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Optimeal® Blog

What Can I Feed My Dog Instead of Dog Food?

By Optimeal Team


All pet owners know the feeling of getting your dog a scoopful of kibble for dinner only to find out you’re almost at the bottom of the bag. If this has happened to you, you know it can be stressful, especially if you’re not close to a pet store.  

That’s why this article looks closely at what you can feed your dog instead of dog food

What Should I Do if I Run Out of Dog Food?

When searching your pantry for foods that may be safe for your four-legged friend, it’s important to remember that humans and dogs have different tolerances regarding food. What might be a healthy snack for you may be potentially toxic for your dog.
That said, if you’re totally out of dog food, there’s no need to panic. There are several nutritious options in your fridge and pantry that you can feed your pup. In this section, we’ll give you helpful tips to determine if human food is safe for your dog and a list of human foods you can safely give them.

Is Human Food Save for Dogs?

There are three helpful questions you can ask yourself before you give your dog human food that will help you determine whether or not it will be safe. First, consider whether or not human food has a lot of salt or fat. 

An excessive amount of salt and fat can cause a stomach ache or dehydration, both of which can be painful and potentially harmful to your canine companion. Next, make sure to take into account any food allergies or dietary restrictions that your dog may have. 

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to many different common ingredients, so making sure you keep your diet free of allergens is crucial for your dog’s health. If you’re unsure whether the food you have at home is safe for your dog, remember you can always call your vet to confirm with them.

Getting an informed second opinion is the best way to ensure that the human food you’re feeding your dog will not negatively impact their overall health. When preparing a meal for your dog at home, try to aim for a balanced diet of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. 

If you have any simple leftovers like cooked grains, veggies, or plain meat, they can make the best meal for your dog. Remember that your pup doesn’t have a fancy, sophisticated palette. The best choices for them are plain and nutritious.

What Human Foods Are Safe for My Dog?

Now that you have some helpful tips for making your dog’s dinner at home, let’s look at the human foods that are safe for your furry friend. Although these foods are all generally considered safe, remember that every pup has different allergies and intolerances, so keep those in mind when preparing their food at home.


If you have whole or ground beef at home, you can safely give it to your dog to ensure they get enough protein in their meal. Simply avoid any excessively fatty parts of the beef, and make sure not to give them any bones, even cooked bones. 

Also, avoid any seasonings when preparing beef for your dog. Regarding allergies, the simplest way to detect a protein allergy is excessive skin itching or chewing at the paws. 

Peanut Butter

Every dog owner knows that dogs go absolutely crazy for peanut butter. The good news? It’s a healthy treat! Peanut butter contains protein, healthy fats, and many essential vitamins your pup needs. 

The only thing to keep in mind when you’re feeding your dog peanut butter is to buy raw, unsalted peanut butter that is not labeled “sugar-free” or “lite.” When items are “sugar-free” or “lite,” they usually have artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, that are toxic to dogs. If you’re out of dog food, give your pup a scoop of peanut butter after dinner for an extra protein boost.

Cooked Chicken

Given that chicken is a staple ingredient in many dog foods, it’s no surprise that it can be a healthy part of your dog’s meal if you’re out of dog food. Chicken also contains protein and healthy fat, making it a nutritious, savory snack for your furry friend. 

Remember to remove the fatty parts of the chicken, like the skin, and ensure the chicken is completely boneless before serving it to your pooch. 

Baby Carrots

Baby carrots are a perfect treat for dogs because they are great for your dog’s teeth and do not present a choking hazard. They are also high in vitamin A, fiber, and beta-carotene. 

If you want to add carrots to your dog’s meal, you can serve them either cooked or uncooked. Dogs can have regular carrots; just make sure to break them or cut them into bite-size pieces before you give them to your pup.


Another good addition to any homemade dog meal is mild cheese such as Colby, cheddar, and cottage cheese. When choosing cheese to give to your dog, try to go for low or reduced-fat varieties.

Given that some dogs can be lactose intolerant, monitor your dog’s reaction after feeding them a small amount of cheese. 


You can give your dog salmon when you run out of dog food because it is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating salmon will boost your dog’s immune system and keep their coat healthy and shiny. Unlike with chicken, you can give your dog salmon meat and skin. 


