Dogs should never be fed too much human food. But how much is too much?
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, no more than 10% of your dog's diet should consist of treats, including human food. Just because a food is good for us doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for dogs.
Keep in mind that every dog is different, so try any new food in small amounts. If your dog has a reaction, consult a veterinarian. The consequences of feeding your dog the wrong food can range from loss of appetite to heart damage or even death.
Here's a list of dog-approved people foods, as well as several items you should never share with your canine companion.
Foods That Dogs Can Eat
If you want to give your dog a few treats from your kitchen, start with a small amount and watch for sensitivity. Keep in mind that treats and snacks—even healthy ones—should only be a small part of a dog’s balanced diet. This list of human foods that are good for dogs is not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for a healthy treat to share with your pup.
Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, making it great for dogs with bowel irregularity issues, and also safe for dogs with wheat allergies. Before serving oatmeal to your pup, check the label. Only offer whole grain oats with no added sugar or flavoring. An appropriate serving size for a 20-pound dog is about one tablespoon. You don’t want to offer too much oatmeal as it can lead to gastrointestinal and weight issues.
Cook the oatmeal in water (not milk, which can upset dogs’ tummies) and allow to cool a bit before serving. Oatmeal can be added as a food topping or served on its own.
This bland food is high in calcium and protein, so it can be a good addition to dog food. However, avoid cottage cheese if your dog has issues digesting dairy.
Add just one or two teaspoons of cottage cheese as a treat. Or, mix with cooked rice and serve a little to your dog to soothe an upset stomach.
This vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins. Plus, crunching on carrots can be good for dogs' teeth.
Serve carrots raw or cooked, but make sure to cut the vegetable into bite-sized pieces to avoid choking. In order to maintain a balanced diet, don’t feed your dog more than one medium carrot per day as a treat.
Nutritious and low in calories, green beans are a healthy vegetable that will load dogs up with iron and vitamins. Make sure to feed your dog only fresh cooked green beans or canned green beans with no added salt.
Most types of beans contain lectins, a type of protein that, depending on the amount, can be harsh on the digestive system. The safest method is to make sure to cook green beans thoroughly before you serve them to your dog.
Giving your dog the occasional tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter is a treat you can both enjoy. It's a great source of protein and healthy fats for dogs. You can offer your dog crunchy or smooth peanut butter. Make sure the peanut butter you choose doesn’t contain salt, which can cause your dog to experience excessive thirst and urination, and can lead to sodium ion poisoning.
It’s critical that the brand of peanut butter you feed your dog does not contain xylitol. In dogs, xylitol is absorbed quickly and can result in a high release of insulin and a potentially life-threatening decrease in blood sugar level.
High in protein and calcium, plain yogurt is an ideal treat for dogs, especially if your pooch suffers from digestion problems. Make sure you opt for yogurts that don't contain fruit, added sugar, or artificial sweeteners, including xylitol.
To avoid added fat, which can cause gastrointestinal distress in dogs, opt for Greek or regular, low- or non-fat plain yogurt. If your dog is lactose intolerant, skip the yogurt altogether.
If your dog requires extra protein in its diet, cooked, unseasoned chicken is an easy addition to its regular food. A serving no larger than one half ounce of baked, boneless chicken is appropriate.Make sure you only serve your dog chicken that has been thoroughly cooked. According to theAVMA, raw or undercooked meat, including chicken, can cause the same pathogens humans’ contract by eating undercooked meat, including Salmonella, E.coli, and Listeria.
It’s also important to make sure that your pup isn’t allergic to chicken. Protein, including chicken, is a common allergen that causes an adverse reaction in some dogs.
Dogs can benefit from omega 3 fatty acids too, so slip some cooked salmon into the food bowl for a healthier, shinier coat. You should only serve your dog salmon that has been either poached, grilled, baked, or steamed with no seasonings or added oil. Never serve raw or undercooked salmon to your dog. Salmon can become infected with a parasite that causes poisoning in dogs.
Check any fish prior to serving for bones, as even small bones can cause choking or damage to a dog’s internal organs.
This vitamin-rich vegetable can be a great occasional nutrition boost for dogs. However, it should only be offered in small quantities as broccoli can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
Small pieces of broccoli can be served raw or cooked, with no added seasoning or oil. Broccoli stalks can be a choking hazard, so make sure to cut up the stems before giving them to your dog.
You can serve your dog raw or canned pumpkin as an additional source of fiber and vitamin A. It's also a helpful addition to a doggie's diet if your pooch is experiencing digestion problems.
Canned pumpkin can help dogs with mild diarrhea or constipation. Depending on the size of the dog, up to one to four tablespoons of pumpkin can be added to a dog’s regular canned food to help alleviate constipation.
In small quantities, cheese is a great treat for pets, says the American Kennel Club, as long as your dog isn't lactose intolerant. Choose plain, low-salt, low-fat cheese options like mozzarella and goat cheese to avoid increasing the amount of salt and fat in your dog’s diet.
