Eight Human Foods That Your Dog Can Safely Eat
As tempting as it might be to feed your dog every scrap from your plate, it's generally not a good idea. The canine digestive system works in a different way than ours does. Foods that are fine for human consumption can be deadly to our dogs, but that doesn't mean that you will never be able to share "human foods" with your four-legged friend. "Fruits and vegetables (without any added sugar, sauces, spices, sugar substitutes, or salt) can be a safe and healthy addition to your dog's diet," says Laura Stern, DVM, DABVT, director of client programs for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. "Healthy or not, all foods should be given in moderation. Give treats as supplemental snacks totaling less than 10 percent of their required caloric intake for the day."
You also want to be sure that you are not accidentally feeding your canine friend anything that could be toxic to their systems. The ASPCA provides a handy list that can help you know what to avoid. Corn cobs can cause blockage in a dog's system, Stern explains, which would require emergency surgery. And fruits and vegetables such as grapes and raisins, garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and avocados can all lead to organ failure or even death. This is also why seasoned foods are to be avoided—even a dash of garlic on some cooked chicken strips could mean an emergency trip to your veterinarian.
As long as you know what to avoid in feeding your dog, you can safely provide certain human foods as a special treat. Your dog will love it and benefit from the additional nutrients, and you could enjoy a bonding experience with your dog over a shared meal. Check out these healthy human foods that are safe to give to your dog—all in moderation, of course.
Green beans make a great snack for your dog. "They are very low in calories, high in fiber, and have a satisfying crunch when eaten raw," Stern says. Feed a couple of washed green beans to your pal, and he will be a happy pup. If you want to serve them steamed, leave off any salt or butter and allow the green beans to cool before giving them to your dog.
Pumpkin is a seasonal delight for your dog. It should be unseasoned and unsweetened, have no added artificial ingredients, and no seeds. "Pumpkin has a high moisture content and provides extra fiber, which can help treat and prevent diarrhea and constipation," says Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian at Trupanion, a pet insurance company. "It's beneficial in small amounts, and we recommend it as a special treat." A very small amount of plain pumpkin every once in a while is healthy for your dog.
Did you know that most dogs love baby carrots? "At about four calories each, they make a great weight loss snack," says Stern. "Additionally, carrots are high in vitamin A, a good source of fiber." Baby carrots are also gentle on their canine tummies and don't usually give dogs any gas, which makes them a great treat option.
When it comes to giving your dog a spoonful of peanut butter, pay attention to the other ingredients in the blend. A common sweetener called xylitol is very dangerous for your pet, and many peanut butter brands contain this toxic ingredient. Look for raw, unsweetened, and unsalted peanut butter, or ask your vet to recommend any dog-safe varieties.
Another healthy treat for humans that is also a healthy snack for dogs is sliced apples. Stern says to make sure that the apple is cored and has no seeds before giving it to your pup. "Apples are low in calories and are a good source of fiber, which will help your dog feel satisfied and full," she explains.
Oatmeal is good for dogs and can be baked into homemade treats, like the ASPCA's Peanut Butter, Pumpkin, and Oat Football Treats. You can also serve cooked oatmeal to your dog to give him some additional soluble fiber for the day. The oatmeal should be unsweetened and unsalted, and you should not add any flavorings. Plain, regular oatmeal is a fine treat for your canine friend.
Popcorn has some serious healthy-snack credentials: It's a low-calorie whole grain, a good source of fiber, and, according to experts, packed with antioxidants. "Air-popped popcorn is only about 35 calories per cup, and it sure is tasty," Stern says. "Popcorn pieces make it easy to toss your pup a snack throughout the day without loading them up on calories." When popcorn is drowned in butter and salt, it loses its healthy halo. Instead, try this easy (and inexpensive) method for making more wholesome popcorn in the microwave: Place two tablespoons popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag, fold top down twice to close, and microwave until popping slows almost to a stop, two to three minutes (makes three cups). You just want to make sure that your popcorn does not have any butter, salt, or other seasonings added to it.
Lean Cooked Chicken
You can prepare chicken as a special treat for your dog. The chicken should be unseasoned with the skins removed to reduce the amount of fat. Cook the chicken completely and cut it into small pieces that are easy for your dog to chew and swallow. Serve alongside their regular dog food or give as a reward for good behavior. The extra protein is tasty, and your dog will love it.