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Food Safety Tips for your Pet

As members of the family, your pets deserve the best nutrition. That's why you serve high-quality pet food. But you may want to treat your pet to human food sometimes, too. Which human foods can your pet eat? How do you prevent your pet from eating toxic human foods? Learn more about the human foods your pet can safely eat as you protect your furry friend.

A woman sitting on the floor eating pasta while trying to avoid her dog.

Human Foods Pets May Eat

Like humans, each pet has taste preferences and can tolerate different types of foods. Discuss your pet's needs with your veterinarian. Then consider this list of human foods many pets can eat with no adverse side effects.

  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish – salmon, tuna
  • Fruits – berries, coconut, pineapple, watermelon
  • Meat – cooked chicken, hamburger, pork, turkey
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Rice
  • Vegetables – carrots, corn, green beans, peas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes
  • Yogurt

Human Foods Pets Should Not Eat

Some human foods can be toxic for pets and should never be given to your furry friend. But even if a food item is safe, inspect it first. Remove any sharp ends or strings that could damage your pet's mouth or clog its digestive system.

  • Alcohol
  • Allium – chives, garlic, leeks, onions
  • Avocado
  • Bacon
  • Bones
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Fat – butter, grease, oil
  • Fruits – apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, raisins
  • Nuts – almonds, macadamia
  • Xylitol sweetener

How to Keep Unsafe Foods Away From Pets

Because pets can be persistent, you may need to take measures that prevent your furry friend from getting into food it shouldn't have. Customize several safety tips based on your pet's personality and your needs.

  1. Block access. Install a safety gate or other barrier to prevent your pet from entering the kitchen, dining room and pantry where you prepare, eat and store food.

  2. Remove human food promptly. Toss or store human food as soon as possible after your meal. This way, your pet can't access something it shouldn't eat.

  3. Train your pet to leave food alone. Your pet can learn to "leave it" and not grab unattended food from a table, the floor or your favorite walking trail.

  4. Secure pets during dinner parties and holiday events. Prevent pets from accessing the den, basement, backyard, or wherever you serve food to guests. You can secure them on a leash or place them in their cage or an empty room.

  5. Schedule pre-meal playtime. A tired pet may nap instead of begging for table food.

  6. Rely on treats. Offer praise and rewards to satisfy your pet and reduce unwanted grazing.

  7. Address scavenging behavior. If your pet eats whatever it finds during walks or at the dog park, learn to recognize when your pet catches the scent of food, and distract it. You could also walk your pet when it's full or about 30 minutes after it eats. Or use a muzzle to curb scavenging.

Handle Raw Foods Carefully

Raw pet and human foods can contain germs like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria that could make your pet and you sick. That's why it's important to handle your pet's food carefully.

  • Freeze raw food until you're ready to feed it to your pet.
  • Thaw raw food in the fridge in a food-safe container.
  • Cook raw food thoroughly before feeding it to your pet.
  • Wash your hands and all surfaces the raw food touched.
  • Throw away any raw food your pet doesn't eat.

Introduce Human Foods Slowly

Your pet's digestive system is sensitive. When you're ready to introduce a new human food, start with small amounts. A slow transition gives you time to identify digestive issues or other concerns. And if your pet has an allergic reaction or becomes sick or lethargic, you can tell the veterinarian exactly which food caused the illness.

Pet safety includes proper nutrition and serving human foods that won't harm your pet. But sometimes, accidents can happen. For peace of mind, have your veterinarian's number on speed dial and talk to your insurance agent about pet insurance and other policy options.

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