31 Healthiest Foods For Dogs

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31 Healthiest Foods For Dogs
Graphic – herbs-info.com Dog anatomy image © blueringmedia – fotolia.com

Which fresh, frozen, and canned foods that you typically consume are also safe for your dogs to eat? There is a mega-list of human foods that your beloved canine can have beside the same boring dog food he probably eats every day.

Though giving your furry friend “people food” remains a highly debatable topic, you and your pet share several common delectable items that are nutritious and can help fight disease, boost the animal’s energy, and maintain his overall health.

1. Pasta

Pasta is made from flour, water, and sometimes eggs which are safe for your dog. You can try any kind of pasta but the whole grain variety should be on top of your list next time you go to the supermarket. Whole grains play an important role [1] in lowering the risk of diabetes and cancer as well as in gastrointestinal health.

2. Sweet Potatoes

This root crop is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins B6 and C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Sweet potatoes are very affordable and can be fried or steamed as a chewy treat for your dog. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6. Studies have shown that orange and purple sweet potatoes can fight cancer [2] and diabetes. [3]

3. Chicken

Unseasoned, cooked chicken is a good meal replacement if you are out of dog food. Packed with protein and several B vitamins, chicken is a good source of energy for your pet. The lean meat is also rich in antioxidants which help fight infection. Do not feed your dogs with raw chicken [4] which increases the risk for Salmonella infection. And be sure to avoid giving them cooked chicken bones.

4. Carrots

Most dogs like the mild sweet taste of this orange-colored vegetable. High in fiber and low in calories, carrots is another human food that is safe for your pet. Carrots offer several nutritional benefits including supporting eye health and boosting the immune system. A 1993 study [5] showed the value of carrots in dog nutrition.

5. Eggs

Eggs support skin and nail health for they contain a good amount of protein, biotin, and riboflavin. We all know that protein is good for building muscle and repairing tissue. Raw or uncooked eggs are not good for dogs to avoid the risk of salmonella contamination. A study [6] showed the value of egg protein to dogs with anemia.

6. Blueberries

This fruit is a great summer snack for your dogs. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and phytochemicals. A diet rich in antioxidants can reduce the risk of brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease in dogs, according to a study [7] published in Neurobiology of Aging.

7. Broccoli

A great source of fiber and vitamin C, this vegetable may help fight type-2 diabetes, certain cancers, and asthma, says a 2016 study. [8] A compound called phenol is found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Phenol plays a part in reducing inflammation in the cells and reducing oxidative stress.

8. Peanut Butter

Unsalted and low-sugar peanut butter is ideal for your dogs. Peanut butter is full of heart-healthy fats and contains vitamins B, E, and niacin. You should avoid peanut butter with xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic [9] to dogs.

9. Pumpkin

This vegetable is good for dogs with diarrhea. It is a nutrition powerhouse that has many health benefits not only for dogs but also for cats. An Egyptian study [10] confirmed the effectiveness of pumpkin seed extracts against puppies infected with a gastrointestinal disease known as heterophyiasis.

10. Oatmeal

According to the website petmd.com, oats are high in protein, soluble fiber, and iron, manganese, zinc and B vitamins. Oats also contain the anti-tumor compound b-sitosterol. They also act as a digestive aid to calm the intestinal tract. [11]

11. Cheese

Many dogs are intolerant to lactose, so the cheese does not pose a health problem. However, sharing too much cheese to your animal buddy is not recommended. Low-fat cottage cheese is the much-preferred variety by dog owners. Do not feed your dogs with moldy cheese which could cause intoxication. [12]

12. Apple Slices

This food can help freshen up your dogs’ breath. Introducing apple slices should be done in moderation. The core of the apple is potentially toxic, so avoid feeding this part. Ingestion of rotten apples [13] is also very harmful.

13. Yogurt

Yogurt that has live active cultures [14] and no sugars or artificial sweeteners is good for your dogs. This food will help them alleviate problems like diarrhea, infections, and bacterial overgrowth. Your beloved four-legged companion will enjoy frozen yogurt as a summer treat.

