Dedicated dog lovers tend to be very kind people. We share our hearts and homes (and for some lucky pooches, even the foot of our beds) with our canine pals. Surely there is nothing wrong with sharing our favorite foods with them too, right? Not necessarily. Many of the foods, such as fruits and vegetables, that humans digest just fine can wreck havoc on a dog's body, causing severe health problems. However, some of the foods people eat can be introduced to a dog's diet just fine, providing health benefits such as joint strength, better breath, and allergy immunity.
Before giving your dog foods that you crave, keep reading to learn which foods are safe and which can send your dog straight to the vet.
- Chocolate – No. This isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Chocolate contains a very toxic substance called methylxanthines, which are stimulants that stop a dog’s metabolic process. Even just a little bit of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause diarrhea and vomiting. A large amount can cause seizures, irregular heart function, and even death. Do not have chocolate in an accessible location. If you're dog does ingest chocolate, contact a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline as soon as possible.
- Shrimp – Yes. A few shrimp every now and then is fine for your dog, but only if they are fully cooked and the shell (including the tail, head, and legs) is removed completely. Shrimp are high in antioxidants, vitamin B-12, and phosphorus, but also low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates.
- Eggs – Yes. Eggs are safe for dogs as long as long as they are fully cooked. Cooked eggs are a wonderful source of protein and can help an upset stomach. However, eating raw egg whites can give dogs biotin deficiency, so be sure to cook the eggs all the way through before giving them to your pet.
- Turkey – Yes. Turkey is fine for dogs as long as it is not covered in garlic (which can be very toxic to dogs) and seasonings. Also be sure to remove excess fat and skin from the meat and don’t forget to check for bones; poultry bones can splinter during digestion, causing blockage or even tears in the intestines.
- Cheese – Yes, in small to moderate quantities. As long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, which is rare but still possible in canines, cheese can be a great treat. Many cheeses can be high in fat, so go for low-fat varieties like cottage cheese or mozzarella.
- Peanut butter – Yes. Just like whole peanuts, peanut butter is an excellent source of protein for dogs. It contains heart-healthy fats, vitamins B and E and niacin. Raw, unsalted peanut butter is the healthiest option because it doesn’t contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs.
- Popcorn – Yes. Unsalted, unbuttered, plain air-popped popcorn is OK for your dog in moderation. It contains riboflavin and thiamine, both of which promote eye health and digestion, as well as small amounts of iron and protein. Be sure to pop the kernels all the way before giving them to your dog, as unpopped kernels could become a choking hazard.
- Cinnamon – No. Cinnamon and its oils can irritate the inside of pets’ mouths, making them uncomfortable and sick. It can lower a dog’s blood sugar too much and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, increased, or decreased heart rate and even liver disease. If they inhale it in powder form, cinnamon can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and choking.
- Pork / ham – Yes. Pork is highly disgestible protein, packed with amino acids, and it contains more calories per pound than other meats. Pork also may be less likely to cause an allergic reaction in some pets compared to meat.
- Corn – Yes. Corn is one of the most common ingredients in most dog foods. However, the cob can be hard for them to digest and may cause intestinal blockage so avoid giving them corn on the cob.
- Fish – Yes. Fish contains good fats and amino acids, giving your dog a nice health boost. Salmon and sardines are especially beneficial – salmon because it’s loaded with vitamins and protein, and sardines because they have soft, digestible bones for extra calcium. With the exception of sardines, be sure to pick out all the tiny bones, which can be tedious but is necessary. Never feed your dog uncooked or under-cooked fish, only fully cooked and cooled, and limit your dog’s fish intake to no more than twice a week.
- Bread – Yes. Small amounts of plain bread (no spices and definitely no raisins) won’t hurt your dog, but it also won’t provide any health benefits either. It has no nutritional value and can really pack on the carbohydrates and calories, just like in people. Homemade breads are a better option than store-bought, as bread from the grocery store typically contains unnecessary preservatives, but it’s best to avoid it all together.
- Yogurt – Yes. Plain yogurt is a perfectly acceptable snack for dogs. It is rich with protein and calcium. The active bacteria in yogurt can help strengthen the digestive system with probiotics. Be sure to skip over yogurts with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
- Tuna – Yes. In moderation, cooked fresh tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart and eye health. As for canned tuna, it contains small amounts of mercury and sodium, which should be avoided in excess. A little bit of canned tuna and tuna juice here and there is fine – prepared only in water, not oil – as long as it doesn’t contain any spices.
- Honey – Yes. Honey is packed with countless nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. Feeding dogs a tablespoon of local honey twice a day can help with allergies because it introduces small amounts of pollen to their systems, building up immunity to allergens in your area. In addition to consuming honey, the sticky spread can also be used as a topical treatment for burns and superficial cuts.
- Garlic – No. Like onions, leeks, and chives, garlic is part of the Allium family, and it is five times more toxic to dogs than the rest of the Allium plants. Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, and collapsing. Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you think your dog may have eaten some, monitor him or her for a few days, not just right after consumption.
- Salmon – Yes. As mentioned above, fully cooked salmon is an excellent source of protein, good fats and amino acids. It promotes joint and brain health and gives their immune systems a nice boots. However, raw or undercooked salmon contains parasites that can make dogs very sick, causing vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, even death. Be sure to cook salmon all the way through (the FDA recommends at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit) and the parasites should cook out.
- Ice cream – No. As refreshing of a treat ice cream is, it’s best not to share it with your dog. Canines don’t digest dairy very well, and many even have a slight intolerance to lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Although it’s also a dairy product, frozen yogurt is a much better alternative. To avoid the milk altogether, freeze chunks of strawberries, raspberries, apples, and pineapples and give them to your dog as a sweet, icy treat.
- Coconut – Yes. This funky fruit contain Lauric, which strengthens the immune system by fighting off viruses. It can also help with bad breath and clearing up skin conditions like hot spots, flea allergies, and itchy skin. Coconut milk and coconut oil are safe for dogs too. Just be sure your dog doesn’t get its paws on the furry outside of the shell, which can get lodged in the throat.
- Almonds – No. Almonds may not necessarily be toxic to dogs like pecans, walnuts and macadamia nuts are, but they can block the esophagus or even tear the windpipe if not chewed completely. Salted almonds are especially dangerous because they can increase water retention, which is potentially fatal to dogs prone to heart disease. Read More >
- Peanuts – Yes. Unlike almonds, peanuts are safe for dogs to eat. They’re packed with good fats and proteins that will benefit your dog. Just be sure to give peanuts in moderation, as you don’t want your dog taking in too much fat, which can lead to pancreas issues in canines. Also, avoid salted peanuts. Read More >
- Macadamia nuts – No. These are some of the most poisonous foods for dogs. Macadamia nuts, part of the Protaceae family, can cause vomiting, increased body temperature, inability to walk, lethargy, and vomiting. Even worse, they can affect the nervous system. Never feed your pets macadamia nuts.
- Cashews – Yes. Cashews are OK for dogs, but only a few at a time. They’ve got calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and proteins, but while these nuts contain less fat than walnuts, almonds, or pecans, too many can lead to weight gain and other fat-related conditions. A few cashews here and there is a nice treat, but only if they’re unsalted.