“People Food” Your Dog Can & Can't Eat
Although it’s hard to resist those puppy dog eyes at the dinner table, it may not always be safe to feed your canine companion the same foods you eat. Dogs have different digestive systems than humans, which means some "people food" that seems harmless may actually be dangerous for your pet.
Read on to find out which foods — from avocados to eggs — are safe bets for your dog and which snacks could result in a trip to the vet — or worse.
Yes, dogs can enjoy a helping of turkey on Thanksgiving — or on any old day of the year. However, experts suggest you remove excess fat as well as the turkey’s skin before tossing it in your dog’s bowl. Any meat with excessive seasonings or salt can upset a dog’s stomach, and onions and garlic should be avoided at all cost.
Peanut Butter: Yes
Yes, peanut butter makes a great treat for both humans and dogs alike. This tasty source of protein also contains important vitamins — B and E — as well as niacin, a nutrient that helps lower cholesterol. Everyone has their own peanut butter preference, from smooth to crunchy to extra crunchy.
Ice Cream: No
I scream, you scream, the dog howls for ice cream — but too bad. Nope, dogs should not eat ice cream. Surprisingly, this isn’t necessarily a dairy issue. It’s true that dogs aren’t quite built to digest milk after they have been weaned as puppies, but the bigger issue is that the frozen treat contains loads of sugar.
Though sweet, honey still lands in the "yes" column. First, it contains a whole alphabet soup of vitamins as well as nutrients. Honey also has other health benefits for both dogs and humans. It can be used topically to treat burns and minor scrapes.
Tuna & Salmon: Yes
Although cats are often portrayed as the fish lovers, dogs can also benefit from chowing down on certain waterbound critters, particularly tuna and salmon. Cooked fresh tuna promotes heart health, thanks to its bounty of omega-3 fatty acids. However, avoid canned tuna, which contains trace amounts of mercury and more sodium.
Nothing says "winter" like a healthy dose of cinnamon. Whether it’s in drinks or baked goods, it’s often the star of the season. However, you should find a different way to add some holiday cheer to your dog’s life. Although cinnamon isn’t toxic, the oils in it can irritate a dog’s mouth, making them super uncomfortable.
Yes, feel free to dish out the quinoa to your pet. Gluten-free and highly trendy, quinoa seeds are packed with protein. Even better, they also contain decent amounts of all nine essential amino acids as well as fiber, iron, calcium and Vitamin E.
At this point, almost everyone is familiar with that overplayed Beggin’ Strips ad, right? For the unindoctrinated, it begins with a dog dreaming about bacon strips. Upon waking, the dog races downstairs, chanting either "bacon bacon bacon" or "beggin’ beggin’ beggin’," depending on your interpretation for a bacon-flavored treat.
Milk: Not Really
Surprisingly, there’s not a clear-cut answer for this one. Like all mammals, puppies drink their mother’s milk for sustenance, but that doesn’t mean they are equipped to handle the cow’s milk you bring home from the store. A lick or two of milk won’t seriously harm your pet, but maybe just stick with water.
Garlic is a huge N-O. And not just because you want your dog to avoid that tell-tale bad breath. Onions, chives, leeks and garlic are all part of a family of plants that are toxic to dogs. Garlic, however, takes things to a whole new level: It is five times more toxic than its fellow members of the Allium family.
Shrimp: Yes (Cooked)
If you fire up the barbecue on a summer afternoon, feel free to give your dog a little surf to go with the turf. Cooked shrimp are not just okay for your dog to eat; the little shellfish contain tons of antioxidants and vitamin B-12. Bonus: They are also low in fat and calories, making them a lighter alternative to the usual meat products and treats you may feed your pet.
Next time you and your pooch decide to stay in for the night and watch some Netflix, feel free to offer your pet a few kernels of popcorn. As long as it’s unsalted, unbuttered and air-popped, the treat is fine in moderation. Of course, be sure to check the kernels to make sure they are fully popped before handing the bowl over to your dog.
Coconut is generally okay for dogs to ingest, but you should probably stick to feeding it to your pet in moderation. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), owners are encouraged to add coconut oil to their dogs’ diets. As far as the meat of this tropical fruit goes, it’s also a pretty beneficial treat.
