As we love sharing our time, hearts and homes with our beloved dogs, there are some things we ought not to share. It can be difficult to resist those puppy eyes when they’re begging for a bite of food. But lots of our foods can be toxic for a pooch. Saying no could be the difference between life and death.
On the brighter side, some of the foods we consume can be safe to introduce to a dog’s diet. In fact, some can provide health benefits such as joint strength, better breath and allergy immunity.
Before feeding your dog all your favorite foods, read on and learn about which foods are safe and which can direct your dog straight to the vet.
What human foods CAN dogs eat?
There are plenty of human foods that dogs can safely eat, many of which can be super healthy and nutritional treats:
- Chicken (cooked, boneless). One of the most common ingredients used in dog foods. Chicken is a great source of protein, an essential nutrient for your pooch to stay healthy. Make sure it’s boneless to prevent choking. Always avoid raw chicken due to the risk of salmonella.
- Pork (cooked). Make sure there are no added spices, seasonings or sauces. Never feed your pooch raw, undercooked or processed forms of pork (e.g. ham or bacon).
- Turkey (cooked, boneless). Another great source of protein. Make sure the turkey is plain, unseasoned, boneless and skinless. Remove excess fat, skin from the meat and bones. Poultry bones can splinter during digestion, causing blockage or tears in intestines.
- Ham. Safe for dogs to eat but it isn’t the healthiest type of food being high in sodium and fat. Sharing a small piece is OK.
- Beef (lean). As an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals, it is a common ingredient in dog food. Keep it plain, with no added sauces or seasonings.
- Shrimp (plain, cooked). Great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. High in antioxidants while low in fat, calories and carbohydrates. No raw shrimp due to harmful bacteria.
- Fish (cooked and boneless). Great source of omega-3 fatty acids, enhancing heart and eye health. Known to reduce inflammation and keep your dog’s skin and fur healthy. Salmon and sardines are particularly beneficial. Sardines bones are an exception, as they can be digested for extra calcium. Limit to once or twice a week.
- Salmon (cooked and boneless). Loaded with protein, good fats and amino acids. Promotes joint and brain health, and boosts immune systems. Never provide raw or undercooked salmon due to the risk of parasites that can cause dogs to be sick.
- Tuna (cooked). Great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A small amount of canned tuna is OK, but only in water (not oil).
- Rice (plain, cooked, brown or white rice). Easy to digest and may help relieve an upset stomach. Great to combine with chicken, pork, turkey, beef, carrots, corn or peas.
- Eggs (cooked). A single egg contains lots of vitamins, minerals and protein. Can help with an upset stomach. Avoid raw eggs due to the risk of salmonella.
- Watermelon. A super healthy treat! Low in calories and high in nutrients including vitamin A and vitamin C. Make sure there are no seeds. Seeds can be a choking hazard and may cause digestive issues if swallowed.
- Apples. High in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Slice apples into bite-size pieces to avoid any choking. Be careful not to include any seeds, which can be poisonous for dogs.
- Blueberries and Blackberries (fresh or frozen). Full of disease-fighting antioxidants vitamins, minerals and fiber. Being small in size and low in calories makes blueberries and blackberries a fantastic healthy dog treat.
- Strawberries. Healthy treat as they are low in calories while high in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Contains an enzyme which helps whiten your pooch’s teeth. Chop into bite-size pieces to prevent choking.
- Raspberries. Low in sugar and calories; high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. Beneficial for senior dogs due to its anti-inflammatory properties, reducing pain and pressure from joints.
- Cranberries. Fresh and dried cranberries.
- Bananas. High in fiber, minerals and vitamins. Provide as a special treat or mash with your pooch’s regular food.
- Peaches. Excellent source of fiber and vitamin A. Helps to fight infections. Avoid canned peaches where they often contain high amounts of sugar.
- Mango. Lots of vitamins and minerals. Chop into skinless bite-size chunks.
- Oranges. High in nutrients, low in calories.
