One of the enduring cliches of dog ownership is the frequent begging for table scraps. When sitting down to their meals, many owners are met with the pleading stares of their dogs looking for snacks, either handed out or accidentally dropped. Fortunately, our canine companions are able to consume and digest a fairly wide variety of “people food” even though they’re technically carnivores. But indulgent dog lovers want to know: what are some of the better food choices one can make when it comes to sharing a bite with a hungry mutt? Here are 10 foods that are good for you and for man’s best friend.
Some dog owners like to put a bit of peanut butter on the roofs of their dogs’ mouths because it’s funny to watch a dog smack its lips to get the sticky treat into its hungry belly. Fortunately, peanut butter is safe (and delicious) for dogs to eat. And because dogs are generally quite fond of peanut butter, it can be used to conceal yucky medicine. It almost goes without saying that your dog is best off eating natural, unprocessed peanut butter without added salt, sugar and preservatives. (And that goes for you too.)
Cheese is one of those foods that most of us can agree on. Almost everyone loves at least some cheeses, and you probably have a few lactose-intolerant friends who lament the one thing they really miss eating is cheese. Well, the same is true for dogs. They’re usually eager to gobble up some cheese, and generally it’s perfectly safe. But like us, dogs can be prone to lactose intolerance, so tread lightly. Cottage cheese is a good choice because it’s gentle on sensitive tummies.
Yogurt is one of the best treats you can give dogs for the same reasons it’s so often recommended to humans: it’s packed to the rafters with probiotics, vitamins, protein, calcium, riboflavin, zinc and potassium. But be as judicious with selecting yogurt for your dog as you should be with yourself. Avoid yogurts that are chock-full of sugar, preservatives and other additives. By the same token, fat-free yogurt is an acceptable option for dieting dogs, but be careful not to choose a brand that replaces the fat with an artificial fat substitute. All-natural is the name of the game here.
Summer is almost upon us and our dogs are just as excited as we are for warm weather, fun in the sun, playing at the beach and stuffing our faces with juicy, delicious watermelon. Yes, dogs can eat watermelon. Other melons are good for dogs to eat too, but stick to the familiar fruit-salad basics like watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe instead of anything exotic that you might find.
You’re barely out of bed and your furry pal is already at your feet, giving you those puppy-dog eyes, looking for handouts. Is it safe to share a handful of the blueberries you’re adding to your morning cereal? It’s more than safe; it’s downright healthy. Fresh or frozen, berries are good for dogs for the same reasons they’re good for us: they’re packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. But don’t share too much, because dogs are just as prone as we are to the digestive discomfort that can come from berry overindulgence.
When it comes to “people food” for our pets, fish is typically thought of as a favorite meal of cats, and that’s true, but it doesn’t mean dogs can’t also enjoy the health benefits of some fresh, delicious salmon. The fish is a great source of protein, and it boasts a ton of omega-3 fatty acids which promote a strong immune system, healthy skin and a shiny coat. And if your family has both dogs and cats in the home, that’s all the more reason to stay stocked up on this nutritional powerhouse.
“Eat a green thing every day” is an age-old dietary tip that stands for people and their dogs alike. Getting your kids to eat green beans can be an ongoing battle, but your dog will probably wolf them right down. You already know that green beans are nutritious because they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and since they’re so low in calories too, they make a great weight-management snack for dogs that have put on a few extra pounds.
Sweet potatoes are a wonderful, cost-efficient treat you can share with your dogs. These sweet spuds have got fiber, vitamins and carotenoids up the wazoo. What’s the best way to prepare them for canine consumption? You wouldn’t want to eat sweet potatoes raw, and neither would your pooch. Serve them up in a dog bowl cooked, mashed or even dehydrated. Just don’t add salt or butter.
Carrots are an excellent choice of a vegetable snack for dogs. Dogs love to chow down on carrots because they’re sweet and delicious, and they’re healthy because of all the vitamins, fiber and potassium they carry. As a bonus, carrots are great for canine dental health too. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker suggests baby carrots as a snack to help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and keep its breath fresh and pleasant.
Yes, pumpkin. Like its orange friends, sweet potatoes and carrots, pumpkin is bursting with vitamins, beta carotene and fiber. It’s also low in calories, and you can feed it to a tummy-aching dog to settle its stomach or help relieve diarrhea. As always, fresh is best. If you really must buy the canned stuff, make sure you select a brand of pumpkin that’s not full of sugar and preservatives.