So, you are a dedicated dog parent and love to spoil your pet, but do you know what kinds of food you can share with your canine friend, and which types of human food can actually be harmful and even dangerous for it?
Sure, some foods which we like to eat are perfectly fine and are even beneficial to the immune system, the overall health, the digestive system, the heart and brain, the strength of the joints and for a fresher breath of your favorite pup.
But unfortunately, many fruits, veggies, nuts and other favorite healthy and not-so-healthy human snacks and dishes can cause some severe problems for the health of your furry friend.
Here is a list of common questions which dog owners often ask when it comes to the types of food they can feed their beloved pets. The answers are provided by experienced vets and animal nutritionists.
Can dogs eat lettuce?
We all know how healthy a fresh salad is for us and many Americans tend to add vitamin and fiber filled salads to their daily diet. But is lettuce safe for dogs, and if so – does it have the same health benefits for our four-legged friends?
The answer is – yes, lettuce in all its variations including iceberg, arugula and romaine are safe for dogs. They have 90% water content and are a low-calorie option which is very suitable for dogs which are overweight. Plus, the fresh crunchy lettuce leaves can be a delicious snack for some dogs.
But, keep in mind that you shouldn’t overdo it if you decide to feed your dog with fresh lettuce, because too much can cause diarrhea in some cases.
Greens are good for humans, and in moderation are good for dogs too, but please note that spinach, for example, can cause kidney damage in dogs due to its high content of oxalic acid which blocks the ability of the dog’s body to properly absorb calcium.
Kale too contains quite a lot of calcium oxalate which can cause the development of kidney or bladder stones in some dogs.
So, an occasional lettuce leaf is perfectly fine, but moderation is essential if you want your dog to be fine and healthy. Remember to wash the lettuce very thoroughly not only before you eat it but before you feed it to your dog as well! This will protect you and your pet from potential E.coli or listeria infections!
Also, abstain from feeding your dog with your leftover salad, because the other contents such as onions and different dressings can be toxic for your pup.
Can dogs eat avocado?
You may love guacamole and enjoy delicious and healthy avocado smoothies, but remember to keep the avocado away from your dog. The reason is that avocado contains persin which is potentially toxic for canines like it is for a wide range of other animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, birds, rodents and fish. Persin can cause serious health problems including heart failure, mastitis and even death in these animals.
Even though dogs are far more resistant to persin than many of the other animals listed, you should keep those delicious avocados as well as the pits and leaves away from your pets just in case. If a dog ingests any part of an avocado plant it can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
This is what the avocado is often listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous foods for dogs.
So, what should you do if your mischievous dog has grabbed that ripe avocado out of your grocery bag? Take precautions to remove the fruit from your dog’s mouth because not only is the persin a potential toxin, but the huge pit is a serious choking hazard.
If you suspect that your pup has swallowed an avocado pit, you should get in touch with your vet immediately.
Keep a close eye on the state of your dog if it has eaten a part or a whole avocado. If you see any worrisome signs, call the vet as soon as possible for further advice and instructions.
Make sure you instruct your kids as well as other family members and guests about the foods which they should keep away from the dog.
Also, dispose of leftovers and avocado pits properly, so that your dog doesn’t get to them.
Can dogs eat popcorn?
It’s movie night and your dog just can’t stop staring at that bowl of popcorn? Should you give it some, or is popcorn bad for your canine friend?
The fact is that plain popcorn is a safe snack for dogs when it is fed in small quantities. But, popcorn with butter or other toppings is not good or safe for dogs.
Sure, if you drop a piece and your dog gobbles it up, there is no need to panic, but feeding your pup with buttered or topped popcorn on a regular basis can cause health problems. Plus, it is caloric, so make sure that you monitor the treat intake of your four-legged pal to about 10% or less of its daily calorie intake.
Can dogs eat cheese?
Your dog always runs over to you when it hears you unwrapping that chunk of cheese? You are not alone. Dogs in general love cheese, just as much as we do. Cheese is an excellent source of protein, essential fatty acids, calcium, B-complex and A vitamins which are all great for dogs, but when given in limited quantities.
Some dogs do not fare well when it comes to digesting cheese or any lactose, so keep this in mind when you decide to treat your dog with some and watch it for any adverse effects.
Also, some fatty rich cheeses, as well as certain types of cheese which have mixed-in herbs and nuts can be harmful to the digestive system of your pet.
