If you are a pet parent, you know how hard it is to ignore that loving, fuzzy presence who is waiting hopefully at your feet each time you sit down for dinner. It’s difficult to resist those eyes watching each forkful you put in your mouth, and many dog owners often give in and share parts of their meals with their pups. Unfortunately, not all human foods are suitable for canine consumption; some foods can even endanger your dog’s life.
There’s a lot of information out there about the foods dogs can & cannot eat. It can be overwhelming and leave you uncertain about the best steps to take for your pup’s health and wellbeing. Our guide helps you navigate the foods that are safe for your dog to eat and the ones that you should avoid feeding to her altogether.
Foods Dogs Can Eat
Apples sliced into the proper size for your dog make for nutritious, tasty, and crunchy snacks. As a source of fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C, apples are low in fat and protein. Apple skin contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that may help fight cancer. Introduce this snack slowly to your dog so as not to cause stomach upset.
Don’t feed your dog apple seeds and cores. The seeds within the apple core contain cyanide, a poison. If your dog eats a few seeds, she should be fine, depending on her body weight; however, over time, large amounts of seeds can be harmful to your dog’s health. Additionally, apple cores are potential choking hazards for dogs who may swallow them.
Asparagus is a vegetable full of nutritional goodness. With plenty of antioxidants, iron, selenium, folic acid, and vitamins B6, C, E, and K, asparagus is an awesome super food. Therefore, asparagus can be nutritionally beneficial to your dog, if it is served properly.
Because asparagus ferns are toxic to dogs, make sure to never give your dog the leafy part of this vegetable. Serving asparagus raw is a choking hazard for some dogs, so your safest bet is to serve them steamed or boiled in moderation. Serve this vegetable plain; don’t add any butter or salt as that can cause stomach upset.
Bananas are a sweet fruit that makes for an excellent snack for pups in moderation. Chock full of vitamins B6 and C, potassium, fiber, and magnesium, bananas pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are also high in antioxidants, which help prevent cancer and strengthen the immune system.
Due to the high sugar content in bananas, feed them as an occasional flavorful snack for your dog. Consider mashing up part of a banana and adding it to your dog’s food dish or slice a banana up and place it in the freezer for some cool, refreshing frozen banana snacks.
In moderation, corn is a safe, nutritious meal topper for your dog. Corn contains a variety of important minerals and vitamins, including selenium, fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamins B, C, E, and K. This vegetable also includes carotenoids that may strengthen the immune system and help lower the chances of chronic illness.
Don’t feed your dog corn on the cob. The cob poses a significant choking and obstruction hazard for dogs. Additionally, make sure any corn you give your pup is plain and has no butter or salt on it.
An ideal fruit treat for dogs is cantaloupe. Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, cantaloupes help with eyesight as well as prevention of cancer and cell damage. Throw in being an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6 and C, folate and potassium, and this tasty, refreshing fruit makes for a perfect snack for your pup.
Avoid feeding cantaloupe rinds to your dog. Rinds can cause intestinal damage and dogs can choke on them.
Looking for a low-calorie snack that’s crunchy, tasty, and nutritious? Carrots fulfill that role for your dog (and you, too). This versatile vegetable can replace higher calorie and fat-laden treats you may usually give your pup as a standalone snack. You can also add raw or cooked carrots to your dog’s daily meal. With essential vitamins and minerals, such as beta-carotene and vitamin K, carrots are a great choice for a canine treat.
Remember, carrots are high in sugar. Feed them in moderation, so your dog doesn’t gain extra weight.
As an occasional treat, cashews are fine for dogs to eat as a snack. This nut is a nutrient powerhouse, full of essential fats, protein, antioxidants and minerals like zinc, calcium and magnesium. While cashews are lower in fat than most other nuts, they are still high in fat in general. Keep them to a minimum as treats.
Only feed unsalted cashews to your dog. Avoid feeding your dog any foods with excess sodium. Remember that some dogs may experience difficulty digesting this type of nut.
Cranberries make for tart, safe fruit snacks for dogs. This superfood is beneficial to oral health, prevention of cancer, reducing inflammation and improving heart health. As with any other treat, only feed cranberries in moderation to your pup. Too much too soon can lead to stomach upset, and large amounts of cranberries regularly may cause calcium oxalate stones in your dog’s bladder.
While dried cranberries are also acceptable snacks, avoid giving your dog any cranberries with added sugar.
Full of antioxidants and micronutrients, cucumbers are the perfect low-calorie treat for canines. They provide calcium, vitamin K, hydration, and fiber, along with a satisfying crunch. If your dog is a little overweight, switching out high-fat treats for cucumber slices is a smart move. Remember to introduce cucumbers into your pup’s diet in moderation, and never give your dog pickles due to high sodium content.
Fish, particularly salmon, sardines, herring, cod and whitefish, is a nutritious meat alternative for dogs. These types of fish contain essential amino acids, especially omega-3s and omega-6s, which keep your dog’s skin and coat shiny and healthy. Add some fish to your dog’s daily meals or serve it as a small snack.
