15 of the Healthiest Foods You Can Give to Your Dog
Dogs are famous for begging while you’re eating at the table or snacking in the kitchen. But in this case, beggars can be choosers. That’s because there are numerous foods you should never give to your dog. Fortunately, for every food scrap you shouldn’t let Sparky vacuum up from under the table, there’s another food scrap that’s OK, or even great, for your dog’s diet. We don’t recommend feeding your dog right from the table, of course. (Unless you want him there, like clockwork, begging every time you sit down for a meal or snack.) But if you do want to share some food with your pet, it’s important to know which foods are the best to give your dog.
Many of the foods people eat are safe for dogs. And some are even healthy additions to your dog’s diet. Feed Fido the right foods, and he’ll get health benefits, such as better immunity, stronger joints, and even fresher breath. Sounds like a win-win. As Lindsay-Jean Hard reports for Food52, there are some general guidelines that can help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t feed your dog. For instance, be careful with foods that are high in sugar and fat. As Hard explains, “Chances are if you know you should be eating something in moderation, your pet should be, too.”
You also should avoid spicy foods, which can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system. And keep in mind that, according to experts, no more than 5% of your dog’s diet should come from treats or people food. Commercially sold dog foods are designed to provide your canine with a healthy, balanced diet. Curious about which people foods you can share with your canine? Read on to check out some of the best foods to give your dog.
1. Shrimp and fish
The American Kennel Club reports that shrimp, fully cooked and with the shells removed, can be a good food for your dog’s diet. Fish is another seafood that’s good for your dog, thanks to all the good fats and amino acids. The AKC specifically recommends salmon and sardines. Salmon is loaded with vitamins and protein, and sardines have soft, digestible bones that give your dog extra calcium.
For any fish other than sardines, make sure you remove all of the small bones. Don’t feed your dog uncooked or undercooked fish, and make sure he isn’t eating fish any more than twice a week. And if you’re feeding your dog tuna, make sure it’s prepared only in water, not oil, and doesn’t contain any spices.
2. Chicken and turkey
If your dog’s diet needs extra protein, cooked and unseasoned chicken is one of the best additions. Chicken prepared without spices or seasoning is also a great option if you find yourself suddenly out of dog food and without the time to run out to the store.
Turkey is another food to share with your dog, as long as it isn’t covered in seasonings, such as garlic, which can be very toxic to your canine. Before you hand over the turkey scraps, remove excess fat and skin. Also, check for bones. Poultry bones can splinter in your dog’s digestive system and cause a blockage or a tear in the intestines.
Pork is a highly digestible protein and is packed with amino acids. Plus, pork is less likely to cause an allergic reaction in some pets, compared to other meat options. Also of note is pork contains more calories per pound than other meats, which means it should be added in moderation to your dog’s diet.
Another protein option the AKC recommends feeding your dog? Eggs. Eggs are safe for a dog’s diet as long as they’re fully cooked. They’re a great source of protein. And they can even help calm an upset stomach. Just be sure the eggs are cooked all the way through because eating raw egg whites can give your dog a biotin deficiency.
Plain yogurt is a good snack for dogs because it’s rich in protein and calcium. Plus, the active bacteria in yogurt can help strengthen your dog’s digestive system. Just don’t feed your dog yogurts with added sugar or artificial sweetener.
Mother Nature Network reports that plain yogurt is an ideal snack for canines, especially if your dog has digestive issues. And Modern Dog notes that plain frozen yogurt can be a great summer indulgence for your dog.
Mother Nature Network also recommends oatmeal as a good snack for dogs. It’s a great source of fiber, which makes it ideal for dogs with bowel irregularity issues. It’s also a safe source of grain for dogs with wheat allergies.
Mother Nature Network advises that before you serve oatmeal to your dog, cook it thoroughly. And don’t add any sugar. Modern Dog notes that oatmeal can be fed in conjunction with probiotics to help dogs maintain bowel regularity.
7. Peanut butter and peanuts
Peanut butter is a great source of protein for dogs. It’s packed with heart-healthy fats, vitamin B, vitamin E, and niacin. The AKC advises that raw, unsalted peanut butter is the healthiest option for your dog. That’s because it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute toxic to dogs.
Peanuts also are safe for dogs to eat. Just make sure you feed peanuts in moderation because you don’t want your dog taking in too much fat. Avoid sharing salted peanuts.
Cashews are packed with helpful nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and proteins. They contain less fat than other nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or pecans. But giving your dog too many can lead to weight gain and other fat-related conditions. So let your dog snack on only unsalted cashews in moderation.
Honey is another great food to give your dog. It’s packed with beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and even antioxidants. The AKC explains that giving your dog a tablespoon of local honey twice a day can help with allergies. How? It introduces small amounts of pollen and helps build your dog’s immunity to the allergens.
The AKC reports that you can feed your dog cheese “in small to moderate quantities,” as long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is rare but still possible in dogs. If you’re concerned, you can always check with your veterinarian. Because many cheeses are high in fat, the AKC recommends you go for low-fat varieties, such as cottage cheese or mozzarella, if you’re sharing with your dog.
You can share your favorite movie snack with your dog. The AKC advises that unsalted, unbuttered, plain air-popped popcorn is fine for your dog in moderation. In fact, it contains riboflavin and thiamine, which are great for eye health and digestion. Popcorn also has small amounts of iron and protein. The AKC recommends you pop the kernels all the way before giving them to your dog because unpopped kernels can be a choking hazard.
It’s not just popcorn that you can share with your dog. Corn is also a safe snack to feed your canine. In fact, corn is one of the most common ingredients in dog foods, so it makes sense you could share fresh or frozen corn with your dog. Just note the cob can be hard for dogs to digest and could cause intestinal blockage. So don’t give your dog corn on the cob.
13. Green beans
Mother Nature Network reports that green beans are both nutritious and low in calories. That makes them a great snack if you want to give your dog a good source of iron and vitamins. Choose either fresh green beans or canned ones with no added salt.
Green beans are typically safe when eaten raw because they have only a small amount of a type of protein called lechtins. But if you want to be extra safe, you can cook your green beans before serving them to your dog.
According to Mother Nature Network, carrots are another vegetable that make a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Carrots are low in calories and high in both fiber and vitamins. And crunching on raw carrots can be good for dog’s teeth. Other types of orange produce Modern Dog recommends for your canine include pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Coconut is a good snack for your dog because it contains lauric acid, which strengthens the immune system. It also can help with bad breath, which is a useful benefit. And it can help clear up skin conditions, too. Coconut milk and coconut oil are safe for dogs, in addition to the fruit. Just don’t give your dog any pieces of the coconut shell, which can be a choking hazard.