If your dog doesn’t show signs of lactose intolerance, you can award with an occasional cheese snack. The best type of cheese to give to your dog is a low-fat and low-sodium variety such as cottage cheese or mozzarella.
Small pieces of cheese are also a very useful training treats, as well as a delicious way to give your dog pills. Remember not to overdo it though, because not only can too much cheese cause intestinal problems, but it is very high in calories (especially the rich fatty cheeses), which can cause weight gain and obesity of your pup.
Can dogs eat almonds?
Are you often tempted to toss an almond to your dog while you are enjoying a handful yourself? Almonds are not only delicious but are very healthy for humans, when consumed in moderation. For dogs though they can cause digestive problems.
The danger of eating almonds for dogs comes from the fact that canines do not digest them well. This can lead to an uncomfortable gastric-intestinal distress for your dog. Almonds are also very caloric, plus they do contain a lot of fat which can cause harm to your dog’s pancreas.
Some of the symptoms to look for if your dog has gobbled up a certain amount of almonds which may have caused gastric intestinal distress include: vomiting, gas, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and general discomfort.
Almonds are also not recommended for dogs due to the risk of choking or obstruction of the esophagus or intestines, especially in smaller breeds. Such instructions are very dangerous and can be fatal.
You should avoid feeding your dog with heavily salted or flavored nuts because the added flavoring and spices can cause serious irritation to the stomach, and the salt can cause water retention in dogs.
An occasional non-salty or raw almond will not kill your dog, but make sure that you keep an eye on your pet if you suspect that it has eaten a bunch of almonds or other nuts, and take it to the vet if any worrisome signs appear.
True, almonds are not toxic to dogs, like other nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts, but a good rule of the thumb is to keep all nuts away from your dog.
Can dogs eat potatoes?
You enjoy eating your hash browns, French fries, and other potato-based food, but should you share them with your dog?
The answer is that it depends on the preparation and the quantity of the potatoes.
Potatoes are nutritious and healthy because they are an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, magnesium and other essential vitamins and minerals, so they are a great option for your dog but only if prepared properly and when fed in moderate quantities.
Never give your dog raw potatoes, because just like tomatoes they are nightshade veggies which contain solanine which is toxic for dogs. So, apart from abstaining from giving your dogs tomatoes, you should avoid feeding them with raw potatoes too.
The best way to prepare a dog-friendly potato dish for your pet is to bake it or boil it without any oil, fat or salt.
French fries and other fatty and salty potato dishes are harmful to dogs as they are high in calories, fat, and sodium which can harm the pancreas, cause obesity and water retention.
When picking the potato sort which is best for your dog – opt for sweet potatoes, as they are healthier and more nutritious than white ones.
Abstain from feeding diabetic dogs with potatoes as they can cause spikes in the blood sugar levels too.
So, it is OK to give your dog an unsalted boiled or baked potato without added fat from time to time, but just like with any new food type which you are introducing to your dog’s diet, make sure that you monitor it closely for any side effects to make sure that it is safe to continue adding potatoes to its diet in the future.
Can dogs eat bananas?
Bananas are sweet and delicious which is why most dogs love them. The good news is that bananas are very good treats for dogs too!
In fact, vets often recommend that dogs are given banana slices instead of salty and fatty treats due to the fact that these fruits are excellent sources of potassium and of fiber which helps the digestive system as well as of magnesium which enhances the absorption of vitamins, the production of protein and promotes bone growth.
If you are wondering how to add bananas to your dog’s diet, you can feed it in slices like treats, mash it up and mix it in its food or with some yogurt, or freeze it and then peel it and slice it or freeze it in a fillable toy.
Make sure you dispose of the banana peels properly though because they can be difficult to digest and can cause choking and intestinal blockage!
Can dogs eat carrots?
Carrot sticks make the perfect snack for dogs. They are rich in vitamins, fibers, and other nutrients, and are low in calories, unlike other traditional dog treats. Also, carrots are a much cheaper option than some of the dog biscuits and other treats.
If you have pup which is teething, giving it a frozen carrot can be a major relief for too.
Adult dogs too can benefit from chewing on carrots, because they can clean their teeth and are good for the canine’s dental health.
Carrot sticks and slices are often used for treats as alternatives to the higher calorie treats, especially for dogs which are overweight. Please bear in mind that more than 50% of the dogs in the US are overweight or obese, which is very unhealthy for them, so if you want to ensure that your dog loses that extra weight and leads a healthier life, go for the carrot sticks instead of the salty, sweet or caloric treats you are used to giving it.
