25 Human Foods Dogs Can and Can’t Eat - The Extended Guide
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
If you love your pooch, you’ve probably wondered about sharing your food with them. There are lots of ‘human’ foods that your dogs can eat, but also lots that they can’t. Knowing which is which is the difference between a happy, healthy dog and one with an upset stomach- or worse. So, can dogs eat oranges? What about pineapple? Can they drink milk? Are eggs good for dogs? We’ll go into 25 foods you might have thought about feeding to your dog, and give them the green light or warning if not save to eat.
If you are wondering if it's safe for your dog to eat grass, we've covered this topic in-depth on a different blog post. Check it out here.
Before we Start
All dogs can be allergic or intolerant. If your dog has never eaten these things before, you should start out only giving them a small piece and observing their reactions for 24-48 hours before giving them more. Look out for signs of gastric upset- vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and rumbling guts- and avoid the food in future if they react to it.
Your dog’s kibble is a complete and balanced diet. That means that scientists and nutritionists have gone to great lengths to make sure it has everything your dog needs to be healthy in the correct proportions. ‘Balanced’ is important- some minerals are in a delicate balance and more of one means that the body can’t absorb enough of the other.
Any change to your dog’s diet risks unbalancing the diet, but nutritionists agree you can allow your dog to have 10% of their daily calories as treats and snacks without risking a serious unbalance. Remember to take these calories out of their kibble so that they don’t eat too much and get overweight!
Which Fruits Can Dogs Eat
Getting your five-a-day is important for everybody, so why not for your dog? Here are some fruits that are safe to feed your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Oranges?
It’s a go! Dogs can eat oranges! In fact, oranges have been found to be a healthy snack for dogs. They contain important nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and folate, as well as high levels of fibre (USDA, 2020) Despite the high sugar content in oranges, the large amount of fibre regulates this, preventing a huge spike in sugar levels after eating.
The fibre in oranges is also good for your dog’s digestion. One study even showed that a combination of antioxidants, many of which are found in oranges, can slow down aging in dog brains (N.W Milgram, 2002). So, should you feed oranges to your dog? Yes, but in small amounts. A small dog should have no more than a quarter of an orange every few days; a large dog could have up to half.
Can Dogs eat Pineapples?
Though the acidic flavour will put some dogs off, dogs can eat pineapple! This fruit is packed with vitamin C, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin- all great natural antioxidants. There’s also some evidence that pineapple can change the wax in a dog’s ear- possibly very useful for those dogs suffering with allergies! (Fausto Quintavalla, 2004).
Some people say that pineapple will stop dogs from eating their own stool. Unfortunately, this appears to be an old wives’ tale, and there is no evidence that this is the case. If you want to feed your dog pineapple, stick to small amounts of the edible flesh (avoiding the leaves, stem and skin), and watch that the high levels of sugar don’t upset his stomach.
Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Yes, dogs can eat watermelon. I think that watermelon is far too delicious to share with dogs! You should avoid giving the rind and seeds where possible- the rind can cause gastric upset or blockage as it’s difficult to digest. Try to keep the number of watermelon seeds your dog consumes to a minimum; but don’t worry if one or two escapes your notice.
Watermelon is thought to have health benefits- some people suggest it might reduce crystal formation in the urine (Miyai, 2018). It’s also the best fresh source of lycopene (USDA, 2020), which is what makes it red. Lycopene shows promising anti-cancer effects in early studies. Mostly, though, watermelon is water- so it’s a great way to hydrate your dog. One or two inch-sized cubes- depending on your dog’s size- is usually plenty.
Can Dogs Eat Melon?
Dogs can eat normal melon as well as watermelon! In fact, it makes a healthy and tasty treat- there are even reports of packs of feral dogs destroying melon crops! Melon is mostly water, but is high in vitamins and low in salt. Again, avoid the skin and the seeds where possible, and give a cube or two an occasional treat to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
A case report in the 90s (Buoro, Nyamwange, Chai, Munyua, & Verwoerd, 1994) suggested dogs suffered from avocado poisoning just like many other animals. But since then, research suggests that avocado poisoning rarely occurs in dogs. The Pet Poison Helpline (Pet Poison Helpline, 2020) does not list avocados as poisonous to dogs, and there are even dog foods containing avocado.
However, the high fat levels can cause pancreatitis, so it’s a good idea to only feed a little, and you should call your vet if you find your dog eating the guacamole at a party! The pit is the main concern, often leading to obstruction if eaten- so make sure it’s well out of your dog’s reach.
Can Dogs Eat Cherries?
Yes, cherries are safe for dogs to eat, but they shouldn’t eat the pips, which can cause obstruction. The pips also contain small amounts of cyanide, which is toxic, so if your dog was to ingest several stones they may become ill.
The leaves and stems contain cyanide, too. You also shouldn’t feed your dog cherries that have been prepared and preserved in brandy or sugar syrup, as the extra ingredients are not good for your dog. If you want to go to the effort of destoning a fresh cherry for your dog, go ahead- but there are easier fruits to feed!
