It's fun to treat your puppy, but people food is not the best for them. While an occasional table scrap treat may not be harmful, these should be limited when your dog is young. Learn the healthy ways you can treat your dog and which foods are best.
Why Puppies Love Treats
For dogs, eating can be a communal event and hand feeding your puppy helps reinforce the bond of love you share. Puppies often beg for attention and get rewarded with treats, so the two become inseparable.
Risks of Feeding Puppies People Food
There’s nothing wrong with treating puppies in a healthy way, but it’s easy to go too far. A fat puppy may be cute, but it isn’t healthy, and obesity can lead to a shorter lifespan as an adult. Keeping your puppy lean as he grows into an adult dog can actually add up to two years of longer life.
Puppies have special nutritional needs. While they may enjoy the same food we do, a little can go a long way. People food for puppies isn’t necessarily terrible, especially in small amounts. However, too much can replace the balanced nutrition they need.
Overindulging may risk their lives if they eat too much or gobble the wrong thing, whether you treated them on purpose or they fished it out of the garbage.
Limit These Treats
Table scraps should never make up more than 10 percent of the animal’s daily calories. If you plan to treat your furry family members, remember to subtract about 10 percent of their regular diet first, so you don’t add too many calories.
You will need to train yourself, your family, and your guests in order to keep them from setting up a people food treat habit with your puppy. Make house rules about when and where treats are offered and ensure they are followed by your family. Educate guests so Grandma doesn't sneak a treat to your puppy when she visits.
- Keep your puppy away from the dinner table to prevent building a begging habit. During meals, the puppy should be secluded in another room.
- Offer any special table food to your puppy as a top-dressing on its regular food as a part of its scheduled meal—in its bowl.
- Puppy-proof the kitchen to prevent countertop surfing. Pay special attention to garbage containers and access to counters.
Types of People Food Treats for Your Puppy
What’s healthy for you is more likely to be healthy for your pets, too.
- Lean meat: Small amounts of turkey, chicken, and lean beef are good, but avoid ham as it may be too rich for a puppy’s digestion. Be sure you do not give your dog any meat that contains cooked poultry bones or ham bones, which can splinter.
- Vegetables: Cooked or raw veggies such as broccoli, carrots, and asparagus can be great treats. If guests want to treat your pet, suggest they start with the fresh veggie tray. Dips or sauces should be avoided.
- Fruit: Remember to remove the seeds or pits in fruit that can be toxic or cause blockages. Oranges contain vitamin C and apples can help dental health when chewed. Banana, cantaloupe, and watermelon also are fine for puppy treats. Many dogs like peanut butter as a treat.
- Starches: Potatoes, rice, and bread should be limited to small amounts as they are high in calories. Avoid giving sauces like gravy along with the starches as they can be too rich.
- Milk: Puppies may love milk as a treat, but momma dog milk is different than the cow’s milk people drink. Puppies often can’t easily digest milk and too much can cause diarrhea. Instead, try offering a bit of plain yogurt.
Foods Poisonous to Puppies
Enjoy treating your puppies with healthy foods, but be aware that some people food is poisonous for puppies.
Do not feed your puppy chocolate, grapes, raisins, Macadamia nuts, avocado, or sweets flavored with artificial sweeteners like xylitol.
Puppy Diets Need More Protein and Fat. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, 2020