You can feed raw, frozen or cooked carrots to your dog but make sure you give it to them either mashed or in small chunks in order to avoid choking. This is especially important if the puppy is small.
Otherwise, it is a good idea to discuss with your vet how often and what quantities of carrots you can give to your four-legged friend just in case.
Can dogs eat apples?
An apple a day keeps the vet away! Apples are excellent snacks for dogs. Just slice up the apple, remove the core and the pits which contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs and go ahead and reward your fur baby with this deliciously sweet, fresh and vitamin-filled treat! Apples are rich in vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and fiber, which are all essential nutrients for all dogs.
But just like with any other food and snacks – dog or human, you need to be careful with the quantities of apple slices you offer your dog, because too much may cause stomach aches and diarrhea.
You can also add apples to the food you give to your dog, especially if you like preparing special recipes and treats for your pup.
Can dogs eat grapes?
Grapes are sweet and fresh, but unfortunately are highly toxic to canines. It is not quite certain which substance is so harmful to dogs, so it is not OK to treat your dog with pealed or seedless or dried grape (raisins) either.
So, please don’t be tempted to treat your dog with grapes or raisins, no matter its age, size, and breed, because there is no scientific proof of a safe type and quantity of grapes which can be fed to canines!
The raising and grape toxicity can cause sudden and acute kidney failure in dogs. Some of the symptoms which you should watch for if you suspect that your dog ate grapes or raisins and may be suffering from kidney failure are: appetite loss, diarrhea and vomiting, bell pain, lethargy, stillness and weakness, thirst, abnormal urine production (increased, decreased or stopped), dehydration (you can test whether your dog is dehydrated by pulling the skin on the back of its neck up and if it springs back instantly – then it is properly hydrated).
Please, call your vet immediately if your pet has ingested raisins or grapes!
Can dogs eat blueberries?
Thinking about sharing some of those delicious blueberries with your four-legged friend? Sure, why not? Blueberries are actually quite healthy for canines if given in moderate quantities. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, antioxidants and phytochemicals which are known to be beneficial both for humans and for dogs.
The antioxidants in blueberries help fight free radicals and protect both the human and canine cells from aging and damage. There are studies which have shown that blueberries can reduce the aging of the brain, which is great news for those of you who have older dogs.
The phytochemicals in these fruits are found to be very beneficial to the health of both humans and dogs and are known to fight and prevent certain types of cancers.
Please remember to always keep an eye on your pet for any adverse effects when giving it a new type of food!
Can dogs eat strawberries?
Who doesn’t like a bowl full of sweet red strawberries? The good news is that you can share this wonderful fruit with your dog without worrying about harming it. In fact, giving your pup strawberries as treats has multiple health benefits for your pet.
Remember that only fresh strawberries are good for your fur baby, so don’t be tempted to feed them with syrup or canned strawberries because of the added sugar in them.
Fresh strawberries can help strengthen the dogs’ immune system, helps with the aging process and also are excellent treats for proper weight management. If you give your canine friend strawberries instead of the salty snacks, you can help limit the sodium intake, and also help keep its teeth nice and healthy.
In order to stay on the safe side, the best way to feed your dog with a bunch of fresh strawberries is to cut them up in small pieces in order to prevent digestive problems and possible choking. You can even make a nice puree from a few strawberries if you have a smaller dog and add it to their meal.
Of course, given that every dog is different, it is recommended that you monitor it closely when you feed it with strawberries for the first time. Watch for any digestive problems or other adverse effects. If you notice any, then your dog may not be taking to these delicious fruits well, so you should switch to another healthy, vitamin-infused snack for your doggie instead.
