What Foods Can Dogs Eat?
Commercial dog food features familiar ingredients — corn, chicken, rice, vegetables, fish, and even peanut butter, oatmeal and pumpkin.
So, can you share these same ingredients in your pantry with your dog? The answer is yes. Plenty of "people foods" are safe for dogs to eat, as long as you share it occasionally and still feed them a balanced diet of nutritious dog food.
Keep reading to learn which human foods dogs can eat and which can harm them.
Table of Contents
- Human foods dogs can eat
- Foods that are toxic to dogs
- What foods can dogs eat FAQ
- Summary of Money's guide to foods dogs can eat
Human foods dogs can eat
Dog food already provides all the nutrients your dog needs, so the following fruits, veggies and snacks are best served as occasional treats.
The guidelines regarding treats in-between meals is pretty straightforward — snacks shouldn't make up more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. You can use the Pet Nutrition Alliance's calorie calculator to determine just how many treats a day your dog can enjoy without it being detrimental to their health.
Dogs can eat lots of fruits safely as long as you prepare them properly. This generally means you should remove the skin, stem and seeds and cut the fruit into bite-size pieces.
Here are some of the best fruits to share with your dog:
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries are a great source of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
- Watermelon: Watermelon is high in vitamin A, low in sugar and a great source of hydration.
- Apples: You can slice them, roast them or blend them with pet-safe peanut butter — just remember to remove the skin, core and seeds and serve the fruit in bite-sized pieces.
Other dog-safe fruits include bananas, mangos and peaches. Learn more in our article about the fruits that dogs can and cannot eat.
Vegetables add essential minerals, vitamins and fiber to your dog's diet and, unlike with fruits, you don't have to worry about disrupting their sugar intake.
These are some of the best vegetables your dog can eat:
- Carrots: Carrots are low-calorie, nutritious and have a satisfying crunchy texture that can help reduce unwanted plaque and tartar.
- Green beans: These legumes are one of few foods that dogs can eat in all forms — canned, boiled, steamed, roasted or raw.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a popular source of carbohydrates used in commercial dog food and packed with vitamins, minerals, calcium and fiber.
Read our guide on what vegetables dogs can eat to learn more.
Eggs provide protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and biotin, a vitamin that's particularly beneficial for your dog's skin and coat.
When feeding eggs to your dog, serve them fully cooked without any additives or seasonings like salt, oil or condiments. Raw eggs are best avoided, as these carry the risk of being infected with salmonella and other food-borne bacteria, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Chicken and turkey
Unseasoned and skinless turkey or chicken is a high value snack and a great source of protein for most dogs. You can boil or dehydrate these two foods as well as mix them with rice or low-fat cottage cheese. This recipe is often recommended by veterinarians if your dog requires a temporary bland diet.
Beef and pork
Dogs can eat plain, unsalted pork as an occasional treat. You can also share a piece of beef but make sure that it's a lean cut of meat that's unseasoned and free from added fats.
The natural fat content in beef — highly prized in the cuts of beef we buy for ourselves — may be too hard on your dog's digestive system and lead to gastrointestinal issues such as stomach ulcers or pancreatitis.
Cheese is a popular training tool, and for good reason — most dogs will do anything to earn a piece. Cheese is also useful to entice dogs to take their medicine by hiding the pill inside a small cube or slice.
Save cheese treats for special occasions like the ones mentioned above. Though hard, semi-hard and certain soft cheeses don't contain as much lactose as milk, cheese can still cause digestive upset if consumed regularly.
Plain, unflavored and unsweetened yogurt is a good source of probiotics and a great ingredient to mix with other pet-friendly foods such as watermelon, strawberries and peanut butter.
Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, is generally safe for dogs because it contains bacteria that helps digest lactose. However, it may still be too much for dogs that are more lactose intolerant.
Start off with a small amount and watch out for indigestion or any other sign of tummy issues.
Dogs may eat a few scraps of plain white or brown bread occasionally but this particular pantry item shouldn't become a staple in your dog's diet. Bread doesn't provide much in terms of nutrition and its high amounts of carbohydrates can lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Before breaking bread with your pet, watch out for popular add-ons such as nuts, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate and condiments such as onions or garlic.
