Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
Is human food good for dogs? It can be challenging to resist the temptation of feeding people food to dogs.
Dog owners need to be extra cautious with the morsels they share with Fido, as the consumption of toxic food is the number one worldwide cause of poisoning in dogs.
For this reason, it is important to know what human food dogs can eat and which ones must be avoided.
What Human Food Is Good for Dogs?
When sharing human food with dogs, choose functional superfoods. If you have not heard of them, these are the types of food that not only offer additional nutrients but also possess holistic qualities.
They can help improve the body functions of dogs and hinder and combat canine ailments. We have listed down seven safe, functional canine superfoods and their health benefits for dogs.
1. Fresh Berries
These fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, and praised for their potent antioxidative properties.
They help reduce the susceptibility of dogs to various debilitating health issues such as cognitive decline and cancer.
Slice fresh berries into smaller portions when preparing them for dogs.
Berries make great low-calorie treats for dogs. However, feeding them whole to dogs, especially small breeds, is not advised as it can be a choking hazard. They can get lodged in their throats. They can also destroy a dog’s teeth.
Always offer them small portions to prevent digestive issues like upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Berries?
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another human food that is good for dogs. It is a rich source of medium-chain fatty acids, including capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid, which promote healthy skin and coat, strong nails, good gut health, fresh breath, also improve their immune systems, cognitive functions,
Another beneficial compound found in coconut oil is ketones. They are linked to improving brain functions and reducing seizure attacks in dogs.
Coconut oil also provides a dog’s brain with energy from ketones. This improves brain and nerve function and prevents brain damage. Incorporating coconut oil into your dog’s diet can be a simple and natural way to support their overall brain health.
When choosing coconut oil for dogs, skip buying refined varieties since they greatly lack health-boosting properties. Opt for cold-pressed or extra virgin coconut oil instead.
The body uses the healthy fats in coconut oil easily as an instant energy source, however as with any human food, feed your dog coconut oil in moderation. Since it is high in fats, excessive consumption can cause several canine ailments such as obesity and digestive upset in dogs.
Mushrooms such as maitake, reishi, and shiitake are great human foods for dogs. They carry powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties, which aid in maintaining well-functioning immune systems in dogs. Their high antioxidant levels promote healthy kidneys and liver and ward off cancer.
Mushrooms can be given to dogs cooked but never raw, as they are potentially toxic. The cooking process helps eliminate the toxins they possess. However, it’s important to note that you should never feed wild mushrooms to your dog, even if they’re cooked. Stick to using safe, store-bought mushrooms to avoid any potential toxicity issues.
Another great option is mushroom extracts. When choosing mushroom extracts always check the label and ensure that they are organic, free from additives, and 100% made from the fruiting body of the mushrooms.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
4. Sheep and Goat Dairy
Goat and sheep dairy are some of the human foods dogs can have. They are excellent sources of protein as well as bone-strengthening minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Aside from their nutritional value, they also boast natural anti-inflammatory properties that soothe dogs’ digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Goat and sheep dairy make an excellent alternative to cow dairy since they have smaller fat globules, allowing better digestibility.
Moreover, the type of casein protein goat and sheep milk carry is less inflammatory than the protein found in cow dairy. Thus, they are less likely to cause nasty side effects in lactose intolerant dogs such as:
- Upset stomach
- Loose stool
Although goat and sheep dairies are good for canine health, they should be offered in small amounts. They have higher fat content than cow dairy and may cause unhealthy weight gain in dogs if consumed excessively.
Related article: Goat’s Milk for Dogs, Is It Worth the Hype?
Fish is a healthy treat for dogs. It is also one of the common ingredients in many dog food as it has omega-3 fatty acids. They aid in maintaining strong joints, a healthy cardiovascular system, and good cognitive function in dogs.
Dogs can also gain plenty of proteins and minerals such as copper, iron, and zinc from consuming fish.
Large types of fish such as salmon and tuna are prone to accumulating high levels of mercury. Thus, they should be fed to dogs occasionally and in small quantities.
Deboning is important when preparing fish for dogs. This is to prevent the risk of choking and mouth injuries. Be sure to avoid feeding undercooked fish to your canine friend as it may harbor harmful bacteria and parasites.
