Tasty Treats & Toxic Foods
Apples - Apples are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber for your dog. They are low in protein and fat, making them the perfect snack for senior dogs. Just be sure to remove the seeds and core first. Try them frozen for an icy warm weather snack.
Bananas - In moderation, bananas are a great low-calorie treat for dogs. They’re high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper. They are low in cholesterol and sodium, but because of their high sugar content, bananas should be given as a treat, not part of your dog’s regular diet.
Blueberries - Blueberries are a superfood rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in humans and canines alike. They’re packed with fiber and phytochemicals as well. Teaching your dog to catch treats in the air? Try blueberries as an alternative to store-bought treats.
Bread – Yes. Small amounts of plain bread (no spices and definitely no raisins) won’t hurt your dog, but it also won’t provide any health benefits either. It has no nutritional value and can really pack on the carbohydrates and calories, just like in people. Homemade breads are a better option than store-bought, as bread from the grocery store typically contains unnecessary preservatives, but it’s best to avoid it all together.
Broccoli - Yes, broccoli is safe for dogs to eat in very small quantities and is best served as an occasional treat. It is high in fiber and vitamin C and low in fat. However, Broccoli florets contain isothiocyanates, which can cause mild-to-potentially-severe gastric irritation in some dogs. Furthermore, broccoli stalks have been known to cause obstruction in the esophagus.
Brussel Sprouts - Brussels sprouts are loaded with nutrietns and antioxidants that are great for humans and dogs, alike. Don't overfeed them to your dog, however, because they can cause lots of gas.
Cantaloupe - Cantaloupe is packed with nutrients, low in calories, and a great source of water and fiber. It is, however, high in sugar, so should be shared in moderation, especially for dogs who are overweight or have diabetes.
Carrots -Carrots are an excellent low-calorie snack that is high in fiber and beta-carotene, which produces vitamin A. Plus, crunching on this orange veggie is great for your dog’s teeth.
Carob - Almost every dog owner knows that chocolate is poisonous to their pets, but there’s no reason why your pooch can’t enjoy carob. Not only does carob not contain caffeine or the theobromine that makes chocolate so deadly for dogs, but it actually has many healthy properties.
Cashews – Yes. Cashews are OK for dogs, but only a few at a time. They’ve got calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and proteins, but while these nuts contain less fat than walnuts, almonds, or pecans, too many can lead to weight gain and other fat-related conditions. A few cashews here and there is a nice treat, but only if they’re unsalted.
Corn – Yes. Corn is one of the most common ingredients in most dog foods. However, the cob can be hard for them to digest and may cause intestinal blockage so avoid giving them corn on the cob.*Personally, I don't give my dogs much of this. They seem happier eating grain-free kibble and I don't put it in their wet food as it doesn't always digest well.
Celery - In addition to vitamins A, B, and C, this crunchy green snack contains the nutrients needed to promote a healthy heart and even fight cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, celery is also known to freshen doggy breath.
Cheese - A great treat for a dog as long as they are not lactose intolerant, which a small percentage are. Opt for low or reduced fat varieties (like cottage cheese or mozzarella) and don’t overfeed.
Coconut & Coconut Oil -This funky fruit contains Lauric, which strengthens the immune system by fighting off viruses. It can also help with bad breath and clearing up skin conditions like hot spots, flea allergies, and itchy skin. Coconut milk and coconut oil are safe for dogs too. Just be sure your dog doesnâ€™t get its paws on the furry outside of the shell, which can get lodged in the throat.
Cranberries - Both cranberries and dried cranberries are safe to feed to dogs in small quantities. Whether your dog will like this tart treat is another question. Either way, moderation is important when feeding cranberries to dogs, as with any treat, as too many cranberries can lead to an upset stomach.
Cucumbers - Cucumbers are especially good for overweight dogs, as they hold little to no carbohydrates, fats, or oils and they can even boost energy levels. They’re loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin.
Eggs - they are safe for dogs as long as long as they are fully cooked. Cooked eggs are a wonderful source of protein and can help an upset stomach. However, eating raw egg whites can give dogs biotin deficiency, so be sure to cook the eggs all the way through before giving them to your pet.