Dogs can eat plain, unseasoned white or brown rice. In fact, veterinarians often recommend mixing rice with plain chicken when your dog has digestive problems and requires a bland diet. Rice is very easy to digest, helping soothe upset stomachs.
Cooked corn is a safe, affordable grain that's a staple in most commercial dog foods. Feel free to share corn kernels with your dog at home so long as you follow the same guidelines that apply to other foods: avoid salt, butter, oils and other seasonings and watch out for any allergies or sensitivities that may develop.
Popcorn isn't particularly nutritious but it isn't detrimental to your dog's health, either. A few bites of plain, unsalted butter makes for a perfectly tasty treat — just make sure that it's free from butters, oils and any other additives such as caramel or chocolate.
Peanut butter is a popular ingredient in homemade dog treats and commercial products alike. Choose unsalted peanut butter without any added salts, sugars or sweeteners such as xylitol.
The best option is to make the peanut butter at home or to purchase from brands that specialize in pet-safe peanut butter products.
Foods that are toxic to dogs
Certain foods can harm your dog, causing health issues that vary from mild to fatal. We list the common culprits below and explain why it's best to keep these food items away from your furry friend.
If your dog eats any of these foods, contact your vet or the following helplines as soon as possible.
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC): 1-888-426-4435
- Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661
The best pet insurance companies offer a 24/7 vet helpline and a handful of companies may even cover the consultation fee charged by ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline.
Chocolate and caffeine
Chocolate and coffee contain methylxanthines, naturally occurring substances that can cause vomiting, restlessness, tachycardia, hyperthermia, seizures and even death.
The dose makes the poison when it comes to these chocolate and caffeine products. A 40-pound dog may be ok if it ingests a 3.5 oz bar of milk chocolate but a small toy breed will need immediate medical attention if it eats the same amount.
We recommend you play around with the chocolate toxicity calculator created by Merck Veterinary Manual to learn about the varying toxicity levels of each type of chocolate and how these could affect your dog.
Having said that, we strongly encourage you to call a vet if your dog eats chocolate. The calculator, though a valuable tool, shouldn't replace the input of a medical professional.
The pit and the stem of cherries contain cyanide, a toxin that's fatal in high amounts. Your pup may be fine if they accidentally eat just one cherry but this fruit is best avoided nonetheless.
The pit is a choking hazard and could cause an intestinal blockage even if the amount of cyanide ingested proves harmless.
The biggest hazard of feeding your dog avocado has to do with the pit: dogs can choke on it or it can block their digestive system, requiring expensive surgery if the dog is unable to pass it.
Avocados also contain persin, a toxin that's present in the fruit as well as the leaves and trunk of the avocado tree. Much like other pitted fruits (peaches, cherries and apricots), the avocado pit also contains traces of cyanide that could poison your dog.
Grapes, raisins and currants
Grapes, raisins and currants can cause renal failure in dogs, which may be accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite and abdominal pain.
Most dogs are likely to recover from this condition if they receive medical care in a timely manner, though ingesting a large amount of these fruits could be fatal.
A favored holiday spice, nutmeg is hallucinogenic to dogs. The idea of our dog enjoying a little psychedelic experience might seem fun, but a full teaspoon of ground nutmeg is dangerous — your dog can develop tremors, muscle spasms, seizures and nausea vomiting, the effects of which may be fatal.
So enjoy your eggnog and keep it away from your beloved pooch. You can share the holiday spirit with other dog-safe snacks made from foods such as pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
Lemons and limes
Lemons and other citrus fruits such as limes and oranges are unsafe for dogs to eat. These fruits — especially the peel — contain toxic essential oils and high amounts of citric acid that can wreak havoc on your dog's digestive system.
Macadamia nuts are one of the most poisonous foods for dogs. It only takes a small amount (around 5 to 40 nuts in a medium-sized dog) to trigger vomiting, high body temperature, lethargy, difficulty walking and other neurological problems.
