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What Human Food Can Dogs Eat? (And What Can’t They Eat?)

Those of us who love dogs and consider them members of our family, sometimes have the habit of not always doing what’s best for them.

When our four-legged friend sits near us and begs for a bite off our dinner plate, we think “why not, a little won’t hurt him”.

Wrong. What we may consider an act of love toward our friend is in fact bad for them.

Many foods are not technically harmful, but can cause negative side effects, physically, behaviorally, and socially.

Let us help you learn what people foods you can share with your pupper, and which foods you should never share with your doggo.


Our companions have us trained well. We give them treats when they beg, take them out when they bark, or pet them when they nudge us.

If we feed them from our plates, we are creating a dangerous habit that will be difficult to break. A dog will beg for food while we snack, cook, or eat, especially when they see us eating food.

They will attempt to get our attention by a variety of means, they will stare, whine, run around, jump, or any behavior they think will help them get a morsel of food.

We have the tendency to give in because of these annoying tactics, which reinforces the behavior. Dogs are smart.

They know that if they behave in a certain way, we will react in a certain way. What is the solution?

Never begin, as the habit will be difficult to break.

Health Problems

When we give our pets “people food” we can unknowingly introduce something toxic into their diet, besides adding unneeded calories.

Dogs that eat only dog food are less likely to have bone, joint, mobility, or ligament issues.

They are also less likely to develop more serious health issues such as heart disease, decreased liver function, breathing issues, and many other health issues.

Just like people, maintaining a healthy weight can ensure good health and longevity.

Fussy Eating

If our pet enjoys too much tasty food, he will not want his dog food. He becomes a picky eater because he knows something better is available.

So not only is feeding our dog people’s food creating potential health problems, and behavior issues, he will suffer from poor nutrition because of a lack of the nutrients found in dog food.

Dog lovers are usually kind people. We share our hearts, homes, and beds with our lucky canine buddies.

But should we share our food? Foods that people can digest with no trouble can cause havoc in a dog’s body.

But there are some foods we eat a dog could eat with no problem. But it’s necessary to know what foods our pets can eat and what foods are bad for them.

Here is a list of foods we can give our pets without a negative effect.

