Dog lovers often spoil their dogs, whether sharing their beds or sharing their meals; there is no doubt that dogs often get the best of what we have to offer. However, knowing what safe foods for dogs provide the most benefits when it comes to mealtime or snacks is crucial. The last thing you want to do is give your dog a treat that could potentially harm their health – or worse.
High-quality commercial dog food provides your pet with vital nutrients and the proper amount of calories for size, weight, age, and activity level. Skimping on price and buying cheap dog food can lead to deficient nutrients and poor health. Homemade dog food or freshly prepared commercially produced dog food is often an excellent option – if it has the nutrients dogs need without added ingredients they should not have.
Giving human food to dogs in place of proper meals is not recommended. Meals you prepare for yourself and your family may have seasonings and ingredients that could be toxic for your pet.
Human food for dogs should be used as a special treat, not a meal replacement.
Why Is Good Nutrition Important for Your Dog?
Good nutrition is crucial to your pet, as they, like humans, need specific vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for their bodies to function. Maintaining a proper balance of carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins daily is vital. Commercially prepared dog food manufacturers formulate their products to meet your pet’s needs. Opting for foods void of unnecessary fillers and of the highest quality provides your dog with everything they need.
Food is designed with your pet in mind, from puppies to senior dogs, those with allergies or who have to watch their weight or have specific medical issues.
Here are some of the leading reasons why good nutrition is essential for your dog:
- Build and repair muscles, teeth, organs, and bone
Protein is the building block of life, and your dog needs adequate protein to maintain muscles, teeth, organs, and bones. One of the first ingredients listed on your dog’s food should be a high-quality protein source.
- Provide energy
Balanced protein, carbohydrates, and fat in your pet’s food provide the necessary energy to keep them active.
- Support brain function
Getting the right amount of fat in your dog’s diet helps to support brain functions.
- Support immunity:
The right balance of vitamins and minerals in your dog’s food supports a healthy immune system. Your dog’s health could suffer without the proper balance of plant and animal source nutrients.
- Control specific health conditions
Dogs can develop heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, arthritis, and other health conditions, just like us. Giving them the right food for their health problems is crucial. They are our best friends and companions. Their well-being directly affects our mental state. And when a pet is not okay, it can lead to anxiety, concern, and stress. These conditions often get worse when your hormonal health is imbalanced. For example, HGH deficiency can significantly impact your mental state. Get the facts about how to treat HGH deficiency and how to buy sermorelin online.
- Keep the skin and hair coat shiny and healthy
Fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 help keep your dog’s skin healthy and shiny while reducing itching and skin irritations due to allergens and changes in weather.
- Help with digestion
Just as you need adequate fiber in your diet, so does your dog. Beneficial carbohydrates in your dog’s food help with digestion and elimination.
What Human Food Is Good for Your Dog?
Because not all human food is good for your dog, knowing what they can and cannot eat is crucial.
What human food can dogs eat?
Think about the healthiest foods for you – lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Many of these are suitable for your dog, as well. Because fruit is sweet, it makes an excellent treat for your pet. Just remember the key word – moderation.
What fruits can dogs eat?
Fruits dogs can eat include apples, blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, strawberries, mango, raspberries, watermelon, oranges, pears, pineapple, peaches, and cranberries.
One way to help your dog enjoy fruit is by freezing chunks of apples, raspberries, pineapple, and strawberries, along with whole blueberries, and serving that when you are eating ice cream. Your dog will not be missing out on a frosty treat.
Foods safe for dogs include:
- Apples: Remove the seeds and core and treat your dog, especially seniors, with vitamin A and C-packed apples.
- Bananas: Giving a small amount of banana as an occasional treat is fine, but limit it due to its high sugar content. There are also plenty of commercial banana dog treats that your pup might enjoy.
- Blueberries: Not only are blueberries a superfood for humans, but they are a powerhouse of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber for dogs.
- Bread: Plain bread without added spices and raisins is okay for your dog to eat in small amounts since it has no nutritional value. Be aware of preservatives and added sugar and salt in store-bought bread. Home-baked is always better; you can control the ingredients to maximize nutrition for your family and dog. Do not allow your dog to eat raw dough; it can expand in their stomach and cause bloating and alcohol poisoning from the yeast (ethanol).
- Broccoli: Offer small portions of well-cooked broccoli occasionally to avoid gastric irritation.
- Brussels sprouts and cabbage: Although your dog may like an occasional treat, you may not like the added gas. Give these foods very sparingly.
- Cantaloupe: Frozen cubes are a great treat, but cantaloupe should be given in moderation due to its high sugar content.
- Carrots: It is no wonder that carrots are in so many dog foods and treats. They are high in beta-carotene and fiber and low in calories. Carrot-crunching is excellent for your pup’s teeth.
