When choosing what to feed your furry friends, pet food certainly isn't your only option, There are many types of human food that your pets can eat too. These foods can be delicious and nutritious, while helping you to focus less on expensive pet food.
But, as you're probably aware, you can't simply give your pets every type of food that you eat yourself. Some human foods aren't good for your pets at all. Most of us know not to give dogs chocolate and some of us know that adult cats are largely lactose intolerant. Other foods are less obvious.
That's why this post focuses on foods that are entirely safe. That's not all. Many of these foods are packed full of nutrition too and offer health benefits to your pet. You'll often find that they enjoy the food, which is perfect. Even so, it’s often best to keep relying on pet food to some degree. Pet food is designed to be nutritionally balanced. Your pet could easily miss key nutrients if they were only eating human food.
Now, for this discussion, we're largely focusing on cats and dogs. These are some of the most common pets, after all, and the types of food that you can and can't feed your pets is going to vary depending on the type of animal.
The information we provide can still be useful for other types of pets. Just make sure you do some digging around of your own to make sure that the food you've chosen is a good choice for your particular pet.
Feeding pets human food isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, pets do better when they're eating a diverse diet. This gives them access to a broader array of nutrients. Just be sure to introduce new foods slowly. The digestive system of your pet won't cope well with sudden changes.
Table of Contents
Human Food That Your Pets Can Eat
- Peanut Butter
- Cooked Chicken
- Red Meat
- Deli Meat
- Green Beans
- Green Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
- Bell Peppers
- Other Vegetables
Peanut butter is a popular choice as a dog treat. It's easy to see why too, as dogs seem to love peanut butter and the experience of eating it. The protein content of the peanut butter is a key advantage, along with the balance of nutrients.
Just make sure to choose the product you rely on carefully. Look for unsalted peanut butter that is as natural as possible. Be especially wary of products that are marketed as lite or sugar-free. These may use artificial sweeteners. You shouldn't ever feed your dog artificial sweeteners, particularly not xylitol which is toxic to dogs.
While dogs can eat peanut butter without a problem, veterinarians recommend that pet owners don’t feed their cats peanut butter. Peanut butter is indeed safe for cats, but this doesn’t make it a good choice, as peanut butter doesn’t offer many nutritional benefits, can make cats choke, and is high in calories.
Cheese makes a good snack for most dogs (and not cats!). But, you'll need to watch your dog's reactions closely the first few times to be certain. Doing so is important, as some dogs are lactose intolerant and shouldn't be eating cheese regularly.
The type of cheese matters. It's best to focus on low fat cheese, as this tends to contain fewer calories. Watch the portion sizes too. Overfeeding your dog can easily lead to weight gain, which isn't good for their health.
Avoiding cheese with cats is important, even if the idea might sound surprising. While many people give their cats milk regularly, adult cats tend to be lactose intolerant, so they shouldn’t be eating dairy products at all.
Dogs that can eat lactose will benefit from yogurt as well. Yogurt offers some of the same advantages as cheese, except that it is often lower in fat.
If you're giving your dog yogurt, look for a probiotic yogurt. The bacteria in this type of yogurt isn't just beneficial to humans. It can also help to improve the digestive functioning of your dog.
However, you'll need to be very careful when choosing the yogurt that you plan to use. Yogurt often contains additives and some of these won't be good for your dog at all. You'll need to focus on yogurts that are as natural as possible.
Once again, you’ll need to avoid giving your cat yogurt.
If you're looking for something more substantial, cooked chicken can be a good choice. This is hardly surprising, as chicken is rich in protein and nutrients. It tends to be tasty too.
You could serve chicken on its own or mix it in with your pet's food. Mixing the chicken in is an easy way to add extra substance and flavor to your pet's meal. You end up stretching your pet food out further too.
This pattern is true for cats and dogs. Both types of pets tend to enjoy meat, so most types of meat are a good choice. Just make sure that the meat is cooked and that you keep the portion sizes reasonable.
Pork mightn't be fed to pets as often as chicken, but it's still a useful option. If you do so, you need to make sure that the pork is fully cooked, as undercooked pork can make your pet sick.
