We all know feeding table food, i.e., “people food,” to our dog is bad, as bad as letting him hang his head out of the car window or letting him up on the furniture with muddy feet. We also know we break those rules because, hey, our four-legged buddy loves the occasional French fry and the feel of the wind in his fluff on the open road. And he’s so dang happy on the sofa (which is upholstered in stain-resistant microfiber you bought just for him.)
Ahem. Some of us even feed “people food” to our dog while he sits on the sofa with us, watching Netflix. Since we know you’re going to feed your dog-child more than dusty kibble, let’s discuss which “people foods” are safe for your dog and which are not.
These foods are OK:
- Apples: Some dogs love the crunchy sweetness. Be sure to remove the seeds, as they’re toxic.
- Bananas: Good source of potassium. Mash some up and mix them into your dog’s meal.
- Blueberries: Those antioxidants are as good for your dog as they are for you.
- Peanut butter: Possibly the best “people food” for dogs, it contains tons of protein. Plus, all dogs love it.
- Popcorn: Make sure it’s air-popped and free of salt and butter. It contains minerals that make strong bones and teeth.
- Pumpkin: Dogs love its sweet taste and it’s good for them. Consider mashing it up and adding it to your recipe for dog treats.
- Sweet potatoes: Good source of fiber and vitamins. Slice them up and dehydrate them for great individual snacks for your pup.
- Yogurt: Good source of calcium and protein. Make sure you feed Fido only plain yogurt, free of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
These foods are OK in small quantities:
- Bacon: It’s yummy, yes, but also salty and full of nitrates. You don’t need to eat a lot of it. Neither does your dog.
- Milk and dairy: Dogs have a limited amount of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk, so too much can cause digestive upset. Go easy on that cheese, too.
- Nuts: Almonds, pecans and walnuts have a lot of oil and fat that can cause vomiting and diarrhea and in large quantities, pancreatitis. Peanuts are fine because they aren’t really nuts. (They’re a legume. Google it.) And macadamia nuts are extremely toxic (see below).
- Liver: A great source of iron and vitamins, but too much of it can be toxic due to its high vitamin A content. Don’t feed your dog more than 1 gram of fresh liver per pound of body weight per day. That means a 50-pound dog can safely eat about 2 ounces of liver a day.
These foods will make your dog sick and possibly kill him:
- Alcohol: Don’t. Just don’t. If we have to tell you this, perhaps you should not own a dog.
- Avocados: Lock up the guacamole. Avocados contain persin, a toxic-to-dogs chemical that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Chocolate: Contains a chemical called methylxantine that can cause seizures, irregular heartbeat and death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your dog.
- Coffee: Caffeine contains theobromine, toxic to dogs. You’re probably not buying lattes for your pooch, but beware of putting coffee grounds in the garbage where he could get to them.
- Garlic: Don’t feed in any form (dry, cooked or raw) because it contains disulfides and sulfoxides that can destroy a dog’s red blood cells. Look out for foods like pizza, hamburgers or sauces where garlic is an ingredient.
- Grapes and raisins: No one knows what the toxic agent is in these, but they can cause kidney failure.
- Macadamia nuts: Contain a toxin that can cause weakness, tremors and damage to digestive, nervous and muscle systems.
- Onions: They’re in the same family as garlic and toxic for the same reason. No onion rings, no onion on pizza, no onion, period.
- Raw yeast dough: It can rise after your dog eats it and cause bloat, a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills up with gas and twists.
- Sugar-free candy or gum: A lot of sugar-free products contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol that causes seizures and liver failure. Don’t keep it in your purse or pockets where your dog could get it (see additional important info below).
So, what to do if you think your dog ate something dangerous? Keep an eye out for vomiting, excessive drooling (this may be relative), agitation, lethargy or in really bad cases, seizures or twitching. Call your vet immediately if your dog is acting weird, or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-855-213-6680.
Remember, too much “people food,” even the safe stuff, will make your dog fat. It should only be shared as an extra treat, making up no more than 25 percent of your dog’s diet. His primary food needs to be dog food so that he gets a well-balanced diet (sorry, hounds).
A special thanks to our furry KHS contributor, Newton, for bringing some of his friends from Hot Dog on a Run to our photo shoot.