If you are still confused about which fruits are a Yay and which fruits are a Nay when it comes to dogs, here is a quick list of those that are healthy for your pet (fresh only – not canned or with syrup):
- Apples – no seeds and core
- Frozen bananas – remove the peel
- Coconut – including coconut oil and milk can help resolve skin problems, flea infestations and has a number of other health benefits
- Mango – always remove the pit as it is a choking hazard
- Oranges – without the peel and the seeds
- Peaches – no pit
- Pears – without the core or the seeds
- Pineapple-without the prickles
- Raspberries – less than a cup is perfectly fine for dogs
- Strawberries – cut in small pieces
- Watermelon – sans seeds
As for the forbidden fruit list, make sure you keep your dog away from the following fruits:
- Grapes, or raisins (dry grapes)
- Avocado, especially the pit, skin, and leaves
- Cherries – they contain cyanide which can be toxic to dogs
Here is the list of veggies which you can feed your dog without worrying, and which have health benefits for your dog:
- Broccoli – small amounts without the stalks is OK for dogs
- Brussel sprouts – they are fine, but in moderate quantities to reduce gas accumulation
- Carrots – sliced, they are one of the best fresh and healthy treats for dogs
- Celery – it is great for the heart health, can reduce the risk of cancer and improves the breath
- Cucumbers – they are filled with vitamins and have almost no calories which make them perfect for dogs which are overweight
- Green beans – they are safe and healthy – steamed, canned or raw, but they need to be plain and well chopped
- Lettuce – fresh and well washed without any dressing or salt
- Peas – yes, raw, frozen or thawed. Avoid canned peas because of the added salt
- Portobello mushrooms – these and other store-bought mushrooms are safe for dogs. Avoid wild mushrooms though
- Potatoes – boiled or baked. Avoid feeding the dog raw potatoes, or potatoes with peels as well as mash – because of the added butter and other ingredients
- Sweet potatoes – remember to wash, peel and cook or boil them first
These are the veggies which you should exclude from your dog’s diet:
- Asparagus – it is hard to digest and has no health benefits to canines especially when cooked
- Wild mushrooms – these can be toxic to dogs
- Onions – they can be toxic, especially for the Japanese dog breeds
- Tomatoes – the green parts can be toxic for your pet
- Garlic – like onions, garlic can cause serious health issues and even poison your dog
Here are some of the other common human foods which can safely be fed to dogs:
- Beef – it is a great protein for dogs, but make sure it is lean and very well cooked and cleaned from bones before feeding it to your pup
- Bread – small amounts of bread are OK, but keep in mind that you should stick to plain bread without added spices or raisins. Also, bread can cause weight issues too
- Cashews – a few cashews are OK for dogs, but only if they are not salted
- Cheese – moderate quantities are OK. The best types of cheese to give to your dog are the low-fat varieties such as cottage cheese or mozzarella
- Chicken – well cooked in order to limit the risk of salmonella infections, and with the bones removed because cooked bones can splinter easily and cause damage to the intestines. Some people feed their dogs with raw chicken bones, but make sure you ask your vet before adding those to your dog’s diet
- Corn – yes, but make sure the cob is removed
- Lean Meats – always cook the meat well and remove any fatty skin or excess fat, as well as the bone
- Eggs – as long as they are fully cooked are excellent sources of protein and can help with upset stomachs
- Fish – salmon and sardines are especially healthy. Always cook the fish and clean out those tiny bones before giving it to your dog
- Ham – it is safe as an occasional treat but beware of the added sodium and the high fat content
- Honey – small amounts of honey can help avoid allergies and is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You can also use honey as a topical treatment for small cuts or burns
- Milk – it is fine for most dogs, but beware that some may be lactose intolerant, so be careful and keep an eye on your pet when you give it milk for the first time
- Oatmeal – yes, your dog can eat it and it is a great source of fiber and healthy nutrients, but be careful about the quantities if you want to avoid weight gain
- Peanut butter – raw and unsalted it is a delicious and healthy snack for dogs
- Peanuts – non-salted, they are healthy for dogs but don’t overdo it to avoid weight issues and pancreatic problems due to the high-fat content
- Popcorn – avoid feeding your dog with salted or buttered popcorn. Air popped and plain popcorn makes a nice snack, but make sure you pop them all the way to avoid choking from un-popped kernels
- Pork – it is packed with amino acids and is less -allergenic than other types of meat
- Quinoa – it is a healthy food for dogs which is often used for high-quality dog food as an alternative to soy, wheat, and corn
- Salmon is an excellent food for dogs as it is rich in healthy fats, protein, and amino acids, but make sure it is fully cooked to avoid possible parasite infections
- Shrimp – a few fully cooked shrimp with the shell full removed is a great snack for dogs – filled with antioxidants, phosphorus and vitamin B-12, and low in carbs, fat, and calories
- Tuna – another excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, cooked tuna is a great snack for dogs in moderate quantities. Canned tuna is OK, but only in water with no oil or spices added
