20 Human Foods Dogs Can & Can’t Eat

Words: Robyn Samuels

If you’ve ever stood in the kitchen and watched your dog make puppy eyes and pool puddles of drool on the floor, you might have been tempted to reward their cuteness with a snack. But, the reality is that not all human foods are safe for canine consumption – the obvious one being chocolate. We like to joke that our furry pets are like kids, the only difference is that they aren’t fussy eaters and will eat just about anything within reach. It probably goes without saying, but human and dog digestive systems differ greatly. That being said, you should probably be clued up on which human foods your dog can and can’t eat.

Good Treats for your Dog

As with many things in life, moderation is key and this applies to our furry friends too. Overfeeding may result in obesity, so it’s best to limit the amount given to your dog.


can dogs eat applesMost dogs love apples, then again, what don’t they like? Apples are just as healthy for dogs as they are for humans. They contain vitamins A and C, are a great source of fibre and aid digestion. The only thing to be cautious of is to make sure that the apples aren’t rotten or fermented, as they would likely contain alcohol, which is obviously bad for dogs.


Just like humans, your pet will get a good dose of magnesium from bananas. They are also a good source of fibre and minerals and are generally safe for dogs to consume. Feel free to mash it up and add it to your dog’s food or feed them pieces of banana. If they like bananas, then frozen pieces are a tasty way to cool them down on warmer days. Slap a little pet-friendly peanut butter on them and you’ll really be popular.


Most dog owners are divided on whether they should feed bones to their dogs. If your dog is overly excited when they consume treats, as dogs often get, they might not even bother to chew. Dogs with healthy teeth can gnaw through most bones, but the size of certain bones could be a choking hazard. Also, splintered bones could rupture their intestinal lining.

If you do give your dog a big bone to chew on, make sure that the meat is cooked, as it could contain bacteria. Feeding raw vegetables and fruits that are safe for dogs to consume is better and helps retain nutrients, but raw meat should be cooked to kill potential bacteria or parasites that might make your dog ill.


can dogs eat carrotsCarrots are not only safe for dogs to eat, they’re also a healthy treat and contain a bunch of vitamins and minerals that are good for dogs’ digestion. Just take note of the size of the carrot, especially if they tend to gobble treats without properly chewing them.


It is safe for dogs to eat chicken, as it’s a good source of protein. Chicken is also normally used as an ingredient in dog food. However, chicken bones are not safe for dogs to consume. If you do feed your dog chicken, make sure that it is unseasoned and doesn’t contain salt, onion or garlic.

Peanut Butter

If there’s one thing that dogs love, it’s peanut butter – we’re not talking about Black Cat or the kind with caramel crunch bits in them, as most commercial peanut butter brands contain high amounts of sugar and sodium. If you are going to feed your dog peanut butter, it should be organic, unsalted and be free of additives and sweeteners. Good brand choices include Butta Nutt or Oh Mega  – they don’t contain additives/sweeteners.

Natural sweetener like honey is safe for dogs to eat, but xylitol is a no-no for dogs – if consumed, it could lead to poisoning. An even better option is the peanut butter available from pet stores that has been specially formulated for our furry friends.


can dogs eat pineapplePineapples are not only a fantastic source of vitamin C, but are also safe for dogs to eat. Feeding your dog too much pineapple might cause an upset tummy though – due to the high acidity and fibre content – so be careful with the amount given.

Plain Popcorn

Dogs can’t resist the smell of fresh popcorn. It turns out that plain, unsalted and unbuttered popcorn is an acceptable snack for dogs. Popcorn contains riboflavin and theobromine, which aid digestion and promotes eye health. Just make sure that they don’t swallow unpopped kernels at the risk of choking on them.


Compared to other types of protein, cooked pork is rather digestible for dogs, it also contains more calories, so feed them sizeable portions. Dogs are also supposedly less likely to get allergic reactions from eating pork versus other protein choices.

Red Tomato

Tomatoes are one of the fruits that dogs can eat. Interestingly, tomato is one of the ingredients found in most dog food. Red tomatoes contain antioxidants, folate, and vitamins C and K – all of which are good for digestion and cell functioning.

Other foods that dogs can eat: blueberries, cucumber, depitted mango, boneless cooked fish, cooked/unseasoned beef, plain green beans, cooked eggs, small amounts of bread/rice.

