Dylan & Rainey are both fed a homemade raw diet. So, a lot of time is spent researching good and bad food to ensure they are getting a well-balanced and nutritionally complete diet. (And working with the vet to ensure that they have no deficiencies.) Dylan is like a garbage can and will try and eat everything. Rainey is somewhat more selective as to what she will try. She even goes through weird phases where she will only eat off of certain plates and/or where everything has to be separated—like a little buffet. So, it’s important for me to know safe food for dogs.
With all of the recalls on treats and food happening, pet parents are taking a more active role in investigating where their dog’s food is made and the ingredients that are in it. And like people, dogs benefit greatly from a diet that includes fresh food—even if it’s just the occasional food topper or treat.
Table of Contents
- 1 But where do you start? How do you know what is a safe food for your dog to eat?
- 2 11 safe food for dogs
- 3 3 not so safe food for dogs!
- 4 And just a random fun question—is cat food a bad (or is it safe for dogs)?
But where do you start? How do you know what is a safe food for your dog to eat?
Well, let’s start at the basics.
Dogs are in the Order Carnivora and the family Canidae along with other carnivorous mammals (including wolves, coyotes, and jackals). They are considered scavenging, or facultative carnivores. That means that they mainly eat meat, but can survive on plant material alone if necessary.
According to Steve Brown, a renowned dog nutrition expert, vegetables provide essential nutrients, including fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Without plant matter providing those nutrients, an all-meat diet would need supplements.1
And Dr. Karen Becker says that including some fruits and vegetables can help to mimic their ancestral diet while providing valuable nutrients.2
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are safe for your dog to eat and these are just a few that Dylan & Rainey get regularly. Some vegetables are harder to digest than others, so we tend to put a mix of fruits and vegetables in the blender with some water if needed and then give small amounts to the dogs as part of their daily meals (vegetables should only be around 7% and fruit about 1% of overall daily intake3).
11 safe food for dogs
Apples provide a good source of vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants. Do not feed the seeds or core to your dogs. The seeds contain a form of cyanide which is harmful to your dogs. Apples are high in sugar, so you probably don’t want to give your dog too much.
Although some sources say that avocados are toxic to dogs, a study in 2012 concluded that avocados were safe for dogs.4 Avocados (mainly in the pits, shell, and stem) do contain a chemical, persin, which in large quantities can make your dogs sick.
The flesh (the part you eat) provides an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, magnesium, and several vitamins including B5, B6, E, and K.
Bananas are a great low-calorie treat for dogs. They are high potassium, which helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Bananas are also a good source of flavonoids and vitamins.
They do have a high sugar content, so don’t feed too many. But your dogs will love them. At least Dylan & Rainey do, especially when I use them to make their favorite peanut butter and banana cookies.
Any color mild bell peppers (don’t feed your dog spicy peppers) contain the essential vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to a dog’s health. Peppers are rich in vitamins A, B6, C, E, and lutein.
Your dog may not like eating a slice of pepper, so this is one of those vegetables best pureed. The red ones seem to be the sweetest, and depending on their mood, Dylan & Rainey will eat little pieces of them.
Blueberries are a superfood!! They are rich in antioxidants and packed with fiber, manganese, and phytochemicals. They also make great training treats.
Cantaloupe is rich in vitamin A and carotenoids. It is low in calories and has a ton of water and fiber. It is high in sugar though, so just do not feed too much.
Carrots are an excellent low-calorie snack. They are high in fiber and beta-carotene.
Cucumbers make great crunchy, low-calorie snacks for your dog. They are full of vitamins B1, C, and K, as well as biotin, copper, magnesium, and potassium.
Kale (and other green leafy vegetables)
Kale is a dark-green cruciferous vegetable. It is full of antioxidants, iron, and vitamins (especially vitamins A, C, and K). Kale along with other green leafy vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties and can help support heart health.
Your dog does not have the digestive enzymes to break down the nutrition contained in these cellulose vegetables. So, you will need to help them by pureeing before feeding.
Pumpkin is great for both diarrhea and constipation, so fresh pumpkin (steamed or boiled) or canned 100% pure pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling) should always be on hand. This gourd is relatively low in calories, an excellent source of potassium, and high in soluble fiber, which is beneficial for dogs with gastrointestinal upset.
Dr. Becker recommends giving dogs one teaspoon of 100% canned pumpkin for every 10 lbs of body weight for mild bouts of constipation or diarrhea. The pumpkin can be added to a meal or given plain as a treat.5
Dylan & Rainey love tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes are a great source of fiber and nutrients including antioxidants, choline, and potassium. They are also rich in lycopene. A 2010 study found that lycopene may be beneficial during treatment of osteosarcomas in canines.6
It should be noted that tomatoes do contain solanine, a compound that may be harmful to your pets. But it is concentrated in unripe tomatoes and tomato plants. Ripe tomatoes are considered nontoxic. So just be careful if you are growing tomatoes outside. Over here, Chez Dylan & Rainey, Rainey has to be watched like a hawk as she will pluck off whatever tomato she can and fling them around like little balls of fun.
3 not so safe food for dogs!
You should always have your vet’s number handy in case of an emergency and know the numbers for Poison Control in case you can’t reach your vet.
Here are 2 good resources in case you have questions (please note that they may charge an incident fee):
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435
- 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center: (855) 764-7661
Alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! Thankfully in our house, we haven’t had any issues BUT Dylan has a bit of a drinking problem. He once opened a cooler and tried to run outside with an unopened can of beer. He will rudely stick his head into glasses to get at whatever alcoholic beverage someone is drinking. Rainey doesn’t care for alcohol unless it’s a Rosé (but she’s a bit more posh than Dylan).
The ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Severely intoxicated animals can potentially experience seizures and respiratory failure.
Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener that seems to be cropping up in everything from toothpaste and mouthwash to gum and peanut butter. Please read the label of any low-sugar or sugar-free product you want to feed your dog.
If enough xylitol is ingested it can cause life-threatening low blood sugar (even within 10–15 minutes of ingestion) and acute liver failure.
Over the past year, more than 1,100 calls to Pet Poison Helpline involved exposure to chocolate and 98% involved dogs.7 In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is.
Not all dogs will get sick, but some dogs are more sensitive than others. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, a 50-pound dog can get sick just by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate.
If your dog does get into any chocolate, some symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased thirst, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.
And just a random fun question—is cat food a bad (or is it safe for dogs)?
A healthy dog will not get sick if he/she decides to feast on your kitty’s supper. Dog food and cat food are different because each species requires its own special nutrient profile. Cat food tends to be higher in protein. But cat food is a relatively safe food for dogs.REFERENCES
- Brown, S. Yes; Vegetables for Dogs! Darwin’s Pet Food. April 28, 2016. darwinspet.com.
- Becker, K. Never Feed Your Dog These Fruits and Veggies. March 22, 2019. healthypets.mercola.com.
- LeJeune R. Biologically appropriate raw foods (BARF) diet for adult dogs. Last visited October 13, 2019. perfectlyrawsome.com.
- Davenport, GM et al. Tolerance and safety of an avocado-based ingredient for adult dogs. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 1 April 2012. www.fasebj.org.
- Becker, K. Your Pet’s Elimination Habits: What’s Normal and What’s Not? November 2010. healthypets.mercola.com.
- Wakshlag JJ, Balkman CE. Effects of lycopene on proliferation and death of canine osteosarcoma cells. Am J Vet Res. 2010 Nov;71(11):1362-70.
- Halloween dangers to dogs & cats. Last visited October 13, 2019. petpoisonhelpline.com.