Can I Feed My Dog People Food?

Can I Feed My Dog People Food?image preview

We’ve all heard that dogs shouldn’t eat table scraps, yet many dog owners are being faced with dog food shortages at some supermarkets due to the coronavirus pandemic, and may be inclined to share people food with them. If you wondered which foods are OK to share with Fido and which ones should be avoided, check out these lists: 

First, The Safe List: Foods You Can Share With Your Dog:

  1. Sweet potatoes (cooked). Sweet potatoes are a healthy vegetable choice. Cook them first to make them easier to digest. Discard the peel of non-organic sweet potatoes as most are sprayed with anti-mold fungicides.
  2. Pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is convenient and nutritious. However, cooked fresh pumpkin and other squash is the best option.
  3. Peas. Fresh or frozen peas are a great way to add beneficial nutrients to your dog’s diet. In addition to green peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas are a healthy snack.
  4. Organ meats (certain ones). Liver and hearts from chicken, turkey, and beef are a healthy source of vitamins and minerals for your dog. Chicken gizzards are rich in cartilage. It is sometimes sold with hearts and is an important component of a healthy pet diet.
  5. Eggs. Eggs provide your dog with an excellent source of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Dogs can eat an egg raw or slightly cooked. For optimal nutrients, serve organic, pastured eggs.
  6. Green beans. Green beans are a nutritious vegetable for your dog. Cook green beans before feeding to your pet to make them easier to digest.
  7. Fruit: Apples (no seeds), bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe are all safe to share with your dog, although melon is high in sugar.

The “Use Caution When Sharing” Foods List:

  • Popcorn. Popped popcorn is a regular snack food in most households and one that Rover may beg for. A few pieces of popped organic popcorn on occasion shouldn’t harm your dog if it isn’t salty, spicy, oily, or sweetened. Air-popped or popcorn popped with a little coconut oil is a better snack option.
  • Sardines and other fish. Canned sardines packed in water (not oil or sauce) are the best fish to feed your dog for several reasons. Sardines are a great source of vitamin D. This small, wild-caught fish is less apt to contain toxic, heavy metals than other fish varieties. The bones in canned sardines are soft, thus posing no health risk. Other types of fish are not harmful to dogs, but the methods of preparation can be. Fried fish, for example, can cause stomach upsets, or worse, pancreatitis. Fish seasonings that contain onion powder, can be toxic. The biggest risk of feeding fish to dogs, however, is bones. So use extreme caution.
  • Ice Cream. Products containing milk can cause diarrhea and other digestive illnesses in dogs which could lead to food allergies (which often cause itchiness). Avoid feeding commercial ice creams with artificial sweeteners and other additives, especially those containing xylitol. For an occasional treat, offer homemade frozen treats or yogurts made with coconut milk or almond milk instead of dairy. Non-dairy ice cream flavored with blueberries or other fruit is okay, on occasion, but never any containing chocolate.
  • Citrus Fruits. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, oranges, tangerines, and clementines are not toxic to dogs. However, they are high in sugar and can potentially cause GI upset if your pet eats too many of them. The citric acid in these fruits is not a concern to dogs.
  • Watermelon is safe for dogs to eat but the seeds must be removed first, and flesh only is safest (no rind).
Citrus fruits are on the “Use Caution” list.

The Dangerous List: Foods You Should Never Share With Your Dog:

