It can be hard to resist those pleading puppy eyes when your furry friend looks longingly at your plate during mealtime. You might think that giving them a little treat from your table won’t do any harm. However, the truth is that the high-calorie, high-fat foods we enjoy can be detrimental to our pets’ health. Even seemingly innocent leftovers can have serious consequences for your dog.
The Dangers of Table Scraps
When dogs consume table scraps, they become vulnerable to various health problems. Here are a few risks you should be aware of.
Pancreatitis: A Serious Condition
Pancreatitis is a potentially fatal condition that can be triggered by the consumption of fatty foods. Normally, the pancreas releases enzymes to break down fat during digestion. However, if these enzymes are released prematurely, the pancreas can start digesting itself, causing inflammation. This can lead to damage in nearby organs, such as the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and intestines. Severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the signs of pancreatitis. In severe cases, this condition can be fatal and may require hospitalization for treatment.
Upsetting the Digestive System
Not all pets have digestive systems capable of handling new foods. Introducing human foods, especially when your pet has a history of digestive sensitivities, can disrupt the balance of their gastrointestinal linings and flora. This can lead to inflammation in the GI tract, resulting in stomachaches, vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to take your pet to the veterinarian immediately for proper treatment and to avoid any further complications.
Toxic Foods: A Hidden Danger
Treating your pets to table scraps, even with good intentions, can expose them to toxic substances. Foods like raisins, grapes, chocolate, xylitol (a sugar substitute found in gum and candies), and onions are potentially toxic to dogs. These toxins can be found in seemingly harmless dishes like raisin breads, soups, brownies, and other food combinations. Raisins and grapes have been linked to kidney toxicity, while xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels that can be fatal.
Intestinal Foreign Bodies
Ingesting foreign objects is another concern when it comes to dogs eating table scraps. Common foreign bodies include toy pieces, bones, peach pits, corncobs, socks, underwear, and various household items. These foreign bodies can cause gastrointestinal obstructions, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and lethargy. If you suspect that your pet has ingested a foreign object, contact your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Hazardous Bone Splinters
Bones, especially those from birds like turkey and chicken, can pose a significant risk to pets. Pork and steak bones also have the potential to splinter, causing a blockage in the digestive tract. These splintered pieces can get stuck in the mouth, throat, stomach, or even the intestinal walls. Larger bone chunks can cause pain and distress by blocking the narrow passage of the small bowel. In some cases, surgical removal is required to address internal bone fragments.
Consult Your Veterinarian
While it may be tempting to treat your pet to a plate of leftovers, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential hazards of table scraps. If you have any doubts or questions about what is safe for your pet to consume, always consult your veterinarian. They can provide guidance to help you avoid any potential problems and keep your furry friend safe and healthy.
By: Dr. Monica Tarantino, DVM