It is very common for pet owners to feed their dog or cat scraps from the table, or offcuts while cooking. Historically, left overs and scraps would have been the entirety of cat and dog diets.
However, will commercial pet foods and treats now available, should we still be giving our pets human food?
Here’s a look at whether it is safe for your dog or cat to eat human foods.
Foods you Should Never Give to Dogs or Cats
It is important to watch the foods that you give your pet because there are differences between how humans metabolise foods compared to dogs and cats. This means that there are certain foods that are ok for us to eat, but can be toxic or harmful to dogs and cats and therefore you should never give to them.
Absolutely never give your dog or cat anything that contains alcohol, coffee, or caffeine, as these can be harmful to both kinds of animals. It is quite well known that chocolate is dangerous to dogs, but it is also toxic for cats, so avoid giving chocolate to dogs or cats.
Additionally, any product containing xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, can be harmful to dogs. With any of the foods mentioned above, it is important not only to avoid giving these foods to your pet, but to also prevent them from finding these foods. Keep chocolate, alcohol, coffee and other harmful products out of reach of your dog or cat.
With the exception of some foods, it is generally safe to give dogs and cats human foods. In fact, certain foods that we eat can actually be very nutritious for your pet. However, as with humans, it is important for your pet to eat anything in moderation. Excessive quantities of anything can lead to weight gain, obesity, and health conditions such as diabetes.
One of the biggest concerns with giving a cat or a dog human foods is that our diets are generally unhealthy. Modern human diets are generally high in salt, sugar, fat, and processed foods. For any human foods you give your pet, make sure that they are whole, natural foods that do not contain preservatives. It is better to stick to giving your dog or cat a treat like a small cube of deboned chicken or steak from time to time, but no more.
You need to be particularly careful if your pet has an existing health condition, or if they are overweight or obese. In that case, this will affect the food that it is safe or advisable to give to your pet. If your pet has diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or any other health condition, be sure to consult with your vet before giving them any kind of human food.
Generally speaking, a healthy diet for your pet should include no more than 10 per cent treats, which includes human foods, with the bulk of the diet consisting of nutritious food designed for dogs or cats. For animals with certain health conditions, 10 per cent may be too much and exacerbate their condition, so make sure to check with your vet.
What should I feed my pet?
Although some human food is ok in most cases and in moderation, the obvious answer here is that it is best to give your dog or cat specific pet food. Dog and cat foods have been specifically designed to give your pet the nutrition that they need in order to be fit and healthy. However, there is a great deal of variation within this broad category.
Ketogenic or grain-free dog food like Visionarypet can help dogs to maintain a healthy weight and manage certain health conditions including allergies. It is also important to consider quality: there is a wide range in the quality, as well as nutritional content found in pet foods. Although not the only indicator, price is a factor here: generally speaking, the cheaper the dog or cat food, the lower quality it will be.
What about homemade food?
It is becoming increasingly popular for people to make homemade food for their pets, especially dog food. This can be beneficial if your pet reacts to commercial foods, and if you have the time and energy to make special food yourself. Although these foods share many ingredients in common with human foods, the big difference here is that this food is specifically designed for your pet.
By following directions and recipes for homemade dog or cat food, and of course consulting with your vet if you have any concerns, you can be sure that the food you are making does not contain any elements that will be harmful to your pet, but does have all the nutrients that they need to be healthy. Generally these foods are composed of a majority of quality, cooked meat, with some vegetables and fruits.