- Cashews: One of the few nuts that are safe for dogs, cashews are okay as an occasional treat, especially with their nutritional values of protein, calcium, antioxidants, and protein. Ensure they are unsalted, and give only one at a time to ensure they are chewed well and swallowed completely.
- Celery: Some dogs love crunching on pieces of celery – just supervise your dog to watch for stringy pieces that can get stuck in their teeth or throats. Celery helps freshen breath and is good for the heart.
- Coconut: The inside flesh, coconut oil, and milk are safe for your dog and can help with bad breath, skin conditions, bacteria, and viruses. Do not let your dog near the outside shell as that can become lodged in the throat.
- Corn: A prominent but not very nutritious ingredient in dog food, giving your dog some cooked corn kernels (not the cob) is a tasty treat. Popcorn is also okay if it is air-popped, unsalted, unbuttered, and without added seasonings. Check all popcorn pieces to ensure you are not giving your dog un-popped kernels, which could lead to choking.
- Cranberries: Both fresh and dried, cranberries are a tart treat to give in moderation, as too much can cause stomach upset. Avoid dried cranberries that have added sugar.
- Cucumbers: The high water content, vitamins, and minerals in low-calorie cucumbers make them an excellent treat for overweight dogs.
- Dairy products: Do not be surprised to find your dog begging for cheese; dogs love dairy as much as humans. Lower-fat options like mozzarella and cottage cheese are better choices. A special treat is Himalayan dog chews that are made from dried cheese. Occasionally, a little bit of milk is also okay, although water is always the best choice. Your dog may also enjoy the probiotic benefits of occasional plain yogurt without added sweeteners. *Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so if your dog does not do well with dairy, choose other treats to share.
- Eggs: Fully cooked eggs can help your dog overcome stomach upset while providing extra protein. Do not feed your pet raw eggs.
- Fish: Cats are not the only pets that like fish. Your dog does, too, especially nutritious salmon, which promotes brain, immune, and joint health. Tuna is okay in small amounts, but avoid canned tuna in oil. Remove all bones, except those in sardines, which are digestible and provide extra calcium. Fish should be thoroughly cooked and cooled before feeding your dog. Limit fish to two times per week.
- Green beans: However your dog likes them, raw or cooked, make sure they are plain with no added spices or fats.
- Honey: Just as beneficial for dogs as it is for humans, honey is one of the foods dogs can eat that can provide healthful benefits. It is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients that can help with allergies and be used topically to treat cuts and burns. Feed small amounts of local honey to help your dog build immunity to local allergens.
- Mango: As long as you keep the hard pit away from your pup, giving an occasional mango treat provides lots of vitamins, potassium, and beta-carotene to your dog. Use mangos sparingly due to their high sugar content.
- Oranges: Some dogs do not like citrus smells, but orange segments without seeds or peels are a vitamin C-packed occasional treat.
- Peaches: Fresh or frozen, peaches provide vitamin A and fiber for your pup. However, avoid the cyanide-containing pit, as that is toxic. Due to higher sugar content, do not feed your dog jarred or canned peaches.
- Peanuts: The protein and healthy fat in peanuts make it a good treat – in moderation due to the high calories. Always choose unsalted peanuts for your pet.
- Peanut butter: Giving your dog raw, unsalted, natural peanut butter (no sugar or sugar substitutes added) is a healthy treat and is often used to help get a dog to swallow pills.
- Pears: Without the seeds, pit, or skin, pieces of fresh pears are a vitamin and fiber-packed treat. Avoid jarred and canned varieties.
- Peas: All peas are a good occasional treat, but skip the canned ones as they add salt.
- Pineapple: Remove all parts of the outside peel and crown before giving your dog a few bites of fresh (not canned or jarred) pineapple.
- Plain and unseasoned meat: Choosing the right type of meat for your dog is crucial. Make sure all meat served to your dog is properly cooked to kill bacteria.
- Ham is alright but is high in fat and sodium, so only give a little on rare occasions.
- Pork is an easily digested protein but does carry more calories than other meat options. Some dogs may be allergic to pork.
- Chicken and turkey are excellent options without skin and fat. Remember to remove bones and avoid salt, seasonings, onion, and garlic when preparing poultry.
- Pumpkin: Your dog may enjoy pumpkin to help with constipation or diarrhea, and it is an excellent, antioxidant-rich treat. Use either 100% pumpkin puree in cans or roast pumpkin flesh yourself. Just avoid the seeds and skin.
- Raspberries: These high-fiber, low-sugar berries provide anti-inflammatory benefits that can help reduce joint pain in senior dogs. Because raspberries contain natural xylitol, give only small portions at a time.
