Safe vs Toxic Foods For Dogs - Can My Dog Eat... [Ask a Vet]

A dog eating a treat that is considered a safe food for dogs

Dogs are curious about our food — whether it’s a delicious dinner or a sweet snack. And most of the time, pet parents want to share with their fur baby. However, not all human foods are safe for dogs. This is why pet parents need to distinguish between toxic food for dogs and safe food for dogs

This vet-approved guide explores the question, "Can my dog eat...?", providing answers to the most commonly asked questions about sharing food with dogs.

What’s in This Guide?

A dog eating treats that are considered safe food for dogs

Reminders About The Following Food Items

Before preceding on this list of safe food for dogs and toxic food for dogs, here are a few reminders:

1. The Safe Food for Dogs on This List Are Meant Only as Treats

All of the dog-friendly food items mentioned below are only suitable as dog treats, comprising no more than 10 percent of a dog’s intake for the day. Always make sure to feed your pup high-quality, AAFCO-approved dog food as their main source of nutrition. 

Note: In addition, you can check the quality of your dog food’s brand by checking out this evaluation tool from Pet Nutrition Alliance. If you are considering homemade pet food, feel free to check out our article: Is Homemade Dog Food & Cat Food Better? [Ask a Vet]

2. Always Check Before You Share

We’d like to remind pet parents that dogs have vastly different nutritional needs and dietary sensitivities than people. Some human foods are healthy for dogs — while some are safe, safe in moderation, or toxic. Before sharing any food item with dogs, it’s always a good practice to check the food’s safety. 

3. In Case of Gastrointestinal Upset or Suspected Poisoning 

Some of the foods that we have labeled below as ‘harmful’ or ‘not safe’ are likely to cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs. As a reminder, severe diarrhea or vomiting — and episodes that have persisted for more than 12 hours — needs urgent medical attention from an urgent care veterinarian or emergency vet.

Note: For cases wherein toxin ingestion or poisoning is suspected in dogs and cats, we encourage pet parents to call pet poisoning helplines (e.g. Pet Poison Helpline, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center) for assistance over the phone). If wait times are too long, feel free to reach out to an urgent care veterinarian or emergency vet for prompt guidance.
A dog going to Sploot Veterinary Care, a primary and urgent care veterinary clinic in Denver and Chicago

I. Fruits and Veggies: Safe & Toxic Food For Dogs‍

Many fruits and veggies make an excellent snack for your dog because they contain beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and more. However, not all fruits and vegetables are considered safe food for dogs. There are a few that can be toxic to your pup and cause major health threats, so make sure to make note of those to keep them far from your pup’s menu!

A dog looking at a banana, one of the safe food for dogs

Can my dog eat bananas?

Dogs can eat bananas in moderation. They are a healthy snack, being high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, and fiber — and low in cholesterol and sodium. 

Bananas, however, are high in sugar, so we recommend using these sweet treats in moderation. 

Can my dog eat watermelons?

Watermelons are a safe food for dogs; this fruit is also beneficial, especially during the summer as they are very hydrating. Watermelons are high in potassium, Vitamin C, A, B6, and fiber. In addition, they also have a relatively lower sugar content than other popular fruits. 

Just make sure to take all seeds out and avoid feeding pups the watermelon rind, as these can cause intestinal blockage and gastrointestinal distress.

Can my dog eat apples?

Apples are a safe food for dogs; this fruit is a great source of vitamins C & A, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber. Apples are also great for digestion. In addition, apples can help keep your pup's teeth clean by aiding in breaking down disease-causing plaque. 

For utmost safety, make sure to remove the apple seeds and core. In high amounts, apple seeds can be toxic to dogs — meanwhile, the apple core is a choking hazard.

Can my dog eat an orange?

Dogs can enjoy the occasional treat of oranges, which are rich in vitamin C and fiber. However, the high acidity might not agree with all dogs' stomachs, so monitoring for any signs of digestive discomfort is crucial. 

Make sure to remove any seeds and offer small, bite-sized pieces to pups. Due to the sugar content of oranges, it’s best to give these as treats occasionally.

Can my dog eat kiwi?

Kiwi is a safe and nutritious treat for dogs when given in moderation. Packed with vitamin C and fiber, kiwi can be beneficial to your dog's health. 

Remember to peel the fruit to remove the furry outer layer, which can be challenging to digest for dogs. Cut the kiwi into small, manageable pieces to prevent choking and introduce it gradually to ensure your dog tolerates it well.