Because most dogs enjoy it so much, owners often find that cheese is a great place to hidemedications. However, cheese (and other milk products) should not be given with antibiotics as the high amounts of calcium can prevent proper absorption of the medication.
If your pooch needs a protein boost, scramble or hard cook an occasional egg for a healthy snack. Eggs are high in protein, but they're also high in fat, so don't feed them to your pet too often.Due to the risk of illness due to Salmonella contamination, never feed raw or undercooked eggs to your dog.
High in potassium and vitamins B6 and C, bananas are a healthy treat to share with your pup.You can offer your dog small slices of banana, or you can mash it up and mix it with your dog’s regular food. Banana peels are hard to digest, and should not be given to dogs.
Bananas are also a gentle food that can be a soothing treat for a dog with an upset stomach.
A few chopped up pieces of apple is a great snack for dogs. Remove the core and seeds before offering the fruit to your pup. While cyanide poisoning from the consumption of apple seeds is rare, it is best to avoid the risk by removing all seeds.
Apples add fiber and vitamins to your dog’s diet, and are a sweet, satisfying, low calorie treat. An added benefit is that crunching on apples helps keep your dog’s teeth healthy.
Another delicious vitamin-rich fruit treat for your canine companion is strawberries. Remove stems, wash, and cut up fresh strawberries before serving them to your pup. Do not use frozen or canned strawberries that contain added sugar and artificial ingredients.
For a refreshing snack, you can also freeze strawberries before offering them to your dog. As with any treat, make sure that strawberries do not constitute more than 10% of your dog’s diet.
Foods Dogs Should Never Eat
The foods that are not safe for dogs cause symptoms ranging an upset stomach to breathing difficulties and even death. Some of these foods cause an instant reaction, while others cause a delayed response that appears over time. When you have a pet, it’s important to keep the phone number for your local emergency veterinary clinic and animal poison control center handy. If you believe your dog has consumed a toxic food, seek medical attention immediately.
You've likely heard that you're never supposed to feed a dog chocolate, and there's a reason for that. The delicious candy contains the caffeine-like stimulant theobromine, a methylxanthine which can cause a range of health problems if ingested in large amounts.
Most dog poisoning cases are the result of consuming chocolate, and many of those occur during holidays when more chocolate is present in the home. It's important to keep chocolate products out of reach of your pup at all times.
Grapes and Raisins
While nutritious for humans, grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. Even very small quantities of these fruits can cause irreparable damage. It makes no difference if the fruit is consumed raw or cooked; grapes and raisins are lethal to dogs and should be kept out of reach at all times.
Along with other members of the genus Allium like shallots, leeks, and chives, onions and garlic can make dogs very sick by damaging their red blood cells, which can result in anemia, and even death.
Depending on the amount ingested, the dog may not immediately show symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression, and loss of appetite. If you suspect your dog has consumed onions, garlic, or other plants in the genus, immediately contact your veterinarian for help monitoring your pet’s condition.
Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark all contain a toxin called persin that can cause upset stomach in dogs. While birds and other mammals including horses, rabbits, and guinea pigs are more at risk of serious complications like heart damage and breathing difficulties from eating avocado, the vomiting and diarrhea symptoms the fruit can cause in dogs make it a food to avoid.
Even a small amount of macadamia nuts can cause symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, tremors, and depression in dogs. Symptoms usually occur within 12 hours and last about 12 to 48 hours. It’s important to contact your veterinarian if you believe your dog has consumed any macadamia nuts.
In order to keep your pup from trying these nuts, it's best to keep any baked goods that contain macadamia nuts out of your pup’s reach.
Even drinking a small amount of alcohol can result in significant intoxication for a dog, which can lead to severe illness. In addition to alcoholic beverages, dogs can suffer from ethanol intoxication after drinking perfume, medication, paint, and antifreeze; or after eating rotten apples, sloe berries, or uncooked dough.
If you believe that your pet has consumed anything containing alcohol, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much chocolate is toxic to a dog?
The American Kennel Club says a dog can experience mild symptoms of toxicity if it eats 20 milligrams of methylxanthines (the toxic ingredient in chocolate) per kilogram of body weight. Cardiac symptoms and seizures can occur if the dog eats more than 40 milligrams per kilogram.
Is human food better for dogs than dog food?(Video) 12 Human Foods Golden Retrievers Should Never Eat
Studies show that human-grade is easier for dogs to digest than regular dog food. Pet food is often made from 4D meat—meat from dead, diseased, dying, or disabled animals. That said, you should always make sure the human food you feed your dog is healthy, balanced, and safe.
What should you do if your dog eats something bad?
If you suspect that your dog has eaten something toxic, you should call your vet immediately. Use the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) as a backup. Your veterinarian will advise on whether to bring your dog into the clinic or monitor its symptoms from home.
How long after eating something will a dog get sick?
If your dog eats something it shouldn't, you might notice symptoms—including vomiting, urinary incontinence, restlessness, shaking, and/or diarrhea—after a couple hours. Depending on what it ate, though, symptoms could show up as far out as a few days.
Why This Matters to Treehugger
At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our dogs, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.