Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" canoodled over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Your pooch can have pasta once in a while, too. Just make sure it's plain and cooked. Brown rice is a healthy whole grain your dog may gobble up. Mix some into her regular dog food to liven up her meal. Make human food a treat for your dog -- no more than 5% to 10% of her diet. The rest should be dog food, which supplies the nutrients she needs.
What dog's nose doesn't go on alert when there's meat around? Chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, and chuck steak or roast are animal-based proteins, which help dogs grow up strong. A few rules apply:
Always cook meat well. Never serve it raw or undercooked.
Avoid fatty cuts, including bacon.
Cut meat -- and any human food -- into easy-to-chew chunks. Ground meat is fine, too.
Old, moldy, or spoiled meats are not OK.
Vegetables give your pup vitamins, fiber, and some canine crunch. Try these raw veggies: whole, grated, or finely chopped: carrot, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, bell peppers, corn (cut off the cob), and celery. Or steam these favorites: green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and hard winter squash. Skip avocado, which can upset her digestion. Don’t give any vegetable or other human food that seems to cause stomach trouble.
Treats for Dog-Day Afternoons
To cool off a hot dog on a sultry day, give her pet pops. Make them with any food she likes, like veggies or applesauce. Freeze the pops in an ice cube tray -- no sticks, of course.
Or whip up some peanut butter pops:
Mix 1 cup of peanut butter (unsalted is best) with half a mashed, ripe banana or a little water.
Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper and freeze.
Bread and Pretzels
Bite-sized bits of whole wheat bread are good for her gut health. But skip raw dough to avoid serious stomach problems. If your dog is in a New York state of mind, give her a street treat -- some pieces of unsalted pretzel. The salted ones can make her extra thirsty, and too much can cause big problems.
Except for grapes and raisins, most fruits are OK for your pup. Try slices of fresh banana or apple (without the seeds), chunks of cantaloupe or watermelon, blueberries, or orange sections.
Homemade sweet potato jerky can also satisfy a sweet tooth:
Scrub and skin sweet potatoes and slice them into 1/2-inch strips.
Put the strips on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 225 F for 3 to 4 hours -- or longer for crunchier treats.
Foods to Help the Meds Go Down
Some dogs resist taking pills, especially if they’re big or smell bad. To make one go down easier, hide it in a tasty treat -- like a peanut butter or marshmallow. Make pill time game time if she likes to play catch. Toss her a few pieces of what you plan to hide it in, one after another, with the pill in one. She may swallow it without even knowing it was there. Ground beef and chicken are other good hiding places. If none of these works, it's OK to use a slice of hot dog. Ask your vet for other ideas.
Doggie Kong Delights
Use toys like a Kong to get your dog to work for his food. You fill the toy with food and let the dog lick it out. It's a boredom buster and healthy treat in one. Try these:
Scramble an egg and add grated bell pepper, tomato chunks, and a sprinkle of cheese. Serve warm.
Spoon cooked oatmeal into a Kong. Layer on canned or cooked pumpkin puree and cottage cheese or plain yogurt. Crush a bit of low-fat graham cracker on top. Serve warm or frozen.
Make sure your dog's Kong has more than one opening to prevent it from becoming a suction. Also, remove any plug it may have that could become a choking hazard.
Give a Dog a Bone?
It's better to stick to chew toys. Chicken and turkey bones aren't safe for dogs, because they can splinter into sharp pieces easily. But what about big lamb or beef bones? Experts say even those aren't a good idea. Bits of raw meat on bones can have disease-causing germs. Even with cooked bones, splinters or large pieces of bone can break off. Both can seriously damage your dog's digestive tract.
Holiday Foods to Share -- and Skip
Too much holiday food is a recipe for doggie distress. But you can give your chow hound a taste of holidays.
He'll be plenty thankful for tidbits like well-cooked turkey, green beans, and cooked sweet potato in his regular chow.
Skip table scraps. They may contain foods he shouldn't have -- like milk, onions, or garlic.
Keep chocolate and cocktails above licking level. Both are toxic. Dogs especially like eggnog and white Russians.
American Veterinary Medical Association: "Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets," "Raw Pet Foods and the AVMA's Policy: FAQ."
ASPCA: "Pet Nutrition Service," "How to Stuff a KONG Toy," "Foods That Are Hazardous to Dogs," "People Foods: Pretzels," "Giving Your Dog a Pill," "Thanksgiving Safety Tips," "Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets."
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE VETERINARY ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your pet’s health. Never ignore professional veterinary advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think your pet may have a veterinary emergency, immediately call your veterinarian.