You’ve probably heard all your life that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, and that urban legend is not a fable at all — it’s a cold, hard fact. Dogs should not even taste it. Chocolate contains toxic (to dogs) methylxanthines, which impact a canine’s metabolic process. In fact, these substances halt the process altogether.
Yes, eggs are totally fine for dogs — as long as they are fully cooked. Raw egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency, and your dog needs biotin to take food and translate it into energy. Vets even recommend adding cooked eggs to your dog’s food as a treat and for an added protein boost.
Plain white rice is one of those comfort foods that just always hits the spot. A great side and a great remedy for an upset stomach, it’s a truly versatile food. Plain cooked rice (white or brown) is okay for your dog to chow down on as well.
Nuts: Mostly No
As mentioned earlier, peanuts are technically legumes, which makes them okay for dogs. Nuts, on the other hand, pose more of a problem. While some nuts, such as cashews, are technically fine in moderation, others are potentially harmful.
Cherries: Yes (Pitted)
Cherries are a seriously underrated snack. Perfect for nibbling while lounging on the couch or hanging out poolside, cherries require a lot less prep work than other fruits. Luckily, your dog can also enjoy fresh pitted cherries in small amounts. There aren’t any huge health benefits, but if your dog has a sweeth tooth one or two pitted cherries may be the answer.
There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee in the morning to kickstart the day, so who could blame you for wanting to share that feeling with your furry best friend? Coffee — and anything containing caffeine — should not be given to your dog. Caffeine stimulates a dog’s nervous system, and that can lead to a whole host of issues.
Grapes and raisins seem like pretty benign foods. But, sadly, you should not feed grapes or raisins to your pup. Both versions of this fruit contain toxic compounds that could lead to rapid kidney failure and, in some cases, death.
From brie to cheddar to a nice mozzarella, cheese comes in a lot of delicious varieties. As with milk, some dogs handle cheese better than others. Some develop an intolerance to lactose after being weaned off their mother’s milk, while others have a hard time digesting dairy from another species.
Carrots have an alleged superpower — the ability to improve your eyesight. While they do contain vitamin A, which promotes good eye health and helps you see better in low-light environments, they don’t necessarily improve your ability to see.
Although onions make you cry and give you bad breath, they cause a far worse fate for your dog. Like garlic and leeks, onions are highly toxic to dogs. From the flesh to the juice, all parts of the onion are equally harmful. Even onion powder, a common additive, can cause huge issues.
Watermelon: Yes (Seedless)
Low in calories and loaded with vitamins A and C, it’s a healthy alternative to fatty foods. According to Dog Time, although watermelon contains sugar, "the fiber content in the fruit insulates the sugar and prevents it from being released into the bloodstream too quickly," making it a better alternative to various other fruits as well.
Apples: Yes (Seedless)
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but does the same hold true for vets? You should still take your pet in for regular check-ups, but it’s true that apples can be good for dogs to snack on. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, apples also contain fiber to help your dog’s digestive system.
According to some salty folks, avocado toast is allegedly getting in the way of millennial home ownership (see the McMansion section for more). One thing that’s certain: If your pet gets its paws on this trendy food item, it could land you in the doghouse. To be clear, regardless of how Instagrammable the moment might be, a dog should never eat avocado.
Citrus Fruits: Yes & No
True to form, there’s some sweet news and some sour news when it comes to dogs and citrus fruits. First, the sour: Lemons and limes can be toxic to your dog. The skins of these fruits contain psoralen, a substance that can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. If a dog consumes too much psoralen, it could even lead to muscle tremors, liver failure and death.
Rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, bananas make a great, healthy snack for your dog — in moderation. According to the American Kennel Club, a lot of veterinarians actually recommend this fruit as an alternative to foods that are high in fat or salt. Another great benefit is the high fiber, meaning it's great for your dog if your pet is experiencing an upset stomach.
Yes, dogs can enjoy a little bit of bread, but only if it’s plain bread — no spices and no fancy add-ins. (Obviously avoid chocolate bread, cinnamon bread, raisin bread, garlic bread and any other options with toxic ingredients.) Freshly baked bread makes a much better choice than breads preservative-filled ones from supermarket shelves.
Tomatoes: Yes & No
Tomatoes are another tricky one. Their leaves and stems — basically any green part of a tomato plant — contain a substance called solanine, which is harmful to dogs and can cause an upset stomach and even seizures. This also means that unripened, green tomatoes pose a threat.