- Pears. High in copper, vitamins C and K and fiber.
- Cherries. Feed fresh cherries without the pits. Limit to one or two cherries at a time to prevent upset stomachand diarrhea.
- Coconut. Contains lauric, which helps to strengthen the immune system by fighting off viruses. Can also help with bad breath and keeping your dog’s skin and fur healthy. Can clear up skin conditions such as spots, flea allergies and itchy skin. Coconut milk and oil are also safe.
- Sweet potatoes. Easy to digest and rich in vitamin A, important for a dog’s eye health and immune system.
- Corn. A common ingredient in many types of dog food as a good source of vitamins and minerals. Always avoid corn on the cob, as it could be difficult to digest and a choking hazard.
- Green peas (fresh or frozen), including sugar snap peas and garden peas. A common ingredient in numerous types of dog food. A tasty low in calories and high in nutrients treat. Don’t feed canned peas where they’re often full of salt and sodium.
- Green beans. All types are safe (e.g. steamed, raw or canned), as long as they’re plain. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Carrots (raw or cooked). A healthy snack that is full of nutrition and great for dog’s teeth. Low in calories and a great source of vitamin A, minerals and fiber. Slice carrots into bite-size pieces to avoid any choking.
- Celery. Low in calories and freshens doggy breath! Packed with vitamins and minerals which promote a healthy heart and aids to fight cancer. Slice celery into bite-size pieces to prevent choking and allow easier digestion.
- Spinach. Safe for pooches to eat – but as spinach is high in oxalic acid, it can block the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Although your dog will have to consume a large quantity to experience this issue, it’s better to choose an alternative vegetable.
- Mushrooms. Stick to mushrooms you can purchase in-store. Avoid wild mushrooms, as they could be poisonous.
- Brussels Sprouts. Full of nutrients and antioxidants. Feed with caution, as too much can cause lots of gas!
- Potatoes (cooked, plain). Rich in iron. No raw potatoes, because they contain solanine. Solanine is a compound toxic to dogs, but its levels are reduced when boiled or baked.
- Cucumbers. Beneficial for overweight dogs. They hold little to no carbohydrates, fat or oils while packed with vitamins. Boosts energy levels.
- Honey. Full of nutrients including vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, potassium calcium, antioxidants. Helps with allergies by introducing small quantities of pollen to their systems and building protection to allergens in your area.
- Popcorn (plain). Can be an occasional treat, but only if it’s plain. Salt, butter and oil are common ingredients added to popcorn, which are high in fat and can lead to serious health complications. Popcorn kernels can be a choking hazard, so only offer fully popped kernels.
- Cashews (plain, unsalted or roasted). Contain calcium, magnesium, antioxidants and proteins but are high in fat and calories. Might lead to weight gain and pancreatitis if consumed in excess. Limit to one or two cashews a day.
- Peanuts (plain, unsalted). Packed with protein, vitamins and healthy fats. Only give a few at a time.
- Peanut butter (unsalted). Make sure xylitol is NOT listed in the ingredients.
- Bread (plain white, wholegrain). Can be an occasional treat, though bread has no nutritional value.
- Oatmeal (plain). Full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avoid flavored oatmeal due to extra ingredients that are potentially harmful.
- Yoghurt (plain). Active bacteria can boost the digestive system with its probiotics.
If you’re interested in making an easy, balanced and homemade meal for your dog, check out the 3-minute video below:
What human foods CAN’T dogs eat?
There are some human foods that should never be given to your pooch. Even a tiny amount will lead to adverse health effects and severe symptoms.
Don’t allow these foods to be in your dog’s reach at any time:
- Grapes and raisins. These contain toxic compounds that could lead to rapid kidney failure and death, so are very harmful to dogs. Even a teeny amount can make your dog poorly.
- Onions. Contains N-propyl disulfied, a compound toxic to pooches. It has the potential to damage red blood cells. A shortage in red blood cells can be life threatening, often leading to anemia.
