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What human food can dogs eat? What you need to know to safely share your food with your dog

what human food can dogs eat?
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’ve got a dog, you may have wondered, "what human food can dogs eat?" Sharing our food with our dogs is one of the ways we show our love for them, and it’s perfectly okay to do as an occasional treat, as long as you follow three rules. One: you should only feed things you know are safe; two: you should introduce new foods gradually to a dog, and three; you should always be aware of their calorie intake. We’re going to give you the top 12 foods you can share with your dog, as well as how to feed them human food safely. If you want some advice on doggy-specific dinners, try our guide to the best dry dog food for the best brands and deals.

How to introduce a new human food to your dog

Safe ‘human foods’ for dogs can be good to include as treats and additions to their diet. Trying new flavors and textures is good enrichment, and some types of food can entertain them for hours. But every dog is different - and what is good for one dog might not be good for the next. When trying new food with your dog, give them a small amount - no bigger than your thumbnail - and see what they think of it. Let them explore it and decide if they want to eat it. If they do so, observe them for 48 hours to check that they don’t have any adverse reaction to it. If everything is okay, you can continue to feed the human food to your dog - but keep a close eye, especially if you begin to feed them more.

How to work out how many treats your dog is allowed

It’s important to remember that your food is not part of your dog’s balanced diet. Their usual dog food contains all the vitamins and minerals they need- and it’s possible to ‘unbalance’ it by adding too many extras. Human foods should be considered as a treat, supplement, or topper. Nutritionists recommend that you don’t feed more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie allowance in treats so as not to unbalance your dog’s diet. This calorie calculator for dogs tells you your dog’s calorie allowance and their treat allowance. You can look up the calorie content of most human foods on nutrition websites, but for ease, we’ve included the calories for the foods that dogs can eat. 

Human foods dogs can eat safely

Carrots are a brilliant treat to share with your dog. They’re full of vitamins, including vitamin E, A, and C. They’re high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, as well as packing plenty of fiber, which is important for gut health. Carrots are so safe that they’re regularly recommended by vets as low-calorie, high-fiber treats that can fill your dog up, satisfy their chewing requirements, and even help their anal glands. The only downside is the choking risk- supervise your dog and cut the pieces up small enough to avoid choking. It can be fed raw or cooked. A small (30g) carrot contains around 15 calories.

Broccoli

Broccoli is safe for dogs to eat. In fact, it contains a range of healthy vitamins that are good for your pet, as well as being low in fat and calories. Vitamin K1 is an important part of your dog’s blood clotting ability and is found in high levels in broccoli, making it a great choice for greyhounds and other dogs prone to bleeding. Broccoli can be fed to dogs either cooked or raw and contains just 20 calories per 60g raw.

Banana

Great news - bananas are safe to share with your dogs! They’re high in potassium and fiber, and their texture means they’re great for stuffing into puzzle toys. Watch out though - bananas are high in calories and can quickly use up your dog’s calorie allowance if given daily. Half a kid’s size banana is around 30 calories.

what human food can dogs eat

(Image credit: Getty)

Blueberries

You can share blueberries with your dog - if you can spare any, that is! Blueberries are safe for dogs to eat and contain vital nutrients. They’re recommended by some vets as a healthy addition to the diet for very active dogs due to their antioxidant profile. They’re also being investigated to check whether they could prevent doggy dementia, so adding a few to your elderly dog’s diet might be a good idea. A tablespoon of blueberries contains just 8 calories.

Pineapple

Thankfully, pineapple is considered safe for dogs to eat - although not all dogs will like it. It used to be recommended as a cure for preventing coprophagia - eating of stool - but there’s no proof that it works. As a healthy snack, though, it works wonders. Remember to start small, as it’s possible your dog will turn their nose up at pineapple due to the strong smell. Pineapple contains about 10k/cal in 20g.

Oranges

If your dog likes oranges, the great news is that they can eat them safely. Oranges are high in sugar, but they’re also high in fiber, which prevents a huge blood sugar rise. The combination of antioxidants found in oranges is thought to slow down ageing in dogs’ brains, so they’re the perfect human food snack for a senior pup. Oranges contain around 10kcal in 30g, which is about the right amount for a 20lb dog.