Never feed your dog raw fish, and be sure that cooked fish is deboned. Uncooked fish can contain salmonella and other harmful bacterias as well as bones that can get stuck in a dog’s throat.
As a sweet, low-calorie fruit, the mango makes for a crisp, flavorful dog snack. With over 20 different vitamins and minerals, it’s hard to go wrong with mango as a nutritious and satisfying treat. This fruit is cholesterol-free, fat-free and sodium-free, so feel free to have some yourself when you’re treating your pup.
Make sure you remove the pit from any whole mangos. While the skin is perfectly safe for dogs to consume, the pit can cause a dog to choke. Feed in moderation as the mango has high quantities of fiber which may overwhelm a dog’s digestive system.
Oranges are nutritious for dogs, but only as limited or occasional snacks. This fruit is indeed healthy for consumption as it has plenty of vitamin C, B6, potassium, fiber and other antioxidants. Be aware that some dogs are not fans of the orange’s strong citrus smell and too much orange can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Give your dog this tasty treat once in a while if she shows an interest in it.
Juicy and flavorful, peaches are mouth-watering snacks for canines. Chop up the flesh in small pieces and serve as a rare treat. Peaches are low-calorie, contain no saturated fats, and are excellent sources for vitamins A and C and antioxidants, all important factors in disease prevention. Dogs are carnivores, and as such don’t require fruit in their diet; therefore, some dogs will experience an upset tummy and temporary diarrhea if they eat fruit. Feed peaches occasionally to your dog, and not as a staple of her diet.
The pears, part of the apple family, is a safe snack to give your dog once in a while. This fruit is known as the “antioxidant fruit” due to its high quantities of vitamin C and phytonutrients, both components that can help prevent disease.
Remove the stem, core, and seeds from the pear. The stem and core are hazardous for dogs to eat and may result in choking or obstruction. Pear seeds contain cyanide and are poisonous in large quantities.
As a significant source of vitamins B and C, manganese, iron and fiber, pineapple can be a delicious summer snack for your pup. Sweet and tart, it is especially refreshing as a frozen treat. Feed pineapple in small amounts to your dog as it does contain natural sugars and high fiber contents, both of which can have adverse effects on your dog’s digestion.
Don’t feed your dog the hard, central core of the pineapple or the spiny skin. Both of these items are difficult to chew and can cause obstructions or block the esophagus.
Like blueberries and blackberries, strawberries are a type of berry that is safe for canine consumption. Full of high fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and phytochemicals, strawberries are a nutritious, sweet snack for dogs. Even better, strawberries contain enzymes that may whiten canine teeth! As with other fruits, strawberries contain lots of natural sugars, so feed only in moderation.
Foods that Dogs Cannot Eat
Alcohol is a common drug containing ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol are toxic to dogs; therefore, your dog should never be fed or have access to anything containing alcohol. Dogs can quickly become disoriented and suffer from seizures and vomiting, amongst other debilitating conditions, including a coma and death.
Because of its contents, avocado is not an appropriate fruit for dogs to eat. The avocado fruit contains a fungicidal toxin called persin. Although persin is not likely to be fatal to dogs, it can cause severe gastrointestinal disorders. Most avocado poisoning occurs if a dog eats the fruit’s pit, which contains significant amounts of persin. The pit is also a choking hazard.
While chocolate is a sweet treat for people, dogs should avoid it at all costs. Chocolate contains two chemical compounds, theobromine and caffeine, which are dangerous to canines. Small amounts of chocolate ingested by a large dog may result in diarrhea and vomiting, while that same amount of chocolate eaten by a small dog can result in death. In many cases, dogs will suffer seizures or tremors because of chocolate.
While cinnamon is non-toxic to dogs, it can cause physical discomfort to dogs, especially if eaten in large amounts. It’s more likely that a dog would ingest lots of cinnamon via sweet treats like cookies or cakes rather than getting into a container of the spice.
Excess cinnamon can irritate the stomach lining and the mouth, particularly if your dog eats a cinnamon stick. Cinnamon powder can be dangerous for dogs to inhale, causing breathing difficulties along with coughing and choking.
Coffee and Tea
Most coffees and teas contain caffeine, a chemical compound that can be life-threatening to some dogs. While a sip or two of your morning joe might not cause serious harm for your pup, due to dogs’ sensitivity to caffeine, it's best to steer them clear from caffeine completely. Dogs who ingest caffeine from tea or coffee may experience hyperactivity, panting, excessive urination, vomiting, diarrhea or seizures.
As a member of the allium family, garlic poses a severe threat to canines. Dogs are sensitive to garlic, with Japanese breeds like the Shiba Inu as the most sensitive of all. Toxic levels of garlic result in gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, nausea, diarrhea) and anemia (increased heart and respiratory rates, weakness, collapse). Garlic is found in a variety of human foods, so check for it before you feed any table foods to your pup.