You May Also Like:
- Can Dogs Eat Fish?: Best 10 Fish Dogs Can Eat
- Can Dogs Eat Tuna Fish? What Are the Risks?
- Pros and Cons of Fish Oil for Dogs
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
Many of them are excellent sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties such as kaempferol and quercetin.
They reduce the dangers of cognitive problems, heart issues, and tumor growth. Cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of fiber too, which is necessary for keeping a well-functioning digestive system.
Dog owners should be aware that several cruciferous vegetables like kale and spinach contain antinutrients such as glucosinolates and oxalates. These compounds can cause thyroid and kidney issues when ingested excessively.
In some cases, cooking can eliminate most of these chemicals. However, as there might still be trace amounts left after cooking, it would be best to serve cruciferous vegetables in small amounts.
7. Natural Probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria that support a healthy microbiome in the gastrointestinal tract. They prevent harmful pathogen growth in the digestive system and improve nutrient absorption in the body.
Other wonderful health benefits probiotics offer to dogs are better metabolism, fresher breath, and a stronger immune system. They also help with allergies, anxiety, coat quality/dermatologic problems, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, and obesity.
Always check the ingredient list of store-bought probiotics before feeding them to dogs. Make sure they are free from harmful additives and other dangerous ingredients such as xylitol.
Related article: The Ultimate Guide to Probiotics for Dogs
Increase your dog’s protein intake by adding eggs to his diet. Their proteins are highly digestible and easily absorbed in the canine body.
Eggs are also rich in other health-boosting essential amino acids like iron, selenium, and vitamins A and E that can boost your dog’s health.
However, it’s important to be cautious when feeding your dog raw eggs, including the eggshells, as this potentially cause biotin deficiency. Additionally, feeding your dog raw eggs can also pose a risk of Salmonella infection. Therefore, moderation and proper food handling practices are crucial when adding eggs to your dog’s diet.
You may also like:
Chicken is another healthy protein source for your canine companion. It offers a healthy dose of skin-nourishing omega fatty acids too.
Chicken can be a safe and nutritious addition to a dog’s diet, as long as it’s served plain and free of any seasoning or sauces. However, it’s important to note that cooked bones can be dangerous for dogs, as they can splinter and cause choking hazards or mouth injuries. Therefore, always make sure to debone the chicken before cooking and feeding it to your dog.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?
Turkey is a lean novel protein source, which can be an alternative for dogs with chicken allergies. Its leg meat provides high levels of taurine, which is a nutrient that promotes good heart and skin health.
When cooking the poultry, discard the bones because they easily splinter and may pierce your dog’s gums and throat. Remove the turkey skin because it is high in fat and can be difficult for dogs to digest.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
11. White Rice
White rice aids in boosting your dog’s energy as it contains plenty of carbohydrates. Due to its easy digestibility, this grain is a staple ingredient for many bland food recipes for dogs with digestive upset.
While rice can be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet in moderation, it shouldn’t be the main component of their regular meals. It’s important to provide your dog with a well-balanced diet that’s high in quality protein and meets their individual nutritional needs.
Feeding rice to a diabetic dog can increase the risk of sudden fluctuations in their blood glucose levels. As a result, it’s best to avoid giving rice to dogs with diabetes.
Quinoa is full of antioxidants and fiber that shield dogs from serious canine ailments like cardiac problems and cancer. Being low in fats and calories, this grain is great for pooches in need of weight loss.
It is crucial to wash quinoa before cooking it for your dog. This removes the stomach-irritating compounds found in the grain called saponins.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Quinoa?
Shrimps are a great choice for dogs as they are low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates. These shellfish contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help in preventing cognitive aging and the formation of various types of abnormal growths (neoplasia ).
Making plain broth out of shrimp shells extracts glucosamine, which is a nutrient essential for maintaining strong joints and ligaments in canines. Discard the shells as they are choking hazards to dogs.
Raw, uncooked shellfish can contain harmful pathogens that may pose a risk to your dog’s health. To avoid any potential issues, it’s important to always cook shrimps thoroughly before feeding it to your dog. Steamed or boiled shrimps can be a safe and healthy addition to your dog’s diet.
