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By Sara Seitz
Sharing a snack with your dog is a fun way to connect with them, and, when you choose the right foods, can be a healthy way to supplement their diet. But, some human foods are dangerous for dogs and can cause illness and even death if they ingest them.
So what can dogs eat and what can dogs not eat off your plate? We’ve constructed a thorough list of over 50 human foods you might offer to your pet.
Some of them are healthy choices that can be fed often, while others should only be given sparingly. And some are just downright poisonous to your pooch and need to be avoided altogether.
Keep reading for our list of foods dogs can’t eat and those they can.
Group 1 – Sure: Healthy Human Food Choices for Your Pup
Berries make a great snack for your dog. Blueberries especially are packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help the body heal as well as vitamins like vitamin K and C.
Best of all, these bite-sized snacks are lower in sugar than most fruits and are 85% water, making them a great choice for overweight dogs. And, because of their size, they are excellent for training rewards and even to use in treat and puzzle toys!
Apples are another great food for your dog. They contain a ton of fiber and have a sweet taste that dogs go crazy for.
Like blueberries, these fruits also contain a lot of water, but they are higher in sugar, so feed these more sparingly. And always make sure to remove the seeds and stems before giving the apple to your dog.
You can even dry apple slices in a dehydrator or on low heat in the oven for a tasty snack with an interesting texture that’s easier to transport and keeps much longer than fresh apples.
Carrots are another great human food for dogs. These veggies are packed with vitamins like vitamin k and beta carotene and contain fiber and antioxidants.
They are higher in sugar than many vegetables but their hard structure means your dog will have to eat them more slowly than a lot of other human foods. That crunchy, fibrous structure also makes carrots useful in scrubbing your dog’s teeth and promoting dental health.
Feed carrots whole or cut down into long sticks appropriate for your dog’s size.
One of the best people food for dogs is eggs. Your dog’s system was built to utilize the protein and fats found in animal foods, and eggs are no exception.
Eggs are packed with protein and energizing fats as well as vitamins and minerals.
The best way to prepare them for your pet is to cook them scrambled and use them as soft treats during training or add them to your dog’s normal meal. If you feed a home prepared diet or just want to give your kibble a boost, you can even grind up eggshells to add calcium to your dog’s diet.
Group 2 – In Moderation: Great Occasional Treats to Spoil Your Pooch
Bananas are packed with a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals, but also contain a fair amount of sugar, and that makes them one of the foods dogs should not eat in large amounts. This is especially true if your dog struggles with weight gain.
Dogs with health problems like diabetes should not eat bananas or any human food unless you have discussed it with your vet. If you are looking for better quality food for your diabetic pooch, you’ll want to read on our list of the best dog food for diabetic dogs here.
While cooked potatoes are one of the safe foods for dogs, uncooked white potatoes are actually one of the foods poisonous to dogs.
Cooked white potatoes can be diced up and given as treats or mashed and mixed with kibble for a special holiday meal. But, because potatoes are high in starch and other carbs, they should not be fed frequently.
Sweet potatoes have more vitamins and fiber than white potatoes and are a healthier choice for your pup. And uncooked sweet potatoes and yams are safe to feed and make an excellent tooth scrubbing chew treat.
Shrimp contain high levels of vitamin B12 and niacin, which are important for your dog’s gut and metabolic health, according to akc.org. They are also high in protein and low in fat which is great for dogs with pancreatitis or other fat-sensitive diseases.
But, shrimp is high in cholesterol and should only be fed occasionally to avoid issues. Also, make sure you remove the shell before feeding as this could get stuck in your dog’s throat.
While shrimp for humans is often breaded and fried, the best option for your pup is steamed shrimp without any added sauce.
Many dogs love bread. It’s chewy and soft and easy to gulp down.
While bread isn’t one of the worst things to feed a dog, it doesn’t have a lot of positive health benefits. Many dog owners often ask themselves questions like “is butter bad for dogs?”
Both bread and butter, and many other human foods aren’t dangerous to dogs but they are a bit like junk food. They only provide empty calories and no positive health effects.
It’s best to feed these foods only as an occasional treat.
Group 3 – Not Recommended: Human Foods That Might Make Your Dog Ill
When it comes to what not to feed dogs, oranges aren’t the worst. In fact, if your dog gets into the fruit basket and gulps a whole one down, you probably don’t have much to worry about.
But, this acidic fruit can cause some stomach upset. And more importantly, dogs lack the digestive enzymes needed to break orange pulp down.
This means that feeding your dog oranges isn’t beneficial as they can’t access much of the healthy vitamins and minerals inside. Try feeding vitamin C packed berries instead.
This spice isn’t one of the toxic foods for dogs, like nutmeg, but it can cause irritation. Whether it’s cinnamon oil, sticks, or ground dust, cinnamon is known to cause digestive upset, according to akc.org.
Ground cinnamon is especially irritating to the lungs if inhaled.
While a little cinnamon used to spice up some homemade dog treats is fine, it’s best to store this food out of your dog’s reach and use it sparingly or not at all.
Corn is an ingredient used in many low-cost dog foods, so clearly, this is not one of the things dogs can’t eat. While corn may not be dangerous for dogs, it isn’t exactly healthy either.
Corn is a cheap filler ingredient in dog foods that provide little nutritional value and too much sugar and starch. If your dog food contains corn, consider reading this article on the best dog foods to help your pup thrive.
Whole corn kernels can’t be digested by dogs and pass through their system intact. And in some dogs, corn can cause stomach upset and allergic reactions.
Cherries themselves aren’t unsafe food for dogs, but their pits are. And since fresh cherries rarely come de-pitted, it’s best to keep your dog away from them altogether.
