We love our dogs more than anything in the world — and (more often than not) what puppy wants, puppy gets. But when it comes to dogs begging for a nibble of food made for humans, giving your pet a hard no can actually mean the difference between life and death. It doesn’t matter how cute their puppy dog eyes are. When it comes to food, you absolutely know better than they do as far as what’s safe.
There are many foods we treat ourselves to every day that are horrible for a canine’s sensitive digestive system and can even be deadly in some instances. But that doesn’t mean all human food is off-limits to dogs.
We’ve broken it down for you so you know what foods are OK — and which ones can result in death if consumed.
Most healthy foods that are good for us are relatively good for dogs. However, it’s important to research what you can feed your pup before you do it. What started out as something healthy for a dog (like ground beef or grilled chicken) can instantly be made poisonous with the addition of certain oils, wines or onions. If you can’t say no to that adorable face staring up at you from the floor as you eat, check out these human foods deemed safe by the ASPCA and Modern Dog magazine.
- Peanut butter. This is a great source of added protein and fiber for your pup and a tablespoon on their dry food is a surefire way to get them to eat it! Make sure to choose an all-natural peanut butter that does not contain the ingredient xylitol as it can be dangerous for pets.
- Yogurt. This provides a great source of protein for dogs (especially Greek yogurt). Make sure to avoid the brands high in sugar and preservatives.
- Lean proteins (like chicken, turkey and beef). Most of these meats are found in your pet’s dry and wet foods anyway and are filled with healthy fats and proteins dogs need to maintain a healthy weight and energy level. Just be sure to feed them lean proteins that have not been cooked with strange vegetables, oils or wines.
- Salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids are good for your dog’s coat and skin health, and provide him with a healthy source of protein.
- Pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene and vitamin A and help keep your pup’s digestive system on track.
- Rice and pasta. Plain or whole wheat pastas are a good source of energy for your dog. Just avoid feeding them fatty or acidic sauces.
- Apples. This dog favorite is a great healthy snack and is a great sources of vitamins A and C!
- Peas and green beans. Peas and green beans are a great way to infuse your pup’s food with healthy, low-calorie nutrients. Peas provide extra potassium and the green beans are great sources of vitamins C and K.
Of course, these aren’t the only human foods dogs can stomach, just the healthiest for them. Just be sure to look it up before you toss it to your pet!
What’s not safe
Unless you live under a rock, you know that chocolate and cocoa are completely off limits. However, that’s not the only favorite snack of yours that could poison your dog. Other everyday items, like onions and grapes could also really sicken, or kill, your best friend. Check out this list of the most poisonous foods, provided by Web MD for pets, for dogs and be sure you keep them far away from your pup’s curious snout! These poisonous foods are bad for all dogs, but are even more extreme for smaller breeds, like shih tzus, Yorkies, chihuahuas and tea cup breeds.
- Chocolate and cocoa. The reason behind the toxicity in this sweet treat lies in the theobromine, or toxic agent. Just one bite can cause a dog to vomit or have diarrhea. It can also cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and death.
- Grapes. These popular fruits need to kept away from your pup, especially if your dog is older or sick. Something in the grapes is known to cause kidney disease in most breeds.
- Avocados. This healthy fruit contains persin, which is known to give dogs vomiting and diarrhea.
- Onions and garlic. These flavor enhancers need to be kept far away from your dog. Large volumes of these vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage, which can lead to anemia.
- Alcohol. Feeding your pet beer or wine isn’t funny, it could be deadly. Just a drop can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing and even death. The effects are even worse in smaller breeds.
- Milk and dairy products. Just one slice of cheese won’t kill your pet, but excessive dairy will likely negatively disrupt their digestive system, since dogs don’t have as much of the lactose breaking enzyme that humans do.
- Coffee. Just a sip of coffee or caffeine can lead to restlessness, heart palpitations and bleeding, while a large dosage can be fatal.
- Gum. Xylitol, or the sweetener found in gum and candy, can lead to liver failure and hypoglycemia. In addition, a dog’s digestive system cannot break down gum the way humans do and the sticky substance can block up their system, which can quickly lead to death.
View human food as a treat to your pet, not as something you give them in place of their own dog food. Although the foods listed in the healthy category are good for pets, too much can upset their digestion or make it harder for them to eat their own food. A few pieces of chicken or salmon can be a great incentive if your pup is behaving or does a trick.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2012.