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:
- 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.
- Pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is convenient and nutritious. However, cooked fresh pumpkin and other squash is the best option.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
The Dangerous List: Foods You Should Never Share With Your Dog:
- 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.
- 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.
- Poultry skin, necks, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.