- Turkey – make sure you remove any excess skin and fat and also serve it to your dog without any seasoning and especially garlic. Also, carefully remove all bones in order to prevent choking or blockages
- Wheat – it is OK for dogs to eat all kinds of grains, which are rich in fatty acids, protein and fiber. Of course, if you find that your dog is showing signs of allergies, you should stop feeding it with wheat or other grains
- White rice and pasta – plan boiled rice is an excellent remedy if your dog is experiencing stomach problems. Pasta is also safe in moderate quantities in order to limit the calorie intake
- Yogurt – plain yogurt is a great snack for dogs, but avoid it if your pet has problems digesting milk. Also, stay away from yogurt which has added sweeteners or sugar
The blacklist of human foods which you shouldn’t give to your dog:
- Almonds – especially salted ones
- Chocolate – all kinds of chocolate especially dark chocolate can cause digestive problems, seizures, irregular heart function and can even be fatal for dogs
- Cinnamon – it can lower the blood sugar and decrease the heart rate, as well as cause liver disease and digestive problems
- Ice cream – canines don’t do well with dairy, and some are even lactose intolerant. Instead of ice cream, you can feed your doggies with frozen apples, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, pineapples and other safe and healthy fruits instead
- Lemons and limes – these, especially their peals are highly toxic to dogs and should be avoided altogether
- Macadamia nuts – these are very poisonous for dogs and should be avoided altogether
- Cooked chicken, rib or other bones – all cooked bones can easily splinter and can cause dangerous punctures, and can be a choking hazard. Also, rib bones are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis
- Nutmeg – it is highly toxic to dogs so make sure you keep this spice as well as any baked or other goods which include nutmeg
- Hot dogs – they contain ingredients which can be harmful to dogs including garlic, certain spices, added sodium, MSG, sugars, sweeteners or onion powder
- Xylitol – this sweetener which is found in candy, gum, diet foods, baked goods and toothpaste can cause a dangerous blood sugar drop as well as liver failure in a matter of just a few days
- Alcohol – even small amounts of beer, wine or liquor can cause diarrhea, vomiting, breathing and coordination problems, coma and even death – especially in small dogs
- Coffee, caffeine and tea- make sure you keep your dog away from your beverages, coffee beans, cocoa, coca colas and energy drinks which can be fatal for dogs
- Fat trimmings – too much fat can lead to serious and even fatal pancreatitis
- Raw eggs – even if you are a fan of the raw diet for canines, beware that raw eggs can cause salmonella or E.coli poisoning
- Raw meat or fish – make sure you fully cook the meat or fish before feeding it to your dog to avoid parasite infections
- Salt – too much sodium can lead to sodium ion poisoning with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, high temperature, tremors, seizures and even death
- Sugar, sugary foods and drinks – just like with humans, too much sugar can cause weight gain, diabetes and problems with the teeth
- Yeast dough – if your dog ingests dough it can stretch in the abdomen of the dog causing serious pain to the animal. Plus, yeast releases alcohol which can poison your dog
- Anything in the kitchen pantry – keep your dog away from your spices, from baking soda and baking powder which are highly toxic to canines. Also, nutmeg and other spices can be dangerous for your dog as well
So, as a dog owner, you want the best for your dog? Well, however sad and begging those cute puppy eyes are, please be careful about feeding your dog with any of the potentially poisonous, harmful and dangerous foods on this list.
Keep any unsafe foods, beverages and substances out of reach for your dog, if you want to prevent any accidental ingestion.
Also, even though the foods on the safe list are known to be safe for canines, always be careful when giving your dog a certain type of food for the first time. Watch for any negative reactions such as digestive problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in behavior, tremors, fever or other adverse side effects. Your dog can be allergic, sensitive or intolerant to certain foods, so you should be careful when adding new foods to its diet.
Also, always feed your dog with human foods in moderation, no matter how safe they are, just to be on the safe side!
In case you suspect that your dog has ingested an unsafe food or beverage, make sure that you call your vet immediately for advice.
If you see signs of poisoning, an allergic reaction, or of abdominal pain, problems with the digestive system and other worrying symptoms, you should contact your vet or a specialized hotline number such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number (888) 426-4435 or another pet poison control emergency number.
It is advisable that you add an emergency number in your phone in case you need to contact experts immediately in case your dog is showing signs of poisoning or if you suspect it has eaten a dangerous food or substance!
Like humans, all dogs are different so make sure that you monitor your pet closely every time you feed it with a non-typical or new food. If you have questions about your dog’s diet, remember to discuss it with your vet.
A good and well-balanced diet will keep your four-legged friend happy, healthy and well for longer, so take the time to go over our list of safe and non-safe foods, in order to ensure that you have long and happy years together with your beloved dog!