Layne is an animal lover who grew up in a household full of rescued critters. She is a registered veterinary technician.
Which People Foods Are Safe for Dogs?
Dogs will eat just about anything—the good and the bad. Foods vary in their risk and reward. Some foods, which are not actually toxic or poisonous, may still create issues for your dog, like loose stool, gastrointestinal upset, allergy, or even worse—GI impaction. Things like small fish bones in fish, pits in stone fruit, or cyanide in apple seeds are what we need to look out for as pet owners. Here is a list of foods dogs can eat and what dogs shouldn't eat, as well as commonly asked questions.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
Dogs should never be fed the peel, leaves, and pits of the avocado. All of these three components of the avocado contain persin (a naturally occurring toxin or fungicide) which in high amounts can cause health problems. If ingested, the peel, leaves, and pit of the avocado can case gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea) and heart damage. In addition, the pit or stone of the fruit of the avocado can be a choking hazard and cause intestinal obstruction.
Dogs can, on occasion, eat small amounts of the pulp of the avocado, but avocado is also high in fat, which can cause acute pancreatitis if consumed in large amounts. In addition, foods made with avocado like guacamole contain other ingredients that dogs should not consume (onion, garlic, salt, etc.).
Avocado oil can be good for dogs, alternatively, if produced responsibly and does not contain persin—this makes it potentially safe to use in small amounts in dog food and dog products. Please note that avocado is toxic to other animals, particularly predatory mammals (wildlife), farm animals (goats, rabbits, horses), and birds.
Can I Give My Dog Alcohol or Beer?
No, and offering your dog beer or any type of alcohol is cruel. Dogs can become intoxicated by small amounts of alcohol (ethanol-containing drinks such as hard liquor, beer, or wine) and anything containing hops. Do not feed your dog vodka, whiskey, gin, or any type of hard alcohol. Even a little amount can kill them. Still, you might be wondering if a little bit of beer will hurt your dog (sometimes they consume it accidentally).
Will a little bit of beer hurt my dog?
It depends on the quantity of beer that your dog consumes, the size of your dog, and its health status. Just like humans, dogs can get alcohol poisoning and toxicity from intoxication (and dogs are much smaller than humans). In addition, your dog's liver is not made to process alcohol. Your dog still might act like it loves beer because it has a sweet taste and might show interest in drinking it, but that doesn't mean they actually like it. They are just being curious.
What happens if my dog licks beer?
Most times, a single lick will not cause any issues. However, if your dog ingests a large quantity of alcohol, you will notice the signs of alcohol intoxication rather quickly. Signs of intoxication include lowered respiration rate (breathing), lowered body temperature (hypothermia), dehydration, lethargy, unresponsiveness, coma, and eventually death if it goes untreated (this can happen within 12-24 hours). The effects of alcohol will be noticeable within 30 to 60 minutes. Your dog needs emergency veterinary care if you believe they consumed a large amount of alcohol.
Can My Dog Have Bones?
Bones, in general, are a risky item to offer your dog, which can be confusing for most pet owners. After all, dogs are related to their wild wolf relatives, so one would think they can tolerate animal bones. However, the risk with animal bones is that they can become lodged in your dogs esophagus, digestive tract, or even splinter in their GI tract and cause serious emergent issues.
Pork Bones and Rib Bones
Pork bones and rib bones raw or uncooked can put your dog's health at risk. When your dog chews on them, they will splinter. Splintered bones can cause choking, intestinal blockage, and injury to the esophageal and intestinal lining. In addition, this can cause intestinal obstruction. Raw park bones also fall into this category and should not be offered to your dog, no matter how tempting or even if they've "been fine with them before." All it takes is one accident to cause the need for an emergency abdominal surgery.
Can my dog have turkey bones?
Chicken bones and turkey bones (poultry bones) are especially dangerous for dogs and should not be fed to them. These bones are small in size and splinter easily, which puts your pet at risk of soft-tissue damage or puncture (esophagus, stomach, intestines) and even a dangerous impaction of the digestive tract. You should not feed your dogs turkey legs.
Cranberries or Dried Cranberries
Can dogs eat cranberries or dried cranberries? Cranberries can be eaten by dogs in moderation or small quantities. Some dogs will not like the taste of cranberries due to their sour flavor, and because of their tartness, too many can cause gastrointestinal upset. More importantly, do not feed your pet a berry blend—pay close attention to what is combined with the cranberries. For example, raisins/grapes and currents are highly toxic to dogs and should not be fed to them, ever.
Cranberry juice should also be avoided because of additional additives like sugar and alcohol. Cranberry sauce also contains high amounts of sugar, which is not good for your dog. It's important to note that some dogs will have an allergic reaction to certain foods, so watch your dog carefully after you offer them cranberry.