  1. Grapes, cherries, and raisins. Grapes and raisins carry the potential of causing organ damage to your dog, due to the food-borne fungi which produce poisonous chemical compounds, known as mycotoxins, which may be present. You don’t have to see mold on the grapes for it to be toxic.
  2. Onions. Onions are known to cause anemia in dogs. Never feed onions to dogs, or foods containing onions, to avoid its toxic effects.  Not even if it’s in an onion ring or part of a sandwich.
  3. Poultry skinnecks, backs, and wings. These chicken parts left over after cooking should not be fed to your pets. The cooking process breaks down the bones causing them to become brittle and more apt to harm your dog when ingested. The fatty skin can cause gastrointestinal distress and even life-threatening inflammation in the pancreas. Better to stick with some healthy white meat.
  4. Gravy. Homemade gravy is often made with the fatty drippings from the turkey. Just like with turkey skin, the high-fat content can cause gastrointestinal distress and life-threatening inflammation. Aside from gravy, you should keep your dog away from any other dishes that are high in fat, such as mashed potatoes with butter.
  5. Chocolate. While chocolate may be your favorite treat, but it can be harmful to your dog. Large amounts of chocolate consumed by dogs can lead to circulatory and respiratory difficulties or death. Keep chocolate and foods containing chocolate, including cookies and brownies, out of your pet’s reach at all times.
  6. Bacon. Let’s face it: bacon is hard to resist for anyone. But the health problems it poses aren’t worth the risk. Eating too many bacon treats can lead to canine pancreatitis. Bacon is usually high in salt, which can also cause additional health problems for your dog. And to further compound the problems of fatty pork, the curing process, and additives used can contribute to heart, kidney and liver damage. Skip the urge to pour bacon grease on your dog’s food. It is just as harmful to canines as bacon. Cooked, uncured, unsalted turkey bacon is a better occasional snack to offer.
  7. Macadamia nuts. These nuts can cause vomiting, weakness, and depression. The good news is the effects are not fatal. But if there is accidental ingestion, be sure to contact your vet.
  8. Avocado. The pit, skin, and leaves of avocados contain persin, a toxin that often causes vomiting and diarrhea. The fleshy inside of the fruit doesn’t contain as much persin as the rest of the plant, but their systems can’t handle it.

See more safe and unsafe foods from the AKC here.

When in doubt, consult your vet or visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control site. Consider downloading their mobile app. And if your pet has a known allergy to any one of these foods, it’s not safe to eat.

Make Your Own Dog Food: There are many DIY videos out there on YouTube on how to make your own dog food. Check with your vet about which ones are appropriate for your dog. 

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004. Her article on salt-based home remedies appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Manoj
Manoj
4 months ago

Yes why not? I have started giving my dog chicken liver after knowing the nutritional values from where they explains in detail about the facts

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
4 months ago
Reply to  Manoj

Hi Manoj, we say in the article that organ meats are safe.

Elisa T-B
Elisa T-B
1 year ago

Oh boy what about avocado oil? I was just using this site, my breeder said I could give my 3-lb. yorkie (organic) turkey liver so I was checking about the heart and liver. Since it was ‘recommended’ I’m just cooking it and realized that I used a few spritzes of avocado oil to cook these organs. I better call my vet, but please respond for the benefit of other owners.

Ralph Kalin
Ralph Kalin
1 year ago

I know it’s frowned upon , but I give my dog chocolate syrup on her food . She’s very picky about her food but she will eat whatever I put in front her if I put the chocolate syrup on it . Would maple syrup be better for her ? People at the dog park tell me all the time how sweet she is and I just tell them the secret is all in her diet , but I don’t tell them my trick

Sherry R
Sherry R
8 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Kalin

I had a dog get violently ill from chocolate. Personally, I would try a Carob syrup In moderation, instead. Dogs can have Carob.

Brisa Castillo
Brisa Castillo
2 years ago

My dog ate all my chicken Milanese.she hasn’t puked and hasn’t had diarrhea but I still don’t know if she’s 100% ok???

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
2 years ago
Reply to  Brisa Castillo

Hi Brisa, please contact your vet in cases where you’re unsure about your pet’s health. We don’t always see these web site comments right away. Hopefully she’s ok!

Diana Hamel
Diana Hamel
4 years ago

Our dogs eat what ever we eat. They as recall over new 13 and our shelter lived to be 15. They get chocolate all the time. Only a little bit of milk chocolate or cake or cookies and it has not hurt them at all.

Adrienne Gooch
Adrienne Gooch
4 years ago

My 4 year old Irish Setter ? dog loves tangerines.Are they safe for him to eat?

