There are many foods that dogs can eat and a lot of things they should not eat. To know what they cannot have, should not have, and may have, let us start with what dogs need in their daily diet.
Dogs are omnivores and should therefore eat a good balance of meat and veggies. Dogs also can enjoy many fruits. Many owners supplement their dog’s diet by added fresh produce and even lean meat. Others are learning to make their own foods for their dogs
When it comes to lettuce specifically, dogs can enjoy eating a little lettuce, if they will eat it. The darker the greens, the more vitamin K. Spinach is an excellent source of this vitamin and also has a small amount of protein. Adding protein to their diet via veggies will also keep your costs down.
Many dogs won’t eat lettuce unless it is mixed with other things and this is likely due to the lettuce not having much taste or smell on the wider spectrum of tastes and smells.
Dogs can have a pretty surprising variety in their diet. Some dogs really enjoy trying new things and most people agree that eating ‘real food’ as opposed to eating dried, crumbles, of bits that look like cornmeal. One definitely seems more appealing than the other to us, but our dogs are rarely given a choice.
Have Some Fun Introducing Your Dogs to New Foods
You can have a good time introducing your dog to new foods by offering choices to them at first. Let’s say your dog has never had a carrot but you know he’ll eat a piece of apple. (Be sure to remove seeds from apples as they are very bad and contain cyanide).
Hold out a slice of apple and a carrot stick at the same time and see which your dog chooses first. Then wait to see if he will eat the second choice or if he shuns that completely.
In this way, you can learn what he prefers as well as what he truly just doesn’t like. You should do this experiment when you know he is hungry to ensure that he’s not just too full to choose one. You can try adding some green beans to his food bowl to see if he eats them or drops them out of his way as he eats.
Dogs are incredibly good at pulling the tiniest bits out of their food dish that they don’t care for. You’ll know right away if he doesn’t like it.
Sometimes they have to be coaxed into eating something to even try it. Adding a little tasty gravy or butter, a drop of honey, or a dip in some peanut butter may get them to try something new. Just be careful not to add too much of your enticement in order to ensure they can taste the new food item.
Some dogs love frozen veggies and have luck with using them for teething puppies. Cold carrot sticks kept in a water bowl in the refrigerator are a great teething tool for parents of puppies. Carrots are great for them too, honestly being good for their eyes as well.
Foods to Always Avoid
Never give your dog any of these foods, they are harmful and can cause many side-effects, up to and including death:
- Chocolate – dark chocolate and baking chocolate are particularly lethal
- Grapes or raisins
- Broccoli – a few bites are okay but large amounts can be toxic. Best to avoid this one.
- Xylitol – artificial sweetener that is a neurotoxin.
- Macadamia nuts
- Yeast dough (raw)
- Milk and dairy
- Most nuts
- Raw and uncooked meat, eggs, and bones
The above foods are known to cause extreme side-effects and potentially are life-threatening. If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of these foods, call your veterinarian immediately because time is critical. You should also look into have some activated charcoal in the house so that if your vet recommends using it, you’ll have some capsules.
Giving them to a dog immediately who has ingested a toxin has been shown to help aid in faster recovery. In some cases, your vet may recommend that you induce vomiting if you have hydrogen peroxide in the house. Don’t use this method unless you are sure what our dog ingested because vomiting a caustic substance can cause irreparable harm to their throat and mouth.
What Dogs Can Eat Without Concern
Dogs can enjoy a ton of foods without concern. If you wish to feed them fresh meat, make sure that it is lean, not seasoned, and cooked thoroughly. Eggs are great for dogs and you can feed them as long as they are cooked. Raw eggs may contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause extreme sickness and even death.
Egg shells are a good source of calcium and some dogs relish them as a treat, but you must blanche these in boiling water for a few minutes to ensure salmonella is killed.
Green beans, and all beans, are safe for dogs to eat but be aware that they must be prepared in the same way as for humans because gas pains can be painful. Beans must be soaked at least 24 hours in advance and cooked very well to ensure that gas is released from the beans. Green beans are a great source of vitamins and some dogs will take them as snacks and treats, as well as in their food.
A basic list of foods dogs have been known to eat without issues and enjoy:
- Pear (seeded)
- Apples (seeded)
- Honey Dew
- Rice (brown and white both)
- Turmeric root
- Sweet potato
- White potato but ONLY IF COOKED
- Green pepper, red and yellow also – not al dogs will eat these.
- Peanut butter ONLY IF NATURAL WITH NO SWEETENERS
- Lean meats – avoid high fatty meats and cuts of meat and gristle. Very bad for dogs.
This is a partial list, of course, but dogs are known to eat these foods. Understand that when you introduce new foods to their diet, you should give very little at first. Completely shifting the foods they are used to can upset their digestive systems and cause gas, stomach pain, and bloat. Bloat can lead to very serious issues and a medical condition commonly called gut torsion.
When gut torsion happens, dogs can die from this because the stomach has essentially rolls inside the body cavity causing the blood flow to the intestines to be cut-off. This will require emergency surgery before the bowel begins to die and causes the dog to go into sepsis and shock, resulting in death.
Be wary of doing things that cause excessive gas build-up and never allow your dog to run or do excessive exercise after eating. Let them play when they have an empty stomach, as you would with children swimming.
Use Typical Caution
Just as you keep an eye on children who are young when they try new things, use that same caution with your pets. Know that some foods are choking hazards and that some foods may tickle going down or have an aftertaste that your dog will find to be too bitter, too tangy, or just completely repugnant.
You can cook food for your dog, making them a food with several good ingredients in it and this is fantastic for them. Understand that when you do this, you may cause some diarrhea if they suddenly have a gruel consistency meal versus hard kibble. Mixing the two together may be more suitable to their stomach?
The same things that cause gas for us will cause it in dogs. Be warned that when you change their diet, you may want to keep some air fresheners in the house and sleeping with your dog in the bed may not be all that much fun for a few days.
Dogs will react to changes in their diet faster than we do sometimes and within hours will start exhibiting gassiness that makes coexisting a bit unpleasant. Bear this in mind when making dietary changes and make these changes slowly.
As with children, dogs will have their favorite foods but that doesn’t mean they should have it all the time. Too much of even good things can become bad. Regulate their diet as you would a child’s, striving for balance at all times.
Balance and moderation are two very important words when it comes to diet that is healthy. If you understand that a healthy, balanced diet is essential for all of the systems in the body to function at peak performance, it makes planning meals for your dog (and for you) that much easier.
If you ever find yourself in doubt as to whether their nutritional needs are being met, consider purchasing a powdered vitamin and mineral supplement that has been formulated for them and you can simply sprinkle over their food. These will generally have a pleasing smell and taste that will encourage your dog to eat and enjoy. You can relax knowing they are having all of their needs met.
Laura Barnes is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.