Grapes and Raisins
Research has yet to show a reason why grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, both of these fruits rank amongst the most dangerous to canines. Some dogs can eat a few grapes and suffer mild effects while one grape or raisin can be fatal to other dogs.
In mild scenarios, dogs who eat 4 - 5 grapes may display symptoms of abdominal pain, weakness, dehydration, lethargy, and tremors within 6 - 12 hours of ingestion. In the worst cases, dogs suffer from renal failure in 3 - 4 days. Do everything you can to keep grapes and raisins out of your dog’s reach at all times.
Lemons and Limes
Both lemons and limes may seem like innocent fruits, but they contain psoralens and essential oils, which are toxic substances to dogs. If your dog ingests enough of either fruit, she may experience a sensitivity to light accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. All parts of lemons and limes, including the flesh, rind, and skin, are potentially dangerous for canines. Place these fruits in your refrigerator or cabinets away from your dog’s prying paws.
Keep your dog away from macadamia nuts, which are poisonous to canines. If your pup eats macadamia nuts, she may develop a non-fatal yet uncomfortable syndrome. Ataxia, fever, muscle tremors, vomiting, and depression are the typical symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning.
Usually, a dog needs to ingest 2 grams of macadamia nuts per kilogram of body weight before macadamia nut poisoning symptoms are noticeable. Scientists don’t know why macadamia nuts have this impact on dogs, but in the interest of your pup’s health, leave these nuts locked away in a kitchen cabinet.
As far as spices go, nutmeg is definitely one to avoid feeding to dogs. While no one knows why nutmeg is toxic to dogs, it’s clear that dogs who eat significant amounts of it suffer terrible symptoms such as seizures, twitching, and coma. Neurological damage may also occur in dogs who have ingested significant amounts of nutmeg. This spice has a rich scent and is often used in baking and with chocolate, so help your dog avoid this temptation and place nutmeg and other sweets out of your pup’s reach.
The onion is part of the allium family of root vegetables, just like garlic. Onions also contain n-propyl disulfide, a toxic ingredient that negatively affects a dog’s red blood cells. While small amounts of onion aren’t likely to cause fatalities, your dog may respond more sensitively to onions depending on her weight.
The long-term effect of onion in a dog’s diet is hemolytic anemia, which weakens and destroys red blood cells, and severe onion poisoning may lead to death. Onions are commonly part of staple foods, such as soups and salads, so avoid giving your dog any food with onions.
When cooked or boiled, eggs make for an excellent dietary supplement full of amino acids and proteins. Raw eggs, however, are another story altogether. Feeding your dog raw eggs puts her --- and you --- at risk for contracting salmonella. Additionally, making raw eggs a regular part of your pup’s diet can lead to biotin deficiency in the body.
B complex vitamins are necessary for your dog’s digestion, cell structure, skin and coat and metabolism. If you choose to feed your dog eggs, cook or boil them plain without any salt, butter, or added ingredients.
Raw Yeast Dough
It’s a given: like most people, dogs love bread. Unfortunately, they also love it even in its most natural form. Raw yeast dough presents two severely dangerous health scenarios for dogs.
The first and most urgent concern is alcohol poisoning. Yeast fermentation produces ethanol, and that form of alcohol quickly absorbs into the bloodstream. What follows includes inebriation, disorientation, seizures, neurological depression, coma and death.
The second health concern involves the ingestion of raw yeast dough into a warm stomach that acts as a natural oven. The dough rises within the stomach, causing stomach distension, difficulty breathing, and circulation problems. Ultimately, this situation can result in gastric dilatation, or “bloat,” which can be fatal.
Part of the nightshade family, tomato fruits are nutritious and safe in their edible parts. However, the majority of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, and stems, contain tomatine, a toxic substance.
Ripe tomatoes only have small amounts of tomatine, and if your dog eats a tiny piece of tomato, she will probably be fine. If your dog eats large portions of the tomato plant, she may develop stomach upset, weakness, seizures and an abnormal heart rate. A trip to the veterinarian is necessary in this case.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and natural sugar substitute used in thousands of food products as a “sugar free” additive. Many varieties of cookies, muffins, peanut butter, ice cream, supplements, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, gum and candies contain xylitol. While xylitol is fine for human consumption, it is so toxic to dogs that the FDA issued an updated warning about it in 2019.
In canines, xylitol reacts immediately with the bloodstream, prompting the body to release a potent level of insulin into the blood quickly. The rapid drop in blood sugar levels causes hypoglycemia, which if left untreated, is life-threatening to dogs. It may take 12 - 24 hours before symptoms of xylitol poisoning become apparent, with dogs experiencing lethargy, weakness and seizures.
Always Check with Your Vet!
Your canine companion is your best friend, and to make sure she is living her best life, you want to carefully dog-proof your kitchen to make sure that dangerous foods are out of her reach. Remember to reach out to your veterinarian with any questions about what your dog should be eating or what you should do if she ingests something dangerous.
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