People Foods for Dogs
By Audrey Pavia
Before the days of commercial dog food, dogs ate whatever they could catch, and whatever their humans were willing to share. With the development of the pet food industry, dogs now have their own special diets designed to provide them with all the nutrition they need to stay healthy. But that doesn’t mean your dog can’t enjoy—and even benefit from—certain types of people food.
Prior to even considering giving your dog foods typically enjoyed by humans, consider his weight and health. If your dog is overweight, it’s not a good idea to supplement his regular diet with anything that might contribute to his overall calorie intake. If your dog suffers from allergies and is on a special allergy diet, giving him human foods might aggravate his condition.
That said, the following foods are safe to give dogs as an occasional treat:
- Vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans and squash, either raw or cooked
- Cooked lean meats, such as chicken or turkey (without the skin or bones), beef or pork
- Fruit such as bananas, blueberries and apples
- Plain yogurt
It’s best not to give dogs simple carbohydrates such as bread or crackers because their systems are not designed to digest this type of food.
As long as your dog is not overweight, you can give him an occasional treat of eggs or cheese. Cook the eggs (scrambled is best) and serve in moderation. Avoid using oils or butter since these fats might upset his stomach. When giving cheese as a treat, select cheeses that are low in fat. String cheese is a particular favorite of dogs and can be easily broken up into small pieces as a training reward.
Some people-foods can be harmful to dogs because of chemical compounds they contain. Do not give the following to your dog:
Remember when giving your dog treats of people food to always use moderation. A few bites here and there are enough. Too much people food given all at once can make your dog sick and upset his nutritional balance.
Keep in mind that if you feed your dog while you are sitting at the table eating your own meal, you will create a beggar. If you’d rather not have your dog staring at you whenever you eat, place people food in his own dish when you are serving him his regular meal.
If you plan to use people food as a training treat, keep it in a plastic bag in your pocket, and offer it in moderation when your dog performs a behavior you’ve asked for. Cut the food in small pieces about the size of a dime so you don’t give him too much. This will help keep him from gaining weight or getting an upset stomach.
Remember when giving your dog people food, the choice of food item and the amount you give is most important. Always use moderation.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.