Plain pork tends to be better than seasoned pork too, partly because seasoned pork is often high in salt. And, while we're on that topic, limit the amount of processed pork that you provide your pets. Foods like ham and bacon might seem like easy choices, but they're often high in salt.
While salt isn't harmful to pets in small doses, it's easy for pets to get too much salt in their diets. High salt intake can be bad for their health, so keep a close eye on this.
Like chicken, turkey is a healthy source of protein for pets and humans alike. Once again, it's best to focus on meat that is plain rather than seasoned. Salt isn't the only reason for doing so either. Providing your pet with plain meat means there is little risk that they'll run into an adverse ingredient.
Cats and dogs can eat red meat too. They get some benefits from doing so too, as the meat tends to be high in protein and other important nutrients. Nevertheless, your pet’s diet shouldn’t rely too heavily on red meat, as high levels of red meat intake can be a problem for pets just like it is for humans.
Plus, when feeding your pets, it’s best to stick as close as you can to what they would eat in the wild. Most of the time, this means that your pets would be eating white meat and poultry, rather than red meat.
Not surprisingly, pets can eat raw meat. They do so in the wild, after all. Despite this, raw meat isn't always the best idea. It can make your pet sick and is more difficult to digest. This suggests that, if nothing else, raw meat shouldn't be more than a small part of your pet's diet.
With this emphasis on meat, it shouldn’t be surprising that pets can enjoy sliced meat from the deli too. After all, this meat is simply sliced cooked meat, so it has similar advantages to other types of meat.
The trick here is to choose the product carefully. You don’t want anything that is high in salt or is packed full of artificial ingredients. This means that you should avoid processed types of meat to, like salami, bologna, and even ham.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish good for your pets, just like they are for you. This type of fat often helps to keep your pet's coat shiny, to improve their immune system, and to keep them healthy overall.
Focus on cooked salmon, rather than raw, and make sure that there are no bones present. This way your pet is getting all the benefits from the fish without any problems at all.
In fact, raw salmon is a no-no for dogs. There's a parasite that is sometimes present in salmon that can end up being fatal to dogs. Raw salmon isn’t good for cats either, so it’s best to avoid it entirely.
Other types of fish can be good for pets too, partly because of the omega-3 content. The same general rules apply for all types of fish, so you need to make sure that it is fully cooked and bone free.
You do also need to be cautious with cats and tuna. For one thing, tuna is relatively high in mercury. It’s also something that cats can get addicted to. You can still give your cat tuna, or any other type of fish, but the fish is best as an occasional treat, rather than an everyday meal.
Eggs offer an array of nutrients in a small package, so it's no wonder that they're popular. The protein in eggs is easy to digest too, which is a notable advantage.
Scrambled eggs are an easy choice for dogs. Even young dogs will eat them up with little hesitation. Cats enjoy eggs too, but you need to keep the quantities small, as it’s very easy to overfeed a cat.
Dogs aren't likely to get food poisoning from raw eggs in the same way that humans can. Even so, feeding pets raw eggs isn't a good idea. The bacteria present in the eggs can spread to human owners, making them sick.
While many of us already default to feeding pets meat from the table, vegetables are a less common choice. Despite this, pets will often eat vegetables and get many benefits from doing so.
Carrots are perfect for dogs, as their crunchiness helps to build up the dog's teeth. The low calorie nature of carrots is another bonus, giving you the chance to increase your pet's nutrient intake without risking weight gain.
Baby carrots are often the best type, as these are already a good size and shape. You can also simply cut regular-sized carrots until you get the right size for your dog. It's generally best to focus on bite-sized pieces. This way there's little risk of choking.
Dogs can eat cooked carrots as well as raw ones. However, cooked carrots won't offer the same advantages for your dog's teeth.
Cats can eat carrots too and may be more likely to do so if the carrots are cooked. Raw carrots can be a choking hazard for cats too, making cooked carrots a much better choice.
Here's another orange vegetable to try out. Pumpkin, like carrots, is a good source of beta carotene and fiber. The fiber has many advantages and is highly relevant for keeping your pet's digestive system moving as it should be.