Can my dog eat berries?

Certain berries, like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are safe food for dogs when given in moderation. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants and provide a large amount of vitamins and minerals. 

Though berries are small, they are packed with nutrients and most dogs would benefit from far less than a palmful. For instance, one strawberry is enough for a small dog within a day. As for blueberries, most dogs will benefit from the treat if they get less than 8 blueberries in one day.  

Can my dog eat dried fruits?

No, we do NOT recommend giving dried fruits to dogs. Dried fruits are packed with concentrated sugar, which is not good for pups. Depending on the fruit itself and the other additives, dried fruit can be a toxic food for dogs.

An image of dried fruits with raisins which is a toxic food for dogs, overlaid with a prohibition sign to represent that this isn’t safe food for dogs

Can my dog eat eggplant?

Eggplant is a safe food for dogs, as long as it is prepared properly. Eggplants offer plenty of fiber and essential nutrients; these can be beneficial for pups when given in moderation. 

When preparing eggplant for your pup, make sure the eggplant is cooked, unseasoned, and sliced. The stem and the leaves must be removed as these can be toxic to dogs.

Can my dog eat carrots?

Carrots are a safe food for dogs. Whether served raw or cooked, carrots are low in calories and high in essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The crunchiness of carrots can also be beneficial for your dog's dental health by helping to clean their teeth and gums. 

Just be sure to cut carrots into manageable, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking. 

Can my dog eat beans?

Yes, certain beans are safe food for dogs. Black beans, kidney beans, or green beans can be a nutritious addition to your dog's diet. 

When giving beans as dog treats or food toppers., ensure the beans are thoroughly cooked and free of any added seasonings, salt, or spices. It is best to introduce beans gradually and in moderation to avoid digestive upset. 

Can my dog eat Brussels sprouts?

Yes, Brussels sprouts are generally safe for dogs in moderation. These mini-cabbages are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. 

Before offering Brussels sprouts as treats, ensure they are cooked with no seasonings. In addition, cut the Brussels sprouts into small, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.

Can my dog eat onions or garlic?

Onions and garlic contain compounds that are toxic to your dog. They can damage your pup’s red blood cells and reduce their ability to carry oxygen. Make sure to look out for garlic and onion powders, as well!

An image of onions and garlic which are toxic food for dogs, overlaid with a prohibition sign to represent that this isn’t safe food for dogs 

Can my dogs eat macadamia nuts?

Macadamia nuts are toxic food for dogs, as they often lead to vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia. Make sure to keep your dog away from these nuts when you have them in your kitchen! 

Can my dog eat grapes or raisins?

Grapes and raisins are toxic food for dogs. When fed to dogs, even small amounts can make your dog sick. Certain amounts of this fruit can even lead to rapid kidney failure and death — so make sure to keep grapes and raisins away from your pup.

Can my dog eat avocado?

It's generally recommended to avoid giving avocados to dogs. While the flesh of the avocado itself is not considered highly toxic to dogs, the presence of a substance called persin in avocados is harmful to dogs. Additionally, the high fat content may lead to digestive issues and the avocado pit poses a choking hazard for pups.

Can my dog eat lemons/limes?

It's generally NOT recommended to feed lemons or limes to dogs. The high acidity of the fruits’ flesh can be harsh on a dog's stomach and may lead to digestive upset. In addition, the peels of lemon and lime contain psoralen and other compounds that are harmful to dogs.

II. Animal Products: Toxic & Safe Food for Dogs 

Just like fruits and veggies, some animal products can also be a great addition to your pup's diet, while others should be given with caution. Pet parents must also consider the possibility of food allergies in dogs. Most dog food allergies come from protein like chicken and beef.

A dog eating pet food with egg, a safe food for dogs, as one of the food toppers

Can my dog eat eggs?

They surely can - eggs are very healthy for your pup and are fed to pups when their bellies are upset. Eggs are easily digestible for dogs, and high in protein and essential fatty acids. 

We recommend cooking eggs before feeding them to dogs — as there is always a risk of salmonella. If raw eggs are eaten, no need to be alarmed quite yet, but be on the lookout for GI distress such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

Can my dog eat chicken?

Chicken is a safe food for dogs and a great source of digestible protein. Cooked, unseasoned chicken is a very healthy treat for pups.

