Should I Feed My Dog Human Food?

Updated on January 25, 2016
P.S. asks from Mc Lean, VA
21 answers

This is a debate in my home - should we feed our dog human food or stick to the dog food? Our dog is a little overweight but generally healthy. Is it okay to give him human food and if so what kind (meat, veggies, etc.) or is it just best to stick with what the stores sell for him?

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answers from Washington DC on

Many human foods are not healthy for dogs. Some are dangerous or toxic. If you want to change his diet, you should talk to the vet about what would best meet his needs and not cause other health issues.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My neighbor has a chocolate lab and chickens.
Every day the dog gets a raw egg as a treat.
She'll carry it around the yard with her and when she goes in to where her bowl is, then she'll bite it and eat it up.
She has a very glossy healthy looking coat!
Grapes and chocolate are no good for dogs.
You have to be careful.

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answers from Portland on

Please consult a vet on what your dog would best tolerate.

The problem with just giving human food is that there are some foods which will make dogs sick or even die. Grapes and raisins, for example. If the humans are in the habit of feeding the dog their own food, they don't think critically about it and just assume they can eat the same stuff. And our kids follow our lead, so that's something else to think about.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

he's a dog.
feed him dog food.
if you want to put him on a BARF diet that's fine, but otherwise of course you don't feed a dog human food. too many table scraps are why we have an epidemic of morbidly obese dogs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I asked our vet about this at one point and he said even he feeds his dog "treats" with his food a few times a week. A little turkey at thanksgiving, raw veggies (mine LOVE green beans, and carrots) an occasional fruit (orange slice, watermelon). BTW-I taught my dogs tricks by using green beans as treats. They all love them and they're very good for them. Much better than the processed treats.

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answers from Milwaukee on

So it's a little unclear from your message if you want to give your dog "scraps" of what you eat, or if you want to change his diet to one of human food - also known as RAW or BARF (bones & raw food).

So, assuming you mean scraps, most things we eat dogs can eat, with some exceptions (onions, grapes, chocolate, anything sweetened with xylitol - make sure to read the peanut butter labels). Keep in mind, everything you give your dog has calories. So if you supplement his kibble diet with people food, you need to cut back on the kibble. If you are trying to get your dog to lose weight, it can be advantageous to supplement with vegetables. Cutting back on kibble can sometimes result in the dog getting too small a portion to be satisfied, but you can add green beans or canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) & bulk up the content without adding a lot of calories.

If you were asking about changing over your dogs diet to completely human food, this is well regarded by veterinarians & pet nutritionists. But, it is also very intensive for you to prepare & store. It can be very expensive to buy what is needed unless you buy in large bulk amounts, which then requires preparing it ahead of time & freezing it, & having designated freezer space. You also need to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients - just plain meat is not adequate for dogs. There are a lot of recipes online that you can find to prepare meals. There is also pre-made raw food that you can buy packaged @ pet stores - pricier than doing it yourself, but for just one dog might not be too bad.

If your dog is healthy & happy on kibble there is nothing wrong with sticking to that diet. If he is overweight, try increasing his activity a little, & cutting back on the portions. I have multiple dogs in my household, & we keep a feeding schedule (as opposed to always having a bowl of food available). I change the amounts my dogs get weekly, as needed (not drastically, maybe by an 1/8 cup here & there). Also, be aware of treats & table scraps - it all adds up to daily calorie intake.

If you've tried that, & still are unable to drop weight, you can either switch to another kibble, or try adding veggies like I mentioned above. If you switch to another kibble, you want to either keep the main ingredients the same, or the brand the same, to make the switch easier. So if you feed Fromms Chicken, you can switch to Fromms Beef, or Nutro Chicken. Make the switch gradually over a week, changing the proportions the foods are mixed in, so that you don't upset your dogs system.

If you have extra questions, feel free to send me a message, I'm happy to help! T. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

It is fine to give dogs healthy human food - meats, veggies, etc. Some people even feed there dogs "human" diets or raw diets (raw meat, raw veggies, - stuff they would find in the wild). Healthy human food is more expensive than dog food, which is why most people feed their dogs dog food.
If you are talking table scraps as treats - the biggest issue is table manners. If the food on the table becomes fair game, it tends to cause the dog to start begging at the table. If you decide to do this, I would recommend putting table scraps in the dog bowl and to never feed directly from the table.

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answers from San Francisco on

What does your vet say?

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answers from Austin on

We fed our dog a veterinarian-recommended dog food, based on her being a little overweight, and an older dog, and an inside dog. Your vet will know what food is best depending on if your dog is active, sedentary, is outside a lot or an inside dog, and based on the dog's weight and age. Our dog got fed once a day, and we were pretty careful to measure the food out.

