Human Food For Dogs: The Pros and Cons

Health & Wellbeing
November 23, 2023
Author: 
Diana Bocco
Reviewed By: 
5 minute read

"Is it okay for my dog to eat this?" We’re sure you have asked yourself this question more than once, especially when you encounter those big, pleading eyes from under the dinner table. Sharing your meal with your four-legged family member may feel like an expression of love, but it can also carry a number of risks if you’re not feeding the correct thing. 

When considering human food for dogs, it's important to research which items are safe and nutritious for your pet. To help you make the right choice, we’ll take a look at the nutritional benefits of certain human foods, which ones to avoid, and why sharing human food with your canine friend can be both good and bad. 

Is Human Food for Dogs a Good Idea?   

As people have become more health-conscious, this change has significantly changed how we think about our dogs' meals too. Gone are the days when pet nutrition was a one-size-fits-all kibble solution. Today, more and more dog owners are turning towards fresh, human-grade foods to provide their furry companions with more exciting, nutritious diets.

This change is mostly due to owners wanting their dogs to eat a diet that benefits their health and well-being. In fact, research shows that 50% of pet parents are looking for higher-quality food that takes into consideration “humanization, premiumization, and sustainability.” An additional 19% of pet parents prefer non-GMO ingredients and 13% want human-grade ones. 1

This includes incorporating fresh human foods into their diets, which can offer benefits like improved digestion, enhanced energy levels, and a shinier coat.

While some human food for dogs, like carrots and lean meats, can provide essential nutrients, others can pose serious risks — and this is why it's important for pet owners to always research the best human food for dogs before sharing anything with your canine companion. 

What Human Food is Good for Dogs?

Introducing certain human foods into your dog’s diet can provide a variety of health benefits, serve as delicious snacks, and even aid in training as high-value treats. Other human foods can provide added nutritional value, serving as natural supplements to regular meals. They can also offer variety, keeping your dog's interest in meals high, which can be especially beneficial for picky eaters.  

Here are some more human foods that are not only safe but can also be beneficial for your dog:

  • Carrots: These crunchy snacks are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins. Research suggests that carrots can help maintain dental health in dogs by minimizing plaque buildup, as well as providing relief for teething puppies (when offered cold or frozen).2
  • Lean Meats: Chicken, turkey, and lean beef are excellent sources of protein for dogs. Protein is essential for your dog's muscle development and energy levels. However, always ensure that the meat is cooked and free from spices and sauces, and remove any excess fat, as it can be difficult for dogs to digest and may lead to health issues. 
  • Fish: Fish like salmon and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for a dog's coat and skin health. These types of fish provide lean protein and are typically low in harmful contaminants, making them a healthy and safe choice for your dog's diet.
  • Peanut Butter: A favorite treat for many dogs, peanut butter is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins B and E. Just make sure you read labels to confirm the one you choose is free from xylitol, a sweetener harmful to dogs.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses, great for your dog's immune system and overall health. They also provide vitamin C and fiber, making them a healthy snack for dogs. 
  • Apples: A crunchy, sweet treat, apples are a source of vitamins A and C and fiber, making them a healthy snack in moderation. Just remember to remove the seeds and core, as they can be toxic.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Cooked sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. They can aid in digestive health and are often used in high-quality dog foods.
  • Oatmeal: A great source of soluble fiber, oatmeal is great for dogs with bowel irregularity issues. Make sure it's cooked well and served plain, without sugar or flavorings.
  • Pumpkin: Rich in fiber and beta-carotene, pumpkin can help with your dog's digestion. It's often recommended by veterinarians as a remedy for constipation or diarrhea.
  • Green Beans: All types of green beans are safe for dogs, and they are full of important vitamins and minerals. They’re also low in calories and can be a healthy snack for weight management. Don’t feel canned beans, though, as these are usually high in sodium. 
  • Yogurt: Plain yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein. It's also beneficial for your dog's digestive system, thanks to its probiotics. Just be sure to choose yogurts that do not contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Also, keep in mind that some dogs are lactose intolerant, so feed a small amount (1 teaspoon or less) at first to see how your dog reacts. 
  • Eggs: Cooked eggs are a wonderful source of protein and can help settle upset stomachs. However, make sure they are cooked well (without oil) to avoid the risk of salmonella.
  • Rice: Plain, cooked rice can be a helpful part of your dog’s diet, especially if they are experiencing gastrointestinal upset. It’s easy to digest and can help bind stools. 

