- by Mary Kearl (Subscribe to Mary Kearl’s posts)
- Jul 28th 2010 @ 2:00PM Filed Under: Dogs, Pet Health, Animal Nutrition
You know you’re not supposed to feed your dog chocolate, onions, grapes/raisins, macadamia nuts and avocados. And you monitor for sensitivity to common food allergens such as meat, corn, wheat and soy.
But you’re only human, and sometimes it’s hard to resist your dog’s sweet stare as he begs you with his eyes to share some of your delicious homo sapien cuisine. When you want to give him a treat from your table, do you know which “human” foods are safe to feed your pup?
To find the answer, we called upon Liz Palika, author of “The Ultimate Pet Food Guide,” and Susan Lauten, animal nutritionist, to explain which fresh, frozen and canned foods people typically eat that are safe for dogs to consume too.
1. Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are all healthy options for your pooch. “My dogs will take me down over cantaloupe,” says Lauten. “I am required to share the whole thing with them.” Consult animal poison control before feeding your dogs any of the more exotic melons.
2. Sunflower seeds (shelled): Skip the salt if possible, or serve in moderation, recommends Lauten. “Remember, treats should not comprise more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie intake. If your dog gets 500 calories a day, 50 calories could come from treats.”
3. Peanut butter: Peanuts don’t appear to cause allergies in dogs like they do in people, says Lauten. “I have some highly food-sensitive dogs for whom peanut butter is a large part of their diet.”
4. Berries (fresh and frozen): Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, huckleberries or raspberries — all are good for your furry friend for the same reason they’re good for humans: free-radical-fighting antioxidants. “A lot of dogs like them frozen,” says Lauten.
5. Cooked chicken: Ran out of your dog’s regular food? Whether boiled, baked, served rotisserie-style or grilled, this food is a healthy substitute. “Dogs will eat a freshly cooked chicken any way they can get it,” says Lauten.
Healthy dogs can handle cooking oils and seasonings. Just be sure to avoid adding onion or too much garlic. If you’re concerned, non-salt seasonings can be used, but that matters more for the human eater than the dog, explains Lauten. Scrambled eggs, hamburger, rice, pasta and/or oatmeal can serve as meal replacements in a pinch, adds Lauten.
6. Cheese: This is a safe snack for dogs, but just like humans, they can experience lactose intolerance, so monitor your dog’s reaction. “Many families use a dollop of cottage cheese with every meal,” says Lauten. To avoid overfeeding, consider giving your dog low- or reduced-fat dairy products.
7. Bananas: “My dogs love bananas and I share mine with them regularly,” says Lauten. “All fruits have phytonutrients and required nutrients. They are good for all of us. If the foods are healthy for me, they are more apt to be healthy for the dog,” says Palika.
8. Apple slices: Lauten recommends serving your pup seedless, organic apple slices, because apple seeds naturally contain cyanide. Citrus fruits such as oranges are good too, but leave off the rinds; they contain many oils and could be too strong for a dog’s digestive system.
9. Baby carrots: Fresh, crunchy vegetables are good for your dog’s teeth, says Lauten. Plus, it’s a bit easier not to overfeed with veggies. “If you’re giving your dog vegetables, you can give a lot more in volume,” because these are low-calorie foods.
10. Green beans: Because this veggie fills dogs up, weight-management programs often include green beans, usually canned with no salt added, says Lauten. “An entire can of green beans contains 70 calories. What a bargain, and filling too!”
Of course every dog is different and you and your vet know best if he or she has any food sensitivities, weight issues or other health concerns that should guide your dog’s diet. It is always a good idea to check with your pet’s doctor if you are planning on changing what your dog eats. Also keep in mind that it is best to introduce new foods to your dog slowly. You don’t want your pooch to get gas, bloating, soft stools or other digestive problems.