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Rarely, if ever, are we encouraged to feed our dogs “human foods,” but some whole foods can actually have great health benefits. But some of the best human foods for dogs, when fed in moderation, can provide a lot of health benefits and improve your dog’s overall well-being.
Many pet owners already know about some of the more popular best human foods for dogs, like pumpkin (and its seeds), apples, carrots, peanut butter, and so on. But we've been missing out by excluding plenty of other safe and healthy human foods for dogs that would provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other good things.
How can you use these foods? There are many ways. You can either give them as snacks to your dogs in between meals instead of highly processed dog treats; you can mix them with the dog food to improve taste, smell, and nutrient profile; or you can make your own homemade dog food recipes using these ingredients, which can be particularly helpful for dogs with food allergies, sensitive stomachs, and other diet-related issues.
Here are 16 of the best human foods for dogs that you probably haven't thought of yet.
16 Best Human Foods for Dogs
(That You Haven't Thought Of)
Oatmeal is found in the ingredients list of many commercially made dog foods, but it can be fed to your dog as is (or mixed with dog food). High soluble fiber content makes oatmeal beneficial to the dog's digestive system, and high volumes of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, copper, and iron make oatmeal very nutritious.
People have been eating oatmeal as a healthy food for centuries, but few have considered it as one of the best human foods for dogs that can provide a lot of good things. An added benefit of oatmeal for dogs is its high levels of antioxidants, which battle free radical damage, decrease inflammation, reduce itching, and lower blood pressure.
The more you know: Oatmeal is often utilized to improve weight gain for underweight dogs, and veterinarians sometimes recommend it as part of the diet.
Dogs may eat celery in moderation; however, some dogs find the texture of this raw veggie difficult to chew. When feeding your dog celery, make sure to remove leaves and cut celery sticks into smaller pieces to avoid choking hazards. It’s also important to note that eating too much celery can have a diuretic effect on the dog.
Potential benefits of celery for dogs include reduction of inflammation throughout the body, reduction of high blood pressure, improved liver health, improved digestion, improved infection-fighting capability, reduced occurrence of urinary tract infections, and decreased risk of cancer. This has also been shown in many human studies.
The more you know: At one time, celery was used by the pharmaceutical industry as a treatment for arthritis in people.
Cauliflower is a healthy food that some dogs enjoy, but others find appalling due to its taste and smell. Cauliflower for dogs is safe in moderation, but it's known for increasing flatulence. Your dog can eat raw or cooked unseasoned cauliflower. Although cooked is easier for the dog's digestion, raw cauliflower contains more healthy vitamins and nutrients.
Cauliflower is one of the best human foods for dogs because it offers many health benefits, including improved weight loss for obese dogs, reduced inflammation, decreased risk of cancer, better digestion, protection of eye health, and improved clot formation due to higher Vitamin K content.
The more you know: Cauliflower has also been used to improve weight gain for underweight dogs.
Roasted or boiled plain butternut squash for dogs will make a great treat for them, but squash must be peeled and seeded first. Raw squash should be avoided because it is harsh on the canine's digestive system and skin, and seeds can prove poisonous when consumed by dogs.
Squash is rich in fiber as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Feeding squash to dogs can help protect their eyesight and improve their digestive health, and it can be used as a more nutritious yet low-calorie filler or topper for foods instead of using grains.
The more you know: Yellow squash varieties are great for your dog’s eyesight because they are rich in beta-carotene.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great treat and an alternative to regular potatoes in dog foods. Steamed or boiled and served in small portions, sweet potatoes are low in fat, high in fiber, and vitamin-rich. It's one of the best human foods for dogs that some pet owners have already taken a liking to and have been feeding to their pets for a while.
Potential benefits of sweet potatoes for dogs include protection of eye health, healthier skin and coat, healthy growth patterns, improved digestive health, improved heart health, reduced risk of degenerative disease, improved immune health, healthy thyroid function, healthy nerve conduction, protection against signs of aging, and protection against cancer.
