What Human Food Does to Your Pet: Human Caloric Equivalents

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Giving food is an important way for people to show love to their pets. Sadly, with busy lives and lots of commitments, we all too often substitute treats for walks, stimulation, or play time.

We now have an obesity crisis in cats and dogs, much like humans. Around 40% of cats and dogs in Europe are overweight or obese. And this has a big impact on health.

It’s best not to give human food to pets at all, because lots of things such as onions, chocolate, raisins and some sweeteners are very toxic to animals. But even the foods that are not toxic can be a problem. What looks like a small amount to us, a 70kg human, can be like a whole meal to a cat or dog!

Do not feed table scraps to your dog or cat, especially if they are trying to lose weight. Begging is a difficult habit to break once it’s started.

Too many snacks can add up fast! Take a look at these treats and what it would mean in human terms.


  • For a cat, a piece of cheese may seem like a little treat, but it's like a whole meal for cats.
  • For a dog, a cookie or a piece of cheese may seem like a little treat, but it too is like a whole meal for dogs.

NOTE: If your veterinarian has suggested using cheese or another human snack to administer medicine, please be aware of the extra calories and account for it in your dog or cat's daily caloric intake. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

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Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA and Dr. Emma Milne BVSc FRCVS