Pet owners commonly believe that they should never feed their dog anything that isn’t labeled as “pet food.” We’ve been told that giving our pups people food is bad. While there are certainly some human foods that are dangerous for dogs, and Twinkies are no better for dogs than they are for humans, for the most part, foods that are good for people are also good for pets. In fact, research shows that adding fresh, unprocessed food to your dog’s meals is extremely beneficial.
Chocolate, coffee, foods containing Xylitol (often found in peanut butter), macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, onions, yeast dough, and high sodium foods like bacon are dangerous and should never be given to dogs.
Following are healthy human foods that will add a nice boost of nutrition and variety to your dog’s diet.
EGGS are nutrient dense, packed with protein, and very easy to digest. They can be used raw, including the shell (ground up), provided the eggs are organic, from pasture raised chickens, with no chemicals or colorants. If cooked, make sure to not use any butter or salt.
BERRIES, especially blueberries, are loaded with disease fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants and are the perfect training treat. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are also good.
FRUITS to try include bananas, pineapple, melon, peaches, and apples. Be sure to remove the core and seeds from apples. NEVER feed dogs grapes or cherries.
PUMPKIN is low in calories and high in soluble fiber, making it helpful for dogs with digestive issues. Be sure to use plain pumpkin with nothing added, not pumpkin pie filling.
VEGETABLES such as carrots, broccoli, kale, green beans, and peas are low in calories, and full of important vitamins and minerals. Veggies can be chopped, steamed, canned or raw, just be sure that they are plain without added salt. Do not give your pet onions.
SARDINES are a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your dog's good health. Be sure to purchase sardines packed in water with no other added ingredients. Other types of cooked fish like salmon or tuna are also good.
PLAIN YOGURT is full of protein, calcium and probiotics that can often help with digestive issues. Make sure the yogurt has no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or extra flavoring. However, some dogs are lactose intolerant and should not consume any dairy products. Raw goat’s milk – which is not sold for human consumption – is a superb source of probiotics and other nutrients that contains the enzyme lactase which enables dogs to digest it easily.
MEAT AND FISH are terrific additions, as long as they are high quality and cooked plain without added spices or sauce. Remove the skin and bones from chicken or turkey. Stay away from processed meat like bacon, sausage and pepperoni.
COCONUT OIL is rich in fatty acids and healthy fat. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties with a wide range of benefits from helping with itchy skin to improved digestion to boosting the immune system. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined, virgin oil.
Foods like oatmeal and rice are perfectly safe to feed, but dry dog food already has a lot of carbohydrates, so there is really no need to add more. Adding fresh, unprocessed human food is a great way to make their dry processed pellets a little bit better. However, these foods should not make up more than 25% of your dog’s diet and be sure to introduce new foods gradually in small amounts.