- Garlic. Similarly to onions and chives, garlic can lead to anemia. It contains chemicals called thiosulfates, which are toxic to dogs. Poisoning may have delayed symptoms, so check your dog for a few days if you suspect they might have consumed any.
- Avocado. Healthy for people but not for dogs. Contains a toxin called persin, known to be poisonous to dogs. If consumed, it could lead to a build-up of fluid in their lungs and chest, causing breathing difficulties, oxygen deprivation or death.
- Chocolate. Contains two stimulants, theobromine and caffeine, which dogs can’t efficiently metabolize. May lead to vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Don’t feed your dog any type of chocolate, including cocoa powder.
- Macadamia nuts. Hold an unknown toxin that may lead to vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, hyperthermia and depression.
- Almonds (plain, unsalted). Although generally safe, almonds are difficult to digest. Almonds can block the esophagus or damage the windpipe if not chewed. Frankly, it’s not worth the risk.
- Xylitol. A sugar substitute often found in candy, chewing gum, baked goods and toothpaste. If consumed, blood sugar levels will reduce and your pup may experience muscle weakness and seizures.
- Coffee and Tea. Dangerous due to its caffeine. Caffeine arouses the dog’s nervous system, which can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, seizures and tremors.
- Alcohol. May lead to ethanol poisoning, causing tiredness, lack of coordination, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea. heart attack, lung failure, coma or death. Products that contain any level of alcohol including perfumes, mouthwash and cleaning products should always be kept away from your dog.
- Raw Yeast Dough. Yeast cells produce alcohol as they ferment. Contains myristicin, a compound toxic to dogs.
- Lemons and Limes. Toxic due to the skins containing psoralen.
The following foods are safe for your dog, but only in a limited quantity:
- Salt. Excessive salt intake may lead to salt poisoning or water deprivation. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, vomiting and seizures. High amounts of salt can be fatal. Don’t feed your dog salty foods. Always make sure your dog has access to drinking water to prevent water deprivation.
- Cheese. Digestive problems may arise after consuming cheese due to its high fat and lactose. Slowly introduce cheese into your dog’s diet. Try to only provide low-fat cheeses, such as mozzarella or cottage cheese.
- Milk. Safe to consume but it’s common for dogs to be lactose intolerance. Therefore, it’s important to prevent your pooch from drinking too much milk. It can cause loose pooping, gas, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Limit to a few tablespoons of milk per day, or use as an occasional treat.
- Ice Cream. Dairy isn’t digested well. As an alternative, use frozen yoghurt.
- Pineapple. Full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But eating too much pineapple can lead to nausea and diarrhea, so it’s best to give your dog pineapple in small amounts.
- Tomatoes (ripe). An occasional treat, but only the ripened fruit (the red part). The non-ripe green parts of the plant may contain high amounts of solanine, toxic to both humans and dogs.
- Broccoli (raw or cooked). While a low-calorie vegetable full of nutrients, broccoli also has isothiocyanates. These are compounds that may upset a dog’s digestive system if they eat too much.
- Cinnamon. Not toxic, but consuming in large quantities can irritate the mouth and digestive system. It’s best to avoid cinnamon.
Final thoughts on human foods dogs can and can’t eat
While some human foods are safe and healthy for dogs, others are harmful and potentially fatal. A people food may be considered safe for your pooch to eat, but always remember that quantities should be in moderation. This will prevent weight gain and limit other negative consequences. Ask your veterinarian for further guidance if you’re unsure about portion sizes.
Tolerance levels and adverse effects will vary between dogs. Slowly introduce all foods into your dog’s diet. Closely monitor any possible negative outcomes such as allergic reactions.
Your pooch will benefit most from tailor-made dog foods. Plus, you can always be confident using these as they include all the important nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy and happy. If your fluffy friend is dainty, check out our article on the best dog food for small breeds.
View human foods as a treat. Enjoy treating your pup every now and again for when they deserve it most.