Can Dogs Eat Leftovers? What Are the Safe Food Leftovers for Dogs?

Safe Food Leftovers for Dogs

Does your dog beg for food every time they see you eating? This behavior is typical in most dogs, but you should be careful when dealing with it. Even if you think the meal you’re eating is safe for your furry friend, some hidden ingredients might harm them. 

On the other hand, when your food is completely healthy, and you encourage your dog to eat with you on the table, it might cause unwanted behavior a lot of dog owners complain about, such as jumping on the food table, bothering guests while they eat, stealing food, etc.

In this article, you will learn how to choose the right leftovers for your dog and how to cook them a small meal.

To make sure that the leftovers you are feeding your dog are safe, you have to think of different points:

  • How old is the food? Is it safe for you to eat it?
  • How is it cooked? Boiled, fried, or raw?
  • What are the ingredients? Is there anything toxic for dogs?

Ingredients to Avoid

Can dogs eat human food? Before giving your dog the leftovers, think about each ingredient in the meal and ensure none is harmful. The following is the list of food that might hurt your dog:

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is considered a toxic food for dogs, especially dark ones because it contains more methylxanthine (a toxic compound). It will lead to vomiting, diarrhea, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), tachycardia (increased heart rate), and seizures. 

If your dog ate a small amount of chocolate that is not too dark, it might not show a lot of symptoms. But it is better not to risk it.

Therefore, keep your dog away from your chocolate cake.

2. Onions and Garlic

Usually, human foods contain a large number of onions and garlic. It is the most common toxic ingredient found in leftover foods. All the allium families, cooked, raw, or powdered, are dangerous in large amounts. It will lead to hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells). 

A small bite of onion is not deadly, but over time or if they ingest large quantities, it can lead to serious issues. The toxic dose is 15 to 30 g/kg in dogs.

Keep your dog away from your garlic bread and onion rings or any food containing a veggie from the allium family.

3. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Nuts kept on the wooden board
Image credit: HandmadePictures, Shutterstock

Macadamia nuts are not very common in human meals. In large quantities, they can lead to vomiting, weakness, and hyperthermia (increased body temperature). 

Sometimes they can cause choking as well. The signs of intoxication will show after approximately 12 hours. The toxic dose is 2.4 g of nuts per kg of body weight.

Avoid giving your dog food containing macadamia nuts.

4. Raisins 

Raisins are usually added to human foods, and you can sometimes miss their presence in the meal. Raisins can lead to renal damage and sudden kidney failure. Even the smallest amount can be harmful. 3 raisins could be fatal for a 2.5-pound puppy.

Ensure your meal does not contain raisins before giving it to your dog.

5. Dairy Products

Lactose found in dairy products is harmful to dogs. They are considered lactose intolerant because they cannot digest it, and it will lead to stomach issues. 

Small quantities do not usually cause critical problems, and some dogs don’t show any issues after ingesting dairy products containing lactose. However, you should monitor your dog for any signs of diarrhea or vomiting.

It is preferable to avoid feeding your dog your pizza and mac and cheese. 

6. Fatty Foods

Fatty foods like fried chicken, butter, and bacon can cause your dog hepatitis in large quantities. Even if your dog seems to really love it, fatty foods are dangerous and not worth it. 

When feeding your pet fried chicken, keep in mind that they will get harmed by the large amounts of fat more than getting the protein from the chicken.

Do not give a large amount of your deep-fried food to your dog.

7. Cooked Bones

Cooked bones are the riskiest leftover to feed your dog. It can splinter and cause lesions and punctures in their gastrointestinal tract, leading to deadly hemorrhage. 

Cooked bones can as well get stuck in their throat and cause choking. It might also cause broken teeth, leading to discomfort while eating, infection of the teeth and gingiva, and bad breath.

Do not give the leftover bones of your chicken to your dog.

8. Raw Food

Raw food, either meat, fish, chicken, and raw eggs are not recommended for your dogs. There can be a lot of misleading information on the internet about raw food and how some people and even some vets recommend it. But there are not enough studies to show that a raw diet is a good option. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of studies to back up the fact that raw meat is not worth the risk and can, in fact, be deadly to your dog and makes them more susceptible to catching zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals). Raw meat carries a lot of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.

While cleaning your raw meat or chicken before cooking, do not give the leftovers to your dog!

9. Mushrooms

Some types of Mushrooms, especially the wild ones, can cause lethal toxicity to your dog. It is better not to feed them to your dog to avoid the toxic mushrooms.