Fish - These are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which are responsible for keeping your dog’s coat healthy and shiny, as well as supporting your dog’s immune system. Feed your dog cooked salmon, add salmon oil to food, or slip them some of your unwanted fish skins. In moderation, cooked fresh tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart and eye health. As for canned Tuna, it contains small amounts of mercury and sodium, which should be avoided in excess. A little bit of canned tuna and tuna juice here and there is fine (prepared only in water, not oil) as long as it doesn’t contain any spices. A few shrimp every now and then is fine for your dog, but only if they are fully cooked and the shell (including the tail, head, and legs) is removed completely. Shrimp are high in antioxidants, vitamin B-12, and phosphorus, but also low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates.
Green Beans - Chopped, steamed, raw, or canned –- all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they are plain. Green beans are full of important vitamins and minerals and they're also full of fiber and low in calories.
Lean Meats - Think chicken, beef, or pork with no visible fat and no added sauces or seasonings can be a great training treat or can add a bit of good-quality extra protein to your dog’s diet. For more on Pork, please read this AKC article. See also the article on Ham. Chicken livers are a wonderful addition to a dog's diet, especially when bought fresh from the grocery store. But be sure to use in moderation. You know what they say about too much of a good thing! Turkey is fine for dogs as long as it is not covered in garlic (which can be very toxic to dogs) and seasonings. Also be sure to remove excess fat and skin from the meat and don’t forget to check for bones; poultry bones can splinter during digestion, causing blockage or even tears in the intestines. I like to use lean ground turkey from the grocery store and use it in my Wet Food Mix (see page).
Mango - This sweet summer treat is packed with four, yes four different vitamins: vitamins A, B6, C, and E. They also have potassium and both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Just remember, as with most fruits, remove the hard pit first, as it contains small amounts of cyanide and can become a choking hazard.
Oranges - Oranges are fine for dogs to eat, according to veterinarians. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and in small quantities can serve as tasty treats for your dog. Vets do, however, recommend tossing the peel and just giving your dog the inside of the orange, minus the seeds, as the peel is much more rough on their digestive systems.
Parsley - This herb has long been thought to improve “doggie breath”, so next time you are baking treats for your dog, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for added flavor and color.
Peaches - Small amounts of cut-up peaches are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, and can even help fight infections, but just like cherries, the pit contains cyanide. As long as you completely cut around the pit first, fresh peaches can be a great summer treat – just not canned peaches, as they usually contain high amounts of sugary syrups.
Peanuts - Yes. Unlike almonds, peanuts are safe for dogs to eat. They're packed with good fats and proteins that will benefit your dog. Just be sure to give peanuts in moderation, as you don't want your dog taking in too much fat, which can lead to pancreas issues in canines. Also, avoid salted peanuts.
Peanut butter - Yes. Just like whole peanuts, peanut butter is an excellent source of protein for dogs. It contains heart-healthy fats, vitamins B and E and niacin. Raw, unsalted peanut butter is the healthiest option because it doesn’t contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs.
Pears - Pears are a great snack because they’re high in copper, vitamins C and K, and fiber. It’s been suggested that eating the fruit can reduce the risk of having a stroke by 50 percent. Just be sure to cut pears into bite-size chunks and remove the pit and seeds first, as the seeds contain traces of cyanide.
Peas - Green peas, specifically: snow peas, sugar snap peas, and garden or English peas are all OK for dogs. Peas have several vitamins, minerals, and are rich in protein and high in fiber. You can feed your dog fresh, frozen, or thawed peas, but do not give him canned peas, which have a lot of added sodium.
Peppermint - Peppermint is strong but safe for dogs. Try using it as an ingredient if you bake your own homemade dog biscuits. It helps freshen your pal’s bad breath, and since peppermint has long been used to help settle upset tummies, you can even use it to help the next time your dog is a bit “barfy.”
Pineapple - A few chunks of pineapple is a great sweet treat for dogs, as long as the prickly outside is removed first. The tropical fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also contains bromelain, an enzyme that makes it easier for dogs to absorb proteins.
Potatoes - It’s fine to give your dog plain potatoes every once and a while, but only if they’re cooked, as raw potatoes can be rough on the stomach. A washed, peeled, plain boiled, or baked potato contains lots of iron for your dog. Avoid mashed potatoes because they often contain butter, milk, or seasonings.
