November 1 is National Cook for Your Pets Day. The annual occasion encourages pet parents to whip something up for their pup or their favorite feline. Our dogs and cats have plenty of food options that are more catered to their specific nutritional needs than your typical human food. However, there are many human foods that they can eat. If you’re armed with that knowledge, you can prepare a treat or two for them.
Which Human Foods Can Dogs Eat?
When it comes to protein, dogs are more than happy to chow down on some meat. They may give you some sad, pleading eyes to drive the point home. If you decide to share some with them, chicken, turkey, pork, and lean beef are all up their alley. However, it’s important to cook the meat thoroughly. You should also remove skin, bones, and excess fat, keep them as plain as possible, and limit the salt. The same goes for fish.
Apart from these more typical protein sources, cooked eggs and plain and low-fat yogurt are okay for treats. Much like most humans, dogs can get pretty excited about cheese, too. If you’ve tossed them a cube or two, worry not. Cheese is perfectly fine as a treat, but try to share low-fat options, like cottage cheese, and be sure there are no added ingredients that are dangerous to dogs. Peanut butter is also a fun treat, provided it doesn’t contain the sugar substitute xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs.
Fruits and Vegetables
While fruits and veggies may not be as fun as cheese and peanut butter – or this pizza that a dog stole from a stranger – there is plenty of produce that dogs can snack on. For veggies, that includes cooked broccoli and leafy greens, green beans, and carrots and cucumber chopped into bite-sized pieces. However, while cucumber is fine, steer clear of pickles as much as possible. They have high sodium content and may contain ingredients our pooches shouldn’t ingest.
Fruit is something dogs shouldn’t eat too much due to its sugar content, but the occasional treat is okay. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and small amounts of coconut are good to go. Sliced apples and pears are also a tasty treat, but make sure your dog doesn’t get any of their seeds, which contain small amounts of cyanide. Another good seedless treat is small cubes of watermelon, but also be sure to remove the rind, which can cause digestive issues. Speaking of digestive issues, one occasional treat may help with that. Cooked or plain canned pumpkin can aid in digestion! In fact, here’s a tasty pumpkin-based treat your dogs may love.
What to Avoid
While there are plenty of foods that your dog can enjoy as a treat, there are some that you should completely avoid feeding your dog, as they can be toxic or otherwise harmful. Those include chocolate, coffee, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, mushrooms, cherries, Macadamia nuts, and, as mentioned before, the sweetener xylitol.
Which Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
What if you want to whip up something for your cat? While cats are always investigating our food and would have us believe they can eat all of it, that is not actually the case. There are some proteins that are on the safe list, though. Among them are cooked salmon, cooked chicken, and cooked turkey, provided you remove all bones, which can be a choking hazard. Be sure to cook them as plainly as possible, remove the skin, and limit any salt, as well. Cooked eggs are also appropriate for cats, as are very small amounts of hard cheese, which are lower in lactose and sodium than other options. Too much lactose can wreak havoc on kitty’s digestion, though, so keep it to a minimum.
Fruits and Vegetables
Cats are obligate carnivores, so meat is a necessary staple in their diets, but they can chow down on the occasional fruit or vegetable, too, though they may not be that interested unless it’s on your plate. Those cute little thieves, like this little feline who stole food right off of her human’s fork. When it comes to veggies, bite-sized cucumber chunks, cooked carrots, and cooked broccoli are good to go, as is the super food spinach, which can often be found in commercial cat food. Peas are another cat food staple that are safe and can be fed to kitties occasionally.
Meanwhile, a fruit regularly found in commercial cat food and treats is pumpkin. Just as for dogs, pumpkin can help with digestion problems, particularly stool issues. Again, be sure it’s cooked or plain and from the can. While other fruits may not provide the benefits that pumpkin does, there are some that can serve as an occasional treat. Those include seedless melons, bananas, seedless apples, blueberries, and strawberries. On a hot day, cooled bite-sized versions of any of these can help your kitty beat the heat, too. Just keep these treats to a minimum to ease that sugar consumption.
What to Avoid
Many of the cat-safe items are also found on the dog-safe list, and the same goes for unsafe items. Foods you’ll want to keep off the menu include chocolate, grapes and raisins, citrus fruits, onions, garlic, xylitol, macadamia nuts, and anything with caffeine.
Tips for Making Homemade Pet Food
While many of the foods cats and dogs can eat are great for treats, perhaps on a special occasion like these festive Christmas dog treats or just on a regular occasion with something like this coconut-based option, many people have taken to making homemade food. While the desire to make sure your furry friend is eating the very best is commendable, well-meaning pet parents may be shortchanging their pets on needed nutrients.
If you decide to make homemade pet food on the regular, it needs to be filled with all the nutrients your dog or cat needs to thrive, you need to use high quality ingredients, and you need to be extra cautious about anything that could be harmful. That means you should fully cook all meat to avoid possible bacteria, and you should be absolutely sure that no ingredients are toxic or can otherwise cause health issues for your pet.
The most important tip, though? Consult with your veterinarian before embarking on such a plan, and should they provide you with vet-approved recipes, follow them to a T without improvising.