Human Foods You Can Share with Your Dogs
By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Who doesn’t love to share their favorite meal or food with their dogs? I certainly do!
There are many foods that us humans love to share with our dogs—out of love and as a treat (dogs and cats and other pets have different levels of sensitivities so this article is geared towards dogs). However, as with humans, some foods work better than others. (It’s important to know that certain foods should not be shared with your four-legged friends. See: 8 Foods Your Pet Should Never Eat.)
The food items below should be generally safe for most dogs, but your dog may have special needs, so check with your veterinarian. Also, you want to make sure that you don’t feed them too much human food as it can make weight management (especially for older pets) more challenging. Lastly, while human foods are a fun share with your dogs, it’s good to be mindful that your pets are getting the nutrients and protein they need from the foods they are eating.
8 Foods that make for good treats to share with your dogs:
- Cooked chicken: Chicken is a good source of protein; it’s lean and most dogs can tolerate it well. Aim to feed chicken in small portions, like pulled chicken for example, and/or use it as a training treat. It’s always good to aim for organic and locally-raised chicken to avoid added hormones and antibiotics.
- Peanut butter: Peanuts and other nuts contain anti-inflammatory healthy fats, and they also contain fat-soluble vitamin E that may promote a healthy and shiny coat. Nuts and nut butters also contain some protein—important for cell rejuvenation and overall health. As always though, it’s key to watch portion sizes with nuts and nut butters. Use them as a treat for good behavior or after your dog has been run and has been able to get in some good exercise.
- Cheese (small quantities): Cheese is a nice and stinky treat that dogs love, and it’s also a source of bone-healthy calcium and some protein. However, for some dogs (especially older ones) can cause some gastrointestinal upset (like with my older Yorkie). So use cheese sparingly, and as always try to find a fresh, minimally salted and chemical-free cheese.
- Baby carrots: Baby carrots are one of my favorites, both for personal munching and for my dogs; my two Yorkies absolutely love them. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene that is an antioxidant, as well as vitamins A and C that are good for vision as well as skin and coat health. Crunchy carrots are good for dogs teeth, and they’re also lower in calories, which makes them a good pick for small dogs. Finally, carrots are a source of fiber that’s good for promoting healthful digestion.
- Salmon: Salmon is packed with healthy fats like omega 3s—great for keeping your dog’s coat shiny and healthy. And as with humans, healthy fats can promote joint health and fight inflammation in the body. Try adding small amounts of cooked salmon to your dog’s food bowl or as a small treat.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a source of digestive-healthy fiber and also contains healthful vitamins A and C that are good for disease prevention, eye health and more. Add chunks of cooked pumpkin at feeding times or even as a treat for a good dog.
- Apples: Apple slices are crunchy, so they’re good for your dog’s dental health, and they’re also a source of fiber—key for promoting healthy digestion. One consideration: Make sure the pieces are small so they aren’t a choking hazard. Cut up small pieces of apple and carrot for a delicious and low-calorie training treat.
- Bananas: Bananas are a total favorite for my dogs, but I am careful to give them only small amounts. Bananas contain heart-healthy potassium; they can also be a source of digestion-healthy prebiotics, promoting well-formed bowel movements. You can add a very small amount of peanut butter to the banana slices for a delicious treat. Or take it one step further and freeze these little treats for your dogs (and for you) too!
Enjoy these foods with your dogs, but as always, be safe and mindful of the quantity you’re feeding them!