Mary
Mary
5 years ago

My dog love yogurt that is his treat at night. He has a small container at night when we have desert that way he does not get any thing that he should not. He is a Australian Shepherd . Will it hurt him.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago

Hi Papi T: regarding avocados. Cesar Milan says, NO (“Human food
Your dog’s metabolism is very different from your own, which is why some of your favorite snacks can be hazardous and, in some cases, fatal to your dog. Common dog poisons found in the kitchen include chocolate, avocados, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, and alcohol. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum, can also cause unwanted health problems, including weakness and seizures. While some human foods can be safely shared with your dog, it’s generally a good idea to play it safe and only give treats specially made for dogs.”) , but the ASPCA pet care section says “maybe, every dog is different.” So it’s best to check with your vet, who knows your pet.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago

Jeffrey – good point. Rice is a filler. Dry dog food is basically just ‘fast food’ for pets and since it’s introduction, pets have all kinds of ailments. Check out our article on a raw food diet. It might help: Would Your Dog Benefit From A Raw Food Diet?

Stephanie Burt
Stephanie Burt
5 years ago

I feed my dogs celery and peanut butter,cucumber,carrots, slices of apple dipped in vanilla yogurt they love it!

Rebecca Snider
Rebecca Snider
5 years ago

Read the B.A.R.F. diet sites on the internet. They tell the real truths. Some of these are great information. Rice IS ok for dogs… as in lamb and rice. Other stuff, like cheese and milk cause diarrhea unless the dog is used to it.. introduce it slowly. I feed my dogs (German Shepherds) raw milk with their Lamb and Rice kibble and the raw food I give them every evening. YES I give my dogs raw chicken, beef, and venison, including bones. I don’t give cooked bones. However, there would be no junkyard dogs if it was too dangerous. LOL I still don’t care to take the chances. Chocolate??? Dark/Bitter chocolates are more concentrated and are dangerous. HOWEVER … I had an Irish Setter that ate a POUND of dark chocolate covered raisins as well as a pound of dark chocolate peanut butter cups and he never missed a beat. KNOW YOUR DOG !!! Small dogs are so different from large dogs (like mine). I also have great issues with vaccinating the small dogs with the same dosage as a large dog as in rabies. OVER vaccinating is much worse than a simple case of diarrhea … Changing a diet suddenly on ANY dog can be an issue.

Ed
Ed
5 years ago

My dogs eat Science Diet only!

Papi T
Papi T
5 years ago

Interesting. I’ve received info from veterinarians & our local dog shelter stating that cooked white rice is fine to add to a dog’s meal.

I do have a question about avocados – I’ve heard its not good for dogs, and yet there is dog food on the market advertising avocado as an ingredient. What is the truth?

Jeffry Aucompaugh
Jeffry Aucompaugh
5 years ago

We buy Purina LAMB & RICE…???
Rice is listed as no due to no need for carbohydrates ???
Please help me rectify this ….How can a major dog food company sell stuff that causes dogs to get sick???
Maybe that just why my dogs have such itching problems ???

Goldie
Goldie
5 years ago

I knew a dog who ate grapes from the back fence in a friend’s yard. They thought nothing of it until the dog came down with kidney disease and had to be put on dialysis. He cost the owner over $4,000.00.

My dogs eat brown rice, which we mix with their homemade dog food (carrots, celery, chicken broth and chicken breast, boullion cubes for flavor). They seem to be doing fine and are 11 and 14 years old. They still chase the squirrels and bunnies in the back yard.

Bj Green
Bj Green
4 years ago
Reply to  Goldie

The boullion cube is mostly salt if you read the label.

dr fish
dr fish
5 years ago

My Papillion LOVES her Fan-Leaves from Med-Cannabis! Sleeps Great!….(me too)!

betty
betty
5 years ago

Whats wrong with feeding the dog something with xylitol in it. I thought that was a natural sweetner . my dog loves milk, what is wrong with that?

