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Guide to Safe and Unsafe Foods for Dogs, including a Homemade Dog Food Guide

Updated on October 17, 2019
Jade Hassenplug profile image

My dog is my child, so I try to find and bake as much as I can for my girl. Homemade is almost always healthier than store-bought.

Healthy for us, isn't always healthy for our dogs
Healthy for us, isn't always healthy for our dogs

Introduction to a Dogs Diet

As a pet parent you want the best for your dog, you want to give them lots of toys and special treats. When you make something tasty for yourself and you see your dog eyeing your food or sniffing the air you might be tempted to share your meal with your pup, but what foods are safe for you furry friend? You don’t want to give them something toxic that can cause stomach upset, health complications or potentially kill your pet. In this article I’ll be sharing the foods that are safe to share and the ones to avoid feeding. I’ll also add at the end some basic homemade dog food recipe ideas.

If you are looking to specifically make homemade dog food, there is a vet approved guide that changes depending on the weight and age of your dog. A balanced dog food needs to contain a protein source, fiber and, carbohydrates. Puppies need around 25% protein in their diet but adult dogs work well with just 18% protein. The protein ratio will also depend on your dogs breed and age. If you have a picky dog, you can easily customize a homemade dog food to fit your dogs preferences.

Some foods you eat can have very good health benefits for your dog and can be fed daily, while others are still safe but should be only given as a special treat. It might surprise you the foods your dog can eat but it’s also important to keep your dogs health in mind. If your dog has any allergies or food intolerant then this list should be looked at carefully. Some dogs have sensitive stomachs and might not be able to eat certain safe foods. I’ll add how often these foods can be given to highlight the ones that have a potential to cause stomach upset.

Daily Safe Foods for Dogs

This list will contain foods that are safe for dogs to consume daily, occasionally and rarely. The ones that are labeled rarely are going to be ones that have a chance to cause upset stomachs or other complications in some dogs who might have allergies. The ones marked occasional are ones that are fine for your dog to consume but too much can cause upset stomachs and should be used more as treats.

These foods are safe to feed your dog daily and can be used in homemade dog foods or as daily treats;

  • Chicken-cooked plain
  • Carrots
  • Peanut butter- unsalted and raw is best, check label for xylitol as it’s toxic to dogs
  • Green beans
  • Eggs- cooked
  • Salmon- fully cooked
  • Blackberries
  • Green peas
  • Oats and oatmeal- cooked and plain with no added sugar
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes- cooked
  • Coconut
  • Pork- fully cooked
  • Beef- fully cooked
  • Turkey- fully cooked with fat and bones removed
  • Rice- plain brown or white cooked
  • Quinoa- healthy alternative to corn, must be cooked
  • Bell peppers
  • Baby spinach
  • Squash
  • Barley
  • Pasta- cooked
  • Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds- cooked, don’t feed the skin or rind

Safe Foods in Moderation

Some foods that are still safe for dogs to eat, should only be fed in moderation. These foods are good for special occasional treats and should be fed with supervision. A lot of these foods still provide good nutritional value for your dogs.

  • Celery
  • Bananas
  • Mangos
  • Popcorn- unsalted and no butter, air-popped is best
  • Cheese- this depends on if your dog is lactose intolerant but cheese can cause slight stomach issues
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon- the amount of sugar pushed this into a moderation treat
  • Honey- this is a good addition to mix in with dry dog food or into homemade treats
  • Strawberries
  • Peanuts- unsalted
  • Potatoes- cooked, plain
  • Cherries- pitted
  • Shrimp- fully cooked and fully shelled. Dogs can be allergic to shellfish just as humans, so give a tiny bit first or consult a vet before feeding
  • Tuna- light, low sodium
  • Yogurt- plain low fat, you can freeze this and add some safe fruits and use as an alternative to ice cream
  • Peaches- this is a hot debate but peach flesh is fine and a yummy treat but the pit can be toxic to dogs
  • Cucumbers
  • Radish- don’t feed too often, but can be a good treat

Safe Foods for Rare Treats

The next section is things you should only feed your dog on rare occasions. These foods, while still technically being safe to feed, can pose a risk to dogs with sensitive stomachs or who may have severe allergies. These foods should always be given in small amounts if you decide to give them as a treat.

