While wolves and other wild canines are mostly carnivores, domesticated dogs can and should eat an omnivorous diet. Wild animals eat their prey raw which enables them to absorb a good balance of vitamins and nutrients. Most of us feed our dogs a diet that is specially manufactured for them. If you’ve ever read the ingredients of manufactured dog food, you may have noticed that vitamins and minerals are added. When you choose to feed your dog a homemade meal, cooked meat will not be enough to sustain their needs because high heat will destroy nutrients. Consequently, those nutrients must be supplied through other sources.
Can Dogs Eat Human Foods?
I am a firm believer in feeding a dog human-grade food. In fact, I cook meals for my dog, Thisbe. I add in a high-quality dog food also but most of her food is prepared by me.
A substantial number of people are turning to a vegan diet for themselves and are also considering such a diet for their pets. Although the issue of veganism for dogs is controversial, I know of a few people who do keep their dogs on a 100% plant-based diet successfully. Fortunately, many fruit and vegetables can be consumed by dogs – and, in fact, are healthy for dogs. Because of the trend towards veganism, a few dog food manufacturers have recently started selling a line of vegan products.
Fruits and Vegetables Your Dog Can Eat
Blueberries, bananas, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, legumes (such as peanuts and peas), green beans, alfalfa sprouts, and parsley are just a few of the many plants available to your dog. A larger list is provided at the end of the article. There are so many plants your dog can consume that it’s easier to list what your dog should not eat.
So…What Shouldn’t Your Dog Eat?
Chocolate, grapes, raisins should be avoided always. All nut varieties such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamias are poisonous to your dog. Fatty foods with high cholesterol, for example, whole dairy products, should be given in small amounts, if not completely abstained from. A good rule of thumb – if it’s junk food for you, it’s junk food for your dog too.
Herbs and seasonings should be given in moderation, if you do choose to use them in your dog’s food. Onions, pepper, chili, garlic, and ginger should be used sparingly. Cilantro, parsley, and basil are better choices for flavorings and can be used more generously.
Coffee, coffee beans, and other caffeinated products never should be given to your dog. Canned food items should also be eliminated as they are too high in sugar or salt.
Should Fruits and Vegetables Be Cooked?
It depends on the dog and the plant in question. Some dogs have very sensitive digestive systems and thus must have their food cooked and pulverized. Thisbe is one such dog. I cook her food until it’s tender and then I pass it through a Vitamix.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale should always be cooked and mashed. Bananas and ripe berries and other soft fruits do not need to be cooked but they should be pureed or mashed. If you choose not to cook fruits and vegetables, you should at the very least pass them through a food processor or finely chop them up. Make sure you extract seeds or pits from produce before feeding them to your dog.
Most legumes are a great choice for dogs. They are high in amino acids and fiber, while low in fat. However, do not feed them canned beans. Always opt for dried beans – cooking and pureeing them before feeding.
If you choose to feed your dog animal products, cooking meat and eggs will eliminate germs that cause illness. Again, meat and eggs should be chopped finely or passed through a food processor to assist in digestion. Grinding eggshells into a fine powder and incorporating it into the food will provide essential salts such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. Yogurt is acceptable but opt for a plain nonfat or low-fat brand such as Sadaf or Karoun.
A Summary of Acceptable Foods
To recap, the following is a list of plants that are good for your dog. This list isn’t complete so if you have a question about an item you don’t see in this article, please check with your veterinarian. In any case, you should always consult your vet when changing your dog’s diet. When feeding your dog homemade meals, you may want to use a vitamin supplement provided by your vet.
brown rice (cooked)
kidney beans (cooked)
squash (winter squash should be cooked)
sweet potato (cooked)
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.