Cherry pits contain cyanide. This famous toxin is poisonous to both humans and dogs.
Don’t panic if you or your dog accidentally ingest a couple of pits. It takes more than a few to hurt the body, but avoid swallowing them and keep them out of your dog’s reach.
Group 4 – Nope: Toxic Human Foods You Should Never Give Your Dog
Grapes and raisins make healthy snacks for toddlers, adults, and animals of all kinds. Except for dogs.
For some reason that has yet to be fully understood, grapes are toxic to dogs. Scientists aren’t sure if the issue lies in a fungus that commonly grows on the fruit or something in some varieties of the fruit itself.
There also seems to be a lot of variance in how many grapes an individual dog can consume before showing signs of kidney damage. Because some dogs become ill after eating only a couple of grapes, its best not to feed any grapes or raisins to your dog.
Onions are one of the foods toxic to dogs in any form, raw or cooked. Onions and other plants in the allium family cause red blood cells to rupture in dogs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.
Eventually, this issue leads to anemia which can be very dangerous.
To keep your dog safe, never offer onions or foods that contain onions like pasta or pizza.
Chocolate is one of the most famous unsafe foods for dogs. Cocoa seeds, which chocolate is derived from, contain methylxanthines and caffeine, both of which are poisonous to dogs.
Milk chocolate contains very little cocoa and has a much lower methylxanthine content than dark chocolate. While a large dog may be able to eat a pound of milk chocolate and only suffer a belly ache, only a square or two of bakers chocolate could cause serious problems.
Puppies and adolescent dogs commonly find their way into chocolate treats, especially around the holidays, so be extra mindful and keep chocolate candies out of reach.
While avocado might be a health food craze for humans, many other animals can’t ingest this poisonous fruit without serious complications.
While avocado poisoning is common and dangerous in birds and cattle, it is less common in dogs. Still, the large pit of the fruit poses a serious hazard if ingested and the high-fat content of the food can lead to pancreatitis in dogs.
So it’s best to leave the avocado on your toast and out of your pup’s bowl.
How to Create a Balanced Dog Diet Out of Only Human Food
Have you ever wondered, “Can I feed my dog human food instead of dog food?”
Dog kibble is boring and often over-processed and less nutritious than fresh food. But replacing your dog’s dry food with a homemade meal of human-grade food can be tricky.
Dogs require the right balance of certain nutrients like calcium, phosphorous, and taurine. When you replace part or all of their normal diet with human food, it’s important to keep this balance intact.
You must also keep in mind that dogs are carnivores and require more meat in their diet than humans. In addition to muscle meat like chicken breast, you also need to provide them with less-common meat cuts like organs and tripe.
To provide enough calcium, you can either use ground bone meal or a calcium supplement. As we discussed above, you can even grind up eggshells to make your own calcium supplement.
If you’re up for the challenge of making your own human-food meals for your dog, here is a great article to get you started. If that all sounds like too much work but you’re serious about providing a quality diet for your dog, you may consider reading this article on the best organic dog foods.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Human Food to Dogs
Have you ever glanced at your begging dog only to look down at your plate and wonder which of these food items are safe for dogs to eat?
With such a wide variety of foods bad for dogs and foods downright dangerous for dogs, it can be nerve-racking to feed your pooch anything not marketed with a dog on the box.
Even when you ask Google “what can’t dogs eat” you’re likely to get back some confusing and conflicting answers. The best thing you can do for yourself is uncomplicated things.
First, memorize the handful of common human foods that are very toxic to dogs: chocolate, grapes, onions, and macadamia nuts. Then, pledge not to feed your dog any unhealthy human foods.
That will assure your dog doesn’t get fed dangerous items like candy containing xylitol, caffeine, alcohol, and salty snacks.
Next, remember only to feed healthy human foods in small quantities unless you know they are safe and that your dog reacts positively to them. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, even commonly fed people food might not be an option for them.
Some of the safest and best human foods for dogs are carrots, apples, meat, deboned fish, eggs, and berries.
Not coincidentally, these foods align with the types of things wild dogs like wolves and coyotes eat. That’s because your dog’s system is very similar to that of their wild cousins.
Human Food Hacks for Your Dog
Dog treats and quality dog food can be expensive. Adding healthy human food to your dog’s routine can save money and add some healthy nutrients into their lives.
Instead of buying pricey training treats, boil some chicken breasts and cut them into cubes. Your dog will go crazy for these tasty treats and you’ll enjoy some serious savings.
Dried fruits like blueberries and apples, or dried veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes also make great treats. Using a dehydrator to remove the moisture will allow you to easily store and transport these kinds of treats as well.
If you have to buy budget dog food for your dog but want to add some much-needed protein and nutrients to their diet, try adding fresh meat and fish.
Most healthy dogs are perfectly able to digest raw meat without issue. Just remember to remove all bones and skin.
If your dog is immunocompromised or you don’t feel comfortable feeding raw food, you can always boil the meat and then add it to your dog’s normal kibble.
To add an even bigger nutrient punch, puree some dark leafy greens and antioxidant-rich berries. Mix the puree with some low sodium bone broth and add it to your dog’s meal like a gravy.
The most important thing to remember when supplementing your dog’s normal diet with human food is to mix it up. Change the meat type and veggie variety every few days to make sure your dog gets the wide array of nutrients they need to thrive.
A Little Variety Is Good, But Little Is the Key Word
When it comes to treating your dog with human foods, it’s best to do so in moderation. Treats of any kind can cause excess weight gain when added to a diet that’s already meeting your dog’s caloric needs.
Still, your dog will appreciate the variety provided by a healthy human treat now and then. Just be sure you ask yourself “what can dogs eat?” and “what can dogs not eat?” before sharing your meal with them.