Human Food Dogs Can Eat

  • Bread: Plain bread with no spices, no raisins, will not hurt your dog, but will not provide any nutrition either. But carbohydrates and calories can affect your pet, just like they can affect us.
  • Cashews: Given a few at a time, cashews are fine for your dog. They have calcium, protein, magnesium, and antioxidants. Make sure they are unsalted.
  • Cheese: Provided your dog is not lactose intolerant, cheese is fine in moderate quantities. It is a great treat, but many cheeses are high in fat, so lower fat varieties are better for both your dog and you.
  • Coconut: This fruit contains lauric acid, which helps combat bacteria and viruses. It combats bad breath, and it clears up skin conditions such as flea allergies, itchy skin, and hot spots. Coconut milk and coconut oil are safe too.
  • Corn: As one of the most common ingredients in dog foods, the cob can be hard to digest and can cause intestinal blockage. If you are giving your pet corn, make sure it is off the cob.
  • Eggs: If they are fully cooked, eggs are fine for your dog. They are an excellent source of protein and are good for an upset stomach. But cook them thoroughly.
  • Fish: There are good fats and amino acids in fish, which are good for your dog. Especially beneficial are salmon and sardines, as they are filled with vitamins, protein, and extra calcium. Whenever giving fish to your dog make sure it is fully cooked and has no bones. Limit the dog’s intake of fish to only twice a week.
  • Ham: While it is safe for a dog to eat, it is high in sodium and fat and should not be given habitually.
  • Honey: Honey has many nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, antioxidants and vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. Honey can help with allergies because of the small amounts of pollen it introduces into their system, building up an immunity to allergens.
  • Milk: While it is fine for a dog to have milk, be certain he is not lactose intolerant, as he will not digest it well.
  • Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein. It has vitamins B and E, niacin, and heart healthy fats. Unsalted, raw peanut butter is the best option. Be sure it does not contain a sugar substitute that may be toxic to dogs.
  • Peanuts: Peanuts are fine for dogs as they contain proteins and good fats that can benefit them. But use in moderation, as too much fat can lead to pancreas issues. Avoid salted peanuts as too much salt is difficult for dogs to process.
  • Popcorn: Popcorn contains thiamine and riboflavin which promote digestion and eye health. It has small amounts of iron and protein. Make sure that the popcorn kernel is fully popped to avoid a choking hazard. Unsalted, unbuttered, air-popped popcorn is best for your dog.
  • Pork: Pork is filled with amino acids but contains more calories per pound than other meat. It is a highly digestible protein and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than some other meat.
  •  Quinoa: Because it is a healthy alternative to corn, soy, and wheat, you will find it in certain high-quality dry dog foods.
  •  Salmon: As discussed above, fully cooked salmon is good for your dog. It promotes joint and brain health and gives your dog’s immune system a boost. But raw, undercooked salmon contains parasites which cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, or possibly death.
  • Shrimp: As with other fish and seafood, shrimp need to be fully cooked. They are high in antioxidants, vitamin B-12, and phosphorus, and low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates.
  • Tuna: Tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which promote heart and eye health. Cooked, fresh tuna is best, but a small amount of canned tuna is fine if prepared in water, not oil, and does not contain spices.
  • Turkey: Dogs can eat turkey but be sure to remove excess fat and skin from the meat. Check for bones, as poultry bones can splinter, causing a blockage during digestion or tears in the intestines. Any meat with onions, garlic, seasonings, or excessive salt should not be fed to dogs.
  • Wheat and grains: Grains such as wheat and corn are substantial sources of protein, essential fatty acids, and fiber. But if your dog has allergies, it is best to avoid grains. If unsure, check with your vet.
  • Yogurt: Plain yogurt is an acceptable snack for your dog, but if your dog is lactose intolerant, he will have a problem digesting it. Yogurt has active bacteria which can strengthen the digestive system.

Do not give your dog any of the following foods

  • Almonds: While they are not toxic to dogs, they can injure the windpipe if not chewed completely or block the esophagus. Salted almonds can increase water retention, which is fatal to dogs prone to heart disease.
  • Chocolate: The toxic substances that chocolate contains are stimulants that affect a dog’s metabolic process. Dark chocolate, in a small amount, causes vomiting and diarrhea, while more causes irregular heart function, seizures, or death. Chocolate should not be accessible to your pet. If your dog ingests chocolate, please contact your vet.
  • Cinnamon: While not toxic, cinnamon and its oil irritate the inside of a dog’s mouth which makes them sick. It can lower the dog’s blood sugar and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, decreased or increased heart rate, or liver disease. If taken in powder form, cinnamon can cause breathing problems, choking, or coughing.
  • Garlic and Onions: Leeks and chives, like onions and garlic, are part of the Allium family and are five times more toxic to dogs than the rest of the plant. Garlic causes anemia, and has side effects like elevated heart rate, weakness, pale gums, and collapse. The effect of ingesting onions and garlic may have delayed symptoms, so monitor your pet.
  • Ice cream: It is best not to share this treat with your dog, as it contains a sizable amount of sugar. Also, lactose intolerance is an issue with some pets. Freeze raspberries, strawberries, apples, or pineapple to give your dog as a refreshing treat.
  • Macadamia nuts: This is one of the most poisonous foods for dogs to ingest. They belong to the Proteaceae family and cause vomiting, raises body temperature, causes inability to walk and lethargy, and affects the nervous system.

Final Word

While it tempts us to show love to our pets by giving them the foods we love, remember that we can harm them by doing so.

Canine obesity and other health issues can result.

Choose a high-quality dog food for your beloved companion. That is the best way to show your love.

image: sakura from between places, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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National Canine Research Association of America