However, we never bought dog treats. A lot of those rolled chew things, and biscuits, and dog treats are like feeding a human cookies and potato chips all day. Instead, with the vet's approval, we fed the dog frozen peas (simply frozen shelled peas with no salt or any other ingredients), and raw carrots to chew on. She also loved snap peas and would attempt to get the peas out of the pod. Sometimes we'd put shredded carrots in her chew toy instead of the creamy stuff they sell that you can stuff toys with. A big old carrot was very satisfying to chew on and had very few calories, and of course, only one ingredient: carrot. That dog loved those peas and would chase them around. Again, a pure food and low calorie.

It's hard to feed a dog human food prepared by you unless you prepare it specially. A dog can't eat meatloaf, for example, if it contains onions. So many of our foods contain butter, or garlic, or other foods that dogs can't eat. If you do want to prepare food for your dog, there are ways to do it, but you'll have to prepare it separately (no salt, etc) and you'll have to make sure that the dog is getting a balanced diet. Some people do it successfully, but it's a lot of work. And it is NOT the same as just feeding your dog a little of what you're feeding your family. Dog needs vs people needs are different. I suggest a healthy dog food as the meal, and fresh pet-safe vegetables instead of high-calorie processed treats.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Define "human food". Onions, garlic and chocolate? Chicken bones from what you've cooked No! Or do you mean BARF (uncooked Bones And Raw Food)? A lot of people do this, and pet care/vets often agree. The uncooked bones don't splinter the way a roasted chicken or turkey bone will. But I do think it's worth noting that many vets don't have much nutritional training - and in some schools, their info is paid for and provided by the makers of the dog food.

It also depends on what's in the dog food. Is it a low grade food made in China and loaded with fillers? Are they rawhide chews that are stripped from the cow and treated with lye? You might want to re-think that.

And what is your reason for giving human food? Because the dog begs and no one wants to say "no"? That's a family discipline problem, not a dog problem. Or are you trying to give medicine wrapped in a piece of turkey or buried in a glob of peanut butter? Our dog has separation anxiety and needs to be kept busy in her crate when we are gone for more than an hour or so - so we use a Kong filled with peanut butter (frozen, per the vet's instructions, to make it last longer), or a marrow bone. But we don't give those the rest of the time because too much peanut butter can cause problems. We give a piece of turkey with an anti-inflammatory food capsule (wrapping the capsule in the turkey), again with the vet's endorsement, but we don't give turkey all day long because deli meats have added sodium so too much is a bad thing. If a dog needs a medication and the only way to manage it is to wrap it in a piece of cheese, then you do it. But you don't give cheese all day long.

So think of what wolves and coyotes eat in the wild, and decide in consultation with experts, how to balance it. A whole lot of processed dog food may be questionable too, so buy a good brand and not necessarily what's heavily advertised on TV.

Since your dog already has a weight problem, I'd consider the old saying that no dog can operate a can opener. So I'd look at the overall practices in the home - too heavy a hand with the dog food or the people food, too little exercise, etc. You've got to cut back somewhere because the strain on the dog's heart and joints will cause it problems later on, and a great deal of expense.

Under no circumstances should a dog be rewarded for begging, though - make sure your family is on board with that. And if everyone gives the dog "just one thing, just this once," that adds up during the day into a whole lot of calories.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

As long as it is healthy foods they can eat it. You do need to be careful about certain items and no junk like McDonalds or stuff like that.

Dogs eat meat, but should have some veggies (raw is best), fruit (except grapes) and whole grains. You might want to look up what spices they can have. Feeding your dog healthy human foods is much better then any canned or processed dog food, you really never know what they can put into it since it is not regulated the way human food is.

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answers from St. Louis on

Only if you are able to control the mineral, vitamin, protein, & calcium mix that your breed requires. If you are talking about your left over ground beef pasta and cheese, no.

