The fur parents among us would surely note that tasty food isn't merely the domain of humans. Every morsel of food prepared in a house occupied by a dog is sure to attract that dog's attention. But feeding dogs "human food" always gives one pause—sure, they might want it, but should they really, really be eating it? With the Year of the Dog imminent on the lunar calendar, we decided to check with such authorities as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Kennel Club; read on to learn some of the best table scraps to pass off to the pup, and which ones to keep confined to your plate. (Remember, though—when in doubt, always consult your friendly neighborhood veterinary professional!)
Meat & Dairy
The good: Meats are generally okay for dogs, but some may have allergic reactions. Pork is probably the best option here, as it induces allergies less frequently than other meats (it's also easier for dogs to digest). As a general rule, the higher the fat content of a meat, the more difficult it is for a dog to digest; you might want to think twice before you give them too much salami or prosciutto!
Dairy items are also a mixed bag; they're usually fine in moderation, but be sure to monitor your dog's reaction to them to be sure they're not lactose intolerant.
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The bad: While bones are considered a canine staple, tread carefully. Cooked bones in particular can break into shards, which as you can imagine is no good. Raw bones are better, although you should be sure they're too big for your dog to swallow whole. In any event, you're probably better off playing it safe and buying chew toys or other substitutes.
The good: Most fish is A-OK for pups. Salmon and sardines are especially good for them—salmon because of their bounty of vitamins and protein, sardines because their soft, digestible bones are rich in calcium. (Remove any larger fish's bones before serving, though.)
The bad: When serving fish to dogs, be sure to cook it thoroughly—their digestive systems are sensitive!
Fruits, Veggies, & Grains
The good: Quinoa is excellent for dogs—in fact, many high-quality commercial dog foods use it as a corn, wheat, or soy substitute. Plain white or wheat bread is fine, but has little nutritional value for them.
The bad: Onions, garlic, and other related alliums, while delicious for us humans, are downright poisonous for dogs. Other forbidden foods beloved by humankind but dire for doggies? Avocados, grapes, and raisins.
The good: Honey, perhaps surprisingly, is a good snack (in small amounts) for dogs. It's packed with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and various antioxidants, and can even help build up resistance to pollen allergies.
The bad: Chocolate's an infamous canine no-no for a reason; while some types are less toxic than others, you're better off steering clear. And as a general rule, be sure to check food labels whenever possible—the artificial sweetener xylitol, often used in sugar-free or reduced-sugar products, can be toxic for dogs.
The good: Raw peanut butter is a delicious snack for dogs, featuring the added benefit of lots and lots of protein. Beware of the artificial stuff, though—it often contains xylitol. Peanuts themselves are okay in moderation; cashews, too.
The bad: Macadamia nuts are very, very, very bad for dogs, as are pecans and walnuts. While almonds are less harmful, dogs rarely chew them properly, leading to esophageal damage—no thanks.