Cooked pumpkin, canned pumpkin, and pumpkin seeds are all good choices for both cats and dogs. If you’re looking at the canned option, make sure that you choose a product that is simply pureed pumpkin, rather than pumpkin pie filling. The extra ingredients in pumpkin pie filling aren’t a good choice for your pets.
Green beans are completely safe for your pets. They're also more filling than some other vegetables and a useful source of nutrients. You can cook the beans yourself or purchase pre-prepared ones.
If you're buying cooked beans from a store, make sure that these don't have added salt. Salt doesn't have any advantages for your pets, so it's best to skip it altogether.
The low calorie content of green beans may make them especially relevant for cats. Cats don’t need much energy each day, so it’s easy to overfeed them. Foods like green beans are an easy way to increase your cat’s nutrient intake without contributing to their weight.
You can also turn to fruit. Apple slices are especially relevant to dogs, as they can help to freshen your dog's breath, while also removing residue from their teeth.
Apples are also another source of fiber, especially if your dog is eating the skin too. Vitamin A and C are present too. Just be sure to remove the apple core and all seeds before feeding the apple slices to your dog. You don't want your dog to choke on these.
Apples are safe for cats too, as long as you avoid apple stems, leaves, and seeds. You may find that apple sauce is an easier choice for your cat compared to apple pieces.
Still, apples don’t have many advantages for cats and most of the nutrients that cats need comes from animal-based foods. This means that while you can safely feed apple pieces to your cat, doing so mightn’t be the best plan.
Blueberries are well-known for their high antioxidant content. This effect is good for pets in the same way that it is for humans. There are other beneficial nutrients present too.
The small size of blueberries can be appealing as well, making it easy to give your pet a snack without worrying about overfeeding. Blueberries tend to be safe for cats and for dogs. You’ll even find blueberry powder used in pet food every so often.
Blackberries are another type of berry to consider. Dogs can actually eat these frozen as well as fresh – perfect if you're buying frozen berries from a local store.
In fact, most types of berries are safe for cats and dogs. The benefits of berries might not be as amazing for your pets as they are for you, but there are enough advantages to make berries a good choice on some occasions.
The main fruits to be wary of are cherries, grapes, and raisins, along with citrus fruits and persimmons. These tend to be problematic for pets. Some are even toxic. The sugar content of fruit means that you need to limit fruit for any overweight pet.
Pineapple is another fruit to try, but you'll need to keep the amounts small. Large amounts of any type of food often cause more harm than good for your pets.
You should also start off with very small portions, to allow your pet's digestive system to get familiar with the food. Increase the quantities slowly and watch for any side effects. Pets are individuals just like humans, so they can respond differently to one another.
Continuing on the theme of fruit for the moment, watermelon is another appealing choice. The fruit is naturally low in calories and is hydrating. This combination can be perfect if you're worried about your pet's weight.
You will, however, need to make sure to remove the rind and the seeds of your watermelon. While humans can eat watermelon seeds without a problem, the seeds end up being a choking hazard for pets.
Did you know that dogs can eat cooked oatmeal? The meal is a surprisingly good choice, as it is high in fiber. Some of this fiber is powerful for your dog's digestive system too, helping to keep them more regular.
It's best to serve the oatmeal plain, as any additions may not be good for your dog. Be careful to avoid sugar or additives, neither of which are helpful at all.
Cats can eat oatmeal too, but you’ll need to prepare oatmeal using water rather than milk, as adult cats are often lactose intolerant.
Popcorn can be viable as a snack for pets. The biggest advantage is that popcorn itself is low in calories.
However, you will need to be careful about the popcorn that you choose. Focus on plain popcorn. Most of the ingredients that we commonly add to popcorn are bad for pets, this includes salt, butter, and oil.
You'll also need to look for fully popped pieces of popcorn. The kernels can be a choking hazard, so partially popped pieces of popcorn can be harmful.
Corn is another human food that pets can only eat if you're cautious. Cooked corn kernels tend to be fine and offer a variety of useful nutrients.
On the other hand, corn on the cob isn't a good plan. The cob presents a choking hazard and makes the corn harder to eat. Skip any additional ingredients too, like butter or salt. It's always best to focus on unseasoned foods for your pets.