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
Yes, Blueberries are a healthy snack for dogs. They are known to be high in anti-oxidants and some studies have shown that they may be of benefit to working dogs with high exercise levels (Kriya L. Dunlap, 2006). There have also been studies investigating whether they help to prevent doggy dementia (Fragua, 2017) although this needs more investigation. All in all, blueberries are a healthy snack- but as always, feed in moderation and no more than 10% of the daily calorie allowance.
Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, ripe tomatoes can be fed to dogs as the occasional snack, although they may not like them. Tomatoes contain lycopene just like watermelons, which is thought to prevent certain cancers. There have been isolated reports of dogs being allergic to tomatoes, so do take care when giving for the first time and observe carefully for several days for signs of diarrhoea or skin disease. As a side note, though, all parts of the tomato plant are poisonous to dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries are a safe and healthy treat for your dog. They contain lots of vitamins (including high levels of vitamin C) and antioxidants thought to slow the aging process. Your dog can safely share a strawberry with you, or you can chop one over his breakfast.
Can Dogs Eat Apples?
Dogs can happily snack on apple just like humans can- in fact, it’s a safe and healthy treat for dogs. But can your dog eat apple seeds? Well, it’s best to remove apple seeds as much as you can- these contain small amounts of toxic cyanide- but don’t worry if you miss one or two.
Can Dogs Eat Bananas?
Bananas are another healthy fruit that you can feed your dog. In fact, bananas are often recommended to stuff into Kong toys and other food toys, before freezing. Bananas contain large amounts of potassium, a mineral not found in many other fruits and vegetables. Just remember the 10% rule though- bananas are high in calories and a whole one is far too much for most dogs.
Vegetables that Dogs Can Eat
Can Dogs Eat Sweetcorn?
Like humans, dogs can eat sweetcorn in small quantities. Unfortunately, the cob is indigestible and, although it might seem like a good chew treat, ends up stuck in guts and intestines requiring emergency surgery to remove.
The kernels themselves are very starchy and hard to digest, and leave the gut almost completely intact. So, although you can feed them to your dog- there’s no nutritional benefit from doing so, and it will make picking up his poop a much less pleasant experience!
Can Dogs eat Broccoli?
Yes, broccoli is known to contain nutrients that have a range of benefits. They also have a chemical called isothiocyanates, which is present in broccoli florets. This can cause gastric upset in dogs, especially in larger amounts.
Don’t avoid the florets altogether though- in the body the isothiocyanate glucoraphanin is changed to sulforaphane, which has anti-cancer properties (Kaitlin M. Curran, 2018). A small amount occasionally is the best way to avoid any tummy troubles as a result of eating broccoli.
Can Dogs Eat Celery?
Yes, celery is another vegetable your dog can add to his snack list. Whilst studies into nutritional benefits are limited, there is some evidence that eating celery may help animals with the side effects of chemotherapy (Jovanka Kolarovic, 2009), although more work needs to be done to prove a link. Make sure you cut it into bite-size pieces to minimise choking, and give little-and-often as a healthy snack if your pooch enjoys it.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
Dogs can eat the usual store-bought cup mushrooms just like humans can, although they may turn their nose up at them. Mushrooms are not known to have any particular nutritional value to dogs, and are probably not worth feeding. Wild mushrooms, however, are another matter entirely. If you find your dog eating a wild mushroom, you should call your veterinarian immediately.
The safest thing to do is to seek veterinary advice- even if you think the mushroom looks harmless, the chances are high that it is not. And don’t assume that dogs can tell the difference- many dogs are poisoned by mushrooms every year! (Puschner, 2012)
Meat that Dogs Can Eat
Can Dog Eat Pork?
Dogs can eat pork, but there are some things to be aware of. Dogs should only eat cooked pork- the risk of infection with the parasite trichinella spiralis is too high without cooking. They should also avoid eating pork bones, as these can cause digestive upset.
Pork can also be fatty- avoid chops, skin, and fatty bits, as these can cause severe pancreatitis. You should also take care not to give your dog brined pork- including bacon or ham- as the brining salts can make your dog very ill. If you want to give your dog a small piece of pork, a slice of your cooked tenderloin or a small piece from a roast very occasionally is best- but remember to take care what it is cooked with to make sure no other foods that could be toxic have come into contact with it.
Can Dogs Eat Prawns
Yes, apart from the occasional allergic dog, most canines love seafood as much as we do, so luckily it’s safe to feed prawns to your dog. In fact, prawns contain large amounts of the brain-booster selenium as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (USDA, 2020). You should cook the prawns and peel them, just like you would for yourself, and give no more than 3-4 prawns to your dog, and only then as a special treat.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat
Dogs can eat raw meat- in fact it’s purported by many to be a healthy way of feeding dogs. But there are a few problems you should be aware of. The risk of parasites and bacteria is high- there’s a reason we humans cook our meat- and not only can this make your dog sick, they can pass it onto humans in the house. It is important to be careful of any bones in the meat, as this can cause blockages or even pierce the gut. If you are going to feed raw food, try to find a reputable company who employ a veterinary nutritionist to make sure the food is as healthy as it can be.
