What Can Dogs Eat?
Discover what foods your fur babies can stomach and what foods may not be the best for them!/
Most dogs will eat just about anything, including your table scraps -- but that doesn’t mean they should. So what’s safe for your dog to eat -- and what’s off the menu?
Your dog should get most of their nutrition from food made with them in mind. There are plenty of healthy, protein-rich options available, or you can try to make your own. According to the American Kennel Club, your vet should advise you about what type of food and how much of it to give your specific breed.
As far as “people-food,” you should be mindful before you let your dog lick your plate. Let’s take a look at some common foods that dogs should avoid, as well as healthier alternatives for when you can’t resist sharing a taste of your dish with Fido.
1. Avoid Meats With Heavy Seasoning
Though your pup might hate us for telling you this, greasy, salty, meaty table scraps are not the best idea for their dinner. Over time, too much cholesterol and sodium can do damage to your pet’s heart and arteries. What’s more, many seasonings and marinades contain black pepper, onion powder, and garlic salt -- all of which can give your dog an allergic reaction, like a runny nose or tummy ache.
You also can’t feed your dog any type of meat that has bones in it. (No hot wings, we mean it!). Chicken bones, especially, can be a bane to your dog’s digestive system. Chicken and turkey can even trigger allergies in a high number of dogs, so do watch out for any symptoms of stomach upset after letting them have a meaty treat.
Instead: There are plenty of protein sources that are safe for dogs to eat. Chicken, turkey, fish, and beef can all provide your dog with vitamins and minerals. But if you keep one thing in mind about giving your dog meat, let it be this: Dogs aren’t equipped to digest foods that have been prepared to please the human palate.
Cheese, in moderation, is another good source of protein. Cut-up pieces of cheese are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they don’t have a dairy sensitivity. Sliced string cheese is a favorite snack for obedience training sessions.
Peanut butter is also a vet-approved source of protein for your pup. Pro-tip: Most dogs love it so much that you can sneak other things (like a heartworm pill or other medication) right into a spoon of peanut butter and watch your dog down it with eyes wide and a big doggie smile on their face.
2. Limit Refined Grains
Wheat bread and white bread are generally safe for your dog to eat once in a while. But dogs are just like us in that a diet that’s too carb-laden will result in weight gain and loss of energy.
You should also be careful not to feed your dog unbaked bread dough. Yeast in dough can continue to rise even once it is in your dog’s belly. The side effects of dogs eating raw dough can be quite serious, so contact your vet if it happens.
Instead: Lots of dog food brands tout the fact that they are “grain-free,” which makes it seem like grains aren’t good for dogs to eat. But unless your dog has a grain or gluten allergy, you don’t need to stick to pricy, grain-free dog food. There are plenty of grain products that are safe for most dogs to chow down on. Rice, quinoa, and corn are simple grains most dogs can eat safely, as long as they are given in small amounts.
3. Mind the Fruits and Veggies
You may have heard that fruits and veggies aren’t safe for your dog to digest, but that’s just not true. There are certain produce items that your dog should avoid, but there are a host of others that are actually good for your dog.
Don’t give Fido onions, garlic, or any type of nightshade vegetable (such as tomato, eggplant, white potatoes, or bell peppers). Never give a dog grapes or raisins, which are dangerous for your dog to eat (though researchers are still not quite clear on why).
You should also avoid giving whole peaches, nectarines, and other fruits with pits. Pits can contain cyanide, a powerful toxin. According to the American Kennel Club, you can give your dog these types of fruit only if the pits are completely removed.
Instead: Apples, blueberries, and pears are safe for your dog to eat, as long as they are cut up and given in small amounts, and with the seeds removed. Your dog can even eat unpeeled and sliced bananas. Carrots, celery, spinach, and peas are also safe for your dog to consume.
4. Be Extra Careful With Sweets
Some dogs have a sweet tooth -- but that doesn’t mean you should be serving up a second helping of your own personal dessert for Fido. A dog that eats high amounts of sugar will be at an increased risk for diabetes and obesity.
Artificial sugars (such as xylitol) and chocolate are both on the “never” list for dogs to eat, and can be poisonous.
Instead: For a sweet treat, drizzle some honey on a dog biscuit. For something extra special, look for doggie-friendly ice cream in the pet food aisle in your supermarket. You can check out our list of homemade treats for your dog for more ideas.
5. When to Call the Vet
If your dog is showing symptoms of an upset stomach after eating, you should play it safe and call your vet. Signs that your dog might not being feeling so well include:
- An upset stomach (diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation)
- Coughing up green or yellowish liquid (bile)
- Loss of appetite for more than 24 hours
- Runny eyes or nose
- Drinking more water than usual
If your dog is behaving in a way that concerns you, always contact a veterinary professional to talk about what’s happening.
A healthy diet for your dog looks similar to a healthy diet for the rest of your family members -- packed with protein, fiber-full, light on carbs, and saving the sugar for special occasions. And as It turns out, there are a lot more options for your dog’s dish than you might have imagined. While there’s a long list of things to avoid, there’s also plenty of pooch-friendly fruits, veggies, grains, and snackable treats. Before long, you’ll be a pro at remembering what your dog can and can’t eat.