a have you seen everything?

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 14, 2012:

Be sure to let me know how things work out for you.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 13, 2012:


well, it was too much something (or maybe not enough?) that made my daughter's boxer itchy and changing to Nutro helped. Sorry I got some word mixed up and it's been a while, my old mind wants to do its own thing.

I may try the eggs. Thanks for the tip.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 13, 2012:

Too much protein? I doubt that since protein is one of the most expensive components in dog food and they usually add fillers like wheat and corn to make it cheaper; it is usually the cheap fillers that cause most of the skin allergies. Most commercial dog foods have a mixed-source protein, like the entrails from cattle and pigs at the slaugherhouse. Egg whites are 100% protein, very pure, but also too expensive for dog food manufacturers. (I don't mean to ramble on but I raise organic laying chickens so I use this source of protein to supplement the cheap dog food I am able to buy here.)

Whenever you add a new food source, do it slowly and monitor the dogs reactions, if any. Only add one source at a time so you will notice any problems. Some foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and swollen ears, as well as the itching you noticed in your dogs.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 13, 2012:


It may be worth to try eggs. It was my understanding though that some dog foods have too much protein and get allergies that way. my daughter had to change food for their boxer. He was getting too much protein and itching like crazy. They changed his food to Nutro and that helped. Is the egg protein the same as in dog foods? I am willing to try eggs now and then if you think it's o.k.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 13, 2012:

When you buy those canned foods Rui you are mostly paying for water and fillers. You are better off buying a dozen eggs for the same price and boiling them, giving him chunks of egg as treats. Not PC, I know, but dogs really enjoy them. wetnosedogs it sounds like you have more of a battle than Rui and myself, but egg protein is usually safe for all animals. You might want to try it if you need something.

Rui Carreira from Torres Novas on July 13, 2012:

Just because they can't have table scraps doesn't mean they can't have treats.. I treat mine with some of those canned dog foods instead of the regular dry rations

wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 13, 2012:

None of my dogs get table scraps anymore. I used to give them a taste. However, Bella has allergies and so table scraps are out and the dogs are eating dog food with no soy, no corn, no wheat. Can't give them chicken fingers which they loved, cause those are fried and contain soy. The dogs seem to have accepted their new diet. What one gets, they all get. What one can't have, neither can the others. I believe Bella knows this is for her own good since she feels better.