Make sure to avoid giving raw chicken, as there is always a risk of salmonella. In addition, it’s best to take out all bones to prevent choking or gastrointestinal blockage or damage. 

Can my dog eat pork?

‍Pork is safe for dogs to eat, but only in its simplest form, without added spices, seasonings, or sauces. Pork that has been processed, such as ham or bacon, should never be fed to your dog either – we know, they love bacon, but these pork products are extremely high in salt and can be very harmful. 

Can my dog eat beef?

Lean beef is a safe food for dogs. It is an excellent source of protein and most dogs enjoy the taste of beef. As with many other food items on this list, it is best to serve beef treats or food toppers, cooked and unseasoned.

Can my dog eat fish?

Fish is a safe food for dogs, as long as it is prepared properly. Fish provides a healthy dose of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential nutrients. Opt for low-mercury fish like salmon or trout and avoid high-mercury options like tuna. 

When giving fish as a dog treat, make sure the fish is cooked and unseasoned. All the bones need to be removed to reduce risks of choking or intestinal perforation. Lastly, introduce fish gradually to monitor for sensitivities (some dogs are allergic to seafood).

Can my dog eat butter?

While small amounts of butter are generally not toxic to dogs, it's advisable to strictly limit their consumption. Butter is high in fat, which can lead to digestive upset and contribute to obesity in dogs if given in excess. Additionally, some dogs may be lactose intolerant, and the dairy content in butter could cause gastrointestinal issues (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea).

Can my dog eat cheese?

Although cheese and other dairy products are not toxic nor necessarily dangerous for your dog, we do not recommend feeding large amounts to your dog. Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and eating dairy can cause gastrointestinal upset. 

If your pup does get into cheese or other dairy products, we suggest you monitor them closely to ensure there are no adverse effects (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea). 

III. Other Food Items: Safe vs. Toxic Food for Dogs

Aside from fruits, veggies, and meat, pet parents may also wonder if it’s safe to share the following processed food with pups:

A dog eyeing peanut butter, one of the safe food for dogs, as long as it is organic and does not contain xylitol which is toxic for dogs

Can my dog eat peanut butter?

Some brands of peanut butter are safe food for dogs, in moderation. However, pet parents need to steer clear of peanut butter that uses xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is HIGHLY TOXIC to dogs.

It is also best to get peanut butter with peanuts as their only ingredient, as the additive sugar and oils can be harmful. 

Can my dog eat chocolate?

‍As many of us know, chocolate is toxic food for dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both unsafe for dogs, as they cannot metabolize them properly. 

Can my dog eat honey?

Dogs can eat honey in strict moderation. Honey offers some potential health benefits, such as natural antioxidants and antibacterial properties.

Natural, unprocessed honey is preferable over honey-flavored products that may contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs

Can my dog eat popcorn?

Plain, air-popped popcorn is generally safe for dogs in moderation. It can be a low-calorie and fiber-rich snack. 

However, avoid adding butter, salt, or any flavorings, as these can be harmful to dogs. Additionally, be cautious of unpopped kernels, which can pose a choking hazard.

Can my dog eat junk food?

It's not recommended to feed your dog junk food, such as chips, candy, or other processed snacks meant for human consumption. These foods often contain high levels of salt, sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives, which can lead to various health issues in dogs, including obesity and digestive problems. 

Can my dog have coffee or tea?

Food or drinks that contain coffee, tea, or caffeine are toxic to dogs. Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, which is HIGHLY TOXIC to dogs. Caffeine stimulates their nervous system, which can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, and seizures.

Can my dog eat nutmeg in baked goods?

Nutmeg is in many baked goods and it is NOT safe for your dogs. Nutmeg contains myristicin, which can cause disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and stomach pain. To be on the safe side, make sure to keep baked goods securely away from dogs.

Close-up of nutmeg and nutmeg powder, food that is not considered safe for dogs

Final Thoughts on Safe vs Toxic Foods for Dogs

This wraps up our vet-approved guide on safe food for dogs vs toxic food for dogs. For more vet-approved nutritional guides, feel free to check out the following:

If you have further pet nutrition questions or urgent care concerns we’re here to help. Sploot Veterinary Care is a trusted primary and urgent care vet clinic with multiple conveniently located vet clinics in Denver and Chicago. We offer daily appointment availability and extended vet clinic hours, 365 days a year. We also offer urgent-intake appointments.

Secure an appointment easily online or through the Sploot Vets app. As always, we’re with you every pounce of the way.