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  • Molly Weinfurter

Human Food for Dogs: What’s Safe and What’s Toxic?

Updated: May 29

Which human foods are safe for dogs? Which human foods are toxic to dogs? Knowing what foods your dog can and can’t eat is crucial for keeping them as healthy as possible.


It’s hard to say no to your dog’s adorable begging eyes, but unfortunately, not everything on our plate is safe for our furry friends to ingest. My dog would happily eat any food I gave her, but I know many human foods are dangerous for dogs. So, I use all my willpower to stop myself from giving her human food.


Before you give your dog any type of human food, make sure it's safe for them. To be extra sure a certain type of food is safe for your dog, talk to your vet.


Is it Okay to Give Dogs Table Scraps?

Most dogs will eat all human foods without hesitation, but in most cases, you shouldn’t give your dog table scraps. The food on your plate is heavily seasoned, and those seasonings can be difficult for dogs to digest.


However, if you have plain, unseasoned foods that are safe for dogs, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables, it might not hurt to give them a taste once in a while. Just remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories, so don’t be too generous with the table scraps.


Dalmatian begging for food

What Human Food is Safe for Dogs?

Before handing over any human foods, make sure those foods are safe for your dog to eat. Luckily, many human foods can be beneficial for dogs with appropriate portions, such as the following. The best human food for dogs will be the options that are plain and have health benefits.


Apples

If the apples are sliced into small pieces for your dog, they’re safe for dogs of all ages and sizes. They provide plenty of fiber along with vitamins A and C. However, avoid feeding your dog apple seeds, which could be poisonous in large amounts due to the cyanide in them.


Bananas

Bananas are another fruit that’s high in fiber to benefit your dog’s digestion. The potassium and magnesium in bananas can also help give your dog a health boost.


Blueberries

Blueberries are a great source of nutrition for dogs because they provide antioxidants and fiber to help your dog’s body fight diseases.


Broccoli

Broccoli can make a great canine snack both raw and cooked. Plain broccoli is low in calories but high in nutrients, making it a great occasional treat.


Carrots

Both raw and cooked carrots are healthy for dogs because they’re a good source of vitamin A and fiber. Their texture can also promote good dental health.


Celery

Celery can provide vitamins and minerals for dogs when broken into small pieces and served.


Coconut

Coconut is known for benefitting your dog’s skin, coat, and immune system. Thus, it’s often used in pet supplements to provide a health boost.


Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a low-calorie snack that can help dogs lose weight. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals.


Eggs

Cooked eggs are a tasty snack for dogs and a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Pet parents should avoid feeding raw eggs to their dogs due to the Salmonella risk. Even though Salmonella isn’t as dangerous for dogs as it is for people, it can still cause them to feel ill, and they could pass the bacteria to humans.


Green Beans

Plain green beans are a great source of calcium, iron, and vitamin K. They can be served to dogs cooked or raw, but they’re safest when cut up into small pieces.


Oatmeal

Plain oatmeal is a great source of fiber for dogs. However, serving too much could lead to weight gain.


Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a favorite snack for many dogs. It’s a great source of protein and fat, but don’t feed your dog too much at once. Also, check the peanut butter label to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s toxic to dogs.


Shih Tzu with peanut butter treat
Here's my dog, Mabel, with a peanut butter treat

Peas

Like many other vegetables, green peas are low in calories but high in nutrients, making them a healthy treat for pets.


Pineapple

In small servings, pineapple can make a great snack for dogs. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your dog feeling their best.


Plain Popcorn

Popcorn that doesn’t have any salt, butter, or sugar added to it is a tasty snack for canines. It contains beneficial items such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.


Potatoes

Plain, cooked potatoes are loved by many dogs. However, it’s best to avoid raw potatoes because they contain solanine, which can be dangerous for dogs.


Rice

Cooked, plain rice is a great snack for dogs because it’s easy for them to digest, so it's often recommended for dogs with tummy troubles.


Spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and K. It’s great for aiding digestion, boosting the immune system, and improving energy levels.


Strawberries

Strawberries are tasty treats for dogs that are low in calories while still being high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Cutting them into small pieces is safest.


Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are beneficial for a dog’s digestion while also aiding immune health and eye health. That’s why this ingredient is commonly used in dog food and treats.


Unseasoned Meat

Cooked, unseasoned meat like chicken, turkey, beef, and ham can be a flavorful, protein-rich snack for dogs. Unfortunately, most meat on your plate probably has some type of seasoning that’s unsafe for dogs, so you may need to cook meat for your dog separately.


Unseasoned Fish

Seafood like salmon, tuna, and shrimp can be a good source of protein for dogs, as long as there isn’t any unsafe seasoning on it. Fish is typically rich in omega fatty acids, which is great for the dog’s skin and coat.


Watermelon

Watermelon is safe for dogs, but remove the rind and seeds before serving. Since watermelon has such a high water content, it’s great for keeping dogs hydrated and can make a great snack on a hot day.


dog eating watermelon

What Human Food is Dangerous for Dogs?

While many human foods are safe or even healthy for dogs in small amounts, there are a few foods that you should avoid altogether. The following items could cause severe health problems in dogs, so make sure your dog cannot reach shelves or cabinets where these foods and drinks are kept.


