Cholee is a dog lover and has owned several throughout her life. She enjoys researching ways to incorporate new foods into her dog's diet.
Although most dog food is made from human food, the way it is processed and cooked allows the dog's digestive system to properly digest these foods. Not all human food is easily digested by dogs, and many foods contain toxins and other ingredients that can cause gastrointestinal problems, other digestive upsets, as well as cause allergies.
Most of the listed foods below are meant to be treats for your dogs and are not meant as a supplement for dog food. As long as these foods are portioned, limited, unseasoned, and the meats do not contain fatty pieces, they can have great health benefits for your beloved pet.
As with adding anything to your pet's diet, it is always a good idea to watch the behavior of your pet to make sure they do not have any digestive problems, or allergic reactions to new foods. Always add one or two new foods at a time so you can watch your dog properly for any adverse effects. It is also wise to always consult your veterinarian before making an substantial changes in your dog's diet.
Each dog is an individual and their diet should represent that. There is no one size fits all diet for dogs and what works for one will not always work for another. Dogs within the same family or even same breed may need different nutritional requirements and have different allergies.
If you have a dog with food sensitivities, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or other health concerns, please talk with your vet before trying new foods. Certain health issues may require you to monitor your pet's food intake more closely as some of these foods could aggrevate their condition.
Below is a list that I have compiled after doing much research. I recommended always doing your own research and consulting your veterinarian before adding new foods or drastically changing their diet. Some dogs are extremely sensitive to even the slightest variation to their diet; while others will not have any problems at all.
Meats and Proteins for Dogs
- Wild game: There is a huge variety of wild game that you can feed your dog. Your region will greatly influence what you have readily available to you, however dogs can eat anything from large prey such as elk, caribou, and deer to the smallest of rodents including squirrels and mice. They can also eat prey such as pheasant, chicken, turkey, and quail. This is by no means an all inclusive list, but rather gives you a general idea of what you can feed to your dog.
If you don't know where your wild game is coming from it is important to double check for shot (bullets), as lead can cause major issues for your dog including but not limited to lead poisoning. It is also recommended to freeze your wild game for at least a month to kill any possible parasites. If you know where your meat is coming from however, freezing is not always necessary. Not all diseases are going to die off by freezing, so if you suspect chronic wasting disease for example you are going to want to throw out the meat, as this disease can not be killed by freezing or any cooking processes.
- Pork Products: It is still widely debated about whether or not pork and all by products are harmful or okay for your dog, however in my experience as a general rule pork is okay. It is best to avoid or limit the highly fatty pork products such as bacon or loins as these products can cause gastrointestinal problems. Lean cuts of pork such as the tenderloin are fine served raw or cooked as long as they are handled properly, cooked without spices, and given in moderation.
- Fish: Salmon in particular is a great source of protein and Omega 3's. Salmon needs to be cooked before serving as it contains many harmful parasites when served raw. Other fish that can be served to dogs include: trout, pike, walleye, flounder, and arctic char. Be sure to remove all bones and do not season the fish when feeding to your dog. Tuna in small amounts can be okay, but I advise closely monitoring your dog's tuna intake as tuna is high in mercury and should not be eaten often. Canned tuna is generally worse than fresh caught, but with so many other great fish options, I prefer to stay away from tuna completely.
- Peanut Butter and Nuts: Peanut butter and peanuts in general are a great source of protein for your dog. Peanut butter makes a delicious snack spread on fruits or chew toys. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to peanut butter or peanut products, so it is important to watch your pet after feeding them any form of peanuts to make sure they are not having any adverse reactions.
Roasted or cooked cashews are also good on occasion, be sure to buy the unsalted kind. Cashews are a fatty nut and should be given in moderation, as large portions can cause stomach issues. Like cashews, almonds and pistachios are highly fatty and should not be given in large amounts. A piece here or there will be okay, but they should not be given every day and not in handful size portions.
WARNING: Not all nuts are good for your dog. Macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts are extremely toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
Vegetables for Dogs
Most dogs cannot digest raw vegetables and will benefit greatly from veggies that are cooked and pureed or chopped. As with fruit, vegetables should not make up more than 10 to 25 percent of their daily diet.
- Green Beans
- Broccoli: Only in moderation. Large amounts can be toxic to dogs and could create gastrointestinal problems.
You can read my article Vegetables That Are Good For Dogs for an in-depth look at which vegetables are good for your pet.
Dog Friendly Fruits
Most fruits contain large amounts of sugar and should only be given as treats and not incorporated into their regular diet. Remember to remove seeds, stems, leaves, and rinds as they can cause serious health problems for your pet.
- Raspberries: These fruits contain low levels of sugars and calories and are high in fiber making them a perfect treat. They do contain small amounts of toxins so limit to a cup or less per serving.
- Apples: A great fruit for dogs. Avoid the core and seeds as these are highly toxic. Apple slices paired with peanut butter make a delicious snack, even for our furry friends.
- Bananas: Low calorie snack that is full of nutrients. Bananas contain a lot of sugar and should only be given on occasion. Never feed small dogs a full banana, a few chunks is plenty for them to get all the health benefits.
- Watermelon: Mostly made of water, watermelons provide another way to help keep your pet hydrated on those hot summer days. Be sure to remove seeds and rinds before giving them to your pet.
- Peaches: Can be okay in small amounts. It is still debated whether or not peaches should be given to dogs, however small chunks that are cut away from the pits are okay.
