We've all been there. You get home from a walk and discover that the treat bag is empty.
Your pup looks up at you expectantly. You look around the kitchen in a panic, and briefly consider giving her a cupcake. Not only that, but you're hungry too. Oh no!
Snacks aren’t necessary for your pup’s balanced diet. If they’re receiving all the nutrients they require during mealtime, they’ll never go hungry. But it’s hard to avoid the temptation to share our food, given that we see it as a way of bonding with our dog and rewarding good behavior. And those puppy dog eyes!
Here is our list of healthy snack options not commonly problematic for pups. Have fun sharing (in moderation)!
we got you.
15 DOG-FRIENDLY SNACKS (THAT ARE PROBABLY ALREADY IN YOUR KITCHEN).
Treats and snacks should not make up more than 10% of your pup’s daily calories. Going overboard will quickly lead to unhealthy weight gain. If you’re uncertain what the calorie breakdown is, talk to your vet. You can also take PUPPO's Nutrition Quiz to get a suggested calorie count that factors in things like your pup’s weight and activity level.
No matter the snack—raw or cooked—it should always be free of additional oils and seasoning. Ingredients like garlic are highly-toxic for dogs.
- Raw, Unsalted Peanut Butter: A favorite among pups and a healthy source of protein and fat. But be absolutely sure that you’re not using sugar-free or “lite” peanut butter that contains artificial sweeteners, particularly xylitol, which is incredibly toxic to dogs. Nutrition: Protein, Oleic Acid (a healthy type of monounsaturated fat), Vitamin B, Niacin, Vitamin E
- Carrots: Most dogs love carrots. It’s a healthy snack that can help remove plaque and other buildup from the surface of their teeth as they chew. Nutrition: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Biotin
- Cooked Pumpkin: A good source of fiber that can help keep their GI tract moving and aid with digestive issues. Never give it to your pup raw, and always remove stems, skins, and seeds. Nutrition: Beta-carotene, Alpha-Carotene, Fiber, Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A
- Fresh Green Beans: These low-calorie treats have a satisfying crunch packed with loads of vitamins and minerals. Nutrition: Iron, Calcium, Fiber, Folic Acid, Niacin, Potassium, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C
- Celery: This high-fiber, low-calorie snack is a great treat for pups on a diet. Nutrition: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Fiber
- Cucumbers: Another great choice for helping overweight dogs shed weight. They have a satisfying crunch, are packed with nutrients, and have absolutely zero fats or oil. Nutrition: Potassium, Copper, Magnesium, Biotin, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-1
- Raw Red Peppers: These crispy treats are a whopping 92% water and packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a sweet, hydrating snack as long as you remove the stems and seeds first. Nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K1, Potassium, Folate, Vitamin E, Vitamin A
- Cooked Sweet Potatoes: Raw potatoes are very rough on your dog’s digestive system and can lead to tummy issues and diarrhea. So treat your pup to some cooked chunks— they’re high in fiber which supports healthy digestion. Plus, they're low fat. Nutrition: Beta-Carotene, Fiber, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C
- Apple Slices: A tasty source of fiber and vitamins, but make sure to remove the seeds and the core first to prevent choking. The seeds can have a poisonous effect if consumed regularly over time. Nutrition: Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C
- Bananas: A great low-calorie snack that can aid in digestion and increase energy, but they’re high in sugar, so share in moderation. Nutrition: Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Fiber
- Blueberries: A rich superfood known to support heart health and reduce cholesterol. Nutrition: Fiber, Potassium, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Phytonutrient
- Cantaloupe: Loaded with dog-friendly nutrients, but remember to remove the seeds and rind; both cause stomach and digestive issues. Nutrition: Beta-Carotene, Fiber, Folate, Niacin, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C
- Pears: A good source of fiber that can aid in digestion. Plus, they’re rich in important antioxidants and nutrients. Don’t forget to remove the seeds and core. Nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Riboflavin, Vitamin B-6, Folate
- Strawberries: Like bananas, strawberries are loaded with nutrition but high in sugar so offer them in moderation. Nutrition: Vitamin C, Manganese, Folate
- Watermelon: It’s packed with water, making it a tasty way to hydrate your pup on a hot day. As with the other fruits and vegetables, be sure to remove the seeds and rind which can cause intestinal blockage and digestion problems. Nutrition: Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Lycopene, Antioxidants, Amino Acids
Since most pups will gobble up anything you give them, it’s important to closely monitor what you ultimately offer them. While there are plenty of fruits and vegetables you eat that are safe to share with your pup, you should always consult your vet before introducing them into your dog’s diet.
Pups instinctively like hunting for food, so consider gamifying treats by hiding them or stuffing them into a Kong. It’s a great way to keep your pup entertained and engaged.
While there are plenty of dog-friendly snacks, there are also a few you need to avoid, including grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, chocolate, caffeine, nuts (especially macadamia nuts), Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), yeast dough, and dairy. Many of these foods can be toxic to dogs—some can lead to kidney failure, liver failure, gastrointestinal trouble, and even death. If you believe your dog has ingested a potentially poisonous food it’s best to contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
Whether you use snacks as a reward or share food as a way to bond, the most important thing is to make sure it’s safe for your dog to eat. And remember, time and attention with you always trumps a tasty morsel.