Darlene Schubert
Darlene Schubert
2 days ago
Reply to  betty

PLEASE do NOT let your dog eat anything with Xylitol in it. My dog grabbed a pack of sugarless gum (in chicklet form) off the kitchen counter and ate most of it – 5-6 pieces perhaps? On a whim I called Poison Control who told me out of the gate that if the gum had Xylitol in it that it could kill him and to get him to the vet ASAP. The gum had Xyitol in it so I took him to emergency vet – LONG story short. YES Xylitol is deadly for dogs. Vet kept him overnight – at one point his blood sugar dropped so low he almost died. Luckily, he pulled through. Please, check any and all labels of things your dog might get in to to make sure NO XYLITOL and either get rid of it or make sure it’s well out of his/her reach.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
1 day ago

That’s very scary, Darlene. Hope the pup is ok now!

Richard Browers
Richard Browers
5 years ago

How about Cheese?

Teri
Teri
5 years ago

Hi,

What is your opinion on raw hide bones please? Is there any problems with a dog’s digestive system when they chew and then swallow the raw hides? Thank you in advance.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago

Hi Kelsey, Many dog owners are finding that grains, which are relatively new to a dog’s diet (since “kibble” was introduced in the 1950s) don’t always agree with pets, and result in allergies, skin conditions, digestive issues, weight gain and other issues. But every dog is different. Some owners are giving raw food diets a try to go back to “as nature intended.” If you’d like to read about this option, we have an article on it here: Would Your Dog Benefit From A Raw Food Diet?

Deborah Tukua, author and editor
Deborah Tukua, author and editor
5 years ago

To address the issue of why it is better for the health of our dogs not to feed them grains, I quote veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, ” Dogs and cats are not designed to cope with large quantities of grains without long-term metabolic consequences, chronic illness and dysfunction, specifically unregulated inflammation.” So, the joint problems your dog may suffer may a result of long-term grain consumption.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago

Hi Joan Lambrecht, milk would fall under #19, the same as ice cream: According to WebMD “Milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive upset, as well as set up food allergies (which often show up as itchiness) in pets.” So we say “No, but….”

Deborah Tukua, author and editor
Deborah Tukua, author and editor
5 years ago

Thanks for all the input. In the book, Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats, Dr. Karen Becker, DVM includes eggs as part of a nutritious diet for dogs. In reference to feeding dogs she states, “Eggs, high in omega-3 are a low-cost way to include beneficial fatty acids and excellent protein. We include the equivalent of an egg meal a week (assuming you feed your pets twice a day) spread out over the week by including it with other meals. You may cook eggs lightly, but keep the yolk intact and uncooked, to protect the fragile fatty acids from exposure to air and heat.” For more complete information on feeding dogs, I recommend her book.

Carl N Graves
Carl N Graves
5 years ago

I buy beef bones at the supermarket, bake them for an hour at 400 degrees, let them cool, then cut lengthwise and give to my dog. She loves the marrow, and at her age she can reach it easily. BTW, you’ll probably need an electric saw to cut it in half.

Agree
Agree
5 years ago

Yes. True Food Facts for our Furry Families

sara
sara
5 years ago

Tube sausage and links are a no-no as well, who hasn’t been grilling and tore off a piece for Fido? The tube sausages have something that dogs are VERY allergic to! Found out the hard way, my puppy’s mouth became swollen and she had to take a antihistamine. It was a scare for sure but it was just a mild reaction (thank goodness!) but not sure if a small dog would fare so well.

ali
ali
5 years ago

The bones of chicken necks and beef CAN be fed to dogs, BUT they have to be RAW…do not feed cooked bones.

betsy dorman
betsy dorman
5 years ago

Thanks for great article. One more thing dog lovers and owners should know is that the check xylitol is toxic to dogs. This chemical is found in sugarless gum, candy and mints. Gracie, my 3 year old tibetan terrier got gum stuck in her shaggy paw during a walk and while attempting to clean herself ingested the “Product”. I decided to call my vet for advice(after trying ice to harden). This phone call turned into a medical emergency as I was advised to get the dog to his office immediately. Blood test revealed dangerous hypoglycemia and potential for liver damage. She was hospitalized for days. More toxic than chocolate. Now great care during walks and no sugarless candy, mints or gum in our house.

