Wondering What Human Foods Dogs Can Eat?

what people foods dogs can eat

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Apparently humans have made some very clear distinctions about whose food is whose in homes shared with dogs. This is dog food. This is people food. It’s an odd distinction, really – at least the “people food” moniker. If nothing else, it creates a lot of confusion and misconceptions at feeding time for Fido. Do you know what human foods dogs can eat?

Possibly, more importantly, you should be asking what human foods are bad for dogs. In this article we explain our top 10 list of human food ingredients that are unsafe for dogs.

10 Ingredients in Human Foods Unsafe for Dogs:

  • Sugar (even artificial options like saccharin, Nutrasweet, )
  • Salt (added sodium, rock salt)
  • High fat (saturated and trans fats)
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine or coffee grounds
  • Alcohol
  • Foods with hormones or chemicals
  • Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Spicy food
  • Yeast & raw dough

Looking for a more comprehensive list of the foods that dogs can and can’t eat? Download our list.

Back to human foods dogs can eat.

There’s something almost cavemanish about the sound of it: Human. Food. Is this food for humans…or food that…is…human? Hmm.

Makes you wonder why grocery stores aren’t called human food stores, if only to ensure that adventurous canines don’t get any crazy ideas.

Are we supposed to believe that, just because something sits on a human’s plate, it’s forbidden to grace Fido’s bowl? Human. Dog. Me. You. Good boy.

It all sounds like a canine coup d’état Far Side cartoon.

At least as recently as yesterday, “dog food” labels contained ingredients like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pumpkin, squash, green beans, blueberries….

Human. Food.

And the more of those healthful, whole-food ingredients contained in the dog food, the greater the chance they get bold billing on the front of the bag.

So, in one way or another, dogs and humans are eating from the same menu.

At least when it comes to raw ingredients.

Human foods bad for dogs

So, we ask again, Can dogs eat people food?

There are, after all, plenty of proponents of raw and home-prepared diets, as well as a whole anti-kibble cult that wouldn’t dream of feeding their dogs from a bag.

Perhaps all the semantics aren’t rooted as much in what Fido’s eating as in what his humans are eating.

After all, we bipeds – at least the American version – aren’t exactly known for being off-grid purists. We worship convenience and the additives of emotional eating: sugar (artificial too), salt, fat, chocolate, alcohol. And therein lies the rub.

Can dogs have alcohol?

can dogs have alcohol


Is it “funny” to let your dog lick up your beer spill during your football game watch?

We can only hope a guardian of dogs would never even consider such a thing.

But accidents happen. And you should be aware of how serious alcohol consumption by a dog can be.

You should also be aware of how the raw ingredients of alcohol appear in other, less suspicious-sounding foods like syrups and raw bread dough.

Can dogs eat chocolate?

Now on to chocolate. (Aahhh, chocolate!)

The example of chocolate presents one of the best explanations – and warnings – for why dogs and people can’t share the same diet.

That magical potion of emotional eating…that close-your-eyes-and-take-a-deep-breath-of-ecstasy satisfier – chocolate – contains an ingredient called theobromide.

This methylxanthine, along with its structurally almost-identical accomplice caffeine, can be deadly, if not immediately, then with prolonged exposure.

The darker the chocolate and the smaller the dog, the more deadly.

But why?

Here is at least one key to understanding why you can’t assume that what is safe (or even good) for you is safe or good for your dog:

Just as dogs cannot metabolize theobromide in chocolate or the ingredients in alcohol, their bodies don’t necessarily recognize “ingestibles” the same way our bodies do.

Should You Be Giving Dogs Table Food?

people foods dogs can eat

When people ask Can dogs eat human food? they’re usually thinking in terms of table scraps and “just-a-bites.” Seems harmless enough, right? After all, you share everything else, including bathroom time.

And besides, your grandparents’ dogs survived on dinner leftovers. And they lived outside in dog houses.

No offense to your ancestors, but times have changed, food and its processing have changed, and veterinary knowledge and care have changed.

If we’re going to consider sharing the dinner table with Fido and his friends, we first need to take a fearless look at what we’re feeding ourselves.

Is added sugar safe for dogs?

Even with the best intentions, the average American diet is loaded with saturated fats, sodium, and sugar, as well as hormones and chemicals used to drive food production. All ingredients that can wreak havoc with your dog’s GI tract and even other systems.

