Almost every food-driven dog has mastered the puppy dog eyes in the hopes of getting thrown some food from the dinner table. Human food is like the holy grail for your dog. But what if I told you, people food can actually make a healthy snack option for your dog?
Many commercially available dog treats are very high in calories, may be made with inferior ingredients, and are not subject to the same regulations as dog food. For this reason, motivating your dog during a training session or to give them a little extra love, the right people food can make a great dog treat.
What’s more, selecting the right human food as a healthy snack for your dog can provide nutritional benefits, help relieve symptoms and discomforts they may have, help overweight dogs lose weight, and more.
Let’s take a look at some of the best healthy snacks for dogs in the form of people food and identify what your dogs cannot eat as well.
What human foods are safe for dogs? What can dogs not eat?
Your dog’s nutritional needs aren’t so different than your own. A balanced diet for your dog contains lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and grains. The bulk of their nutrition will come from a carefully selected dog food designed for their age and weight. Beyond that, treats are an opportunity to supplement their diet and reward good behavior.
Protein sources that are safe for dogs
Most human protein sources are totally safe for your furry friend, but it’s a good idea to consider a protein’s biological value when choosing a protein snack for your dog. The biological value is how much protein your dog can absorb from the food.
Eggs, chicken, turkey and fish rank highest when it comes to biological value. Additionally, less common meats like bison and venison make great healthy snacks for dogs. If you ever find yourself without dog food for some reason, cooking up some chicken or eggs (and adding some rice and greens) is a great meal replacement until you can get a bag of dog food.
Peanut butter is another good healthy snack option for your dog because it contains healthy fats and protein. It can be used to fill a natural rubber dog toy and keep them busy. It’s also a life saver when it comes to getting them to take a pill, am I right?
When choosing human proteins for your dog, be sure you are giving it to them without bones, skin and excess fat. It’s a good idea to skip soy-based proteins for your dog because they often cause digestion upset in canines.
Lastly, fish (such as salmon) is a great healthy snack for your dog because it is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. These are known to promote a healthier coat and skin, and aid in joint function.
Vegetables that are safe for dogs
Believe it or not, many dogs enjoy vegetables and can be quite motivated by vegetables to improve behavior and work on new skills. Vegetables are an especially good snack option for dogs that are overweight or need a lot of treats for positive reinforcement. Sweet potato and pumpkin are often recommended when your dog is experiencing constipation.
When I took a dog training class with one of my dogs the teacher used squash as a treat for her own dog. This was because he aided her in training classes every day and would have been very overweight if she used conventional dog treats all the time.
Vegetables can be served to your dog raw or steamed. They make a great addition to dry food and can be used as special treats. Common vegetables that are safe for your dog include: carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, squash, leafy greens, and celery (source).
The main vegetables NOT safe for dogs are onions, leeks, garlic, and mushrooms due to their likelihood of causing digestive upset and possible food poisoning.
Fruits that are safe for dogs
Many people may not think about giving their dog fruit, but it can be a great and safe option. Fruits contain a variety of vitamins beneficial to your dog. Some owners even claim their dogs have a ‘sweet tooth’ and fruit can make a great snack option for these dogs.
Common fruits that are safe for your dog and will make a healthy dog snack include: bananas, apples (sliced), pears, mangos, cantaloupe, pineapple, peaches, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries.
Fruits your dog should avoid include grapes, avocado, and tomatoes.
Grains that are safe for dogs
Grains make up an important part of a healthy diet for your dog. They can also be used to bake your own dog treats (more on that below). Most grains are considered safe for your dog. Top choices include: brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, bread (in small amounts), and flax, which is a fabulous source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids (source).
Dairy that is safe for dogs
Yogurt and milk are both considered safe for dogs. It is best to choose a plain yogurt that doesn’t have added sugars or other ingredients.
Cheese is also usually safe for dogs but may cause digestive upset so give in moderation. Keep in mind that cheese is often high in fat and calories, so if your dog is overweight this is not the best human food option.
10 healthy snacks for dogs
Alright, now you know what’s game in the kitchen for your dog in each food group. But let’s build on those human foods that are safe for dogs with some fun healthy snack ideas for your dog.
Here you’ll find some ideas to grab from the fridge as well as some of the easiest homemade dog treat recipes around.
- Steamed veggies- carrots, sweet potato, squash, and broccoli all work really well. Prep a bunch ahead of time and store in a Ziploc baggie or reusable container for easy access when you catch your pup being good
- Sliced or cubed fruit- bananas, melon, berries, mango (my dog is obsessed!), and apple slices are doggie fan favorites
- Frozen coconut oil and peanut butter dog treats- these couldn’t be easier to make
- Sliced bananas topped with peanut butter and flax seed- freeze until solid and file this under snacks for humans, too (my toddler loves them!)
- Oat, peanut butter, banana treats- get your bake on with these 3 ingredient treats. Full recipe here
- Cubed or shredded lean meat- my husband is a hunter and we often use venison as treats for our dogs
- Pumpkin, yogurt and peanut butter frozen treats- perfect for the fall season, when your dog is suffering from constipation, to cool off your dog in the summer, or any time of year. Full recipe here
- Salmon and sweet potato dog treats- these treats are made with canned salmon, eggs, coconut flour and coconut oil. Talk about a treat that’s packed with nutrients! Get the recipe here
- Frozen watermelon treats- simply blend watermelon and coconut milk together and pour into ice cube trays for a tasty summer dog treat (source)
- Frozen chicken or beef broth treats- freeze in ice cube trays, you can also freeze into a hollow rubber dog toy by using peanut butter as a stopper on one end, filling with broth and freezing the whole treat. Your dog will be kept busy licking it all out
Humans foods can make healthy snacks for dogs
Now you know that there are a variety of healthy human food snack options for your dog, in every food group! So save your dog some calories and enjoy the health benefits of the ideas in this article. You’ll save your wallet, too—dog treats can be expensive, especially the good ones.
Do you have a favorite people food snack for your dog? Share your dog’s favorite below!