Try as hard as we might to keep our dogs from eating human foods, some canines always find a way to nab something they are better off not eating. Whether your dog is snatching food from your plate while you aren’t looking, or is too quick to eat something off the floor before you can pick it up, dogs are always on the lookout for the tasty snacks they see us eating day in, day out. It is important to not disrupt your dog’s regular diet (including treats not exceeding 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake), and you should avoid giving your dog human foods as a meal or treat as it is bad for their health. However, if your dog occasionally manages to take a bite out of the following foods, you can rest easy that they are probably fine.
Meat and Fish
In general, dogs can eat most meats which we humans do, provided you follow a few rules.
- Your dog must never be able to eat cuts, including bacon or pork rind, which are too fatty and, often, too salty.
- The meat should be in good condition.
Also, take extra care to avoid your dog eating any meat with bones. Even large bones can shatter teeth while sharp shards can do internal damage. As an occasional treat, fish is especially good for dogs. Salmon and shrimp offer a great alternative source of protein and essential vitamins, while sardines have soft bones which can be swallowed safely and provide additional calcium. The exception is tuna and other fish with high levels of mercury, which is very toxic to dogs.
The majority of fruits will not harm your dog if they eat them on occasion. Common fruits that humans eat that you don’t need to worry about if your dog consumes include: apples; bananas; coconut; mango; oranges; pineapple; strawberries; and watermelon. Exceptions include grapes and dried fruits (sultanas, raisins, currants, etc.) which can cause kidney failure, even in small quantities, and avocado, which can damage the internal organs.
The majority of vegetables are safe for dogs to consume if they manage to get hold of any, whether raw or steamed: asparagus; bell peppers; broccoli; carrots; celery; cucumber; green peas; lettuce; mushrooms; sweet potatoes; and zucchini. In small quantities, these vegetables are a great treat substitute and an excellent source of vitamins and fibre, although it is always better to feed your dog purpose-made dog food and treats to keep their diet at its most balanced. However, you should never give your dog bulb vegetables, as these can cause a range of side effects, like anaemia, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and fatigue. Key offenders, especially around the holiday seasons, are onions, chives, leeks, shallots, and garlic.
Blackberries and blueberries are another food group you don’t need to worry about if your dog eats. In fact, they are low in carbohydrates while being high in antioxidants, so can even boost your dog’s immune system. They are also a rich source of fibre, minerals and vitamins.
Other human foods which dogs can eat in small quantities (although you should not make a habit of) include:
- Bread – with no added ingredients, including spices or raisins. Never feed your dog raw dough.
- Peanut Butter – tends to be a dog favourite. However, while it may not harm your dog to eat a small amount of peanut butter, it should not be given as a treat or to help your dog consume medication, as it contains the sweetener Xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs.
- Oatmeal –source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Pasta and Rice (especially brown)
Holiday treats: Can I feed my dog Christmas dinner?
No. While it can be tempting to let your dog join in the festivities by eating table scraps, leftovers, or licking the dishes, holiday meals are much richer than usual, with high amounts of salt, onions, garlic, and gravy. Thus, the risk of your dog consuming something toxic is high. Also, dried fruits, which we established earlier are dangerous to dogs, are common in Christmas cake, mince pies, and other seasonal desserts. Besides, table scraps are a bad habit to encourage as they don’t only disrupt your dog’s delicate diet but encourage bad eating behaviours. So, while it is generally safe for your dog to consume the foods specified above, you should still try to avoid letting them eat too much of anything that isn’t their own well-balanced meal. Instead of feeding him or her human food, risking dietary imbalance and even poisoning, reward your dog in other ways; with play, walks, and affection.
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