10. Avocados

avocado and avocado seeds in the counter
Image credit: Lisa Fotios, Pexels

Avocado leaves, seeds, and bark contain an oil-soluble toxin called persin. It is not harmful to humans but can cause serious health issues for dogs. 

They are rich in fat as well, which means that they can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperthermia (increased body temperature). 

Do not give your dog leftover salad or any meal containing avocados.

Ingredients to Look for 

1. Boiled or Cooked Chicken

Chicken is a very good source of protein and omega-6 for your dogs. It is good to give some of your chicken to them unless it is deep fried, raw, or very seasoned. You can give it with some cooked rice or veggies. But you have to keep in mind the following while feeding chicken to your dog:

  • It does not contain all the nutrients needed. Therefore you cannot consider it a full meal for your dog but rather a snack.
  • Food allergies are not very common in dogs, but the most common allergen is chicken. ( your dog might have diarrhea or itchy skin as an allergic reaction to chicken)
  • If the chicken is seasoned or deep fried, it will cause gastrointestinal problems for your pup.
  • Chicken bones are dangerous to dogs.

Benefits of feeding chicken:

  • High in protein and omega-6.
  • Low in calories.
  • Helps build strong muscles.
  • Promotes healthy skin and shiny coats.

2. Cooked Fish

Fish is also a good source of protein and is rich in omega-3. You can give your dog some tuna, salmon, whitefish, cod, and whiting. It is a great addition to your dog’s meal, but just like any other food leftover, it is not a complete meal. 

Do not give your pup some of your fish if it’s heavily seasoned or deep fried. Be careful of fish bones. They can cause lesions and bleeding, and choking. They are very small and might perforate organs, and can be very painful.

Keep in mind the following while feeding fish to your dog:

  • They are an addition to their meal or a snack, but they cannot be their only meal.
  • Stay away from seasoned or deep-fried fish.
  • Remove the fish bones.
  • Fish is a good alternative to chicken in case of food allergies, but some dogs are allergic to fish as well.

Benefits of feeding chicken:

  • Decreases inflammation.
  • Good source of protein and omega-3.
  • A good alternative for chicken in case of allergies.
  • Promotes healthy skin and shiny coats.

3. Boiled Eggs

Eggs are high in protein, fatty acids, and vitamins, including A and B12, as well as folate, iron, selenium, and riboflavin. It is amazing for your dog’s health, and it is rarely heavily seasoned. The shells of the eggs are also a good source of calcium as long as you mince them well to avoid harming your dog.

Keep these in mind while feeding eggs to your dog:

  • It is not a complete meal but can be used as a snack or an addition to your dog’s food.
  • Mince well the egg shells before giving them to your dog.
  • Avoid avocados and eggs because avocados are very harmful.

Benefits of eggs:

  • High in protein, fatty acids, and vitamins.
  • Promotes healthy teeth and bones.
  • Promotes healthy skin and shiny coats.

4. Boiled or Cooked Vegetables

closeup view of cooked meat, potatoes and vegetables
Image credit: Jordan Rushton Pexels

If you are eating boiled or roasted veggies like potatoes, carrots, or spinach, you can also give some to your dog! Green, dark leaves provide your dog with calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene and antioxidants that can benefit your dog’s health. 

Things to keep in mind while feeding veggies to your dog:

  • Onions and garlic can cause hemolytic anemia in your dog.
  • Vegetables are a good addition to your dog’s food, but it is NEVER their only meal.
  •  If your dog is a fast eater, be careful to cut the raw vegetables into small pieces to avoid choking.

Benefits of vegetables to dogs:

  • New studies show that vegetables can prevent cancer in dogs.
  • High in vitamins and minerals.
  • They contain a large amount of water which helps your dog stay hydrated.

Quality Control

If the food is too old for you to eat, it is too old for your dog to eat. It is okay to feed your dog leftover food as long as they are still in good condition and they come from a known trusted source.

It is important to check the quality of the food before giving it to your dog:

  • It shouldn’t be very old.
  • It shouldn’t smell weird.
  • It shouldn’t contain any insects or worms.
  • It shouldn’t be expired.
  • It shouldn’t be raw.
  • It shouldn’t be moldy. 

Wrapping Up 

To choose which leftover food is safe for your dog, you need to stay away from the toxic ingredients, look for the beneficial ingredients, and finally check the quality and source of the food. 

The most important thing to remember is that if the food is not good for you to eat, it is not good for your dog to eat. It is better to throw the old moldy foods away instead of feeding them to your dog. And last but not least, leftover food for dogs is never a complete meal, and it cannot be your dog’s only source of nutrition. 


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