The Human Foods Your Dog Can Or Can't Eat

Ever wondered what human food dogs can eat? Is there any harm done in sharing your leftovers or sneaking a treat from your plate to your furry friend?

While dogs can safely eat many of the same foods we do, there are some that can cause them to become quite unwell. Wondering what human foods dogs can eat and which should be avoided?

To help you keep your dog safe from a stomach ache or worse, we’ve put together this handy guide for what human foods you can and cannot give to your cuddly companion.

Dogs And Nutrition

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Before we get into the details of what you should and shouldn’t feed your dog, it is helpful to understand your dog's nutritional needs.

The dog food market is growing ever faster with every brand claiming to offer optimal nutrition for your pet, but what does that mean?

Ideally, your dogs daily diet should be:

  • Up to 50% carbohydrates
  • Around 2.5-4.5% fibre
  • No more than 6% fat and
  • 10% protein

This can include a combination of vegetables, meats, grains and more to create a meal that is not only delicious for your dog but meets their nutritional needs.

Why It Matters

Without adequate nutrition, your dog's body is unable to perform essential functions, fight off disease or infection, maintain muscle tone, build and repair itself or support bone and dental health. Digestive issues will also become a significant concern.

Conversely, an unbalanced diet can quickly lead to weight gain, skin and joint problems, digestive issues and more.

As your dog is domesticated, unable to forage or hunt for what they need the way its ancestors did, they rely wholly on you to meet these needs. This is why understanding your dog's nutritional needs and properly catering to them is essential.

Preparing Your Dogs Meals And Treats

Many dog owners prefer to prepare their dog's meals fresh at home. While this is absolutely fine to do, you must be sure to get the balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein and fibre correct. Commercially prepared food is made specifically to meet these requirements.

Making your own dog food is also more high risk as you could inadvertently feed your dog food that they are unable to digest or that may make them sick.

Now that we understand what constitutes optimal nutrition for dogs, let's look at what you can or cannot feed them as part of a healthy diet.

13 Healthy Human Foods That Dogs Can Eat

So can dogs eat human food? It may surprise you to know that just because a food is natural - such as vegetables, fruit and unprocessed meat, does not mean it is safe to feed your dog.

1. Peanut Butter

Rich in protein, healthy fats, niacin, vitamin B, and vitamin E, peanut butter is always a favourite for dogs. Feed only in moderation to avoid weight gain and only ever give them unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter. Many brands of peanut butter contain the sweetener xylitol which is toxic to dogs, so be on alert for this. Peanut butter makes for a great addition to an enrichment toy and can even be used to keep your dog content during a bath! Simply smear some on the tiles near their nose and you’re good to go.

2. Cheese

Cheese is an excellent treat for dogs when given in moderate amounts as it is high in both calcium and protein. We recommend giving them low-fat varieties with no added flavourings. A little spoon of cottage cheese added to your dog's kibble or small pieces used for trick training are both great ways to incorporate this into their diet. If you notice signs of an upset stomach after feeding your dog cheese, it may be that they are lactose intolerant. In this case, you should avoid giving them cheese or any other dairy products.

3. Plain Yoghurt

Similar to cheese, yoghurt is high in calcium and protein, as a bonus, it has active cultures that support healthy digestion and bowel flora. As with peanut butter, skip any yoghurt that has artificial sweeteners or added sugar, instead, opt for unsweetened greek yoghurt or other natural varieties. Again, should you notice your pup is sensitive to dairy, give this one a miss.

4. Carrots

Whether raw or cooked, carrots are an ideal addition to your dog's diet. Low in calories but high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and fibre they deliver a healthy boost without the risk of weight gain. As an added benefit, chewing raw carrots also helps to clean your dog's teeth for nice fresh breath and healthy gums.

5. Asparagus

Asparagus is not toxic to dogs and dogs can safely eat asparagus, but there are a few things you need to consider before offering it to your pooch. Your dog shouldn’t eat the bottom end of the asparagus stalk because it is very tough and difficult for them to chew and digest. This also makes it a potential choking hazard. As for the asparagus tips, your dog can eat them both raw and cooked lightly.

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6. Red And White Meat

While this addition likely comes as no surprise, what is important is how it is served. Pork, lamb, duck, beef, rabbit and more are all safe for your pet to consume.

They should only ever be served free of added seasonings or marinades and in the case of cooked meat, without bones. Try to avoid overly fatty cuts also as this can cause a digestive upset as well as rapid weight gain.

When it comes to chicken, avoid feeding it raw as it poses the same health risks for salmonella infection in dogs as it does in humans.

7. Salmon

While we rarely want to share our salmon, this fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids which aid in supporting your dog's skin and coat health. Just as with chicken, you shouldn't feed raw salmon to your dog, raw salmon can harbour parasites which if consumed can be fatal.

Cooked salmon or dried salmon strips are a great option instead.

8. Pumpkin

Freshly cooked or canned, pumpkin is a safe and nutritious food your dog can enjoy. High in fibre and vitamin A, pumpkin is often recommended for dogs with an upset stomach.

