If you're sharing the contents of your cupboard with your dog, you need to know what's safe and what should be off the table. There are quite a few foods you can share with your dog. How much you share will depend on whether you're supplementing his dog food or cooking his meals for him.
What Every Dog Needs
Every dog has the same basic nutritional needs: protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Protein serves as the foundation for cells, tissues, enzymes, antibodies, organs and hormones, as well as a source for important amino acids. Fats are a great energy source and are necessary for cell structure, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and and some hormone production; they also insulate the body. Carbohydrates provide energy for the tissues and help maintain the intestines' health. Vitamins trigger enzyme reactions and help maintain metabolic functioning, while minerals are the basis for bones and teeth and help maintain fluid balance.
Meat for Protein and Fat
When it comes to protein, Dr. T.J. Dunn of PetMD.com notes dogs flourish when fed a meat-based diet. Poultry, red meat and fish are all great choices for your dog, though there are a few caveats. Beware of bones: Fish should have bones removed and small cooked bones, such as chicken bones, present a choking hazard. As well, strive to keep it relatively lean, sticking to meats that are at least 90 percent lean. Remove the skin from the chicken thigh and trim the extra fat off that piece of steak you may toss his way. Don't shy away from organ meats; liver and heart make great snacks.
Fruits and Vegetables for Carbs, Vitamins and Minerals
There's a wide array of fruits and vegetables you can add to your dog's diet. Safe fruits include apples, bananas, melon and berries. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other squashes are healthy popular options, whether as a snack or to round out a home-cooked dog meal. Other vegetables that are good for your dog include leafy greens such as spinach, green beans and cooked broccoli and cauliflower -- too much of these two in their raw form can depress thyroid function and cause gas. In addition to providing carbs, vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables can be an important source of fiber to help keep him regular.
Grains for Carbohydrates
Despite the bad rap, grains have their place, helping to reduce the cost of the diet and providing your dog energy to go about his day. Good grains to feed your dog include oatmeal, barley, quinoa, brown rice and pasta; white rice is helpful in soothing gastrointestinal upset and is a mainstay for bland diets. Grains can provide more than energy; oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber and flaxseed, whether ground or in oil, provides essential fatty acids.
Dairy for Protein and Fat
Your dog shouldn't enjoy a big glass of milk, but he'd do well to eat some other dairy products. Eggs pack a lot of nutritional punch in one small package, serving as a great source of protein. Yogurt provides protein and calcium, but should be limited to a type without sugar or artificial sweetener. Fat-free yogurt is fine for the dog watching his waistline, and frozen yogurt makes an excellent summer treat. If your dog isn't lactose intolerant, he may enjoy a bit of cottage cheese or low-fat cheese grated into his food, which will provide a bit of extra fat and protein.
You can indulge your dog in a spoonful of salt-free raw peanut butter for a protein-packed snack. When it's time to celebrate, a trip to the doggy bakery for some pupcakes or cookies likely will make his day. There's a wide array of recipes available for dog treats made from people food that make a healthy change of pace. Make sure your dog treats avoid sugar and stick with sweeteners such as honey, molasses or applesauce, which are better for your dog. If you want to make a doggy-safe version of ice cream, use yogurt and mix in peanut butter and some fruit for a cool dessert.