If you’re looking for some veg to accompany the meat or grain in your dog’s bowl, you can consider giving them pumpkin. Pumpkins contain fiber, vitamin A, and beta-carotene and taste similar to sweet potatoes. 

It can also help get your dog’s digestive tract running smoothly again. You can give your dog fresh or canned pumpkin. However, if you give them canned pumpkin, make sure it is plain and has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. 


Plain, unsweetened yogurt like Greek yogurt can be a great supplement to your dog’s meal. It is naturally high in calcium and protein, essential to a healthy pup’s diet. Plain yogurt also contains probiotic bacteria, which can be good for your dog’s digestive system. 


If you don’t have meat at home, you can scramble some eggs for your dogs. Eggs are a great source of protein for your pup and contain riboflavin and selenium. Like humans, dogs are susceptible to salmonella in raw eggs, so make sure you fully cook the eggs.

Apple Slices

Another great addition to your dog’s meal is apple slices. Apple slices are nutritious, with vitamins and fiber your pup needs, and can clean your dog’s teeth.

Consequently, eating apple slices may also help freshen your dog’s breath. The core and seeds in an apple can be a potential choking hazard, so ensure you are only feeding your pup the fruit. If your dog doesn’t seem to like apples, you can also try giving them blueberries which are a great source of minerals and antioxidants. 

Green Beans

You can give your furry friend cooked or raw green beans, meat, and grains to round out their meal. Green beans contain protein, calcium, vitamin K, and iron, all of which your pup needs for a balanced, complete diet. Green beans are filling but low-calorie, so they can help bulk up a meal. 


If you’re looking for grains to give your pup, oatmeal is always a good option. Cooked oatmeal contains lots of soluble fiber, which can help your dog if their digestive system needs a boost. 


Putting broth on your dog’s meal can be a nutritious addition. You can safely give your dog beef, chicken, or vegetable broth. Just make sure that the broth you buy is low-sodium.

What Human Foods Are Unsafe For My Dog?

You’re now an expert on all the different foods you can feed your dog instead of dog food, but there are some foods you should absolutely avoid. In this section, we’ll cover all the foods you should keep away from your furry friend when making them a meal at home. 


You should keep any product with alcohol far away from your dog because it can be toxic and, in some cases, deadly. When your dog consumes alcohol, it is absorbed immediately into their bloodstream and can cause blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature declines. The effects of alcohol are even more dangerous for smaller breeds. 


Caffeine can also be dangerous for your pup because it can negatively affect their heart, intestines, stomach, and nervous system. Caffeine is found in coffee and tea. However, it can be found in other products like chocolate, energy bars, and medication, which can harm your dog. 


Although avocados are incredibly healthy for humans, they contain persin, which can upset your furry friend’s stomach. A small amount can be just fine, but it’s good to be mindful. 

Garlic, Onions, Chives, and Leeks

Eating even just a little bit of garlic or onion can cause gastrointestinal irritation and oxidative damage to your dog’s red blood cells. Whether these veggies are cooked, powdered, or raw, they can be toxic. Garlic is especially toxic for dogs, so keep it away from your pup.

Grapes and Raisins

Given that apples and blueberries are healthy, delicious snacks for your dog, it’s easy to think that all fruits are safe. However, grapes and raisins are incredibly toxic for your dog. 

Consuming grapes or raisins can cause acute kidney failure and be extremely harmful, so you should absolutely keep them out of your dog’s diet. 

Macadamia Nuts

Given that nuts are naturally high in fat, they can upset your dog’s stomach and cause pancreatitis. Certain nuts, like macadamia nuts and walnuts, can be extremely toxic, and eating them can be fatal for your pup. Eating a few macadamia nuts can make your dog sick, so keep them away from your pup at all costs. 


Although it can be stressful when you run out of dog food, there’s no need to panic. You likely have all the ingredients you need to make a healthy, balanced meal for your pup in your pantry and fridge. 

That said, you don’t need to make your dog homemade dog food. Although homemade dog food may seem like the healthier option, there are nutritious commercial dog foods out there that are specifically designed to fit your dog’s dietary needs. 

If you find a commercial dog food that is not full of preservatives and artificial ingredients, you can keep your pup happy and healthy with a kibble diet.


Caffeine | American College of Veterinary Pharmacists

Can Dogs Eat Garlic? We've Got the Answer | AKC

Pancreatitis in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | AKC

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