Dogs are carnivores, but they also eat plant based food, and so the best foods for your dog are meats and certain vegetables, and some fruits and grains. What really makes these foods good (or not so good) for your dog is the way they are processed.
This article takes a look at the best foods for your dog and examines those foods that are not so suitable, and notes what to keep in mind when preparing and serving your doggy’s meals.
Table of Contents
What foods will keep my dog healthy?
Dogs can derive nutrients from meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, grains, and fruit, and store bought dog food should always consist of a balanced variety of each of these foods:
- Beef, lamb, and pork – all of these meats are fine for dogs but they need to be thoroughly cooked and the fat removed. (Dogs can eat fat, but they just don’t need it).
- Fish and poultry – fish and chicken need to be thoroughly cooked and all bones (no matter how small) removed.
- Pasta, rice, and bread – cooked and served plain (no flavours or salt) and not in large quantities
- Vegetables – cooked thoroughly and left unflavoured and unsalted
- Fruit – fruits are fine but only in moderate quantities because of the high levels of sugar
- Dairy – again, only in moderate quantities and only if introduced carefully because dogs can be lactose intolerant.
- Eggs – need to be served cooked, unflavoured, and unsalted
Can I give my dog the same food I eat?
You can give your dog most (but not all) human foods, but you definitely can’t prepare it the same way. Unfortunately, some of our cooking and flavouring processes are not suitable for dogs:
- Processed meats, such as ham, bacon, salami, and similar processed meats are too high in salt and preservatives
- Plain cooked eggs are good for dogs, but the typical herbs and spices we use to flavour them are not suitable or necessary for dogs
- Although bread is fine for dogs, some of the spreads we use are not
- Cooked vegetables contain many useful nutrients for your dog, but those vegetables we use for flavour (onions, garlic, leek, shallots) are quite toxic for dogs
- Most fruit is great (in small quantities) but always remove pits and stones
- Fish (cooked) is very good for your dog, but should never be fried in oil, or flavoured with spices or salt, and all bones need to be removed
- Snacks suitable for humans (such as nuts, potato chips, chocolate, sweets, and so on) are not suitable for dogs and can be toxic
Should dogs eat raw foods or cooked foods?
Experts advise that food served cooked is safest for your dog and is best made without additives and always offered in moderate quantities. The risks of serving raw food to dogs include the following:
- Bacteria in raw food (including eggs) can cause illness in dogs
- Raw bones can cause mouth and teeth injuries and damage to the intestinal tract
- A raw food diet is usually not nationally balanced, which can cause health issues over time
What foods are bad for dogs?
There is a list of foods that, although fine for humans, are definitely not good for dogs, and some of these will make him very sick:
- Onions garlic, and chives – cause gastrointestinal irritation
- Chocolate – contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous for dogs and can cause kidney failure
- Macadamia nuts – cause damage to the central nervous system
- Corn on the cob – the cob can cause blockages of the intestine (although the corn is fine)
- Avocado – the plant, seed and fruit contain a substance called Persin which causes diarrhoea and vomiting in dogs
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener) – if your dog digests one of these they can go into hypoglycaemia which can cause liver failure and blood clotting
- Alcohol – causes central nervous system damage
- Caffeine – causes increased heartrate, blood pressure, and can lead to vomiting
- Grapes and raisons – may cause severe liver damage and kidney failure, although the exact reasons for this are still being investigated
What foods are good for sick dogs?
When dogs are sick, they need foods which provide valuable nutrients but which are also easy to digest. The most suitable foods for an ailing dog are usually bland, simple, and cooked.
- Cooked eggs contain essential fatty and amino acids, and they are rich in easily digestible proteins. Eggs are also gentle on the system.
- Plain boiled chicken (shredded or cut into small pieces_ contains essential vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids
- Plain boiled white rice can sooth upset doggy stomachs
- Cooked, peeled, and unsalted pumpkin can regulate the canine digestive system
- Bone broth (plain soup made by boiling meat bones and then strained) makes a tasty but soothing liquid meal. Make sure all bones are removed
- Sometimes baby food will tempt an ill dog to eat because it is so mild and bland and easy to digest
How can you make your own dog food?
Making your own dog food is easy, simply, and inexpensive, and this way, you can be confident that everything in the food is of the best and freshest quality. It’s also a good way to use up any leftover vegetables which are still in good condition.
Simple dog stew
- 16oz of good quality low fat mince (it is possible to purchase pet mince)
- Broil (don’t fry) the mince – your dog doesn’t need the oil
- Add around 3 to 4 cups of well chopped fresh or leftover vegetables (no onions garlic, or chives)
- Add 2 pints (or 4 cups) of water. Don’t be tempted to add spices, herbs, salt, pepper, or even stock of any kind. Your dog does not need these additives.
- Add extra sustenance in the form of rice, oats, and/or pasta – just add enough to thicken the texture of the stew
- Cool the stew before serving, and then ladle straight into your dog’s dish or serve a smaller amount over dry kibble