The more you know: Sweet potatoes come in various colors, and each variety offers specific health benefits. The purple sweet potato contains more anthocyanin (an antioxidant), the white sweet potato is more calorie-dense and best for undernourished dogs, and the orange sweet potato is richer in beta-carotene and better for your dog’s eye health.
RECIPE: Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits
When peeled, watermelon is a great low-calorie treat for your dog that also provides hydration during the summer months. Your dog should never consume the rind or seeds of the watermelon because they can be dangerous to your dog’s health. You should also keep in mind that due to its water content, watermelon will increase your dog’s frequency of urination.
Watermelon is one of the best human foods for dogs because of its increased antioxidant levels, and it improves the immune system functioning, improves circulation, betters heart health, increases hydration, improves digestion, gives healthier skin and coat, reduces the risk of cancer, and reduces high blood pressure.
The more you know: 92% of the watermelon is water, which is what makes it such a refreshing summer treat for you and your dog, especially when your pet refuses to drink plenty of liquids during hot days.
Cleaned and hulled strawberries make a great treat for your dog when given in safe and moderate amounts. Too many strawberries can cause digestive upset in dogs. When giving your dog strawberries, be sure to cut them into smaller pieces to avoid choking and to make them easier to eat.
Some of the benefits of giving your dog fresh strawberries include improved immune system functioning, better eye health, reduced inflammation throughout the body, protection against cancer, improved cognitive function, reduced risk of arthritis, maintenance of normal blood pressure, and a healthier nervous system.
The more you know: The high levels of nitrate in strawberries make them a great pre-exercise snack because they increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your dog’s muscles, just as they do for humans.
The flesh of the banana can be given to your dog in moderation, but the banana peel should always be removed. Due to the high sugar content of bananas and their ability to cause constipation, however, bananas should only be given to your pup in smaller quantities and on rare occasions.
Bananas are great for your dog’s digestive health and are rich in fiber and potassium. They're also beneficial to your dog’s heart health, good for reducing high blood pressure, good for boosting the iron content of the blood, regulating the heartbeat, improving cognitive health, reducing inflammation, and protecting against and improving symptoms of degenerative diseases.
The more you know: Slightly green bananas are often given in small quantities to relieve diarrhea and can help to improve insulin sensitivity. They also have lower sugar content than ripe yellow bananas.
Coconut and its oil have been a hot topic recently, with a lot of proven benefits shown in studies, many of which are shown in dogs, too. The husk, shell, and coconut water from the coconut should be disposed of, but the meat and oil of the coconut are safe for dogs to eat. Coconut offers many health benefits, and recently, dog food companies are turning to it as a source of great products.
Coconut is one of the best human foods for dogs to eat because it's been shown to improve immune system health, decrease inflammation throughout the body, improve skin health, improve energy and stamina, improve digestive health, improve symptoms of diabetes, protect against cancer, improve heart health, support healthy thyroid function, protect against urinary tract infections, support kidney health, improve weight loss, and support healthy skin and coat.
The more you know: Many holistic veterinarians recommend that pet owners use coconut oil on their dog’s coat to get rid of flea infestations.
Blueberries are a superfood for dogs as well as humans. They’re packed with fiber, antioxidants, and a wealth of vitamins. Many studies (see here) have demonstrated the benefits of blueberries, and it's regarded as one of the best fruits/berries to eat, ever.
While blueberries for dogs are safe, you should give them in moderation to avoid upset stomachs. Blueberries are particularly good for boosting the immune system, preventing urinary tract infections, promoting cognitive and neural health, reducing the risk of eye diseases, and curing constipation.
The more you know: Blueberries are one of the most healthy fruits that dogs can eat, and the majority of canines love the taste.
Pork is one of the least popular meats when it comes to feeding dogs. But skinless, unseasoned boiled pork with the fat trimmed is not only safe for your dog to eat, but it's also a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals (and it's cheaper, too).