Other Human Foods Dogs Can Eat
Can Dogs Eat Bread?
Yes, most dogs can eat bread. But it’s not particularly good for them, and is high in calories. If your dog snaffles a roll- don’t panic. But don’t feed more than the occasional crust on purpose. Uncooked bread dough should never be fed to your dog, however, as it can cause severe illness due to the alcohol and expansion of the dough.
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts
Most dogs will have peanuts at some point in their lives, and peanut butter is regularly used as a training treat. But depending what they have been cooked in, and depending what seasonings they have, peanuts can be a bad idea. Too many can be bad too! Aim for raw or dry-roasted without any extra harmful salt, and don’t give too many or too often to avoid the risk of pancreatitis.
Can Dogs Eat Cheese
Dogs love cheese, but that doesn’t mean it is good for them. Cheese is high in fat and low in good nutrition, which makes it an unhealthy snack that has the potential to cause pancreatitis. It’s also got some lactose, which most dogs are unable to digest. Having said that, cheese is one of the most effective high-value rewards for dog training. Keep it to only occasionally, and only a small amount (less than a dice) and you’ll probably be fine.
Which Foods are Bad for Dogs?
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate
No, dogs should not eat chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical compound similar to caffeine. It causes vomiting, diarrhoea and heart problems. Theobromine is found in highest quantities in foods with the most cocoa- so cocoa powder and dark chocolate are a lot more toxic than milk chocolate, and white chocolate is the safest.
If your dog has eaten chocolate, you should phone your vets for advice; they can calculate the risk based on type of chocolate and weight of dog in order to enable you to make the best decision.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?
The high fat content, sugar content and milk make ice cream an unsuitable choice for your canine companion. Most dogs are unable to effectively digest lactose, so best-case scenario eating ice cream gives your dogs the runs. But the high sugar can bring on diabetes and the high fat content can cause pancreatitis. All in all, a big no-no.
Can Dogs Drink Milk?
Whilst some dogs will be ok with milk, the vast majority do not have enough lactase- the enzyme that digests lactose- to be able to digest milk correctly. It’s known to cause diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Very, very small amounts are unlikely to do any harm- so if you spill a drop on the floor and your dog licks it up then don’t panic, but don’t make a habit of giving them milk.
Your dog will love you for sharing your food- it’s a great way to train them and also fantastic for your bond. Most fruits (with the notable exception of grapes!) are safe for dogs to eat, and even good for them- topping them up with vitamins and minerals. It’s best to stay away from more processed foods such as bread and cheese, as these contain very few nutrients and a lot of calories.
Some foods are poisonous to dogs, so do remember to check before you share. And remember to add new foods a little at a time. Lastly, you should keep a close eye on your dog’s weight if you’re going to alter with their diet- and correct any weight gain quickly.
Article Written By: Dr Joanna Woodnutt, Veterinary and Content Writer
(2020). Retrieved from Pet Poison Helpline: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/avocado/
Buoro, I., Nyamwange, S., Chai, D., Munyua, S., & Verwoerd, D. W. (1994). Putative avocado toxicity in two dogs. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research.
Fausto Quintavalla, E. B. (2004). THE ROLE OF NUTRITION IN THE HEALTH OF CANINE EARS. Ann. Fac. Medic. Vet. di Parma, 53-67.
Fragua, V. L. (2017). Effects of dietary supplementation with a mixed blueberry and grape extract on working memory in aged beagle dogs. Journal of Nutritional Science.
Jovanka Kolarovic, M. P. (2009). Protective Effects of Celery Juice in Treatments with Doxorubicin. Molecules, 1627-1638.
Kaitlin M. Curran, S. B. (2018). Sulforaphane absorption and histone deacetylase activity following single dosing of broccoli sprout supplement in normal dogs. Vet Med Sci, 357-363.
Kriya L. Dunlap, A. J. (2006). Total antioxidant power in sled dogs supplemented with blueberries and the comparison of blood parameters associated with exercise,. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology,, 429-434.
Miyai, S. e. (2018). Effects of a Watermelon Extract Beverage on Canine Lipid Metabolism and Urine Crystals. Animal and Veterinary Sciences, 74.
N.W Milgram, S. Z.-D. (2002). Dietary enrichment counteracts age-associated cognitive dysfunction in canine. Neurobiology of Aging, Pages 737-745.
Puschner, B. e. (2012). Mushroom Poisoning Cases in Dogs and Cats: Diagnosis and Treatment of Hepatotoxic, Neurotoxic, Gastroenterotoxic, Nephrotoxic, and Muscarinic Mushrooms. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, 375-387.
USDA. (2020). Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786559/nutrients