Coconut

Coconut can be safely shared with dogs, as long as it’s given in small amounts - an occasional nibble is fine. Coconut is safe and non-toxic, but it does contain high amounts of fat, so large amounts can cause gastric upset and even pancreatitis, as well as obesity. If you do decide to share a small piece of coconut with your dog, make sure it’s fresh coconut, and make it a very occasional treat - 10g contains 35 calories so it isn’t something to give too often!

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is another human food that’s safe to share with your dog. Although not particularly healthy, it’s regularly recommended by vets and behaviorists as a great filler for puzzle toys and bone-replacing chews. Dogs can have chunky or smooth peanut butter, provided it hasn’t got Xylitol (aka E 967) as a low-sugar alternative. At 91 kcal per tablespoon, peanut butter is high in fat and calories. You should therefore make sure to only give a little.

what human food can dogs eat

(Image credit: Getty)

Celery

Another healthy human food for dogs! Celery doesn’t have many calories in which means it’s a good treat for overweight dogs - if they like it of course! It’s also under investigation for whether it can help dogs cope with their chemotherapy - so watch this space! Just make sure to cut it up small enough that there’s no risk of choking.

Sweetcorn

This one comes with a proviso. Yes, dogs can eat sweetcorn - but they must never, ever eat the cob. Sweetcorn cobs cause severe damage to the gut and usually get stuck, needing surgical removal. The kernels, on the other hand, are fine, including tinned sweetcorn in spring water. But you should be aware there are no known nutritional benefits to dogs as the kernels are hard to digest - they’ll mostly appear in your dog’s poop.

Prawns

Most dogs love to snack on prawns. They’ll need to be cooked and peeled, just as you would for yourself. Start with a very small amount and observe closely, as there have been a couple of reports of allergic dogs. But most dogs find prawns to be a healthy addition that are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, making them great for dogs with poor skin or coats.

Strawberries

Strawberries are safe for dogs, and most dogs like their sweet taste. If your dog seems to enjoy eating strawberries, try cutting one over his meal or sharing one to give them a boost of vitamin C.

Human foods you should never share with your dog

For safety, it’s best to only feed your dog with human food you know is safe. However, you may find somebody else has fed your dog, or your dog has helped themselves, in which case knowing which foods should be avoided is important, too. Whilst this list contains many of the common human foods toxic to dogs, it’s not exhaustive.

Luckily, it’s becoming common knowledge that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but there are plenty of other human foods that your dog shouldn’t be allowed to eat. Grapes, sultanas and raisins are now known to be toxic to dogs. Whilst it’s not yet known why, some dogs have suffered severe renal failure after just a couple of raisins or grapes, even if they’ve been home-grown. Coffee should never be fed to dogs, as they cannot process caffeine in the same way we do. 

Onions, garlic and other members of the allium family are also toxic to dogs. Whilst most dogs won’t be obviously ill immediately, onions damage the red blood cells and prevent them from carrying oxygen, making animals very ill after a few days. Macadamia nuts and walnuts also cause severe symptoms in dogs, although all nuts can potentially be dangerous thanks to their high fat content.

Lastly, there are some foods that, whilst not toxic, are not recommended to feed to your dog. Milk and other dairy products are particularly difficult - whilst all dogs are more lactose-intolerant than humans, most will cope with a very small amount of these substances in their diet. Cheese is often used as a training treat, and in tiny cubes appears to be okay, as long as not too much is given, but don’t forget that it’s very, very fattening. Ice cream on the other hand contains far too much sugar and fat - it’s likely to cause obesity and pancreatitis and isn’t recommended.

In other words, there’s a whole range of things that are thought to be dangerous to dogs, including drinks, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Instead of just avoiding the things in this list, it’s far better to only feed something if you know, for a fact, that it’s safe.

Feeding human foods to your dog

Feeding new and different things to your dog is great for their brain, their nutrition, and your relationship. Just make sure that you only feed safe foods, you only feed them in tiny amounts, and the extra calories don’t make your dog put on weight. Hopefully, you can now safely enjoy giving your dog some unusual human foods to try.