Alcohol

Dogs should never ingest alcohol because even small amounts could cause ethanol poisoning. Make sure alcoholic beverages are always kept out of reach or keep your dog in a separate room if you’ll be drinking with your friends.


Avocado

The persin in avocados is safe for humans but toxic for dogs. Avocado meal, a by-product of avocados, is generally safe for dogs, but giving them a regular avocado could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart problems.


Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine

Chocolate is widely known as a toxic food for dogs because of its caffeine. The caffeine in chocolate, coffee, and other food items could cause severe symptoms, such as vomiting, abnormal heart rate, dehydration, and seizures. If your dog eats any amount of chocolate, take them to the vet immediately.


Shih Tzu begging for cookie
Here's my dog begging for a chocolate chip cookie (which she can't have, of course)

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons likely won’t do any harm in small amounts, but the citric acid in them is likely to cause an upset stomach. Luckily, most dogs don’t like the bitter taste anyway.


Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, likely due to the tartaric acid that dogs are sensitive to.


Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can reportedly cause a variety of symptoms in dogs, such as weakness, vomiting, tremors, hyperthermia, and stiffness. So, it’s best to avoid them.


Onions, Garlic, and Chives

Foods in the Allium plant family, such as onions and garlic, contain N-propyl disulfide, which is toxic to dogs. If a dog eats one of these items, they could experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anemia, or an abnormal heart rate.


Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that’s found in a variety of products, such as candy, gum, baked goods, and toothpaste. It’s extremely dangerous for dogs, potentially causing liver failure, low blood sugar, muscle weakness, and seizures.


Pug begging for pie

Human Foods for Dogs That Are Only Okay in Moderation


Bread

Bread is generally safe in small quantities, but it has a lot of unnecessary calories, so it should only be an occasional snack. However, never feed your dog bread dough since the yeast could expand in your dog’s stomach and cause a blockage.


Cherries

Cherries are okay to feed to dogs in moderation, but you should never give your dog the pits. The pits contain cyanide and could cause a blockage if ingested whole.


Cinnamon

Cinnamon is non-toxic for dogs, so a sprinkle of cinnamon in a treat won’t do any harm. However, ingesting large amounts of cinnamon could cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and liver problems.


Corn

Plain, cooked corn is a good source of vitamins and minerals in small amounts (no more than a tablespoon or two per day). However, don’t give your dog corn on the cob since the cob could become a choking hazard or cause an internal blockage.


Dairy Products

Most dogs love dairy products, such as cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and vanilla ice cream. While these foods are okay to serve once in a while, they shouldn’t be a daily snack. Too much dairy could cause digestive issues.


Shih Tzu begging for cheese
Here's my dog begging for cheese

Honey

A small amount of honey once in a while is a tasty treat for dogs, but honey has a high sugar content, so don’t make it a regular snack.


Salt

Humans love to add salt to foods to enhance the flavor, but dogs can’t handle salt as well as we can. A tiny bit of salt is unlikely to cause issues, but too much salt could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and, in extreme cases, seizures.


Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes (without the stem) can be fine for an occasional snack. However, green tomatoes contain some tomatine, which can be toxic to dogs.


dog under picnic table

Frequently Asked Questions


Are Human Foods Bad for Dogs?

It depends on the food. Some human foods are safe and even beneficial for dogs, such as blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, and unseasoned chicken. However, some human foods are toxic for dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, and onions.


Can Dogs Eat Human Food Instead of Dog Food?

Yes, some dogs can thrive off a home-cooked meal made up of unseasoned meats and vegetables. However, you should never feed your dog a human food meal without the help of a vet or pet nutritionist. A professional can help you ensure you create a balanced meal that won’t harm your dog.


Are Grains Safe for Dogs?

Yes, grains are safe for dogs. They’re a great source of nutrients, but like any other food, they need to be used in proper servings. Some dogs are sensitive or allergic to grains, which is why many pet food companies offer grain-free options.


Are Dairy Products Safe for Dogs?

Dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, are safe for dogs in moderation. However, too much dairy can lead to digestive problems in dogs, so these ingredients should never be a daily snack.


Can Dogs Eat Spicy Foods?

No, dogs shouldn’t eat spicy foods. Dogs cannot handle spices as well as humans can, and many spicy foods include ingredients that are toxic to dogs.


Is it Safe to Give Dogs Bones?

No, it’s typically not safe to give dogs bones. Cooked bones can easily splinter, which could injure your dog or damage them internally if ingested. Raw bones are typically safer, but there are still risks involved. The best approach is to buy a pet-safe chew, such as a bully stick or dental chew, for your pup to gnaw on.


What Human Foods Are Best for Dogs with Allergies?

Fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, carrots, and spinach, are usually safe snacks for dogs with allergies because they don’t have any additives that could upset your dog’s stomach. However, if you’re not sure what your dog is allergic to, you should talk to your vet.


Be Careful with Your Dog’s Diet

It’s tempting to give your dog as many table scraps as possible to make them happy, but their health should always be a priority. So, before giving your dog human food, make sure that food is pet-safe first. Small pieces of unseasoned human foods are the best way to avoid any health complications. When in doubt, just stick to treats that are made specifically for pets.


If there are any human foods you think should be added to this list, visit the contact page to let us know!

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