14. Salmon

This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your dog’s coat and skin health. Salmon is also a good source of protein. Do not feed your dogs with raw salmon which could cause anorexia, lethargy, and lymph node enlargement. [15]

15. Sweet Potatoes

Another root crop that is good for dogs are sweet potatoes which are a great source of beta carotene and vitamin A. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology highlighted the antioxidative components [16] of sweet potatoes that include phenols and amino acids.

16. Peas

If you want to infuse healthy, low-calorie nutrients into your pup’s food, peas are a good choice. It contains potassium and is a great source of vitamins C and K. A study showed that peas offer great digestibility [17] of dry, organic matter and gross energy in dogs.

17. Beef

This meat is filled with healthy fats and proteins which your dogs need to maintain a healthy weight and energy level and to improve digestibility. [18] Do not cook this lean meat with strange vegetable, oils, or wines to keep its proteins.

18. Popcorn

Cook this snack with no butter or salt. Popcorn makes a great source of low-calorie treat, potassium, minerals, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium. According to scientists, popcorn contains more polyphenols, [19] an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables.

19. Green Beans

Green beans are low in calories and are great sources of vitamins C and K. When added to the diet of dogs, green beans provided increased spleen weights, as per a 1961 [20] study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

20. Pineapple

Why does this fruit is beneficial for your dog? The fruit is power-packed with fructose, fiber, vitamin, and minerals which can help boost your dog’s immune system and improve digestion. An enzyme called bromelain [21] is found in pineapple that helps your dog to decompose protein.

21. Parsley

Another food that can improve your dog’s breath is parsley. This herb is a good source of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene. Parsley can also help your dog’s stinkiness by facilitating waste elimination due to the herb’s diuretic [22] activity.

22. Tuna

This fatty fish is good for your dog because of its high omega-3 fatty acid content which is great for brain function, [23] immune system, and for maintaining a shiny, healthy coat. Serve this fish cooked rather than raw!

23. Seaweed Nori

This dried seaweed is popular in Japanese cuisine and can be purchased at your nearest Asian stores. Rich in fiber, iodine, and vitamins C and E, nori is great for regulating metabolism [24] which is great for keeping your dog fit.

24. Coconut Oil

Adding a scoop of coconut oil to your dog’s meal could nourish his skin and fur. The oil is a high source of protein and contains monoglyceride monolaurin, [25] a compound that has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

25. Liver

Your dog needs the essential nutrients provided by the liver which is rich in vitamins and irons. The liver is available as fresh at the grocery store or freeze-dried or dehydrated at the pet store. Moderation is also important when feeding your dogs with liver which contains high doses [26] of vitamin A and have the potential to be toxic.

26. Frozen Bananas

Combine bananas with yogurt, and you have a healthy treat for your dogs. Bananas are rich in potassium which is also available in other fruits and vegetables. Deficiency in potassium [27] could have negative implications on the renal function of dogs.

27. Flax Seed

Your dog’s skin and coat will benefit from adding flax seed to his diet because its oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. This was confirmed by a 2001 study. [28] Flax seed is also a fiber-rich food.

28. Pears

You can feed your dog with this fruit’s flesh, but the seeds should be avoided because they are toxic to canines. Just cut a pear up and feed the pieces to your dog. The core should go to the garbage bin. A dietary fiber called arabinogalactan [29] which affects the digestive and immune system of dogs is found in pears.

29. Spirulina

This alga is very rich in essentially fatty acids as well as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Several studies have shown that spirulina can lower the amount of fat [30] in the blood and reduce inflammation.

30. Turmeric

This spice contains an active compound called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These activities demonstrate curcumin’s efficacy against cancer cells. [31] However, studies in dogs are yet to be conducted.

31. Cranberries

Fresh cranberries are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, and C. The fruit’s major bioactive compounds are found to exhibit antioxidant, radical scavenging, antibacterial, antimutagen, and anticarcinogen properties. A study [32] published in 2012 revealed the effectiveness of cranberry products in preventing urinary tract infections.


