Store Locator

Why Some Human Foods are Harmful to Your Pets

Fruits and vegetables are critical to a healthy diet for people, but what about pets? Here’s what you need to know about feeding your furry friends from your own plate.

A dark brown rabbit is shown eating a leafy celery stick held by a woman

Dry kibble looks the same day after day, and as a loving pet owner, you want to indulge your dog or cat. And while most owners feed their pets commercial pet food, they don’t do so exclusively, says Dr. Caitlin Grant, an assistant professor in companion animal nutrition from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. “They may add other things to their pet’s food or feed them human foods such as treats,” she says. “I think food equals love for a lot of pet owners.”

Pet owners may also use human food to add some variety to their pet’s diet, or, if something is healthy for themselves, they think it must be healthy for their pet as well, says Grant. But not everything that is safe for humans is safe for pets.

Dr. Colleen Fisher of Petline Insurance Company cautions that before you give your pet something from your own plate, do a little research. Dogs can digest some plant and grain foods as well as meat, but cats don’t have the same capacity to break down fruits and vegetables.

Here’s what you need to know before sharing your food:

Being mindful of your pet’s daily calorie intakes by limiting treats

A hand is shown giving a small dog a treat

Treats—including fruits, vegetables and other human foods—should be given sparingly. Grant recommends no more than 10 percent of a pet’s daily caloric requirement should come from treats. A pet’s nutritional needs are different than a human’s, especially for small dogs and cats. Pet owners should speak to their vet about how many calories their pets should consume daily.

Human foods that are safe for pets

A woman sits at a kitchen table with chopped vegetables on it as her dog sits next to her

Many fruits and vegetables are safe to give, though dogs may be more interested than cats, Grant says. “They also tend to be lower in calories because they are high in moisture,” she says.

These fruits and vegetables are safe for pets:

  • Apples, pears and peaches
  • Melons like honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe (seedless and without the rind)
  • Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Carrots, celery, zucchini and cucumbers
  • Green beans, peas, corn and alfalfa sprouts
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and parsley
  • Sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkin


You can easily make your own low-calorie dog treats using a dehydrator, which bakes the nutrients right in and only removes water content. Wash fruits or vegetables such as apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin or zucchini—peel the skin if necessary—and cut them into thin slices and place them into your dehydrator. Depending on how thick the pieces are, it may take eight to 12 hours. They can be stored in an air-tight container for a few weeks.

Although these foods are safe for most dogs and cats, check with your vet before feeding any of them to your pet. Some animals may have issues with them because of their own medical history. If your pet has a history of kidney problems, it may not be able to properly digest high-potassium foods, like bananas or sweet potatoes.

And just like some people, some dogs are sensitive to the effects of particular vegetables. Cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts can increase flatulence in pets, for example.

Toxic and dangerous foods your pets should never eat

A small white dog sits behind some grapes and other fruits and vegetables

Common foods that are enjoyed by humans can be dangerous to pets because the ingredients in them may be poisonous. Even a small amount can have adverse effects on a pet, resulting in digestive issues, diarrhea or seizures among other ailments, and in some cases, digesting them may be fatal.

Stay away from such foods as:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Onions and garlic in all forms (raw, cooked, powder or dehydrated)
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Caffeine sources like coffee, tea or hot chocolate


Being aware of safety tips when feeding your pet

A dog is shown sitting and receiving a treat from a woman's hand

When feeding your pet—especially if it’s table scraps—beware of choking hazards from bones, or the pit, core and peel from various fruits and vegetables.

Cut fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces to make them easier to digest. Larger items may cause a blockage in the stomach or intestines and require surgery to remove.

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested something harmful, call your veterinarian immediately.

Protect Your Pets

Pets, just like us, can become sick or injured for various reasons. Having pet insurance can help to offset the financial cost of visits to the vet, medication and medical procedures. It can also provide peace of mind to owners knowing that your furry family members are protected and taken care of. Visit CAA Insurance to learn more about the plans available.

Image Credits: cnicbc/iStock, Anastasiia Shavshyna/iStock, chee gin tan/iStock, humonia/iStock, Milan_Jovic/iStock