Rewarding a begging pup with leftovers from the table? A definite don’t. But most veterinarians will agree that some food scraps are okay to put in your pet’s bowl. And from an eco standpoint, giving your dog your kitchen scraps as a treat is a great alternative to sending them to a landfill and is much easier than composting. Holistic veterinarian Jean Hofve, and co-author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook, breaks down the differences between what’s okay to feed your cats, dogs and rabbits and what you should stay away from.
Lucky dogs can get nutrients from lots of fruits and vegetables, but Hofve says they should be cooked or finely pureed to aid digestion. One exception? Raw carrots. If your dog likes to chew on them, they do double duty cleaning canine teeth.
Since dogs are carnivores, meat is a good thing to pass off. Raw meat is okay since most pets can handle meat’s natural bacteria in small amounts, but cooked meat is equally good. Stay away from fatty pieces, anything that’s been cooked with onions or a large amount of garlic, and pick lean pieces instead. Too much fat can cause problems in the pancreas. If you’re trimming beef or poultry, for example, and you want to pass off the tough white connective tissue to your dog, go for it, but leave the fat and skin to the trash. Another smart pass off is egg yolks. If you eat egg whites and typically toss the yolk down the drain, pop it in the microwave until cooked, cool and put in your pup’s bowl.
Even though you might think your cat is waiting for leftover ahi tuna, you might be surprised how eager felines are to feast on cantaloupe and asparagus. “One of my own cats recently passed up leftover fresh halibut, but ate all the asparagus ends on the plate,” says Hofve. Like with dogs, cats can also eat cooked eggs or other lean meats, but follow the rules given above for dogs.
As you might know, rabbits are strict vegetarians, but that doesn’t mean all veggies are okay for them to eat. In fact, what many think are rabbit staples – lettuce, spinach and cabbage – could upset your bunny’s belly. And while timothy hay or pelleted feed should remain the main diet, Hofve says rabbits love fresh berries, dandelion greens and carrots. Because bunny’s have little stomachs one or two baby carrots or four or five blueberries is plenty. Besides salad greens, you should skip plants of the nightshade family like tomatoes and peppers, starchy produce like sweet potatoes and bananas, and canned fruits or veggies which have too much sugar and salt respectively.
Remember, “your pets shouldn’t be an alternative garbage can, but sharing any leftovers – food that’s fit for you to eat, but you just don’t want to, is fine,” Hofve says. “Don’t give your pets anything that is moldy or spoiled. If it’s not safe for you, assume it’s not safe for your pets.”