Can cranberries prevent UTIs in dogs?
There is not enough research to support whether cranberries prevent UTIs in dogs. Cranberries may still may be used in supplement form if provided as a vet-approved formula, but this should not be used in exchange for proper medical care.
Cinnamon is not toxic to dogs, but should be offered in moderation and infrequently. Too much cinnamon (as with humans), can cause gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea and vomiting), altered blood sugar levels, changes in heart rate or rhythm, and can cause liver disease. Cinnamon is sometimes incorporated into dog treats—this is normal. The compound coumarin, which is found in cinnamon, can be toxic in large amounts. Otherwise, cinnamon has great anti-inflammatory properties, is high in antioxidants, and can help to lower high blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, a teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium-sized dog will have no toxic effects. Avoid giving cinnamon oil to your dog, however, as these products are highly concentrated.
Important: Nutmeg, which is often combined in spice blends with cinnamon, is toxic. Do not feed nutmeg to your dog.
Can Dogs Drink Soda?
Soda, or anything carbonated, will upset your dog's stomach and should never be fed to them. In addition, soda often contains high amounts of sugar and caffeine which is toxic to dogs. Sugar will cause your dog's blood sugar levels to elevate, and caffeine is especially toxic to dogs and can be fatal in large amounts. If your dog has ingested caffeine, you might notice agitation, hyperactivity, and increased urination. You will need to bring them to a vet for observation and so that they might receive intravenous fluids to flush them out.
Can I give my dog Sprite for upset stomach?
Absolutely not, as this will lead to further gastrointestinal issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain). You cannot give any type of soda (Ginger Ale, Coke, plain soda or pop) to your dog, let alone for an upset stomach. You will only cause them more harm and discomfort.
Dairy and Milk
Can dogs drink milk? Milk (cow or goat milk) is generally ok to offer your dog in small quantities as a treat, but only in moderation. However, some dogs are lactose intolerant and will have gastrointestinal upset after ingesting milk. Dogs do not have an abundance of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugars in cow milk, and might not be able to tolerate milk in adulthood. In addition, nursing puppies should never receive cow's milk as a supplement for their mother's milk. This can cause severe diarrhea and ultimately dangerous dehydration. Some dogs particularly love the taste of milk because its thought that it might remind them of their instinct to nurse.
What milk is best for dogs?
Goat milk is actually the best type of milk to offer your dog. Avoid offering your dog large amounts of high-fat milks as this can cause acute pancreatitis due to the high dairy fat content. When it comes to nut milk, almond milk is generally ok in small amounts so long as it does not contain the toxic sweetener xylitol. Cashew milk is also generally safe but is not recommended as a regular dietary inclusion since only 3-4 cashews per day should be offered to a 20-pound dog (according to Rover.com). Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.
Dogs can eat plain yogurt, including Greek yogurt, so long as it doesn't contain the toxic sweetener xylitol. However, because it contains lactose, your dog might have a difficult time digesting it as dogs can have lactose intolerance as well.
How much yogurt can I give my dog?
One spoonful or plain yogurt for a small-sized dog is a safe serving size. Two spoonfuls is generally ok for a medium size dog, and three spoonfuls for a large-sized dog. Keep in mind that certain full-fat yogurts in high quantities can cause acute pancreatitis and GI upset in dogs, so watch your dog carefully after offering said yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt offers a good amount of probiotics, calcium, and protein to your dog. In addition, you can stuff a rubber Kong with Greek yogurt and freeze it as an added treat for your dog. Some people mix in peanut butter or raspberries for additional flavor.
Regular plain mayonnaise is generally non-toxic to dogs. Mayonnaise is essentially a combination of oil and egg yolks with vinegar and lemon juice. Although dogs may tolerate it and be interested in it, it is not a recommended treat due to its high fat content. High fat foods can cause acute pancreatitis and further gastrointestinal upset in dogs.
Yes, bread is a generally safe food to feed your dog, especially plain white bread, wheat bread, and sourdough bread. However, if your dog has any type of allergy (like gluten), you should withhold from feeding bread as it can cause skin allergy, upset stomach, diarrhea, and other manifestations of allergies. Be wary of what is in the bread. Bread that contains macadamia nuts, xylitol (sweetener), pomegranate, high fat cheese or dairy, or onion and garlic, should not be fed. Be sure to review what the bread contains and do not feed it if you suspect any unusual ingredients that might be toxic. Never feed your dog raw dough or batter.
You can absolutely feed your dog cooked egg. Avoid feeding your dog raw egg as there is a slight risk of salmonella and other bacteria which can cause illness and gastrointestinal issues. Always serve your dog unseasoned egg. Some of the best ways to offer your dog egg is by cooking it scrambled, hard-boiled, or sunny side up.