[1] Jonnalagadda SS et al. 2011. The Journal of Nutrition. Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health Benefits Associated with Whole GrainsóSummary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078018/

[2] Li PG et al. 2013. World Journal of Gastroenterology. Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23745032

[3] Ooi CP, Loke SC. 2012. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Sweet potato for type 2 diabetes mellitus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22336861

[4] Daniel J. Joffe and Daniel P. Schlesinger. 2002. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC339295/

[5] Zentek J, Meyer H. 1993. Schweizer Archiv fur Tierheilkunde. [Granulated carrots (Daucus carota) in dog nutrition] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8430292

[6] Whipple GH, Robscheit-Robbins FS. 1951. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. Anemia plus hypoproteinemia in dogs; various proteins in diet show various patterns in blood protein production; beef muscle,. egg, lactalbumin, fibrin, viscera, and supplement. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14861380

[7] Cotman CW et al. 2002. Neurobiology of Aging. Brain aging in the canine: a diet enriched in antioxidants reduces cognitive dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12392784

[8] Gardner AM, Brown AF, Juvik JA.2016. Molecular Breeding. QTL analysis for the identification of candidate genes controlling phenolic compound accumulation in broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italic). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11032-016-0497-4

[9] Piscitelli CM et al. 2010. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practising Veterinarian. Xylitol toxicity in dogs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20473849

[10] Mahmoud LH et al. 2002. Journal of Egyptian Society of Parasitology. Treatment of experimental heterophyiasis with two plant extracts, areca nut and pumpkin seed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12214927

[11] Randy Kidd. Benefits of Oats for Dogs and Cats. https://petmd.com/dog/wellness/benefits-oats-dogs-and-cats

[12] Arp LH, Richard JL. 1979. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Intoxication of dogs with the mycotoxin penitrem A. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/511750

[13] Kammerer M et al. 2001. Veterinary and Human Toxicology. Ethanol toxicosis from the ingestion of rotten apples by a dog. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11757994

[14] J. Scott Weese and Luis Arroyo. 2003. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. Bacteriological evaluation of dog and cat diets that claim to contain probiotics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC340078/

[15] Booth AJ et al. 1984. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. Salmon Poisoning Disease in Dogs on Southern Vancouver Island. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790503/

[16] Hayase F, Kato H. 1984. Antioxidative components of sweet potatoes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6737096

[17] Carciofi AC et al. 2008. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. Effects of six carbohydrate sources on dog diet digestibility and post-prandial glucose and insulin response. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18477314

[18] Faber TA et al. 2010. Journal of Animal Science. Protein digestibility evaluations of meat and fish substrates using laboratory, avian, and ileally cannulated dog assay. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20023140

[19] American Chemical Society. 2012. Popcorn: The snack with even higher antioxidants levels than fruits and vegetables. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2012/march/popcorn-the-snack-with-even-higher-antioxidants-levels-than-fruits-and-vegetables.html

[20] Larson PS et al. 1961. Effects of adding gamma-irradiated green beans or fruit compote to the diet of dogs. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0041008X61900084

[21] Pavan R et al. 2012. Biotechnology Research International. Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529416/

[22] Kreydiyyeh SI, Usta J. 2002. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Diuretic effect and mechanism of action of parsley. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849841

[23] Muldoon MF et al. 2014. Military Medicine. Long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Optimization of Cognitive Performance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734634/

[24] Ismail A Jr, Tan S. 2002. Malaysian Journal of Nutrition. Antioxidant activity of selected commercial seaweeds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22692475

[25] Tangwatcharin P, Khopaibool P. 2012. The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. Activity of virgin coconut oil, lauric acid or monolaurin in combination with lactic acid against Staphylococcus aureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23077821

[26] Cho DY et al. 1975. American Journal of Veterinary Research. Hypervitaminosis A in the dog. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1190603

[27] Peter H. Abbrecht. 1969. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Effects of potassium deficiency on renal function in the dog. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535707/

[28] Rees CA et al. 2001. Veterinary Dermatology. Effects of dietary flax seed and sunflower seed supplementation on normal canine serum polyunsaturated fatty acids and skin and hair coat condition scores. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11360337

[29] Grieshop CM et al. 2002. The Journal of Nutrition. Oral Administration of Arabinogalactan Affects Immune Status and Fecal Microbial Populations in Dogs. https://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/3/478.full

[30] Ku CS et al. 2013. Journal of Medical Food. Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576896/

[31] Shanmugam MK et al. 2015. Molecules. The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25665066

[32] Jepson RG et al. 2012. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23076891

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