The Bad: Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs

Just as some human foods can be beneficial, others pose a serious risk of illness or even death. Understanding these dangers can help you make better choices about what to share with your canine companion.

Here are some human foods that can be dangerous for dogs:

  • Chocolate: Perhaps the most well-known toxic food for dogs, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can be harmful to your dog’s heart and nervous system. The AKC warns against any chocolate consumption for dogs, as even small amounts can be dangerous.3
  • Grapes and Raisins: Though the exact toxic substance in grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can be dangerous, so it's essential to avoid giving them to your dog entirely.
  • Onions and Garlic: These common kitchen foods can cause gastrointestinal irritation and lead to red blood cell damage in dogs. Even small amounts, if consumed regularly, can be harmful.
  • Xylitol: Found in many sugar-free products, including some peanut butter, xylitol can cause insulin release in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This artificial sweetener can also lead to liver failure and seizures in dogs. 
  • Alcohol: Even small amounts of alcohol, both in drinks and foods, can be toxic to dogs. Alcohol affects a dog's liver and brain and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in severe cases. 
  • Avocado: Avocados contain persin, a substance that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. The pit also poses a choking hazard and can cause obstructions in the digestive tract.
  • Macadamia Nuts: These nuts are notoriously toxic to dogs, causing symptoms like weakness, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. Even a small amount can make a dog ill.
  • Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums: The seeds or pits from these fruits can cause intestinal obstruction in dogs. Additionally, peach and plum pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both humans and dogs. The flesh of the fruit is safe in small quantities, but it’s best to completely avoid giving these pits or seeds to your dog.
  • Cooked Bones: While raw bones are often safe for dogs, cooked bones can easily splinter and cause choking or serious damage to the dog's mouth, throat, or intestines.
  • Cherries: Apart from the choking hazard posed by the pits, cherry plants contain cyanide and are toxic to dogs. Cyanide inhibits cellular oxygen transport, meaning that a dog’s blood cells can't get enough oxygen.
  • Salt and Salty Snack Foods: Too much salt can lead to sodium poisoning in dogs, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death.
  • Corn on the Cob: While corn itself is not harmful to dogs, the cob can be a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal blockage if ingested. This is particularly dangerous because it can go undetected until it causes severe complications, requiring urgent veterinary care.
  • Mushrooms: Certain types of wild mushrooms can be toxic to dogs and can lead to severe liver disease, neurological disorders, kidney failure, and more. If you want to share mushrooms with your dog, stick to store-bought varieties like white button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms (but serve in moderation).   

Conclusion

More and more pet owners are exploring the benefits of incorporating human food for dogs into their regular diet for a healthier lifestyle. Sharing your snack with your four-legged friend can be tempting, but as a responsible pet owner, it’s important to know what's safe and what's not.  

To keep your furry friend happy and healthy, incorporating the best human food for dogs into their meals can be a wise and rewarding choice — but also a confusing one.. At Cola's Kitchen, we are stepping up to provide pet owners with peace of mind. Our meals are crafted using only the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, focusing on human foods that are not just safe for dogs but also offer substantial nutritional benefits. Our recipes are also carefully and individually balanced to ensure they meet the dietary needs of dogs, offering a convenient and healthy alternative to conventional pet food.  

References: 

  1. https://www.foodexport.org/assets/march-april-2023-us-foodlink-newsletter.pdf
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-carrots/
  3. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/what-to-do-if-your-dog-ate-chocolate/
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