Dogs Don’t Need Human Food Says Virginia Veterinarian
Dogs Don’t Need Human Food Says Virginia Veterinarian

Some Pet Owners Feed Dogs Human Food, Experts Warn of Risks

Many dog owners in America treat their pets like family, even preparing elaborate meals typically reserved for human guests. Sara Valdivieso, a South Florida resident with three dogs, supplements their regular dog food with healthy human food daily.

Her dogs enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, mangoes, cauliflower, and strawberries. Additionally, Valdivieso ensures her dogs get their own portions of proteins like steak during special occasions, although she is careful to avoid harmful foods like grapes and onions.

Valdivieso’s approach to feeding her dogs includes giving them special treats on birthdays and holidays. She sometimes serves them “frozen yogurt cups” with candles and the same proteins her family eats.

Despite feeding them human food, she is mindful of not letting her dogs develop bad table manners, though her children occasionally slip their food under the table. Valdivieso’s practices highlight the careful balance some pet owners maintain between spoiling their pets and adhering to dietary safety.

Some Pet Owners Feed Dogs Human Food, Experts Warn of Risks
Some Pet Owners Feed Dogs Human Food, Experts Warn of Risks

Dr. Katy Nelson, a senior veterinarian at Chewy, emphasizes the importance of understanding what human foods are safe for dogs. While pure proteins like beef and chicken are generally safe, fatty foods and certain vegetables can be harmful.

Nelson advises pet owners to know their dog’s specific dietary needs and sensitivities to avoid health issues. More than half of dogs in the United States are obese, which underscores the need for careful dietary choices to maintain their health.

Natasha Tomlinson from South Florida has a different approach, feeding her dogs leftovers rather than especially shopping for their meals. Her dogs, conditioned to wait patiently, receive portions of chicken, steak, or pork after dinner. Tomlinson believes that bad behavior from dogs fed at the table stems more from the dog parents’ practices than the dogs themselves.

Similarly, Adam Insley from Maryland feeds his dog leftovers like bacon-wrapped chicken, highlighting a common practice among pet owners.

Jesse and Molly Keyser from Arlington, Virginia, use a food delivery service called The Farmer’s Dog to provide healthy, pre-packaged meals for their pets. This service offers meals made from human-grade ingredients, aiming to deliver a balanced diet for dogs.

Veterinarian Nelson notes that while these services can provide complete diets, feeding dogs human food is generally unnecessary if they are already eating a balanced commercial diet.

Behavioral issues can arise from feeding dogs human food, as Valdivieso experienced when her dog became overly friendly with a guest during a meal.

Nelson explains that such behavior is learned and expected if dogs are regularly fed from the table. She emphasizes that a balanced commercial diet eliminates the need for human food supplements, which can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal issues and emergency vet visits.

Kim Shadwick from Washington, D.C., avoids feeding her dog human food altogether, preferring to stick to dry dog food. She is concerned about potential behavioral changes and health reactions. Shadwick is open to the idea of introducing softer human foods as her dog ages, but for now, she maintains a strict dog food diet to prevent begging and ensure a stable routine for her pet.

In conclusion, while many pet owners like Valdivieso, Tomlinson, and Insley enjoy feeding their dogs human food, experts like Dr. Nelson advise caution. Understanding individual dogs’ dietary needs and maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for their health. Services like The Farmer’s Dog offer a middle ground, providing nutritious meals without the risks associated with unmonitored human food consumption.

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