Foods You Should Avoid Giving Your Dog

The main concern with feeding dogs human food is that it may be a choking hazard. There are some exceptions, as certain foods contain active ingredients that dogs can’t digest.


why can't dogs eat almondsSince peanuts are safe for dogs to eat, it would seem natural that all nuts are, but some commercially sold almonds may be salted and contain high amounts of sodium. Unsalted almonds are normally safe for dogs to eat, but the amount fed to dogs should be restricted as they are high in fats and too many may affect your dog’s weight. Furthermore, because almonds are rather small, they might be a choking hazard for your doggo.


why can't dogs eat avocadoAvocados are full of healthy fats and offer many benefits for humans, but avocados contain persin – a fungicidal toxin found in the pit, skin and leaves of avocados, which seeps into the fruit. Before you freak out, it’s completely harmless for humans – as most avos contain low concentrations of persin – except for those with rare avocado allergies. However, the same can’t be said for our pets. While your dog is unlikely to die after eating a little avo, it could cause an upset stomach, vomiting or myocardial damage if large amounts are consumed.


Cherries are undeniably delicious, but cherry pits aren’t the greatest thing to eat. The pits of cherries contain amygdalin – the same goes for most stone fruit like peaches, apricots and bitter almonds. When eaten, amygdalin converts into cyanide, which is a deadly chemical.

Humans are sensible enough to not eat pits and pitless cherries are normally available in supermarkets, but as we know, dogs eat anything and everything. If you do eat a cherry pit, they are normally harmless and will likely pass through your stool, but dogs might not have the same reaction if you accidentally leave a punnet of cherries within reach.


why can't dogs eat garlicAllicin, an active ingredient in garlic, is considered healthy for humans and has anti-inflammatory properties, but this is harmful for dogs to consume and could result in vomiting or an increase in heart rate. Yikes!


not safe for dogs to eatThe reason isn’t really known, but grapes and raisins are not safe for dogs to eat and can actually lead to rapid kidney failure. We’re talking about a bunch of grapes here, not a harmless single grape. If your dog has ingested grapes, symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea are usually experienced after eating them.

Green Tomatoes

not safe for dogs to eatRed tomatoes are safe for dogs, but eating green, unripe tomatoes can lead to ‘tomatine poisoning’. If your dog eats excessive amounts of it they could experience lethargy, muscle weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, and even seizures, in some cases.

Macadamia nuts

not safe for dogs to eatWhile peanuts are safe for dogs to eat, macadamia nuts are not, and are actually considered highly toxic for dogs. Macadamia nuts contain high amounts of fat, which increases triglyceride levels and could affect the pancreas.


not safe for dogs to eatBig no! Similar to garlic, onions are not safe for dogs to eat. In fact, onion is considered to be one of the most harmful foods for dogs. The compound, N-propyl disulfide, found within onion attacks their red blood cells, resulting in oxidative damage, which could lead to anaemia and poisoning in dogs. While you probably wouldn’t feed your dog onions, our paw pals have a habit of lapping things up we might drop on the floor while cooking.

Lemon & Limes

foods safe for dogs to eatIf you’ve ever tried seeing your baby’s reaction to eating lemons, you’ve probably thought it might be fun to see your dog do the same – not a smart idea. Although healthy for humans, as they contain high amounts of vitamin C, lemon and lime seeds contain psoralen, which is not safe for dogs to eat.

Eating lemon or lime could lead to gastrointestinal problems and result in vomiting, diarrhoea and more severe symptoms like muscle tremors, as well as liver and kidney failure. Most dogs are smart enough to distinguish a good treat from a bad treat and might prefer oranges to lemons, as oranges are generally safe for dogs to eat.


why can't dogs eat chocolateMost know that it’s the one major food that isn’t safe for doggos, but you may have wondered why? Chocolate contains a chemical substance called ‘methylxanthine’, which severely affects dogs’ metabolism and even when eaten in small doses, normally results in vomiting, diarrhoea, arrhythmias and even death. Dark chocolate is especially more dangerous compared to milk chocolate, so don’t leave it within reach of your pupper.

NB: Read labels before giving your dog treats, especially ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low in sugar’ products – they may contain sugar substitutes. Xylitol and other sugar substitutes are toxic to dogs, as it rapidly absorbs into the bloodstream, releasing an excess of insulin into the pancreas. This could lead to hypoglycaemia, seizures and death.

Other foods that dogs can’t eat: coffee/products containing caffeine, ice cream, chives, eggs (uncooked), bread dough.

*Always ensure that your dog has high quality, nutritious dog food. Feeding your dog appropriate quantities is also important for their general health.

Take your pooch to these dog-friendly restaurants in Cape Town.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>