It's tempting to give your pooch table scraps from your plate, especially when it's hard to resists the dog's begging eyes, but you know that it might be unsafe. Fortunately for everybody, some human foods are completely fine for dogs to consume in moderation. So what human food can dogs eat and what can you treat them to from your plate?
In fact, did you know that “ban all table scraps from dog's bowl” campaign was originally launched by the pet food industry companies back in 1964? The agenda is obvious: for owners to buy more commercial and expensive kibble. It was successful, because even today, when an owner asks what human food can dogs eat, they are likely to get a deadly stare from many other pet parents.
However, feeding dogs certain human foods not only is not unsafe but even beneficial. There are several studies that show how some human foods, fruits and vegetables provide health benefits to dogs. With that being said, what human food can dogs eat and what should you not feel guilty about when feeding to your pooch off the table?
What Human Food Can Dogs Eat
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods for humans and dogs alike. They are full of protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Even eggshell powder is good for dogs since it contains essential fatty acids and amino acids.
For dogs, it's best to serve the eggs hard-boiled or scrambled, although raw eggs are also fine if your dog is otherwise healthy. Keep in though that as with all raw foods, FDA studies show that there's an increased risk of salmonella. So always stick to organic or free-range eggs to avoid any increased risks and health problems.
Dogs are usually not sensitive to gluten (unless they have a condition), which makes certain grains like wheat, barley and rye safe for consumption, in moderation. That means that you can treat your dog to some bread, pasta and other baked goods but only occasionally because these foods aren't nutritionally rich and are mostly a treat.
In this science-based article, a veterinarian explains exactly how grains came to be vilified and looked down upon among dog owners. But the bad name wasn't deserved. In fact, we invited the vet to contribute a column for us too on why grain-free foods may not always be a good idea.
So the next time you think, what human food can dogs eat, you can include a bit of bread and pasta on the list. Make sure that the pasta is properly cooked. Any bread or pastry must be properly baked since the raw dough has yeast which can cause intestinal distress in dogs. No additional ingredients should be in there because some might be toxic.
Note that some dogs can develop allergic reactions to grains and/or gluten, and if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, take your dog to the vet. If your dog is gluten sensitive, you can still feed him whole-grain bread or mix some of the non-gluten grains, like oats or rice, into his regular dog food meal.
An obvious addition to any list of what human food dogs can eat, because canines can eat any type of meat. It's the best source of protein, particularly fresh and lean meats. Vets also say that it's best to cook the meat thoroughly to protect your dog from bacteria and parasites since many of them are food-borne.
One European study showed an alarming presence of pathogens in raw meat. However, if you're into raw feeding, that's a possible option as well, but you must know about safe preparation. In fact, a recent study found raw feeding have health benefits for dogs too.
Cooking. Pick any type of meat – beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc. – and grind the meat or cut it to make bite-sized chunks which can help your dog chew and swallow it easier and prevent choking. You should also avoid feeding your dog bones since they are a choking hazard. Remove skin and fat from meat before you give it to your pooch. Avoid any additives that may be harmful, such as gravies, sauces and seasonings. They can often include ingredients which can be harmful to your dog (such as sugar or too much salt).
Best meats. Chicken, turkey and beef are the best choices, while pork, especially ham or bacon, are best avoided since they are high in calories and has a lot of fat and salt. But you want to add a little “treat meat” to your list of what human food dogs can eat, occasionally some ham and bacon could be fine for the dog.
Processed meats. In general, these meats aren't recommended. Meat choices like hot dogs or salami contain a lot of sodium, fat and sugar. Some of them might even have too much garlic, which will be toxic to dogs. If you want to give hot dogs to your pooch, make sure that they are made without any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and only give a little bit.
Dairy products are difficult to digest for most dogs, but they are fine in small quantities if your dog is not lactose intolerant. Just like humans, not all dogs are allergic to lactose or are lactose intolerant, and some can process it without issues when given in small quantities. So what dairy can be added to our list of what human food can dogs eat?
When picking yogurt for dogs, go with one that doesn’t have sugar or artificial sweeteners. Yogurts with live active bacteria are especially good since they can act as a natural probiotic. If your dog is overweight, choose a fat-free yogurt to decrease calories.
