The healthiest food for a pup is a dog food formulated specifically for them. But, if you want to share a snack with your four-legged companion or find a quick topper to add to their regularly scheduled kibble meal, you’ll be glad to know that there are a variety of human foods you can safely feed them.
What are some safe foods for dogs?
Peeled bananas are a great option for your dog because they’re high in healthy nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamins. Just be sure not to overdo it, as, like most fruits, they do contain sugar.
Loaded with healthy vitamins, blueberries are an ideal on-the-go snack for your pooch. Instead of giving your pup a dog treat, toss them a blueberry. They’ll be doing tricks for this healthy and delicious treat in no time!
Dogs can enjoy small amounts of broccoli. Since raw broccoli can be quite tough, it’s best to cut it into easy-to-chew pieces, especially if you’re feeding it to a senior dog. In large amounts, though, broccoli can cause stomach irritation in dogs due to the isothiocyanates it contains.
Carrots are a great treat alternative for your pup. Raw carrots not only taste delicious but also can serve as an edible chew toy for pups that are into that sort of thing. For the more refined palate, cooked carrots could be just the ticket. Just make sure they are plain with nothing else added.
Boneless, skinless cooked chicken can be a yummy treat or topper to your dog’s food. It’s high in protein and amino acids. But don’t add any other spices or oils to the chicken while cooking!
Cottage cheese contains less sodium, fat, and lactose than some other cheeses. In moderation, it’s one of the safer cheeses to feed your dog. And if your pup is underweight, it contains healthy fats to help them gain some pounds.
While not all dogs are crazy about the taste of cucumbers, some pups just can’t get enough. Cucumbers are very low in calories, and lots of dogs delight in the crunch factor. Just be sure to cut your pup’s cucumbers to the appropriate size to reduce their risk of choking.
Mangos are safe to share with your dog in small amounts. Just be sure to remove the skin and pit as these could cause your dog to choke. To share, cut the fleshy part of the fruit into little pieces and feed to Fido!
High in amino acids and protein, egg whites are a healthy treat for your pup. They also have a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Bonus: Eggs are easy on the digestive tract, so if your dog’s in recovery, cook up some eggs! However, remember that egg yolks are high in fat and cholesterol, so it’s better to use just the whites.
As long as they don’t have any toxic seasoning involved, green beans can be a great treat for both you and your dog. They’re high in vitamins, low in calories, and a vegetable we can all get behind. Just make sure the pods are soft to ensure your pup has an easy time digesting them.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, but are also high in sugar. Too much can give your dog an upset stomach, and be sure to remove the skin!
Chock full of vitamin A and dietary fiber, peaches are a great sweet treat for humans and dogs. But while the flesh of the peach is safe, avoid feeding the pit, which contains harmful cyanide.
Pears contain vitamins such as C, A, and K and are rich in other nutrients but should be given in small amounts. While they are a healthy treat, they are high in sugar content. Also, be sure to remove the seeds as they could contain small amounts of cyanide.
While other nuts can be toxic to dogs, peanuts aren’t. Provided in moderation, they can be a great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, and other minerals that contribute to skin, immune, and organ health.
The key is to only feed unsalted peanuts. Avoid salted nuts, flavored nuts, peanut butter with artificial sweeteners, and peanut shells.
Pineapples are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and enzymes that help boost your dog’s immune system. Cut the pineapple into bite-sized pieces before feeding, and remove the skin, seeds, and core. Never feed your dog canned pineapple or pineapple juice!
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and nutrients and a good staple to keep around in case your dog ever suffers from constipation. If you’re buying it canned, look for plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) without added ingredients, and be sure not to overfeed your dog. One to four tablespoons of pureed pumpkin in your dog’s food should be plenty.
Shrimp are high in protein and omega-3s and low in carbohydrates, calories, and fat, making them a tasty and safe treat for dogs on a diet. Shrimp are high in cholesterol, though, so they should only be an occasional treat, even for larger dogs.
Always remove the shell and tail before feeding!
A fresh, ripe tomato is safe for dogs. But, if there’s a tint of green, don’t feed it to them. Green tomatoes, as well as tomato stems and leaves, have high concentrations of tomatine and solanine which are toxic to dogs.