- Oranges: Should only be given on occasion. A third up to a half an orange is a good amount for small and medium sized dogs.
- Pumpkin: Great source of fiber, however many dogs may be allergic. It is highly recommended to consult your veterinarian and to always watch your dog closely when first introducing new foods.
- Pears: Like apples, pear seeds contain the toxin cyanide and it's important to cut pieces that are away from the core and seeds. A few slices or chunks is plenty for healthy snack.
- Blueberries: Fresh or frozen these are a great powerhouse food along with raspberries and strawberries.
- Cucumbers: Low in calories, sodium, and fat this fruit is great for dogs that need to lose weight. They are also over 95 percent water which makes them an easy summer treat to help make sure your dog is staying hyrated.
- Cantaloupe: Like watermelon it is important to avoid the rind as these are hard to chew and are a choking hazard. Cantaloupe is another refreshing sweet treat that is great for those hot summer afternoons and helping with rehydration as it is mostly water.
- Kiwi: Be mindful to remove the skin and cut this small fruit into slices or diced sized pieces before feeding to your pet. Kiwi's are small enough to fit in the mouth of most medium and large sized dog's mouths making them a choking hazard. It's important to take all the necessary procautions to keep your pet safe.
- Pineapple: Raw is great, but avoid canned. Pineapple is already high in natural sugar and the juice or syrup in canned fruits will add too much sugar for your pet.
- Strawberries: Garden fresh strawberries make the perfect summer snack. These high antioxident fruits provide plenty of health benefits for your pet. The texture of strawberries however can be new to your dog and it might be easier to start with frozen to see if they like the flavor. This way they will be more likely to overlook the texture of fresh strawberries if they know they already like them.
I love freezing strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries for my pet and blending them into a homemade "frozen yogurt" of sorts. If your dog can handle dairy, a quarter up to a half cup of plain yogurt could be added to make a creamier consistancy. Do not add flavored yogurts as these contain too much sugars.
If you would like more information on some of the more obscure fruits you can check out the akc site. They have great articles on pineapple and kiwi that explain the health benefits for your dog, as well as what side effects to look for in case these fruits do not agree with them.
WARNING: Grapes and raisins are highly toxic and should never be given to dogs.
Dog Friendly Grains
Most grain products do not carry health benefits, however, as a general rule they are not harmful to your pet. As with everything, moderation is key. Keep portions small, unseasoned, and fully cooked.
- Popcorn must be unsalted and not buttered. This tasty treat can be used as an occasional snack. Do not feed more than a few pieces and ensure that any and all kernals and seeds are removed. My puppy loves popcorn and will wait by the microwave or air popper until she gets some.
- Bread has absolutely no health benefits, but can be the perfect way to hide any unwanted pills or medications your pet may not be happy about taking. Bread like cheese can cause unwanted weight gain so I recommened alternating between bread and cheese if your pet is on a medication that they do not take well.
- Rice is the easiest for dogs to digest and helps with upset stomach issues. You can mix rice with dog friendly vegetables for a full meal.
- Pasta is another great grain for upset stomach issues. We will occasionally mix plain pasta with our dog's regular dry food if she is having gas or other outward signs of tummy troubles. She devours the pasta and is back to feeling better in no time.
Can Dogs Eat Dairy?
Most dogs are lactose intolerant or have stomach issues with certain dairy products. It is extremely important to watch your pet to make sure they don't have an allergic reaction before adding too much dairy to their diet. If your pet is indeed lactose intolerant you will also likely notice vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms. Their symptoms are the exact same as humans, so it is fairly easy to identify if your dog is intolerant or allergic to dairy or any byproducts.
- Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are perfectly healthy for your dog as long as they are fully cooked. Never feed raw eggs. If you would not eat it, it is not safe for your pet. Fully cooked eggs can help an upset stomach.
- Cheese that is low in lactose such as aged cheese (cheddar and swiss for example) is a great dairy source for most dogs. Many cheeses can be high in fats however, so I recommend choosing low fat varieties such as cottage cheese. Most cheeses are very fatty so even if you are opting for low fat varites it's important to limit cheese intake. Too much cheese can cause gas and constipation, and lead to obesity if not monitored.
- Yogurt with no additives can be used as a treat. Plain is the only kind that should be fed to your pet as flavored yogurts have too much sugar.
The key to feeding pets is always moderation. By choosing small portions and limiting these foods to special occassions or once a week you will be able to monitor any adverse effects that could be caused by introducing these new foods. Always consult your veterinarian before supplementing or drastically changing your dog's diet.
© 2012 Cholee Clay
Cholee Clay (author) from Wisconsin on April 27, 2018:
I have never made this recipe so I cannot guarantee how it will turn out however, I can tell you that the ingredients in this recipe are dog friendly. I do not make my own treats with yams or sweet potatoes, but I found this recipe here https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/222671/super-sim...
1 sweet potato
2.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened all natural applesauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the sweet potato, cut it in half, and then scoop out the flesh. Mash the flesh and place 1 cup in a large bowl. Mix all ingredients together until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out. Using cookie cutters cut out biscuts or simply cut dough into strips. Arrange on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake until crisp (35-45 minutes). Let cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
email@example.com on March 29, 2018:
I need a recipe for dog treats made with yams and sweet potatoes
homesteadpatch from Michigan on February 10, 2012:
One of our dogs love carrots, the other doesn't care for them. Dogs are picky just like their human counterparts. Great ideas! Voted up.