Pumpkin -Pumpkin contains unique nutritional features and has multiple beneficial properties for your dog. Pumpkin is high in fiber; it is a digestive aid and regulates intestinal motility (the movements of the digestive system and the transit of the contents within it). Because of this, pumpkin can often be used to regulate soft stool or mild constipation in dogs. This fall veggie also has a low glycemic Index, which means it assimilates better in the body and results in healthier blood sugar, as well as contributing to insulin control, disease prevention, increased energy, and improved mood. Pumpkin also is a source of vitamin A and natural antioxidants, supports the immune system, and promotes cardiovascular system protection. What doesn't it do? Not only is it a great digestive aid, but it also gives your dog a nutritional boost!
Raspberries - These are fine in moderation. They contain antioxidants that are great for dogs. They’re low in sugar and calories, but high in fiber, manganese, and vitamin C. Raspberries are especially good for senior dogs because they have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help take pain and pressure from joints. However, they do contain slight amounts of the toxin Xylitol, so limit your dog to less than a cup of raspberries at a time.
Rice/Brown Rice - This is good to use when your dog has an upset tummy and needs a bland meal.
Strawberries - Strawberries are full of fiber and vitamin C. Along with that, they also contain an enzyme that can help whiten your dog’s teeth as he or she eats them. They are high in sugar though, so be sure to give them in moderation.
Spinach - Yes, dogs can eat spinach, but it's not one of the top vegetables you'll want to be sharing with you pup. Spinach is very high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. While your dog would probably have to eat a very large amount of spinach to have this problem, it might be best to go with another vegetable.
Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, including fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C. Just like with regular potatoes, only give your dog washed, peeled, cooked, and unseasoned sweet potatoes that have cooled down, and definitely avoid sugary sweet potato pies and casseroles.
Watermelon - It’s important to remove the rind and seeds first, as they can cause intestinal blockage, but watermelon is otherwise safe for dogs. It’s full of vitamin A, B-6, and C, as well as potassium. Watermelon is 92 percent water, so it’s a great way to keep your dog hydrated on hot summer days.
Yogurt - High in calcium and protein, but make sure to only choose yogurts that do not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
Zucchini - Zucchini is full of nutrients. This prolific plant delivers lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in each long, green squash. Dogs that are fed a complete and balanced diet generally get all the nutrients they need from their food, unless they have an illness or disorder that affects their ability to absorb nutrients. Your dog doesn't need to eat vegetables for his health, but vegetables that are safe for dogs, like zucchini, offer an alternative to high-calorie treats. A cup of raw zucchini only has about 20 calories. It is low in fat and cholesterol, and won't contribute to your dog's waistline. This makes it an excellent choice as a reward for overweight dogs.
The Good Stuff
The Bad Stuff
Asparagus - No, dogs shouldn't eat asparagus. While asparagus isn’t necessarily unsafe for dogs, there’s really no point in giving it to them. It’s too tough to be eaten raw, and by the time you cook it down so it’s soft enough for dogs to eat, asparagus loses the nutrients it contains. If you really want to share a veggie, something more beneficial is probably best.
Avocado - While avocado may be a healthy snack for dog owners, it should not be given to dogs at all. The pit, skin, and leaves of avocados contain persin, a toxin that often causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. The fleshy inside of the fruit doesn’t have as much persin as the rest of the plant, but it is still too much for dogs to handle.
Cinnamon - A little bit of cinnamon, like the amount used in most baked goods, is not going to hurt your dog. That being said, feeding your dog baked goods is not necessarily a good idea. Foods that are high in fat, sugar, and unnecessary calories can lead to obesity, diabetes, and complications such as pancreatitis. Some baked goods also may contain xylitol as a sweetener, which is very toxic. If you do choose to feed your dog baked goods with cinnamon, only feed small quantities on a very irregular basis, and make sure they do not contain other ingredients that could be toxic or harmful to your dog, like xylitol, chocolate or raisins.
