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'People' Foods Your Dog Can Eat

As a rule, keep your food to yourself. But as a rare treat, these foods may be OK.
By Pamela Babcock
WebMD Pet Health Feature

Looking for ways to help your dog lose weight? Can’t resist throwing table scraps? You’re not alone.

Most people know dogs should never eat things like chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic. As a rule, dogs should eat dog food. But there are some “people” foods that are OK to give to dogs.

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Foods most dogs can safely eat in moderation include melon, berries, bananas, cooked chicken (with skin and bones removed), peanut butter, and cream cheese. Usually, it’s better to leave out the salt and other seasoning.

Bernadine Cruz, DVM, a veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif., often recommends green beans, carrots, or fruit like apples for overweight dogs.

“Some people are shocked to hear that it’s OK to give dogs some people food,” Cruz says. “People usually follow exactly the letter of the law -- by not giving any people food. Or they go to the other extreme, where all they give is ‘people’ food. And then there are those clients who only give “people” food as an occasional treat.”

General Guidelines

People and dogs can be emotionally close. But there’s a big difference between what humans and dogs can safely eat.

Human systems are designed to break down and digest complex carbohydrates and plants. Dogs do better when a higher portion of their diet is animal-based.

In general, lean meat -- chicken, turkey, fish, and even pork -- is probably fine for dogs, as long as it’s cooked.

To help dogs lose weight, Lisa P. Weeth, DVM, Diplomate ACVN, a veterinary nutritionist with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, N.J., has a list of recommendations. In addition to baby carrots and green beans, it includes plain, unsalted rice cakes; unsalted no-butter popcorn; vanilla or strawberry yogurt without artificial sweeteners; and even vanilla-flavored animal crackers.

“I have some dogs that love those and some pet owners who love to give them,” Weeth says.

Other generally safe foods include squash, peas, sweet potatoes, and ice cubes made with diluted chicken or beef broth. One note of warning: Dogs can crack their teeth on ice cubes.

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