Similar to chicken, cooked boneless and skinless turkey is another great protein treat for your pup. You can stir fry on a pan or boil it in a pot. Just be sure to keep it plain to avoid a tummy upset.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, making them a great occasional treat for dogs. That said, they should never be the bulk of a dog’s diet.
Your dog can eat small doses of seedless watermelon. Like lots of other fruits, it’s a great source of vitamins and can even provide your pup with a boost of hydration. While watermelon is healthy, it does contain sugar, which should always be consumed in moderation. In addition, be sure to keep the seeds and the rind away from your dog, both of which can cause intestinal blockages.
Deboned whitefish can be a great choice for a lean meat treat but give it sparingly. While it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s extremely rich in protein (more than chicken or turkey) and can cause GI upset if overfed.
This food is especially useful if your dog is recovering from tummy troubles. Cooked white rice is an easy-to-stomach meal that’s full of good carbs. Cooking white rice in a low-sodium chicken broth will also make it more palatable to your pup.
Best practices to keep in mind before feeding dog safe foods
Whenever you choose to give your dog a treat or meal that isn’t their normal kibble, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Below are some vet-approved tips to follow when giving your dog human food:
- Keep weight management in mind — Many human foods, but especially those high in fat and sodium, can be harmful to pups and lead to weight gain. Human food should really only be an occasional treat for dogs, not a daily habit.
- Beware of certain fruits — Some fruits are safe for dogs, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely free of risk. If swallowed, fruit pits can get stuck in a dog’s throat or intestinal tract, causing a dangerous, possibly life-threatening, obstruction. If you’re going to give your pup a safe pitted fruit, you’ll need to cut it up first and carefully remove it.
- Do the math — How much you should feed your dog depends on the individual dog. Keep in mind that the recommendations provided on the back of most dog foods don’t take into account that neutered or spayed dogs require less food than dogs that aren’t fixed. Other factors, like exercise and age, can also impact how much your dog should eat per day.
- Know the risks — In addition to obesity, human food can lead to health issues in pets that can range from pancreatitis to allergic reactions and more. Just as people can be allergic to certain foods, so can dogs. When in doubt, make sure to check with your vet to determine what human treats (if any) might be best for your dog.
- Never feed your pup from your plate — This isn’t just about the risk of germs, which is one factor to consider when allowing your dog to lick from your plate. The real concern, though, is that some dogs might start to prefer human foods and refuse to eat their kibble as a result. Giving your pup a blueberry or slice of apple should be no different from giving them a dog treat — no more than occasional rewards for good behavior.
- Remember that not all foods are safe — A significant number of foods that are safe for humans, like garlic, onions, chocolate, and more, are toxic to pups. Always err on the side of caution when considering whether or not to give your dog a human-safe snack. Unless you’re certain that the food is safe for your pup, it’s simply not worth the risk.
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Frequently asked questions
What are the best “people foods” for dogs?
The best food for your dog is one that’s specially formulated for them. That said, there are some healthy human options, like apples, carrots, and bananas, that can be quite good for pups. Like all things, though, be sure to feed your pup human foods in moderation.
Is it bad to let my dog eat human food?
Not necessarily. An occasional treat like an apple or some fresh pumpkin spooned on top of their kibble can be a great healthy treat for Fido. That said, the vast majority of your pup’s daily calorie intake should come from dog food created with your pup’s health and nutritional requirements in mind.
What kind of foods can dogs and people eat?
A lot of human food isn’t healthy for pups because of the sodium and fat content. That said, there are some great, healthy options that both pets and people can enjoy, like certain fruits, vegetables, and even lean meats or fish. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s daily diet. And when in doubt, opt for a dog treat instead.
What can I feed my dog instead of dog food?
Dogs can eat a variety of “people foods,” including sweet potatoes, cooked lean meats, bananas, apples, blueberries, and more. On occasion, foods such as these can be quite healthy and nourishing for pups. But keep in mind that many human-safe foods can be toxic to your pup, so always be sure to check with your veterinarian before giving your dog a snack.
Is it OK to feed your dog human food every day?
Human foods should really only be an occasional treat for your dog. The fat and sodium content in many human foods can be dangerous to dogs, and pups that eat human food consistently have an increased risk of developing pancreatitis, obesity, and more. At the end of the day, “people food” is best for the humans of the house, and a vet-recommended kibble is best for your dog.