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answers from Miami on

If your dog is overweight, you should be giving him diet dog food. That's the only way you're going to keep him healthy. I recommend Iam's.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

If you look at any good quality dog food you will see "human foods" listed. Things like carrots, peas, potatoes, meats etc. Food is food. In the wild a dog is going to eat a lot of the same things we grow in our garden or raise as livestock. Processed dog food is a fairly new invention. Good quality processed dog food is a mixture of food that a human could also eat. At issue is cheap dog food that is full of fillers and the left over parts that have little to no nutritional value so your dog needs to eat more in order to get the nutrition they need and to feel satisfied. This overeating is a cause of excessive weight for pets.
You can feed a dog a diet prepared with foods that are also for human consumption from the grocery store, butcher or farmers market so long as you know what might make them sick like grapes or onions and you know what the balance of nutrition is to make sure they get everything they need. You can also look for a higher quality prepared dog food that does the same thing. My cats eat a food that isn't full of corn, by products and a bunch of left over fillers. You can pronounce and recognize every ingredient in it. I have a couple of cats with allergy issues so it's very important for them.
If your dog needs to loose weight, talk to your vet about what diet is best for him. Try a higher quality food so they can eat less of it, make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, make sure you aren't over feeding him by way of lots of treats and leftovers from the table.

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answers from Sacramento on

Go for it, if you can afford it. Our dog was put on a meat mixed with dehydrated dog food diet by the vet and it cost a fortune. We just couldn't afford to continue buying meat. Even getting it in huge amounts at Costco didn't make it affordable. I also cooked it up, since I worked for the meat industry years ago and didn't want to expose our dog to potential illness. Time consuming.

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answers from Wausau on

You mean as treats? If he's overweight then the human food might be the problem.

If your dog has a medical condition, meats and other items can be fed along with a nutrient/vitamin supplement, with the advice and monitoring of your veterinarian.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

small bites of lean meat are okay, as well as small portions of certain veggies. I would suggest talking with your vet about what they recommend. I know mine recommends giving my dog small amounts of raw carrot and green beans with his food since he is over weight, but she says to one careful with things like too much asparagus (we give in small amounts) and to avoid things like tomatoes and corn (any grain) altogether.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Growing up we never bought dog food. They ate our leftovers and stuff we threw out. They lived many many many years and I didn't know dogs could be overweight until a couple of years ago. I'm 56.

So I see no problems with it. I do think that dogs don't really need rice and grains in their food, their bodies aren't made to process it very much.

But, we buy cat food for our cats. My father in law buys dog food for his dogs. So I think if you want to feed your dog table scraps that's up to you. See what happens. If you don't want to exclusively feed them that then leave some dog food down all the time and see if they want the table scraps if their tummy is full of dog food.


answers from Dallas on

"Human" food is all dogs ate up until very recently (in the grand scheme of things). Do with that information what you will.



answers from Albany on

Human food is better for your dog just never give him grapes they are toxic to dogs.and i heard garlic and onions are bad for dogs. give your dog exercise every day. walking .
or throwing a ball and your dog wont be over weight. veggies are good for dogs. no cabbage. not alot of veggies with vitamin k. lots of oranges or fruits or veggies with vitamin c is really good for the joints in dogs legs. keeps them strong. when they get older it helps with joint pain. not alot of red meat


answers from Jacksonville on

Human food isn't harmful to dogs any more than it is harmful to humans (generally), but it doesn't mean you can just feed Fido from the table willy nilly. You actually need to educate yourself about how to do so safely. Some foods people can eat every day can cause severe organ damage in dogs. Onions, grapes, etc just as examples.

Also, table food isn't always healthful for them (just like for humans) and they can easily eat the wrong things that exacerbate poor health (and not just obesity, but all the problems that go along with it... heart and liver damage, diabetes, etc).

Raw apple slices (no seeds) and raw carrots should be fine as treats/snacks for them, but not all dogs will even eat those (mine won't).
But, in answer to your question, there are people who actually feed their dogs ONLY a raw diet (food they have prepped themselves) and swear by it.

You need to do more research than just asking on a mom's site if you plan to feed your overweight pet table food. "People" food is different than "table" food in most cases. I equate "table food" with kids handing scraps from the dinner table to the dog under the table -- which is poor practice to begin with-- aside from the health issues.

I found that for our dog, it was best to simply say "NO people food" for the dog.. "dog" foods and specifically dog treats ONLY when we first brought her into our home. My kids were young and they didn't have the discernment to know what was ok, or how often, etc. They were kids.
Now, they are older (17 and 14) and so is the dog. She's generally healthy (not overweight at all!), and the kids share the occasional scrap of deli turkey (no preservatives) or cheese when they are in the kitchen getting their own snack. I'll give her a bit of raw meat when I am cutting it up for stir-fry even. But BEFORE it is seasoned.

Please read extensively about what foods are good, bad, and just "ok" for your dog before you embark on new rules that say "People food is ok" for Fido.

_--As for "sticking with what the stores sell"... that has it's own issues as well. Not all "dog food" is created equal. Not by a long shot. There are so many fillers in (especially) the cheap dog food. So research dog food brands and varieties as well.

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