What Can Dogs Eat: Fruit, Veggies, Pizza, Hot Dogs, & More - PetFirst
What human foods can my dog eat? Can dogs eat pizza?
Pet Care & Health

What Can Dogs Eat: Fruit, Veggies, Pizza, Hot Dogs, & More

by MetLife Pet Insurance
2 months ago

Dogs enjoy the same sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes we do, but just because they can eat something, should they?   

According to Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian and founder of the Fear Free® movement, “There is no more noticeable sign of a happy dog than his wagging tail, but there’s no better way to get that dog to wag than by opening a bag of treats!”1    

As a pet parent, trying to provide a complete and balanced diet for your dog can be tricky, especially when they seem to prefer rummaging through the garbage or your cat’s litter box.  It’s often about the smell for your pet.  Smell and taste are closely connected, and the stronger the smell, the bigger the desire to consume.  Some of these ‘smelly’ foods may not be harmful in small quantities, but others could be.  Knowing what dogs can eat is vital to keeping your dog safe.   

Can Dogs Eat Meat and Poultry?

Wild dogs eat 80% meat2, so it makes sense that our companion dogs enjoy meat and poultry as well.  Although cooked white-meat chicken provides many dogs with important nutrients, according to pet nutritionist Susan Blake Davis, it affects the immune system of other dogs the same way dairy bothers some humans2.  Chicken allergies are especially relevant if they trigger irritable bowel syndrome, so if you’re wondering ‘Can Dogs Eat Chicken?’ the answer is maybe.  It depends on your dog’s stomach and allergies.  

Another question we often hear is ‘Can My Dog Eat Hot Dogs?’ A canine favorite, but high in sodium, hot dogs are not the first go-to when it comes to dog treats. If you want to give your dog a hot dog, try only giving small pieces as a high value treat when you really need your dog to obey or perform a skill. 

Some dogs thrive on a raw meat diet that may include raw chicken, lamb, beef or fish as the protein source.  Sometimes when thinking about what dogs can eat, it’s most important to consider the individual canine, as well as how the food is sourced and stored to make sure it is fresh and free of bacteria. Remember: the best diet for a dog is the diet he does best on. 

Can Dogs Eat the Bones the Meat Comes On? 

Bones may be one of the reasons why your dog might be vomiting.  Cooked bones can pierce and puncture intestines, result in choking, broken teeth and G.I. obstructions.  Wondering if your dog can eat lamb bones, pork bones, rib bones or steak bones?  Ironically, if the bones are cooked, they are dangerous for your dog. So, if your dog feels the need to gnaw on bones, finding domestically sourced beef shank and knuckle beef bones is your best bet.  

Can my Dog Eat Fruit & Vegetables?  

Depending on the part of the plant, dogs CAN eat fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, strawberries and watermelon. Apples contain Vitamin C, fiber, calcium and phosphorous for strong teeth and bones and antioxidants for overall health.   Bananas are high in potassium, and blueberries are a great source of antioxidants. Strawberries contain fiber and vitamin C, and watermelon is a great hydrator, being 90% water!  Make sure pets don’t overindulge (fruit sugar can elevate glucose levels and pack on the pounds), and consume only the flesh of the fruit, avoiding the toxic portions. Toxic areas to avoid can include: 

  • leaves 
  • stems 
  • cores 
  • peels  
  • pit and seeds 

Most of these parts can cause choking, intestinal blockages or upset canine tummies. Meanwhile the pit and seeds and seeds of fruit can prove deadly to your dog since they contain poisonous cyanide.   

When it comes to avocados, toxic persin can be found in all parts, except the flesh.  Although avocado flesh contains good fats, limit feeding to prevent pancreatitis, and keep paws off guacamole since most versions contain onions, garlic, tomatoes, and salt.  

Dogs have shorter intestinal tracts than humans, so their colon doesn’t have as much time to break down cellulose, aka plant fiber.  What this means is that dogs can eat carrots, but they will better digest the fiber and extract the Vitamin A and other nutrients when carrots are chopped, pureed, or lightly steamed before serving.  Cooking veggies might bring out the aroma to your dog’s nose, but they do contain sugar, so limit the amount you feed. 

What Human Foods Can Dogs NOT Eat? 

“Everything in moderation, nothing in excess” is how the saying goes, and it certainly applies to to the human foods that your dog can safely eat.  

Avoid processed foods like French fries and raw bacon as they contain high fat and/or salt content.  This can cause excessive thirst, heart and kidney damage, weight gain and gastrointestinal upsets (vomiting, diarrhea, and bloat). 

One of the most common people foods around dogs is pizza, so naturally the question gets asked a lot: “Can I feed my dog Pizza?” Unfortunately, salt & oils are also found in pizza, and the pizza crust offers little nutritional value.  Meanwhile the toppings can contain risky ingredients for your dog, such as cheese (many dogs are lactose intolerant), onions & garlic (can cause hemolytic anemia).  The tomato sauce likely has sugar and spices, but tomatoes themselves are not toxic to dogs once they ripen.  That being said, never feed a green tomato or any part of the leaves or stem to your dog as those parts are poisonous.   

Having touched on many human foods, what about other pet foods?  Can dogs eat cat food?  Protein-based and packed with the strong smell of meat, feline food will entice your dog’s nose.  However, eating cat food often or in large quantities is not a good choice for your dog, as it lacks the proper balance of fiber, protein and nutrients that dogs need.  Even a small amount of protein-dense cat food can cause some dogs to have vomiting and diarrhea!   

Dogs are ruled by their noses, so at the end of the day, your dog will want tasty treats that smell good.   

A tiny bit of something that is outside their daily diet isn’t out of the question, just remember to be smart, and don’t let those puppy dog eyes trick you into doing something unhealthy for your best pal. For some dogs, even a tiny taste can ruin the day.   

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

Dr. Marty Becker, personal interview, August 2018. 

“Chicken Allergies in Pets,” by Susan Blake Davis, Ask Ariel Your Pet Nutritionist, May 17, 2019. 

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