Cheese for dogs, given in moderation, is also fine. Stick to low-fat cheese, like mozzarella. High fat and salt found in some cheeses means they're much higher in calories and will cause weight gain and cholesterol problems in dogs. Ice cream, unless it is specifically made for dogs, should NOT be on your list of what human food can dogs eat.
Like meats, most fish is perfect for dogs. It's a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with arthritis and joint pain in dogs due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Lean fish is also a very healthy source of lean protein with little calories among its other benefits; fatty fish could also be just as great (but don't forget about the calories). Most dogs usually love the smell and taste of fish, so add it to your list of what human food can dogs eat.
Which fish? Note, however, that while dogs can eat almost any fish, if you are just introducing it into your dog's diet, do it in small quantities since some some canines can be allergic to certain types of fish.
Most common fish types used in commercial dog food include salmon, black cod, herring, sardines and tuna. You can give your canned fish like tuna and sardines if it is packed in water and served plain.
If you want to prepare homemade fish for dogs, make sure that you cook it thoroughly and remove all the bones. Shellfish, like shrimp, lobster and crabs, are also good for your dog if you serve it without the shell and cook it thoroughly.
An obvious addition to our list of what human food can dogs eat, fruits are a perfect low-calorie, nutrient and water dense snack that your pet will certainly enjoy. They provide a number of essential minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, whether you serve them fresh or frozen. Avoid canned fruits since they are high in sugar.
Large fruits should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Keep the portions small since fiber from fruits can cause gastrointestinal distress in large quantities, and the natural sugar in high quantities is also unhealthy for dogs.
Which fruit? Apples, bananas, apricots, pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, pears, plums – they are all safe for your dog to eat. Citrus fruits, like oranges and tangerines, are high in citric acid, which can upset the stomach of some dogs. As far as berries go, stick to strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries. Blueberries in particular has a lot of scientifically proven benefits for dogs and humans. Remember to never feed your dog wild berries.
Lemons, limes, grapes and raisins should never be fed to a dog – they're toxic.
Just like fruits, vegetables are yet another great addition to a list of what human food can dogs eat – even better than fruits due to lower amount of sugars and higher amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Most vegetables are a healthy and safe snack for your dog. Choose fresh and frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables which contain added salt or other filler. Make sure to wash the vegetables thoroughly before you serve them raw, cooked or steamed.
What veggies? Some of the most popular vegetables for dogs include broccoli, lettuce, celery, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, green peas. Just like for humans, almost anything green will be better. Red tomatoes are also fine if you remove the stem and leaves. Corn is safe but not on the cob which can be a choking hazard. Mushrooms are also safe for dogs if they are store-bought. Never feed your dog wild mushrooms since many are poisonous and you can’t properly identify them.
Dogs can’t eat onions and garlic. Raw and unripe potatoes are also toxic to dogs.
There are both good and bad nuts for dogs. While some are healthy others are very toxic and dangerous to dogs. In general, it's best to avoid nuts altogether, but if you wish to add them to your list of what human food can dogs eat, some are a good source of protein and healthy fat but they can also be a choking hazard and often come salted. They are also high in calories, so give them occasionally and in small quantities.
Which nuts? Peanuts are probably the most popular choice (without salt or spice). You can give them raw or roasted, as well as in a form of natural peanut butter, as long as it doesn’t contain xylitol. Serve them unsalted and introduce them slowly since some dogs can be allergic to nuts. Cashews and hazelnuts are also safe for dogs in moderation.
Avoid almonds and pistachios since they are too rich in fat and not easily digested by dogs. Macadamia nuts, walnuts and pecans are extremely toxic to dogs.
The next time you decide to feed your dog table scraps, consider these foods – if they're known as safe, then treat your pup a little. In terms of what human food can dogs eat, there's a large number of options available.
As you can see, dogs can eat plenty of human foods, as long as they get it in moderation and with safety precautions. Processed foods, those with additives like sugar or salt, and prepared meals should be avoided since they may contain harmful ingredients. Before you give your dog any new type of food, make sure that it is safe first and introduce it in small quantities. Did we miss any options, what human food can dogs eat other than these?