Make sure any pumpkin you give your dog is free of salt, sugar or other flavourings.

9. Sweet Potatoes

Only ever serve cooked, never raw, sweet potatoes are great for supporting your dog's digestive health. Containing fibre, beta-carotene, and vitamins B6 and C you can serve this on its own or mixed with their usual meal.

10. Apple

A naturally sweet treat that few dogs can resist, sliced apple delivers a good dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as fibre.

While the flesh of the apple is safe to consume, avoid giving your dog the stem or core as the seeds of an apple contain small amounts of cyanide which can be harmful to your pooch.

11. Eggs

With a single egg containing a dose of almost every single mineral and vitamin as well as protein, eggs represent a great addition to your dog's diet. While you should be mindful of salmonella in raw eggs, the risk presented is much lower than that of raw chicken.

12. Oats

Porridge for your dog! That's right, you heard correctly. So long as the oats are cooked and free of any added salt, sugar or flavour they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

Some dogs can be sensitive to grains, so should you notice any stomach or skin issues following a serving of oats, we recommend steering clear of it in future.

13. Blueberries

While not the most cost-effective treat but certainly one of the yummiest, blueberries are perfect for trick training or as added nutrition to the dinner bowl.

Packed full of disease-fighting antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fibre these low-calorie berries can be served fresh or frozen for a cooling hot-weather treat.


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Top 10 Human Foods Dogs Cannot Eat

Now to the human food dogs can’t eat list. While you may be tempted to share these foods with your dog or give them leftovers containing these as ingredients, here’s why you shouldn't.

1. Chocolate

While you may already know this one, do you know why? Aside from the high amounts of sugar, chocolate also contains a chemical called theobromine which is similar to caffeine and toxic to dogs.

Dogs suffering from theobromine toxicity may present with seizures, vomiting, an irregular heartbeat, vomiting and diarrhoea. It can even lead to the death of your dog.

While we wouldn't panic over a single square or crumb accidentally being eaten by your dog, any more than that and it's time to call your vet.

2. Alliums (garlic, onions, chives)

Whether raw, cooked or powdered, garlic, onions and chives can make your dog very unwell. This family of plants can cause anaemia in your dog leading to pale gums, an elevated heart rate and at worst, weakness and sudden collapse.

Poisoning from this group may not show up immediately so if you suspect ingestion, watch your dog closely for the next few days.

3. Grapes, Raisins or Sultanas

Under no circumstances should your dog ever consume grapes, raisins or sultanas. Whether fresh or dried these fruits contain tartaric acid which has been linked to sudden and acute kidney failure in dogs. Dogs also cannot metabolise tannins, flavonoids, and monosaccharides from grapes.

Even one small raisin could trigger kidney failure as well as vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive thirst. Treatment is limited and ingestion could lead to the death of your dog.

4. Avocado

While a wonderfully wholesome and healthy snack for humans, avocado is not something you should give to your dog.

Containing a fungicidal toxin called persin in the flesh, pit, leaves and stems of the plant no part is safe for your dog to consume. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and heart damage in your dog.

Should your dog consume a small amount of avocado, there’s no need to panic, simply observe and take them to the vet if any unusual symptoms arise. The amount of persin that is lethal isn't actually known, but it is considered to be more than a few bites worth.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Consumption of macadamia nuts by dogs has been observed to cause weakness in the hind legs, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, shaking (tremors) and fever. Exactly what is in macadamia nuts that causes this reaction is not yet known.

Even a single nut can cause a severe reaction, so never feed these to your dog. The good news? Most dogs recover well at home within a few days, however, always seek your vet’s advice if you think your dog may have eaten macadamia nuts.

6. Citrus

Citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit or similar all contain high amounts of essential oils and other chemical compounds that are considered toxic to dogs.

The flesh of the fruit is safe for them to consume in small amounts, however, the skin, pith (the white part attached to the flesh) and seeds all pose a risk to your dog.

Many dogs will not eat citrus purely as it is quite acidic and sour, but should your dog enjoy citrus, make sure it is in small amounts and only the flesh.

7. Caffeine

Nothing quite beats that first cup of coffee in the morning, right? However, while caffeine is safe for humans to consume when it comes to your dog, it’s potentially fatal.

A stolen sip of coffee or tea is unlikely to harm your dog, but if they ingest enough it can lead to problems with the liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system.

Treatment involves inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal tablets to help absorb the toxin from further entering your dog’s system.

8. Alcohol

Dogs do not have the ability to metabolise alcohol at all. This means it remains in their system for much longer than a human being’s (up to 24 hours) and rapidly builds to dangerous levels.

Alcohol poisoning in your dog may look like vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive panting, disorientation and tremors or seizures. Perhaps the most dangerous symptom is an excessively high temperature which can cause organ failure.

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended and keep your dog somewhere safe during those summer backyard BBQs to avoid accidental ingestion.

9. Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin which can cause a cascade of life-threatening symptoms in your pet. Worryingly, when consumed in large amounts, it is also toxic to humans.

Symptoms of nutmeg toxicity include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Disorientation and more.

While we do not know the exact amount of nutmeg that is toxic to dogs, it is still best to avoid sharing those seasonal treats such as cookies that may contain nutmeg.

10. Raw dough

Making bread and thinking of giving the leftover scraps of dough to your pet as a treat? Think again. Raw dough that contains yeast can cause fermentation in your dog's system and as we know, fermentation creates alcohol. As mentioned above, alcohol is never safe for dogs.

The dough can also expand within your dog's digestive tract and cause blockages and discomfort. Given most dough also contains salt and sugar, it is something we recommend against feeding your dog.

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Won’t My Dog Know When A Food Is Toxic To Them?

This is a more common assumption than you may realise and one that makes sense if you consider that wild animals know how to avoid toxic foods found in their habitat. So why will your dog happily chow down on something that has the potential to make them so ill or even lead to their death?

While these instincts are finely tuned in wild animals that have to find food for themselves, our canine companions are sadly not so switched on in this department.

This is in part to their being domesticated and having limited knowledge of what is safe/unsafe to eat. Mostly though it comes down to their base hunger instincts and trust in their owners.

If you offer it up as food, chances are they’ll happily oblige and eat it up in a hurry.

Human Foods Dogs Can Eat On Occasion - A Checklist

What about those other random foods in your kitchen or offcuts you have after preparing a meal? We know it can be hard to resist those pleading eyes begging for a taste!

Below is a list of FAQs regarding human foods and pets, whether they're safe and the reasoning behind the answer

Yes No Why?/Why not?
Can dogs eat cucumbers? Yes A delicious, low-calorie snack, whole cucumbers are safe everyday treats your dog can enjoy.
Can dogs eat mango? Yes Full of vitamins, mango is safe for your dog to consume in moderation but only once the skin and pit have been removed.
Can dogs eat pineapple? Yes In small amounts, pineapple is perfectly safe for your dog to eat. Feed only fresh, never canned and don't overdo it or it could cause an upset stomach.
Can dogs eat a strawberry? Yes Not only are strawberries packed with vitamin C, but they also contain an enzyme that can help to whiten your dog's teeth.
As with all fruit, only give them in moderation as they are high in sugar.
Can dogs eat tomatoes? Yes While many owners had this firmly on the no list, ripe tomatoes are perfectly safe for your dog to eat.
Green tomatoes, the stems and leaves of the plant are toxic to dogs, however, so keep these away from your furry friend.
Can dogs eat cheese? Yes As mentioned above in the safe foods category, cheese is the perfect treat for your pet so long as they are not dairy intolerant.
Can dogs eat corn? Yes Feeding your dog corn is another great way to up their vitamin and mineral intake.
Always remove the corn from the cob and discard the cob as this is not easily digested and can pose a choking hazard.
Can dogs eat mushrooms? Yes So long as they are free of seasonings and purchased at a store rather than foraged, mushrooms are fine for dogs to eat.
Never allow your dog to eat wild mushrooms as many of these are highly toxic and can lead to rapid organ failure.
Can dogs eat popcorn? Yes Usually high in fat and salt, seasoned popcorn should be avoided as a snack for your pet.
Plain, air-popped popcorn is okay in small amounts.
Can dogs eat bread? Yes Plain bread is fine for your dog to eat in moderation. As with humans, too much bread can cause digestive issues, so we recommend limiting their consumption.
Can dogs eat honey? Yes Again, in moderation as it is high in sugar and could cause weight gain or tooth decay.
Can dogs eat ham? No Considered a bit of a grey area, dogs can safely eat small amounts of ham, however, due to its high sodium and fat content we recommend against it. This goes for all processed meats.
Linked with cases of pancreatitis in dogs, it’s best to keep that Christmas ham to yourselves and find your dog a safer treat to enjoy.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Something It Shouldn’t

If you believe your dog has ingested something from the unsafe food list, you should remove the dog from the situation, put them somewhere safe and immediately call your vet for advice.

If your vet is not open you may also like to try calling the Australian Animals Poisons Helpline. The latter offers free advice to pet owners and is open 24/7 so you’ll never be left not knowing what to do.

Depending on how much of the unsafe food your dog has eaten, your vet may advise you to simply observe your dog in the coming days for any concerning symptoms. For more serious cases of poisoning or toxicity, your dog may require urgent veterinary care including IV fluids, activated charcoal tablets or other supportive therapies to try and reduce the damage caused by whatever was ingested.

Sadly, in some cases, your dog may not be able to be saved. This is why it is so important to understand what foods are safe and to supervise your pet in new environments where accidental ingestion could occur.

Support A Healthy Future For Your Dog

Supporting a balanced diet for your dog and keeping them safe from potentially harmful foods is just one way you can help them live a long and happy life - something every pet owner hopes for!

Should you have any additional questions regarding safe foods for your dog,  chat with your usual veterinary care provider.

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