- Spinach: While it is okay for your dog to eat a little spinach occasionally, too much can block calcium absorption and increase the risk of kidney damage.
- Strawberries: One of the benefits of strawberries for your pup is that they help whiten teeth. Since they are high in sugar, use them occasionally.
- Quinoa: As a better alternative to wheat, soy, and corn in dog food, quinoa is a nutritious option for dogs. Just watch out for added salt and seasonings.
- Watermelon: Remove all seeds and rind before treating your dog to some fresh watermelon. The high water content helps your dog stay hydrated in the heat.
- White rice: White rice is easy to digest if your dog has an upset stomach. Do not give frequently, as it can increase blood sugar levels.
What Human Food Is Not Good for Your Dog?
Some of the foods we eat are not digestible for dogs. Others can be downright toxic and may cause organs to shut down. What we think might be a harmless bite can cause more danger than we know. It is essential to warn children about the dangers of giving “people food” to their pets. Another issue is watching for items within reach or falling on the floor. Your dog does not know that something is bad for them.
What foods are bad for dogs?
One thing to watch out for when feeding human food is the amount of added salt, which can increase water retention and be fatal if your dog is at risk of heart disease. Salted nuts, chips, pretzels, and other snack foods fall in this category.
What foods can dogs not eat?
Along with the comprehensive list below, keep any food products containing xylitol, a sugar substitute, away from your pet, as it can lead to low blood sugar levels and liver failure. Do not allow your dog to have alcohol, which can lead to coma and death.
Here are foods that are not safe for your dog:
- Almonds: Do not feed almonds to your dog as they can block or tear the windpipe when not chewed well.
- Asparagus: Although not toxic, there is little nutritional value once you cook the asparagus enough for your dog to eat.
- Avocados: Although some dog products contain avocado in small amounts, you should avoid giving fresh avocado to your pet as a chemical called persin can cause gastrointestinal upset. Avocado skin, leaves, and pits are highly toxic.
- Caffeine/coffee: See chocolate below to learn how methylxanthines can hurt your dog.
- Cherries: Containing toxic cyanide, cherry plants, and seeds can lead to cyanide poisoning in your pup. Dilated pupils and difficult breathing are things to watch out for. While cherry pulp is safe, stick to cherry-flavored dog treats.
- Chocolate: One of the most toxic foods you can give your dog is chocolate, which contains methylxanthines that stop your dog’s metabolic processes. Chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in large amounts, irregular heart function, seizures, and death. Keep chocolate far out of reach of dogs and supervise children when eating chocolate. Call your vet immediately if your dog accidentally consumes chocolate.
- Cinnamon: Although it is not toxic, cinnamon can irritate your dog’s mouth, lower blood sugar, alter heart rate, and increase the risk of liver disease, diarrhea, and vomiting. Inhaling cinnamon powder can interfere with breathing and cause choking or coughing. To reduce that risk, keep your dog out of the kitchen when baking with cinnamon.
- Garlic: One of the most toxic foods for dogs, garlic consumption can cause anemia, elevated heart rate, pale gums, weakness, and collapse. The signs may not appear until a few days after consuming garlic, so monitor your dog closely.
- Grapes and raisins: Whether fresh or dried (raisins), grapes are highly toxic and can cause acute kidney failure in dogs.
- Ice cream: While offering your dog a few licks of your ice cream may seem tempting, the higher sugar content is unhealthy. You can find frozen “ice cream” treats designed for dogs at the grocery store or make your own at home.
- Macadamia nuts: Never feed your dog macadamia nuts, as they are one of the most toxic foods for dogs. Macadamia nuts can increase body temperature, cause lethargy, vomiting, and inability to walk, and affect the dog’s nervous system.
- Mushrooms: Wild mushrooms can poison your dog; however, if you want, you can give a little bit of washed supermarket mushrooms. It is best to avoid and err on the safe side.
- Onions: All onions, including chives and leeks, are poisonous to pets and can lead to ruptured red blood cells, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
- Tomatoes: Although tomato flesh is considered safe, the plants’ greens are toxic. It is best to avoid tomatoes except when used in safe dog treats.
Once you know the best food for dogs, you can find plenty of ways to reward your pup for being your wonderful companion. With so many human foods dogs can eat that you probably also enjoy, snack time can be healthy and fun for you both.
Ensure everyone in the family understands what dogs cannot eat to protect your pup’s safety, health, and life.
Finally, as with humans, too much of a good thing can turn bad and cause canine obesity. An overweight dog is also at risk for many health concerns, including arthritis, canine diabetes, and heart problems. If you can feel your dog’s ribs, but they are not overly prominent, your dog is in fit shape. However, if you cannot feel their ribs through a layer of fat, they are overweight. Speak with your vet about the best action to take.