  • Cashews- a lot of nuts are to be fed rarely if at all due to their high fat content
  • Almonds
  • Pineapple- high levels of acidity
  • Bread- plain white or whole wheat, this isn’t exactly health concerning but bread gives no nutritional value to dogs
  • Tomatoes- red ripe tomatoes are ok, but green ones can be toxic
  • Cinnamon- organic, fed or used in small amounts
  • Milk- for dogs who are lactose intolerant milk can cause a lot of issues
  • Oranges
  • Corn- difficult to digest
  • Ham- this meat contains a lot of sodium that can be bad for dogs in large amounts.
  • Cauliflower- cooked and unseasoned
  • Eggplant- extremely small amounts as some dogs can be allergic and this can cause stomach upset
  • Brussels sprouts- steamed, and in small portions. This food can cause severe gas and upset stomach but also provides nutrients.

Dangerous and Toxic Foods to Dogs

This section will be foods that are dangerous to your dog and should never be fed to them. Most of these foods contain toxins that can be potentially fatal to dogs and should be avoided completely. Some of these foods might seem obvious but they will still be included just to be safe.

  • Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Green tomatoes (though fully ripe red ones are ok)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Nutmeg
  • Lemons and limes
  • Yeast dough/ yeast bread
  • Ice cream -contains too much sugar but you can make a dog safe version
  • Coconut water- Coconut flesh and oil is fine, the water contains high levels of potassium that can be dangerous to dogs
  • Candies and gum
  • Raw meats including raw egg
  • Chicken bones -they can easily splinter and cause internal damage
  • Xylitol- this is often found in peanut butter and is highly toxic to dogs, read the labels carefully before giving peanut butter to them
  • Sweets like cake and cookies
  • Corn on the cob- it can be a choking hazard
  • Fruit pits and seeds

Guide to Homemade Dog Food

As mentioned above, there is a sort of basic guide for making a balanced homemade dog food. You need a protein source, fiber sources, and carbohydrate source. For puppies they will require about 25% protein while adults only need around 18% protein. Carbohydrate percents have never been officially listed as it’s not known how much should make up the diet. Carbohydrates are usually used to bulk up commercial dog foods because they are abundant and usually cheap. Fiber should never exceed 10% of your dogs diet however. Both sources of the protein and carbohydrates should be thoroughly cooked. A lot of people still believe a raw meat diet is good for dogs but a lot of experts claim this isn’t true. They say a raw meat diet can make your dog more vulnerable to diseases and illnesses and recommend any and all meats should be fully cooked before feeding them to your dog.

You will also need a small amount of fat that is usually incorporated in the form of an oil mixed in with the food. This also helps to ensure the food isn’t too dry and everything can be well mixed.

Some good protein sources include;

  • Dark meat chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Salmon

Carbohydrate options include but are not limited to;

  • White or brown rice
  • Pasta
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Oatmeal

Fiber options include but are not limited to;

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Bell pepper
  • Green beans
  • Baby spinach

Recipe Outlines Based on Weight of Dog

The following are simple open recipe guides depending on the weight of the dog. In these recipes you can mix and match as much as you like just be sure you keep the amounts the same as in the guide. This means you can use chicken and beef for a protein source but it should still equal the 3 ounce listed.

A balanced diet for a 15 pound dog will need

  • 3 ounces of the protein source
  • 1 1/3 cups cooked carbohydrate source
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetables
  • 1-2 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable or coconut oil

A balanced diet for a 30 pound dog will need

  • 4.5 ounces of the protein source
  • 2 cups cooked carbohydrate source
  • 1.5 tablespoons of vegetables
  • 2-3 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable or coconut oil

A balanced diet for a 60 pound dog will need

  • 8 ounces of the protein source
  • 3.5 cups cooked carbohydrate source
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetables
  • 3-5 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable or coconut oil

If you would like a more detailed example here is one recipe I have used in the past for my dog.

  • 4.5 ounce boiled chicken breast
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1.5 tablespoons of carrots
  • 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil

After you cook the chicken and brown rice, simply mix together everything in a bowl and store in the fridge. I shredded the chicken and diced the carrots for my dog and she was in love with this recipe.

Do you make homemade dog food?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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