5 human foods that are safe for dogs

September 24, 2023 - 7 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
terrier dog with large carrot hanging from mouth

So you want to feed your pup a new snack—but not from a container that says “dog food.” We get it; kibble can get tiresome. Fortunately, plenty of alternative foods are safe in moderation. In fact, many such foods can work wonders for your pup’s digestion, dental health, and overall well-being.

But if you’re looking to feed your pup a treat that isn’t specifically formulated as dog food, you’ll need to consult your vet and avoid unsafe foods. Read on to learn about five alternative foods that dogs can safely eat.

Carrots

Carrots on beige background

Carrots are incredibly healthy for dogs. How healthy? Let’s put it this way: they’re healthier for dogs than they are for rabbits (Bugs Bunny notwithstanding). 

Why Carrots?

If you're looking to diversify your dog's diet with healthy treats, carrots are a fantastic option. They're high in fiber and essential nutrients but low in calories. They make for a quick, convenient snack or a healthy addition to your dog's regular meal.

Benefits of Feeding Carrots to Your Dog

Carrots are a treasure trove of canine health benefits. They’re packed with an alphabet’s worth of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as six different kinds of B vitamins. (The vitamin A is what lends carrots their well-deserved reputation for helping with eye health.) 

The crunchy texture is also great for your dog's dental health, acting as a natural toothbrush that helps remove plaque from their teeth.

How to Serve Carrots to Your Dog

If you’re wondering how to offer your dog carrots safely, you have many options. Feed them to your pup raw for that satisfying crunch, steam them for easier digestion, or even freeze them to create a cool summer treat. 

But do consider your dog’s size, age, and dental health. Smaller dogs, or those with dental issues, may benefit from steamed carrots, which are softer and easier to chew. On the other hand, younger dogs with strong teeth might enjoy the crunchy texture of raw carrots.

Carrot Precautions

Moderation is key. Always wash carrots thoroughly and cut them into manageable pieces to prevent choking. If your dog has never eaten carrots before, it's best to start with a small amount and observe them for any symptoms of allergies or digestive illness.

Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato

Despite their name, sweet potatoes aren't actually potatoes. (Not that vegetable taxonomy matters too much to your dog.) The important thing is that they’re healthy and delicious.

Why Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are low in fat and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. These tasty tubers can supplement your dog's primary diet or serve as a nutritious training treat.

Benefits of Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are teeming with healthy nutrients like vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as dietary fiber and minerals like potassium and manganese. (And let's not forget, vitamin A is an exceptional nutrient for maintaining excellent vision.)

Their abundant fiber also helps with digestion and can be particularly helpful for dogs with sensitive stomachs or bowel issues.

How to Serve Sweet Potatoes to Your Dog

There are plenty of ways to give your pup sweet potatoes. You can bake them into homemade dog treats, mash them up after boiling, or even create dehydrated sweet potato chews.

Again, consider your dog's specific needs when you decide how to feed them sweet potatoes. If your furry friend is a senior or has dental problems, soft, cooked sweet potatoes might be easier for them. Younger, more active dogs may appreciate the texture and flavor of dehydrated sweet potato chews.

Sweet Potato Precautions

As always, moderation and preparation are paramount. Make sure to peel the sweet potatoes and cook them thoroughly to get rid of any toxins. Start with a small serving to gauge your dog’s reaction, especially if they're trying sweet potatoes for the first time.

Blueberries

Blueberries on beige background

Blueberries are one of the few fruits native to North America. Dogs on the western side of the Atlantic have likely been eating them for thousands of years! But it’s only in the last few decades that pet nutritionists have started to view them as a veritable canine superfood. 

Why Blueberries?

If you're on the hunt for a fruit that packs a nutritional punch for your pup, you can’t go wrong with blueberries. These small but mighty berries are low in calories and high in antioxidants, making them a fantastic supplementary treat for your dog.

Blueberry Benefits

Blueberries are rich in essential vitamins like vitamin C and K and packed with antioxidants like anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the compounds that give blueberries their vibrant color, which, let’s be honest, is more purple than blue. More importantly, anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

The antioxidants in blueberries help combat free radicals in the body, which can protect your dog from cell damage and chronic diseases. Not too shabby for a little blue (purple?) fruit. 