While shrimp can be a healthy and nutritious treat for dogs in moderation, they contain high levels of cholesterol. Therefore, it’s important to limit your dog’s shrimp intake to occasional treats, as excessive consumption can lead to undesirable cholesterol levels.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Shrimps?
Honey is known to aid in lowering the susceptibility of dogs to allergies. It can be also used as a home remedy for skin issues and throat problems in canines.
Because of honey’s high sugar content, feeding it to obese and diabetic dogs is not recommended.
While raw honey offers more health benefits than processed honey, it is off-limits to puppies, old dogs, and immunocompromised canines due to their vulnerability to botulism.
Related article: Can dogs eat honey?
What Human Foods Are Dangerous for Dogs?
Now that we have finished covering safe human food for dogs, here is a list of human food that should be kept away from your canine companion.
1. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can be harmful to dogs and should be avoided. These nuts are high in fat, which can contribute to canine obesity and the development of pancreatitis. Additionally, they contain an unknown toxin that can induce depression, fever, and tremors in dogs.
If a dog ingests macadamia nuts, even in small amounts, they may experience weakness, paralysis, and lack of coordination. Seek veterinary attention immediately if you suspect that your dog has ingested them.
Alcohol contains ethanol, which is extremely dangerous to canines. Ingesting it can cause poisoning and in severe cases, heart attack, coma, and death.
Nutmeg carries the compound myristicin, which can induce toxicosis in dogs when consumed in large amounts. Some common toxicosis symptoms to look out for are seizures, abnormal heart rate, and high blood pressure.
4. Raw Yeast Dough
Raw yeast dough can be dangerous for dogs. During the fermentation process, yeast dough produces alcohol, which is toxic to dogs. Ingesting raw yeast dough can also cause intestinal blockage since it expands in the stomach.
Signs of yeast dough intoxication in dogs may include vomiting, disorientation, high body temperature, restlessness, excessive panting, muscle tremors, and seizures. If you suspect that your dog has ingested raw yeast dough, contact your veterinary immediately to prevent further complications.
Coffee contains caffeine that can trigger dangerous side effects in dogs. It can abnormally raise their blood pressure and cause seizures. Without immediate vet treatment, it can lead to death.
Chocolate is not safe for dogs to eat and should be avoided. Chocolate contains two toxic compounds for dogs, which are caffeine and theobromine.
Even small amounts of chocolate can be toxic to dogs, and the level of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate. In mild cases, it can cause restlessness, increased thirst, and vomiting. Severe symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs include seizures and heart failure.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate, seek veterinary help immediately.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
7. Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, they produce an unknown chemical that can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Scientists believe that tartaric acid found in the fruit is the potential cause of serious health problems
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Grapes? What About Raisins?
8. Allium Vegetables
Allium veggies including chives, garlic, leeks, and onions contain N-propyl disulfide that damages red blood cells, causing them to burst. Severe allium poisoning may eventually lead to fatal hemolytic anemia.
Garlic is less toxic than other allium vegetables. It can be offered in small amounts to dogs to take advantage of its health benefits without causing poisoning.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly used as a sugar substitute. Ingesting it has caused several fatalities in canines as it induces aggressive side effects such as hypoglycemia, seizures, and liver failure.
10. Cooked Bones
The cooking process dissolves the collagen and other nutrients in the bones. As a result, they become very brittle and easily splinter into sharp shards when chewed.
This can cause mouth injuries, gastritis or intestinal obstruction and internal bleeding if swallowed by dogs.
Dogs can occasionally enjoy a taste of human food. For dogs that have any known health issues, you must speak to the veterinarian before adding any human food to your dog’s diet to ensure that it fits their nutritional requirements.
What Human Food Should Be Given to Dogs with Caution?
Dog owners should be very careful when it comes to sharing certain types of human food with dogs. They possess certain aspects that can bring harm to canines if eaten negligently.
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a popular high-value training treat for dogs. While it is an effective pooch motivator, do not overfeed it to dogs.
Peanut butter is naturally high in fat, which can cause health issues like gastric upset, obesity, and pancreatitis.
