We know it's best to avoid feeding man's best friend with table scraps, but sometimes those puppy-dog eyes get the best of us and we can't resist slipping them a treat from our plates.
But just because a food is good for us doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for dogs.
Here's a list of dog-approved people foods, as well as some items you should never share with your canine companion. (And if you are reading this during the holiday season, here's a list of holiday-specific foods that are OK for dogs in moderation.)
Keep in mind though that every dog is different, so try these foods in small amounts, and if your dog has a reaction to any of them, consult a veterinarian.
- Peanut butter: Giving your dog the occasional tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter is a treat you can both enjoy. (Just make sure your brand of peanut butter doesn't contain xylitol.) It's a great source of protein and healthy fats for dogs, and it's a perfect photo opportunity for you.
- Yogurt: High in protein and calcium, plain yogurt is an ideal treat for dogs, especially if your pooch suffers from digestion problems. Make sure you opt for yogurts that don't contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, making it great for dogs with bowel irregularity issues, and it's also safe for dogs with wheat allergies. Before serving it to your pet, cook the oatmeal and don't add any sugar.
- Chicken: If your dog requires extra protein in his diet, cooked, unseasoned chicken is an easy addition to his regular food. It also makes a good meal replacement if you're out of dog food.
- Salmon: Dogs can benefit from omega 3 fatty acids too, so slip some cooked salmon into the food bowl for a healthier, shinier coat.
- Broccoli: This vitamin-rich vegetable can be a great occasional nutrition boost for dogs. However, it shouldn't make up more than 10 percent of a dog's diet as it could cause gastrointestinal irritation.
- Pumpkin: You can serve your dog pumpkin — raw or in a can — as a source of fiber or vitamin A. It's also a helpful addition to a doggie's diet if your pooch is experiencing digestion problems.
- Green beans: Nutritious and low in calories, green beans are a good choice that will load dogs up with iron and vitamins. Make sure to feed your dog only fresh beans or canned ones with no added salt. Something to consider: Most types of beans contain a type of protein called lechitins that, depending on the amount, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if not destroyed by cooking. Green beans only contain 5 to 10 percent of the lechtins in kidney beans, which cause the most problems, and green beans are typically safe when eaten raw. If you're still concerned, you may want to cook your green beans before serving them to your dog (or your family).
- Cottage cheese: This bland food is high in calcium and protein, so it can be a good addition to dog food. However, avoid it if your dog has issues digesting dairy.
- Other cheese: In small quantities, cheese is a great treat for pets, says the American Kennel Club, as long as your dog isn't lactose intolerant (which is rare for dogs, but possible). Choose lower-fat options like mozzarella.
- Carrots: This vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins. Plus, crunching on carrots can be good for dogs' teeth.
- Eggs: If your pooch needs a protein boost, scramble an occasional egg for a healthy snack. Eggs are high in protein, but they're also high in fat, so don't give your pet too many of them. Don't feed raw or undercooked eggs to your dog, cautions the American Veterinary Medical Association. There's the risk of contamination from bacteria such as salmonella, and that can make your dog sick.
Foods not fit for Fido
- Chocolate: You've likely heard that you're never supposed to feed a dog chocolate, and there's a reason for that. That delicious candy contains caffeine-like stimulants known as methylxanthines. If ingested in large amounts, chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, seizures and even death.
- Grapes and raisins: While this fruit is nutritious for you, it's toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure.
- Onions: They may make you cry, but they can make your dog very sick by causing damage to his red blood cells.
- Avocado: Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxin called persin that can cause upset stomach and breathing difficulties.
- Alcohol: Even drinking a small amount of alcohol can result in significant intoxication for a dog, which can lead to vomiting, seizures and even death.