Kenny
Kenny
5 years ago

I have been making my dogs homemade dog food for a couple of years now. I slow cook 2 whole chickens with 4 packages of chicken gizzards and hearts, 6 baked sweet potatoes, and 6 large zucchini, (steamed). 2 cups of rice, (sometimes I will use brown rice), and one large bag of baby carrots. I may throw in a couple bags of peas. I put in 3-6 cups of a high quality dry dog food also. I hard boil a dozen eggs and throw then in the food chopper with the shells (good calcium) and chop them up really good. I debone the chicken and remove the skin then I chop everything up into small pieces as my dogs are small. I add about 3 cups of the juice from the slower cooker, (it has all the chicken flavor in it and this adds moisture). I was using Dinovite supplements until I ran out, but they seem to do just as good without it. After everything is chopped up and mixed together it will usually make around 20 to 22 lbs, I put it in 2 lb containers and put it in the freezer. My 3 dogs are healthy and they love the food, they can’t wait until supper time. I usually give them 1/2 cup each time and they would eat more if I would feed it to them. I have a high quality dry dog food out for them during the day if they get hungry but they don’t eat a lot of it.
I’ve done a lot of research to find out the best ways to make homemade dog food and the best ingredients to use, this works good for me. I know there are many more recipes out there for homemade dog food. Good luck folks.

LaLa
LaLa
4 years ago
Reply to  Kenny

In reading most of the healthy dog tips for their food intake,

~ your homemade dog food recipe, is hands down, the best.

I have a small dog, Shih TZU, male, I am particular about what he eats anyway. He eats rice, steamed chicken, broth, blended carrots, green beans and small amount of celery for taste.
I really like your recipe and idea of freezing the food in containers. A very good plan.

Q: What are the size of each container and how many cups do you put in each container? I would like even portions in each container. They will stack nicely in freezer.

According, to my dog’s size, @20 lbs, 5 years old.

Could you please send me a picture of the size of container!

So excited to try this new way of prepRing my dog’s healthy meals.
Our last dog ( Shih TZU ), died @ 6, of pancreatitis. His last year, he lived, he was sick. The Dr., said all he could eat was steamed white rice and boiled or steamed chicken ? bits, with broth. He loved it.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving. ?
God Bless the USA and active military serving.

janet
janet
5 years ago

My dog is 17 1/2 years old and has eaten everything we eat all her life. We try not to feed her onions and only a few grapes. Other than that, if she wants it, usually she gets it.

bdrogers
bdrogers
5 years ago

Raw eggs > BAD
Raw egg whites destroy biotin, a B-vitamin! B. D. Rogers, DVM

Charles Martin
Charles Martin
5 years ago

Not all Sushi contains raw fish. Sushi is a rice dish, with variable ingredients added. In much the same water is the main ingredient of soup, rice is the main ingredient of sushi.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
5 years ago

Thank you for this article. It struck me that the reason behind most of the listed foods that dogs should not eat are for the harm in the actual food, not in the particular biology of dogs and how they process it. It is the same reason that humans should not eat them or at least not in excess. The parasites from raw fish, the mold on raisins and grapes, excess salt, fungicide on non-organic potatoes… Good thing we are all resilient creatures and perhaps these things can harm dogs more than humans.

Terri
Terri
5 years ago

Good informative but grains is healthy for dogs and cats. I don’t trust any dog foods and cat foods that made in China or other countries. I always buy cat foods that made in USA or I can make homemade foods for them. Also don’t buy treats for any animals because they are so addict to treats than cat foods and dog foods. I consider the treats is not healthy no matter what the companies say.

Joan Lambrecht
Joan Lambrecht
5 years ago

What about Milk for dogs? Thanks!

Erin
Erin
5 years ago

Please list your sources. “Old wives” and “the internet” don’t count.

Anna
Anna
5 years ago

I had a yellow lab that was spoiled rotten, loved his treats and lived to 16. Only old age and hip issues took him. Everything in moderation.

Kelsey
Kelsey
5 years ago

False. Dogs can indeed eat grains. Not harmful at all. “Grain-free” diets are just a fad.

Al
Al
5 years ago

My old dog ate whatever and lived to 19, ran over by a combine.

Samantha Baxter
Samantha Baxter
5 years ago

Very informative. Thank you! OK, how about a list for cat lovers as well, please.