Pork should never be fed raw, however, due to the possibility of parasite infection. Among the meats, pork is one of the best human foods for dogs because it's rich in thiamine, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. Thiamine is crucial in the metabolism of carbohydrates and the production of energy. Selenium protects against a range of diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Zinc in limited quantities is beneficial for skin and coat health. B vitamins play an important role in dog's metabolism, neural health, and growth.
The more you know: Pork is sometimes incorporated into dog foods for dogs with protein allergies because it has a lower incidence of allergic reactions.
RECIPE: Beef and Pork Crock Pot Dog Food
Another rarity among the best human foods for dogs lists, shrimp can be very good for your pooch. When boiled and served plain without legs and shell, shrimp is completely safe and healthy in moderation. As with people, too much shrimp can cause an increase in cholesterol, so it should be avoided in dogs with cardiovascular disorders or obesity.
Shrimp provide high levels of copper, omega fatty acids, and selenium. Some of the benefits of giving small amounts of shrimp to dogs include reduced inflammation throughout the body, increased levels of antioxidants, reduced incidence of heart disease, improved nervous system health, and lowered blood pressure.
The more you know: Raw shellfish should never be fed to your dog due to the number of bacteria it may contain. Always prepare your dog's shrimp accordingly.
As with most fish, tuna is high in beneficial omega fatty acids, but it must be wild-caught and deboned for maximum benefit and the least amount of risk. Dogs may consume minimal quantities of canned tuna in water, but due to possible mercury contamination, fresh tuna is always recommended for dogs.
Some potential benefits of giving tuna to dogs include improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation throughout the body, increased recovery time from illness and injury, improved circulation, better skin health, increased weight loss for obese dogs, improved immune system functioning, increased energy levels, increased antioxidant levels, and improved neurological functioning.
The more you know: One of the world’s healthiest foods, tuna is exceptionally beneficial to humans and dogs with illnesses of the immune system.
Although high in sugar, dogs can eat oranges in moderation unless they suffer from diabetes. Too many oranges may also cause digestive upset in some dogs, so portions should be limited to a single segment or two. They're a great dog treat replacement.
Some of the health benefits of feeding oranges to dogs may include lowered blood pressure, increased levels of antioxidants, improved heart health, reduced frequency of kidney stones, better skin health, reduced inflammation, better sleep quality, and improved nerve conduction.
The more you know: Oranges are particularly helpful in reducing the incidence of heart disease in humans, dogs, and rats, as shown in some studies.
Peeled and with the pit removed, mango is a safe treat option for your dog, and it’s loaded with Vitamins B6, C, E, and A, as well as fiber. Like many fruits, mango is also high in antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage and signs of aging.
Mangoes for dogs have a whole host of health benefits to offer, including guarding against cancer, improving skin and eye health, improving digestion, and creating a more alkaline environment in the body.
The more you know: Mango can be beneficial to dogs with degenerative disorders due to their very high levels of antioxidants and fiber.
Last but not least, pears are one of the best human foods for dogs. They are also high-fiber fruits and offer dogs healthy doses of Vitamins A and C. A fat-free food, pears are the ideal treat for overweight dogs and are also beneficial for canines with heart disease, a compromised immune system, or symptoms of inflammation.
In moderation, pears are also a good snack for stabilizing blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs. Before feeding pears to your dog, cut them into smaller pieces and take out any seeds. Like many other fruits, too many pears can cause diarrhea in dogs, so they should be given as a treat in moderation.
The more you know: Pear seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, which can be dangerous to your dog, so prepare them before feeding.
A Word of Caution
If you have a dog with existing digestive concerns or a sensitive stomach, it’s best to avoid introducing new foods into their diet unless you've consulted with a veterinarian and decided to go with a homemade dog food diet approach. Always make sure to follow proper dietary guidelines for dogs with sensitive stomachs or other diet-related issues.
If you feel that the benefits of any of the above-mentioned best human foods for dogs outweigh the risks of gastric distress for your dog (or other potential adverse effects), always be sure to check with your veterinarian first, or just avoid the specific food item altogether.
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