Saccharin, the first sugar substitute, was discovered in 1879 and commercialized as a sugar substitute during WWI.

Since then, humans have continued to develop and use artificial sweeteners, primarily as a way to circumvent the caloric content (and weight gain) associated with sugar.

Perhaps no artificial sweetener has been as pervasive – and deceptive – as Nutrasweet.

Oh! You mean Aspartame?


Wait, isn’t that also called xylitol?


And now, as if all those tags aren’t confusing enough, there’s a new one to look out for: birch sugar (and birch extract and wood sugar).

Oh, and sugar alcohol. The list of disguises is endless, it seems.

A list of human foods bad for dogs

food ingredients toxic to dogs

Xylitol shows up everywhere and can be lethal to your dog!

Please read that again, then go to your kitchen and start reading labels.

Go to your purse or knapsack and read the labels on your gum and breath mints. Go to your bathroom and read the labels on your mouthwash and toothpaste. Look at your kids’ medication labels and your own dietary supplement labels.

And read the labels all the way through – because y’know, the deadly stuff is always going to show up as an “oh, by the way” at the end of the list.

It’s not listed first because it’s not the primary ingredient by weight or volume. But then, the deadliest chemicals don’t need to show up in bulk. A little dab’ll do ya, so to speak.

All this talk of sugar substitutes brings us to one more seemingly no-brainer question:

Can dogs eat peanut butter?

can dogs eat peanut butter

Aside from the caution to use sparingly because of its high calories, peanut butter can be a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin. And most dog parents know it’s an easy go-to for pilling their dogs.

However! (Yes, there’s a big “however.”)

Even peanut butter has gotten in on the xylitol game.

Before you buy peanut butter, let alone feed any to Fido, Read. The. Label!

Your first clue will always be the front label. Any product that is “low-sugar,” “low-calorie,” “zero-calorie,” even “low-fat” is likely to contain xylitol/birch sugar/sugar alcohol.

When it comes to peanut butter, it’s far safer to buy fresh-ground or all-natural.

If you want to eat the brands that are loaded with “stuff,” that’s up to you. But give your sensitive furry companion his own stash spot in the fridge.

What food ingredients are harmful to dogs?

Here is a list of the 10 ingredients in human food that is unsafe for dogs:

  • Sugar (even artificial options like saccharin, Nutrasweet, )
  • Salt (added sodium, rock salt)
  • High fat (saturated and trans fats)
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine or coffee grounds
  • Alcohol
  • Foods with hormones or chemicals
  • Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Spicy food
  • Yeast & raw dough

So, we’ve come full circle…back to the million-dollar question:

What human foods dogs can eat.

What matters in the end is that you recognize that humans and dogs are different, inside and out.

The fact that canines are indiscriminate eaters and will happily eat anything you offer – including the wrapper you dropped on the floor – doesn’t absolve humans of responsibility for what dogs eat.

While there are plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products that you can share with your dogs, you still have homework to do. Download our what can dogs eat and not eat list to print out a complete list of foods that are safe and unsafe for your dog to eat.

Not only do you need to ensure that all the ingredients (even the fresh, seemingly safe ones) you feed your dog are safe for his system. You also need to be conscientious about how you are feeding him.

That “innocent” bite from the counter while you’re cooking or from the table while you’re eating can lead to deplorable, undesirable habits in your dog.

You don’t want to be apologizing to your guests for your dog’s relentless begging and sneaky plate-licking.

And you probably don’t want the shame of knowing you let it happen.

As difficult as it is when you love that sweet face with the saucer-sized, pleading eyes, it’s best to keep things separate.

If you’re an expert in raw or home-prep diets for dogs, you know the importance of ensuring dog-specific nutrients and supplementation. And you’re probably already keeping your prepped foods separated.

But, for the average person trying to feed Fido in the best way, a return to basics just makes sense:

What’s yours is yours. What’s mine is mine.

Get our full list of what dogs can and can’t eat here.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to Dog Life Mag at no cost to you if you decide to purchase the product or service. You can read our full affiliate disclosure in our privacy policyThis site is not intended to provide financial advice or replace your veterinarian’s recommendations and is for entertainment only. Please check with your veterinarian first before giving your pet any medication, treatment, or new foods and we recommend following your veterinarian’s recommendations. 

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