We’re all guilty of slipping our dogs a table scrap or two. No one is immune to puppy dog eyes begging for a taste of what the humans are eating. A bit of pizza crust or the last bite of a hotdog is okay every now and then, but there are plenty of human foods that make better, healthier snacks for dogs. Here are some healthy dog snacks that you won’t feel guilty about giving your dog under the table!
Carrots are the perfect example of an all-around excellent treat. If you have a puppy who is teething, offer a whole carrot. They’re hard enough to offer some relief to aching gums and will last a while, depending on the size of your puppy. Beware, though, that some carrots can leave an orange stain on carpeting and upholstery. These are a hardwood or outdoor treat!
Offering smaller carrot sticks to your dog when you’re having your own snack will help your dog feel included. These smaller carrot sticks also make good training treats for larger dogs and are the perfect size for a smaller dog to enjoy.
Remember, dogs can’t digest raw cellulose, which makes up most plant food, so don’t be surprised to see bits of bright orange carrot in your dog’s stool. It may startle you, but it’s harmless!
Apples are another crunchy, healthy treat that most dogs love. One of many fruits that are good for dogs, apples can be used in lots of dog-friendly recipes or served up in slices.
There are a few rules to safely feeding dogs apples, though. Apples are likely to have pesticide residue on their skin, so wash them with soap and water before giving them to your dog. Make sure not to let your dog have any apple seeds, as they contain a cyanide compound that can be toxic. Also, avoid giving your dog the core of the apple, as it could be a choking hazard. If you’re giving him a plain apple, cut it into seedless slices that are the right size for him. A cold apple slice can be a great treat for teething puppies, too, by keeping them busy and helping soothe their aching gums.
With both carrots and apples, if you have a very small dog, be careful about the size of the piece you offer him. It’s better to give him a large piece he can gnaw than a small piece that he might try to swallow without chewing.
Green beans are another human food that make a great healthy treat for dogs. They’re not ideal for teething puppies or training treats, but green beans are the perfect human food if you’ve put your dog on a diet.
Green beans are low in calories, high in fiber, and very tasty. Add some green beans on top of your dog’s food and he’ll gobble them up.
They can be served raw or cooked, but avoid using any green beans cooked with extra salt or oil—they won’t be as healthy!
Pumpkin is another good human food for dogs. Like green beans, pumpkin is not useful for teething, but it’s another good food for dogs on a diet. Pumpkin contains lots of fiber, which can help your dog feel full, and cooked pumpkin can help correct the occasional bout of constipation or diarrhea.
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to feeding your dog pumpkin; canned pumpkin, raw pumpkin (in season), specially made pumpkin treats for dogs, and more. Basically, plain pumpkin is a delicious and healthy treat for dogs, but sweetened or artificial pumpkin (like pumpkin pie filling) is better left to the humans.
Sweet potato is another vegetable that’s loaded with vitamins and tastes great. There’s a reason sweet potato is often included as an ingredient in dog food and treats—they’re high in fiber and full of potassium and vitamins. They can be served cooked, mashed, or in dried sweet potato treats.
YOGURT AND FRUIT
Moving away from vegetable treats, yogurt is a dairy product that most dogs enjoy. Yogurt offers vitamins and calcium as well as probiotics, which can help keep your dog’s digestive tract healthy. While too much yogurt could cause a touch of diarrhea, a spoonful or two on your dog’s food should be fine. If your dog likes oats, you can even mix some with yogurt for an enticing texture and extra fiber.
Choose a yogurt that contains active bacteria, especially if your dog has recently been on antibiotics. The active bacteria in yogurt helps build up the healthy bacteria in your dog’s intestines and makes up for the good bacteria killed by antibiotics. And speaking of antibiotics, yogurt makes a great place to hide any pills your dog may need to take.
Avoid yogurt that has added sugar or fruits in sugary syrup, but feel free to add your own fresh blueberries or strawberries to the yogurt. Both blueberries and strawberries are safe fruits for dogs. Dogs, like people, can benefit from the antioxidants in blueberries. When it comes to fruits, keep it natural and simple. No blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, or strawberry shortcake. Stick to clean, fresh fruit for dogs.
In fact, dogs can enjoy almost any fresh fruit. Be careful not to give your dog anything with a pit that could choke him or that might be dangerous if chewed. Limit fruits that contain high levels of sugar, and remember that fruits are best as a treat, not as a regular diet.
There are plenty of safe and healthy human foods for dogs. With a little research and a trip to the grocery store, you and your dog can be eating healthy together!