Moreover, products that use xylitol are a big no-no for him since this ingredient is highly toxic to canines.
Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which promote strong teeth and bone growth in dogs.
However, many dogs are lactose-intolerant to dairy products including cheese. For this reason, go for low-lactose varieties.
Also, take into consideration the fat and salt content of this human food. Avoid fatty and high-sodium cheeses to prevent ailments like kidney issues and abnormal weight gain from occurring.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
Popcorn has low nutritional value for dogs, so it should only be fed occasionally to them.
To avoid upsetting their stomachs, give them plain popcorn instead of flavored ones that contain plenty of oil, sugar, and salt.
Always check for unpopped corn kernels and make sure to remove them because they can cause choking and stomach obstruction.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?
Avocado contains a fungicidal toxin called persin, which is present in all parts of the fruit. However, the flesh of the avocado contains only small amounts of this toxin, so consuming it in small quantities is unlikely to cause poisoning. While persin toxicity is rare in dogs, it’s still best to avoid the risk altogether by keeping avocados away from your pet.
When preparing avocados for dogs, remove the leaves, pits, and skin because they are highly concentrated with persin.
Related article: Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
Cinnamon has medicinal properties that can relieve canine health issues like arthritis and fungal infections. It promotes better health in dogs as well by improving their metabolism and regulating blood sugar levels.
No matter how great cinnamon is for your pooch, excessive and frequent consumption is discouraged to prevent liver damage. Feeding it to pregnant pooches should also be avoided as it can lead to potential complications for both the mother and the unborn puppies.
6. Ice Cream
Traditional ice cream is loaded with fats, sugar, dairy, and additives, making it unhealthy for dogs to consume regularly.
If you like to share this human food with your dog, do it occasionally and set strict limits on the amount he can consume.
Avoid chocolate or coffee-flavored ice cream because it is toxic for him. The same goes for any ice creams that contain xylitol or raisins.
Related article: 6 Dog Ice Cream Recipes You Can Share with Your Pooch
The flesh of cherries is safe for your dog to eat, but the same cannot be said for their pits. Cherry seeds contain the toxic chemical cyanide and they are also choking hazards.
Remove them before allowing your dog to snack on the fruit to keep him safe from toxicity and asphyxiation.
Related article: Can Dogs Safely Consume Cherries?
8. Dog-Safe Nuts
They are loaded with fats that can cause unprecedented weight gain and obesity if eaten excessively. For this reason, they should be given rarely given to him as a dog treat.
Related article: 11 Most Popular Nuts for Dogs
FAQs About Human Food for Dogs
1. Can I Make Homemade Dog Food?
Yes, you can make homemade dog food using human food. However, you need to work with the vet and a canine nutritionist to create a recipe that is nutritionally balanced for your canine companion.
Do not come up with homemade dog food on your own as it may not contain enough vitamins and minerals, which can cause nutrient deficiency, and subsequent development of diseases.
2. What Food Do Dogs Naturally Eat?
The foods dogs naturally eat are meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, our four-legged friends are omnivorous animals, not carnivorous.
Although a big part of their diet is animal protein, their bodies also require plant sources to remain healthy.
3. What Can I Feed My Dog Instead of Dog Food?
Organic meat and fresh produce are some healthy options you can feed to your dog instead of dog food. Make sure to source them locally from reputable sellers to ensure the quality of the product.
This will also help you avoid meats, fruits, or vegetables that are contaminated with harmful chemicals like antibiotics and pesticides.
4. Can I Feed My Dog Chicken and Rice Every Day?
No, you cannot feed your dog chicken and rice every day because they are not a nutritionally balanced combination of food. Long-term consumption can lead to nutrient deficiency.
While there are many types of human food that are safe for dogs to consume, such as fresh animal meat and dog-friendly fruits and vegetables, it’s important to remember that there are also many types of human food that are dangerous for dogs to eat. Foods such as alcohol, chocolate, and xylitol contain compounds that can potentially cause lethal poisoning in dogs.
To ensure the safety of your dog, it’s best to always check the safety of feeding the new food to your dog or consult your veterinarian before making any changes to their diet. When in doubt, you can also reach out to the Pet Poison Helpline for assistance.