The high fat content in macadamia nuts can also trigger pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that may develop into a chronic condition. Dogs that suffer from pancreatitis experience abdominal pain, dehydration, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Onions, garlic, chives and leeks
Onions, garlic and other members of the allium family (chives, shallots and leeks) contain toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, weakness, liver damage, and allergic reactions in dogs. A small amount isn't lethal but it's best to avoid feeding your dog anything with these ingredients (raw or cooked).
The prevalence of these vegetables in most home-cooked meals and store-bought products is one of the reasons why vets strongly advise against feeding your dog table scraps and prepared food items.
Even a little bit of alcohol is toxic to dogs and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, ataxia (abnormal movements) and coma.
Unbaked bread dough is an unexpected source of alcohol, too — as it continues to rise and ferment in the dog's stomach, it will produce alcohol and may lead to alcohol poisoning.
Raw or undercooked meat
The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend feeding raw meat to cats and dogs because of the health risks associated with uncooked meat. Though dogs are able to digest raw meat, feeding them uncooked meat products may expose them to harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discourages feeding your pet raw or undercooked eggs. Raw eggs contain avidin, a protein that can decrease the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin, and cause issues with your dog's skin, coat and even their nervous system. Raw eggs may harbor salmonella and other harmful bacteria, as well.
Cooking eggs fully neutralizes the effect of avidin and kills off any dangerous bacteria, leaving only the nutrients that are beneficial to your pet: biotin, protein, vitamins and fatty acids.
For most humans, a glass of milk represents healthy bones and healthy growth but the same doesn't apply to dogs. Many dogs are lactose intolerant and drinking this dairy product may lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps and gas.
It's best not to give dogs milk or any dairy products with a high lactose content, such as ice cream, buttermilk, goat's milk and frozen yogurt. Regular yogurt, especially greek yogurt, is fine in small amounts, as it contains naturally-occuring, healthy bacteria that break down lactose and help your dog digest it better.
Your dog can safely eat red, ripened tomatoes but green, unripe tomatoes pose a risk. The same applies to other parts of the plant like the stem and the leaves, which contain traces of toxic compounds called solanine and tomatine.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that's very toxic to dogs. A small amount can cause weakness, tremors, seizures and even liver failure.
Xylitol is commonly used as an artificial sweetener in all sorts of products including toothpaste, mouthwash, candies, breath mints, baked goods and some peanut butter and yogurt brands. It's typically listed as xylitol in the ingredients list but may also be referred to as wood sugar, birch sugar and birch bark extract.
Fatty and salty foods
As much as they beg for a piece, dogs shouldn't have regular access to fatty and salty foods such as hot dogs, deli ham, bacon, fried chicken or any fatty table scraps and trimmings. The excess fat and sodium in these products can cause vomiting and chronic digestive problems such as pancreatitis.
What Foods Can Dogs Eat FAQs
Can dogs eat bananas?
Can dogs have honey?
That said, honey and other sweeteners shouldn't be part of your dog's daily diet. Excess sugar can make your dog overweight and this is detrimental to their long-term health.
How much chocolate can a dog eat?
Call your vet, a local emergency clinic or animal poison control to see if the amount of chocolate your dog ingested warrants a trip to the emergency vet.
Summary of Money's What Foods Can Dogs Eat?
There are plenty of human foods that pet owners can share with their dogs, provided they're properly prepared without any seeds, peels, pits, and free from additives such as salt, oil, butter and seasonings.
Another important guidance to remember is to share these products as occasional treats and not as a main source of nutrition for your dog. Always consult with a licensed veterinarian (DVM) before modifying or supplementing your dog's diet to make sure they're getting all the nutrients they need to stay active and healthy.
The best foods to share with your dog include: strawberries, watermelon, apples, sweet potatoes, carrot, green beans, brown or white rice, chicken, turkey and greek yogurt.
Human foods to avoid sharing with your dog include: grapes, fatty and salty foods, milk, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, products with xylitol, raw or undercooked meat and eggs, vegetables in the allium family, citrus fruits and macadamia nuts.