Feeding People Food to Dogs: What’s the Truth?

Should pet owners feel guilty…?

By Guest Blogger, Carol Osborne, DVM

As a practicing, integrative veterinarian for over 20 years, our clinical results document dogs enjoying superior health and longevity when fed “human food” rather than commercial dog food. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to wholesome nutrition, “food is food.” The statement, “you are what you eat,” doesn’t just apply to people. It’s as true for you as it is for your dog! Why would the billion-dollar pet food giants spend thousands of dollars hiring graphic artists to draw chicken breasts, fresh vegetables, salmon, and the like on pet food labels if they didn’t want dog owners to believe that is what’s in their dog’s food? Obviously, they wouldn’t.

Why all the hype about feeding “people food” to pets?

Many pet owners question how they would “balance” their pet’s diets. Others worry about feeding their dogs potentially toxic foods like grapes. Most pet owners are concerned about cost, and many look for convenience.

So, what’s the truth when it comes to your pet’s food?

What are the Facts? The fact is that it costs money to eat healthy food no matter whether you have 2 feet or 4. If you buy 40 pounds of kibble and save a few dollars today, then end up spending triple that amount a few years later in your vet’s office, what have you saved? Do you honestly think the vitamin-mineral premixes from China being added to dry pet food to meets AAFCO’s guidelines offer your pet “balanced healthy nutrition”?

Today’s Pet Food Giants spend thousands of dollars each month brainwashing veterinarians and pet owners alike about the benefits of feeding commercial pet food and the dangers of home cooking for your pet. Why? Do we see similar ads, commercials, and warnings about what and when to feed ourselves? Do grocery stores sell food categorized as “adult” and “senior?” How is that benefiting our health? Why are over half of all Americans suffering from obesity and diabetes? Why is one out of every three children today diagnosed as “pre-diabetic.” Why are cancer rates surging in people and pets? Is there a connection between these diseases, reaching epidemic proportions, to what we eat and what we put in our pet’s food bowls?

What About Feeding Pets Table Scraps?  Many well-meaning pet owners offer their canines the wrong types of human foods, like table scraps and pumpkin.  With respect to feeding table scraps, if you don’t eat it, neither should your dog. Pumpkin fed in excess leaches the nutrients and minerals out of your pet’s gut. Garlic is also another overfed nutrient. Fed daily, garlic can lead to a lack of red blood cells or a condition called anemia in pets.

Feeding Brewer’s yeast to your pet? Brewer’s Yeast is a low-quality source of B-Vitamins thought to help repel fleas. Unfortunately, Brewer’s Yeast is also a leading cause of itching and allergies in pets! In species like people that sweat, B-Vitamins including Brewer’s Yeast and garlic are said to impart an odor to the perspiration that helps to repel fleas, which is true. However, since pets don’t sweat, that’s not the case. Pets have underdeveloped sweat glands located in their footpad, which is why dogs and cats must open their mouths and pant to cool down.

In this veterinarian’s experience, feeding dogs a homemade balanced pet diet is a big step up from commercial dog food, and the results in our canine patients have been excellent! Sound complicated? Not really. It’s straightforward: 1/3 lean protein, 1/3 long-acting carbohydrates, and 1/3 vegetables for those on a diet or concerned with allergies or foods being genetically modified, cut the carbs and feed your pooch 50% lean protein and 50% vegetables. Yes, I mean your green veggies, and no, they do not cause diarrhea or endless gas!

FACT: 1 cup of broccoli contains almost twice as much protein as a cup of steak! 

Since scientists unraveled the canine genetic code, they discovered that dogs are nearly 99% identical to humans. Therefore, we have learned that your dog’s body functions in a manner very like our own. So, feeding your canine some chicken or turkey with a little rice and some fresh broccoli, for example, is a tasty, nutritious meal! So yes, it is just fine to feed your dog “human food,” but I would encourage you to think of food as food, not human food versus dog food.

FACT:  This veterinarian uses Your Pet’s Food as Medicine.

What about Grades of Meat? Remember that the grade of meat used in dog food is not the same as the grade of meat used in human food. It is far less. For example, the parts of a chicken people consume- the breast, leg, and thigh- go to the human side of the rendering factory while the rest of the chicken or those parts still left lying on the slaughterhouse floor, including the beak, feet, and guts to go to the pet food side. That’s why AAFCO or the American Association of Feed Control Officials allows chemicals like Cyanuric Acid, which is used to clean swimming pools, to be added to pet food. Why? I quote: to “artificially increase the protein content.”

So, ask yourself, if dog food companies paint those beautiful pictures of chicken breasts and turkey legs on bags of dog food, why do dog owners think they can’t feed their dog the actual food displayed and thought to be inside of those pricy, beautifully packaged bags?

Food is food, and it is the single most important ingredient that defines your pet’s lifelong health, so it is quite important and is something that should not be taken lightly or disregarded. Remember, pets don’t lie. So, why not give it a try? The results will be right there in front of you on those four legs. More than likely, tails will be waggin’, and you’ll all be barkin’ for more before long!

about the author

Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne is a Board-Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine and has pioneered the exploration of new therapies for the treatment and prevention of age-related degenerative disease, as well as optimum health and performance for pets. She created and patented PAAWS (Pet Anti-Aging Wellness System) and authored Naturally Healthy Dogs and Naturally Healthy Cats. An Emmy-nominated television journalist, she has made frequent appearances on Fox & Friends, Good Day L.A., Discovery’s Animal Planet, and more. She operates the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Ohio. www.ChagrinFallsPetClinic.com

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