Many pet parents love sharing food with their pups. But as you consider giving dog-friendly treats during brunch, lunch, dinner, a picnic, or a BBQ, you may ask yourself, “what human foods can dogs actually eat?” Or better yet, which of the people food that dogs can eat will give them the most health benefits?
To help you decide on the healthiest food items to share with your pup, this complete guide lists the healthiest people food that dogs can eat. Some of the food items listed here can also be used as food toppers for dog food that will help picky eater dogs eat.
What’s in This Guide?
- A Note About Dogs as Omnivores & Common Dog Allergies
- Cooked, Unseasoned Chicken, Turkey, or Beef
- Cooked, Unseasoned Fish
- Cooked, Unseasoned Eggs
- Cooked Pumpkin
- Cooked Green Beans
- Cooked Carrots
- Cooked Spinach
- Sliced Apples - In Moderation
- Bananas - In Moderation
- Cooked Oatmeal
A Note About Dogs as Omnivores & Common Dog Allergies
Before diving into our list of the healthiest human foods that dogs can eat, the following are must-know information about a dog’s feeding behavior and the possibility of canine food allergies.
Dogs are Omnivores
Unlike wolves and cats, domesticated dogs are omnivores. In that sense, they are similar to us humans. Omnivores are naturally able to eat and digest food that comes from both animals and plants. This, however, doesn’t mean that dogs can safely eat all the types of food that people can. What this does mean is that the range of healthy treats for dogs is wider than that of obligate carnivores who are not naturally equipped to digest vegetation (sorry, cats!).
Because dogs are omnivores, it means that…
- Some dogs naturally enjoy fruits and vegetables — especially the ones on this list of healthy food for dogs.
- Dogs can eat cooked vegetables with no pureeing needed. The best way to cook veggies for dogs is by steaming or boiling without any additional oil, butter, or spices — and Fido would prefer these cut up in bite-sized pieces.
Food Allergies in Dogs
The go-to treats for dogs are usually meat-based food items from the table. However, not all types of meat are safe for all dogs. Some dogs have food allergies — and the most common ones are triggered by different types of proteins. The most common canine food allergens include the following:
- Fish (or seafood)
- Dairy (canine allergy to dairy is a different condition from canine lactose intolerance)
Note: Though less common, some canines have allergies that are triggered by grains. If you would like to learn more about testing a dog for allergies (in a safe and controlled clinic environment,) consult your local veterinarian.
Keeping in mind the feeding behavior of dogs, as well as the possibility of canine food allergies, pet parents can be more conscious of the treats they select for their furry friend. As a starting point, here are our top recommended dog treats that give the most health benefits.
1. Cooked, Unseasoned Chicken, Turkey, or Beef
Cooked, unseasoned chicken, turkey, and beef are all great sources of protein for your dog. However, make sure that all the bones are removed from these meats before giving them to your dog. Doing so reduces the risk of choking.
"Even cooked bones are risky," says Dr. Sylvia Berns, Sploot’s Medical Director. "They can splinter in the dog's GI tract and cause issues such as perforations. It's a good reminder just in case (pet) parents think bones would be okay if cooked, which is not the case."
Among the three (chicken, turkey, and beef), the most balanced meat is chicken — as it is high in protein but also low in fat which makes it the healthiest type of meat to serve canines.
Note: All of the above types of meat are excellent additions to your dog’s diet — but dogs also need nutrients and vitamins from other sources to stay healthy. A purely all-meat diet for dogs will not suffice.
2. Cooked, Unseasoned Fish
Cooked unseasoned fish is one of the healthiest treats for dogs. Fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids for dogs. The same rule for preparing chicken and beef treats for dogs also applies to fish — make sure that all the bones are removed. This is because fish bones are choking hazards for dogs.
3. Cooked, Unseasoned Eggs
Whether hard boiled or scrambled, cooked eggs can be a good treat to share with your canine buddy. Eggs made it to this list of healthy people food that dogs can eat because eggs are a great source of protein, vitamin D, selenium, and riboflavin.
4. Cooked Pumpkin
On this list of healthiest people food that dogs can eat, let’s kick it off with our first dog-friendly fruit: the pumpkin.
Cooked and chopped-up pumpkin is a healthy and nutritious snack for dogs. It is a good source of fiber and beta-carotene, which can help with digestion and improve the appearance of your dog's coat. Pumpkin is also low in calories and fat, making it a good choice for dogs who are overweight or prone to weight gain.
5. Cooked Green Beans
If your pup likes green beans, let them have some. Cooked green beans are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients that can help support your dog's overall health. Green beans are also low in calories and fat. So just like most of the veggies on this list of human foods that dogs can eat, green beans are a healthy treat for dogs who are overweight.
6. Cooked Carrots
The next veggie on this list of the healthiest food for dogs is the delicious and nutritious carrot. Cooked and chopped carrots are healthy treats for your dog. Cooked carrots are a great source of fiber, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. However, make sure that carrots are cooked sufficiently - raw or semi-raw carrots can be difficult for dogs to digest.
7. Cooked Spinach
Cooked spinach is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. Being so nutrition-packed, it’s no surprise that spinach is good for people, dogs, and even cats. Being leafy and soft, cooked spinach does not need to be chopped up like the other veggies on this list of healthy food for dogs.
8. Sliced Apples - In Moderation
Want to hear something adorable? Most dogs actually like the taste and the CRUNCH of a fresh apple. So good news to pet parents: you can feed your dog fresh apples — including the skin. Just remember to chop up the apple and take out the choking hazards (i.e. the seeds and the core) and you’re all set.
Chopped apples are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber for your dog. However, as a reminder, apples should be given in moderation. Though apples contain naturally-occurring fructose (a type of sugar which is healthier than refined sugar), this is still not good for canines in large quantities.
9. Bananas - In Moderation
Many dogs LOVE bananas. In fact, it is a common ingredient in many homemade dog treat recipes. Bananas are healthy treats for dogs because they are high in potassium, fiber, and magnesium. However, just like apples (and most other dog-friendly fruits), bananas need to be given in moderation because of its high natural sugar content.
10. Cooked Oatmeal
Cooked oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfast foods around. And it's also on our list of healthy food for dogs. Oatmeal contains vitamin B, which helps maintain a healthy coat, and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps to maintain the strength of dogs' skin. Thanks to its richness in soluble fiber, oatmeal has also become an increasingly common ingredient in commercial dog food.
Final Thoughts on Human Foods That Dogs Can Eat
We hope you enjoyed this list of the healthiest human foods that dogs can eat. As a reminder, dogs need a balanced diet, and the above treats (by themselves) are not enough to provide all the nutrients dogs need. The treats on this list are not meant to replace high-quality commercially available dog food that is nutritionally complete.
As always, if you have questions or concerns about your pup's nutrition or health, we are here to help! Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary and urgent care pet clinic with multiple convenient locations, open 365 days a year, from 10 am to 10 pm. Book an appointment online or through the Sploot Vets app. We also encourage pet parents to give us a call for urgent intake appointments.
Till next time, we're with you every pounce of the way!
Note: Feel free to refer to our cheat sheet on the healthiest people food that can be given as treats to dogs.