How to Serve Blueberries to Your Dog

You can’t really go wrong here. Give them to your dog fresh, frozen, or even incorporate them into certain homemade dog treats.

Smaller dogs, or those with sensitive stomachs, may benefit from smaller portions, while larger, more active dogs can enjoy a nice heaping handful.

Blueberry Precautions

As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be, well, not good. To avoid tummy troubles, always serve your dog blueberries in moderation. Start with a small amount and monitor your dog for any adverse reactions like allergies or stomach issues.

Rice

Bowl of rice on beige background

In many parts of the world, rice is the most widely consumed staple food in the human diet. Guess what? It's a hit with dogs, too.

Why Rice?

If you’re searching for a gentle food option for your pup, rice is an excellent choice. It's easy to digest and offers a quick source of energy. It’s especially ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs or those recovering from an illness.

Rice Benefits 

Rice is a great source of carbohydrates—perfect for an energy boost! It also provides essential nutrients like various B vitamins and small amounts of protein. And again, it’s easy to digest and often recommended for dogs with stomach problems. It’s a common ingredient in many vet-recommended diets for dogs with gastrointestinal issues.

How to Serve Rice to Your Dog

You can offer it boiled and plain, mixed with some lean meat, or even as an ingredient in homemade dog treats.

For older dogs with digestive issues, cooked white rice might be more gentle on their system. Puppies with boundless energy might appreciate the carb boost from a rice-based treat.

Rice Precautions

Remember, balance is key here. Rice can serve as a nice supplement to your pup’s food, but it should never replace their regular meal. Always opt for plain, cooked rice without any spices or sauces, and introduce it in small amounts to gauge your dog's reaction.

Greek Yogurt

Yogurt

Ultimately, Greek yogurt just couldn’t be contained to the Greek isles. Now it’s a dog-friendly treat the world over. (Humans like it, too.)

Why Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, and it contains probiotics that can help with digestion. This makes it a wonderful addition to your dog's regular meals—or a healthy training treat.

H3: Greek Yogurt Benefits

Greek yogurt is abundant in essential nutrients like calcium and zinc.

It’s also loaded with probiotics. These probiotics help balance your dog's digestive system, and may be particularly beneficial for pups with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues. Three cheers for healthy gut flora! 

How to Serve Greek Yogurt to Your Dog

You can serve it plain, mix it with some fruits like blueberries for added flavor, or even freeze it into ice cubes for a refreshing summer treat. Active, larger breeds may enjoy a larger serving as a nice protein boost.

Greek Yogurt Precautions

Moderation is crucial when introducing any new food into your dog's diet. Opt for plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and avoid any varieties with added sugar or artificial sweeteners, especially xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

As always, if it's your dog’s first time trying Greek yogurt, start with a small amount and keep an eye out for any signs of digestive upset or allergies. Be careful if your pup has a sensitive stomach.

Also, keep in mind that many dogs are lactose intolerant. Greek yogurt contains less lactose than many other dairy products, but it still may cause digestive distress in particularly sensitive doggos. 

Going Alternative? Feed Responsibly 

Remember: When you’re feeding alternative foods to your dog, moderation is absolutely essential. These foods aren’t meant to replace traditional dog food; they just spice things up a bit.

Oh, and don’t take that last sentence too literally. Yes, carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, rice, Greek yogurt, and lots of other human foods are generally safe and nutritious for dogs. But keep things plain! Spices and additives like butter and salt are extremely unhealthy for your pup. And some options, like garlic or onion powder, are downright toxic.

Before you make any significant changes to your dog's diet, you should ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first. They can provide personalized guidance tailored to your pup's health needs, helping not just with food selections but also portion control. 

If your pup ever needs veterinary care due to something they ate, dog insurance may help cover the cost of treatment.


David Teich
Lead Editor

David oversees content strategy and development at ManyPets. As Lead Editor, he focuses on delivering accurate information related to pet care and insurance. David’s editorial background spans more than a decade, including a pivotal role at Digiday, where he wrote content and managed relationships with media and tech companies. As an Associate Editor at Cynopsis Media, David wrote the Cynopsis Digital newsletter and interviewed executives and digital marketing experts in the TV industry. His background also includes film journalism. His diverse experiences in journalism and marketing underpins his role in shaping content within the pet care industry.