Cherries - No. With the exception of the fleshy part around the seed, cherry plants contain cyanide and are toxic to dogs. Cyanide disrupts cellular oxygen transport, which means that your dog’s blood cells can’t get enough oxygen. If your dog eats cherries, be on the lookout for dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and red gums, as these may be signs of cyanide poisoning.
Chocolate -The rumors you've heard about chocolate are true. Chocolate might be your favorite treat, but it has deadly consequences for dogs of all sizes and breeds. Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and can be potentially fatal. Unfortunately, dogs have a way of sniffing out chocolate treats, which means we need to be alert for signs of chocolate toxicity so that we know what to do if our dogs eat chocolate.
Grapes - Double No! Grapes and raisins have both proved to be very toxic for dogs no matter the dog’s breed, sex, or age. In fact, grapes are so toxic that they can lead to acute sudden kidney failure. Definitely skip this dangerous treat.
Garlic - The answer, emphatically, is no. Garlic might be good for us, but dogs metabolize certain foods, including garlic, differently than we do. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, garlic and other members of the allium family, including onions, contain thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs but not to humans. Thiosulfate causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of anemia include pale mucous membranes, rapid breathing, lethargy, weakness, jaundice, and dark colored urine. Garlic toxicity also causes symptoms of gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, depression, and dehydration.
Ice Cream - The first problem with ice cream is that dogs' bodies are not designed to digest milk after they are weaned, as puppies. Since ice cream is made with milk, feeding your dog ice cream could lead to gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting.
The second problem with ice cream is that it is loaded with sugar, and feeding your dog sugary foods can lead to weight gain, which can lead to other health problems. Even if the ice cream says it's sugarless, you need to be careful to read the label to make sure that no xylitol is used, as this sweetener is extremely toxic to dogs.The final problem with ice cream is that some flavors may actually be dangerous for dogs. Chocolate, for example, can be toxic for dogs because their bodies cannot efficiently process a component of the chocolate: theobromine. While not a major danger if given in small amounts as a treat, for dogs with obesity, diabetes, allergies or dairy intolerance, ice cream could be a big problem. Although some dog owners do feed their dogs ice cream, we cannot say that it is a good dessert for dogs, especially when there are other options that are not likely to cause digestive problems.
Macadamia Nuts - Macadamia nuts, although not usually an everyday food, are often found in baked goods, including cakes, cookies, muffins, and even trail mix. Are they safe for dogs? Absolutely not! In fact, macadamia nuts are often listed as among the top human foods to avoid giving your dog. The consequences of eating macadamia nuts include vomiting, ataxia, weakness, hyperthermia, and depression.
Mushrooms - Dogs should avoid mushrooms. Wild mushrooms can be toxic for dogs. While only 50 to 100 of the 50,000 mushroom species worldwide are known to be toxic, the ones that are can really hurt your dog or even lead to death. Washed mushrooms from the supermarket could be OK, but it’s better to be safe than sorry; skip out on the fungi all together.
Nutmeg - Cinnamon might not be toxic to dogs, but nutmeg is another common baking spice, and it can have toxic effects. Nutmeg and cinnamon are often used together in recipes, and nutmeg contains the toxin myristicin. Myristicin can cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, disorientation, high blood pressure, abdominal pain, dry mouth, and even seizures. These symptoms can last up to 48 hours, but the bright side is that it takes a large amount of nutmeg to cause problems for dogs. The small amount used in baked goods is generally safe. If your dog consumes a large amount of nutmeg by accident, however, call your veterinarian and keep a close eye on her.
Onions - Onions, leeks, and chives are part of a family of plants called Allium that is poisonous to most pets, especially cats. Eating onions can cause your dog’s red blood cells to rupture, and can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. Poisoning from onions is more serious in Japanese breeds of dogs such as Akitas and Shiba Inus, but all dogs are very susceptible to it.
Tomatoes - No, dogs should probably avoid tomatoes. While the ripened fruit of the tomato plant (the red part humans normally eat) is generally considered safe for dogs, the green parts of the plant contain a toxic substance called solanine. While a dog would need to eat a large amount for it to make him or her sick, it’s better to skip tomatoes all together just to be safe.
*Disclaimer - All information below is derived from AKC.org Nutritional recommendations and personal experience. Not all dogs are the same. Please consult with a vet before changing your puppy's diet.