And, as with any food, pay attention to the quantities. Even if your pet can safely eat a given type of human food, the amount that is good for them may be much less than for you. Always pay attention to how your pet responds to food. Regular digestive issues, for example, are a good indication that your pet's diet may need changing.
Watching your pet’s reaction is especially important for corn, as while the vegetable is safe for pets, some may be allergic to corn.
Green peas might not be the most exciting type of vegetable, but they're always a convenient choice. After all, you can generally find inexpensive frozen peas at the grocery store.
Peas are also a common ingredient in dog food, partly because dogs enjoy the flavor. Plus, green peas are another choice that is high in nutrients and low in calories.
Just be sure to focus on fresh or frozen peas, rather than canned ones. Canned vegetables tend to be high in sodium, which isn't good for your pets.
Sweet potatoes are a pet-friendly food that you probably didn't expect. The bright orange color means that they're another source of beta-carotene and are useful for that reason alone.
Plus, beta-carotene is known as a provitamin A, as it can be converted into vitamin A. This means that any beta-carotene rich foods will provide your pet with vitamin A, which is an important nutrient.
Coconut is safe for pets, so the meat from coconuts is sometimes provided to pets as a snack. You can also give pets coconut oil. Some theories suggest that doing so may help to improve the pet's coat and even their skin.
The evidence for such benefits is far from complete. Still, coconut or coconut oil could be something that you want to try out for yourself. You could turn to coconut milk as well, which makes an interesting alternative to dairy milk for cats.
There's just one limitation – coconut oil is high in fat, particularly saturated fat. It can easily contribute to weight gain if you're not careful. The right amount will depend on a variety of factors, including how active your pet is and his or her size.
There is also the risk that coconut will give cats diarrhea, partly because of the high fat content. The chance of diarrhea is lower in coconut milk compared to coconut meat and coconut oil, but there is still a risk either way.
All colors of bell pepper are safe for your pet. You’re often getting some beta-carotene, along with other important plant-based compounds.
Be sure to cut up the pepper before feeding it to your pet. Take the time to remove the stem and the seeds as well.
We’ve highlighted a variety of vegetables for you to consider giving your pets and there are others as well. Spinach, zucchini, lettuce, cucumber, celery, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are all examples of good vegetables to choose from.
On the other hand, you’ll need to entirely avoid onions and garlic, as these are both highly toxic to cats and dogs. Wild mushrooms and rhubarb are problems as well.
It’s often best to cook any vegetables before giving them to your pet. Steaming or boiling are common techniques. Cooking the vegetables tends to make digestion easier and may increase the chances that your pet will eat the vegetable. When feeding cats, you may also need to puree the vegetables to get them to eat them.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, be cautious with portion sizes. Many human foods are safe for pets if you feed them a little every so often.
This changes if you’re giving them large portions or are feeding them the same type of human food each day. Doing so increases the risk of a problem. For example, too much spinach can contribute to kidney problems in pets, especially for a pet that already had kidney disease.
Cats and dogs can both eat cooked rice, as long as it is unflavored. Don’t worry if this sounds boring. Animals have different experiences of flavor than we do and many will find plain rice enjoyable. You can also mix a little cooked chicken through to provide protein.
While rice isn’t nutritionally essential for cats or dogs, it can calm stomach problems and help your pet to feel better.
Cooked pasta can be appealing for pets as well. This isn’t too surprising, as pasta relies on simple ingredients that are all safe for pets. Pasta tends to be soft too, so there is little risk of choking.
Once again, it’s better to focus on plain pasta rather than pasta that has been seasoned or mixed with sauce. Be especially wary of any human pasta dishes, as these often rely on onions or garlic. Both of those ingredients are toxic to pets, so any meal that uses them will be unsafe as well.
You’ll also need to watch your pet’s reaction the first few times they eat pasta, as pets can be gluten intolerant just like humans. If your pet is sensitive to gluten, then pasta won’t be a good choice.
While we’re on the topic of gluten, bread is another safe choice for cats and dogs – as long as they’re not sensitive to gluten. Bread doesn’t cause stomach upsets in most pets, so it’s an easy choice.
Even so, bread doesn’t provide many nutritional benefits for pets, so it’s best as an occasional treat food, rather than something that they eat regularly.