Best Food for a Dog
Ever since mankind domesticated wolves, our canine friends have been sharing our food. However, powerful marketing by commercial dog food manufacturers has made us believe that dogs should only eat kibble. So what is the best food for a dog?
Imagine if you ate the exact same thing every single day at each meal… let’s say meat, potatoes, and a side of veggies (like a typical 1950s-era Sunday dinner). For a while, it would seem that you’re getting all of your nutritional needs met but eventually your body would start to call out for variety because an omnivore’s body, like humans and canines, is designed for variety.
Dogs are omnivores, and they need the full nutritional spectrum that only variety can provide. No food manufacturer can ever perfectly replicate the variety and complex nutritional interrelationships between various micronutrients. Feeding your dog the same thing day in and day out will eventually cause health problems – basically malnutrition from inadequate variety – including cancer.
Ease Into It
Don’t believe the myth that giving your dog different foods every day will upset their stomachs. Does eating different food every day upset yours? Of course not. Certain foods may cause digestive upset, but in general, variety is necessary for optimal health.
With that said, the transition from kibble-only to a varied diet should be taken slowly.
Substitute a handful for a handful (or a teaspoon for a teaspoon for toy dogs): take out a handful of kibble and substitute with a handful of cooked or raw food. Every couple of days, remove a bit more kibble and add more real food. It’s really up to you whether you want to eliminate kibble altogether (I recommend it) but you can also think of kibble as part of the “variety” spectrum and consider it okay in moderation, as long as your pups are getting plenty of other food.
Healthy Food for Dogs – What is Good People Food for Dogs
So what can dogs safely eat? In general, most of the foods that are good for us, are also good for our dogs. If we call it junk food, it’s junk food for the dog too. There are some people foods that are toxic to dogs so here’s a breakdown of what’s okay and what isn’t, if you’re “cooking for two” (you and your dog):
- Coconut Oil is soooo good for a dog’s coat and digestive system. Drizzle a bit on their food.
- Cheese is fine in small to moderate quantities; best avoided if your dog is overweight.
- Eggs are nature’s perfect protein/micronutrient foods. Your dog can have eggs raw or cooked. Yes, raw is okay, and it’s better for them! You may have heard that in large amounts, raw egg white can cause a biotin (Vitamin B7) deficiency but the likelihood of you feeding your dog 8-10 raw eggs every day is slim… and egg yolks contain high levels of biotin so it’s not a danger at all. What about salmonella? A healthy dog’s digestive system is much less susceptible to salmonella, but if this makes you nervous, you can cook the egg, but minimally to preserve its nutritional integrity.
- Fish: yes! Any kind of fish is great (except super-salty canned anchovies!!). Fish skin is a delicacy for dogs! Just make sure all of those tiny fish bones have been removed and feed your dog cooked fish to prevent parasites. Avoid feeding your dog a lot of canned tuna, as it can lead to mercury poisoning.
- Fat: throw out the notion that “eating fat makes you fat.” In moderation, fat is an essential part of a canine diet. You can control your dog’s weight by limiting carbohydrates and increasing exercise.
- Honey is a superfood, and can help if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies. It also works well for Kennel Cough.
- Plain yogurt in moderation helps maintain healthy gut flora in your dog. Some dogs don’t do well with yogurt but you can try goat milk yogurt instead of cow yogurt.
- Carrot and celery sticks. Dogs love the crunchy goodness!
- Potatoes: great as long as they’re cooked. However, meat and veggies should be the “main dish” with potatoes as a side dish.
- Peanut butter: an excellent source of protein and vitamins; however, feed only raw, unsweetened and unsalted peanut butter. Always avoid salted/sweetened peanut butter especially if it contains xylitol, a sweetener toxic to dogs.
- Quinoa: sometimes called a super-grain, quinoa isn’t a grain at all, but the seeds of a leafy plant. High in protein and micronutrients, quinoa is often an ingredient in kibble.
- Veggies: yes, yes and yes! Green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, peas, and brussels sprouts are great raw and cooked.
- Fruit: yes! Watermelon, apples, peaches (PITS REMOVED), pears, pineapple, raspberries, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, strawberries and cantaloupe
- Olive oil: great for their coat and skin, extra virgin olive oil can also help with weight loss.
- Rice is a mainstay in many brands of kibble. Feed in moderation, as a side dish.
- Popcorn: Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn is fine in moderation. Popcorn contains riboflavin and thiamine, both of which promote eye health and digestion, as well as small amounts of iron and protein. Give your dog only fully popped kernels to avoid a choking hazard.
- Avocado: Yes, it’s okay! According to Pet Poison Helpline “avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs.” NEVER give your dog avocado pits, but avocado meat is a great source of healthy fat.
- Meat: any kind of meat you eat, is just fine for your dog. Pork is most easily digested. Turkey and chicken are great as long as the bones are removed.
- Bovine Colostrum: best immunity booster and great for allergies, hair loss, leaky gut and many other ailments.
With caution, in moderation: healthy people food for dogs
- Peaches (just fine with the PITS REMOVED)
- Cashews, peanuts and almonds (unsalted only); healthy, but may pose a choking hazard so best served chopped up.
- Ham is OK in very small quantities as it is loaded with salt.
- Corn: it’s one of the most common ingredients in kibble but dogs can’t digest it so it doesn’t do much nutritionally, and the cob poses a choking hazard.
- Tomatoes: okay in moderation and with all green parts cut off (the green parts are toxic)
- Bread and pasta are okay in very small amounts but don’t add anything to a dog’s nutritional needs so don’t think of them as dog-friendly food. But an occasional part of your turkey/apple/spinach sandwich on whole grain bread… yummm…
Unsafe: people food for dogs
- Cherries: avoid because the pit is a choking hazard, and in large quantities can lead to cyanide poisoning.
- Mushrooms can be toxic. Store-bought mushrooms are generally fine, but not part of a dog’s natural pantry.
- Chocolate contains toxic substances called methylxanthines, which are stimulants that stop a dog’s metabolic process. Even just a little bit, especially dark chocolate, can cause diarrhea and vomiting and larger amounts can cause seizures and even death.
- Nuts: in general, say no to nuts for dogs. Pecans, walnuts and macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Salted roasted nuts are bad because they increase water retention, which is potentially fatal to dogs with heart disease. (Peanuts are NOT nuts)
- Garlic and onions – if you give your dog table scraps, pick out the garlic and the onions first. Both can cause anemia.
- Ice cream: canines don’t digest dairy well, plus ice cream is loaded with sugar.
- Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs.
- Sweetened peanut butter: Always avoid salted/sweetened peanut butter especially if it contains xylitol, a sweetener toxic to dogs.
- ANY artificial sweetener
best dog food for toy breeds
If you have questions about a specific food you love that you think Fido would love, do your research, and always get your vet’s advice about feeding people food if your dog is obese or has a chronic condition.
Cooking for your canine friend is as satisfying as cooking for the rest of your family, and your dog will be happier and healthier with a variety of foods!
Please share with us what you feed your dog, below in the comments section.