The holidays are all about family, sharing joy, and indulging a little. Of course, your dog is part of your family, so there’s always temptation around the holidays to share a little joy and culinary indulgence with them, too.
Most prepared human food is high in fat and too rich for dogs to digest without problems such as diarrhea and vomiting. There are even some human foods that are toxic to dogs. The safest bet is never to give table scraps to your dog and instead let them enjoy an extra special dog treat.
However, if you can’t resist, there are some human foods you can share with your dog as a treat in small quantities. We’ll cover what table scraps and human foods in general your dog can handle and which should be avoided. This will help your whole family enjoy the holidays, pup included!
What Human Food Is Good for Dogs?
There is some human food dogs can eat, and some of it is actually good for their overall health. In general, healthy human food for dogs is unprocessed and not cooked as a dish for humans. When we prepare dishes for ourselves, we include things such as olive oil and seasonings. These little extras add major flavor, but they’re not great for your dog’s stomach.
Instead, you can choose healthy human food such as sweet potato and cook it without adding anything extra. In small quantities, sweet potatoes provide dogs with important nutrients and make a great occasional addition to their regular dog food.
The list below will give you more ideas about which human foods dogs can eat.
Many fruits make tasty, healthy snacks for your dog. However, it’s important to remember that fruits are high in sugar, so they should be fed to your dog as a once-in-awhile treat.
- Watermelon, seeds, and rind removed
- Cantaloupe, seeds, and pulp removed
You can give your dog a variety of vegetables, provided they’re cooked simply without oil and seasonings. Vegetables are packed with healthy nutrients and are low in calories and fat, so they’re a great option for your pup.
- Green peas
- Peeled sweet potatoes (Tip: You can give your dog a few tablespoons of steamed, mashed sweet potato to help with diarrhea.)
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Butternut squash
When you think about feeding your dog human food, proteins such as chicken and fish probably spring to mind. Many protein options are safe to give your dog in small portions. Be sure to fully cook the protein and check that there are no bones or shells in it before giving it to your furry friend.
- Cooked eggs
- Pork (Tip: Be conservative about sharing pork with your dog as it’s high in fat.)
- Lean beef, 90% or higher
Of all the food groups listed here, dairy is the one that should be used most sparingly. The typical human serving of cheese is one ounce, which is equivalent to one cube or one slice. We recommend cutting that in half for your dog and only treating them to dairy once in a while.
- Hard cheeses such as Parmesan, gorgonzola, and cheddar
- Cottage cheese (Tip: if you want to treat your dog to a special snack, whisk an egg with a dollop of cottage cheese before scrambling it.)
- Unsweetened plain yogurt
Grains are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber, and there are many types you can feed your dog.
- White rice (Tip: A small serving of plain rice can ease a dog’s upset stomach.)
- Plain bread
- Natural peanut butter with no added sugar or xylitol, which is toxic to dogs
- Plain popcorn
What Human Foods are Bad for Dogs?
There are many healthy human foods you can feed your dog, but it’s essential to know which foods may cause sickness or death.
Before we jump into the list, let us reiterate that any human food can become harmful for your dog if it’s cooked to typical human standards. This means adding oil, sugar, salt, or other seasonings to the ingredient.
For example, green beans are a great healthy option for your dog, but if you saute them in olive oil and garlic, then season them with salt and pepper; that’s no longer a treat you should share with your dog.
Here are foods you should never give your dog, no matter how they’re cooked:
- Coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine
- Raisins or grapes
- Lemons or limes
- Ice cream
- Garlic, chives, or onions (These aromatics are the basis of many human dishes, which is one reason most table scraps are not suitable for dogs.)
- Raw or undercooked meat or eggs
- Food seasoned with salt
- Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in some processed foods such as peanut butter
If someone in your family unwittingly shares any of the above foods with your dog, watch them closely for signs of distress such as vomiting and diarrhea or excessive salivating, panting, or thirst. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet right away.
Other Common Questions Around Feeding Dogs Human Food
Pet nutrition is complex, and there are many frequently asked questions beyond, “What human foods can my dog eat?” We’re going to answer some of these common questions to help you make the right choices for your pet.
Is Human Food Bad for Dogs?
Your dog will happily scarf down any delicious table scraps you give them; they simply don’t know any better. As a dog owner, you need to be informed so you can make healthy food choices for your pup.
Not all human foods are bad for dogs, but most table scraps are. You can refer to the above list “What human foods are bad for dogs?” to determine which foods you should never give to your pet. As for dog-safe human foods, there’s a big difference in the way you cook these specifically for your dog versus other humans. These foods must be cooked plainly to ensure they’re safe for your dog’s digestive system.
What Human Food Can I Feed My Diabetic Dog?
As with humans, the diet of diabetic dogs should be carefully controlled. If your dog has diabetes, avoid giving them high-fat foods such as pork or table scraps and be mindful of their overall calorie intake.
Fresh vegetables such as broccoli, celery, and pumpkin can make great, healthful treats for your diabetic dog. They can eat the same foods that are listed as safe for dogs, but you’ll need to be especially mindful of how much fat and sugar you’re giving them. To be on the safe side, avoid giving your dog pork and dairy, and give them small portions of fruit sparingly.
Can Puppies Eat Human Food?
For your puppy to grow into a healthy, happy dog, they need balanced nutrition. At around 8 weeks of age, puppies can eat the same foods on the “safe for dogs” list; however, you’ll want to reduce the portions or frequency to account for your puppy’s smaller size. To ensure your puppy isn’t eating too much human food, limit calories from these foods to no more than 10% of their overall diet.
Also, it’s important to note that cow’s milk and non-dairy milk are not the same as the milk from a puppy’s mother. Giving your dog a small bowl of milk will upset their stomach and may cause diarrhea.
Is Human Food for Senior Dogs a Good Idea?
Senior dogs can safely eat the same foods as younger dogs, but they are more prone to weight gain later in life. You can continue to give your dog some of their favorite human foods, just be sure to keep an eye on their overall calorie intake. Weight gain in older dogs can shorten their lifespans and cause diabetes or joint pain.
Holiday Table Scraps Dos and Don’ts
We understand the temptation to feed your dog some delicious holiday table scraps, but it is not a healthy choice for your furry family member. While dogs can eat many human foods, these all come with the caveat that they’re prepared simply without oil or seasonings.
The foods from our “safe to eat” lists above are only okay for dogs if they are served plain. Plain food isn’t commonly seen at holiday dinners, so most of what your family enjoys will be off-limits to your pup.
If you have a side of plain rice or some bread that hasn’t been buttered yet, these can be shared with your dog safely. Other common holiday dishes such as gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and macaroni and cheese are all too rich for your dog to digest properly.
Try Healthy “Human Food” for Dogs with PetPlate
There are many healthy human foods for dogs as long as they’re adequately prepared. However, it’s rarely a good idea to feed your dog table scraps, no matter how much they beg for them.
Holiday food is often loaded with olive oil, salt, seasonings, and aromatics such as garlic and onion. Those things add the flavors you love, but they turn human foods that are normally safe for dogs into potentially harmful treats.
Instead of offering table scraps, you can give your pup a little piece of cheese, a scrambled egg, steamed broccoli, and many other tasty human foods that will keep their tummy happy.
For healthy, organic food that’s always safe for your dog, you can order pre-made healthy meals from PetPlate. We also offer delicious treats that make the perfect holiday indulgence for your dog.