the scientific study of pet nutrition by veterinary nutrition specialists and experts.

Does an Apple a Day Keep the Vet Away? Harmful vs Healthy Foods for Pets

Does an Apple a Day Keep the Vet Away? Harmful vs Healthy Foods for Pets
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Some foods that are safe for people are not safe for pets. While some food items can be given in moderation as a healthy, low calorie snack, others can be toxic. Read on to learn more about foods you could try and those to avoid!


Healthy Human Foods

Since dogs and cats should have no more than 10% of their daily calories come from treats or snacks outside their main diet, vegetables and fruits can be a great way to provide low calorie and healthy options for your pet. Here are some healthy options with their calorie amounts.


Fruit Options

Apples: 1/2 cup chopped = 30 calories

Bananas: 1/4 cup banana = 34 calories

Cantaloupe: 1/2 cup, diced = 27 calories

Strawberries: 1/4 pint strawberries = 29 calories

Blueberries: 1/4 cup or about 25 berries = 20 calories

Watermelon: 2 melon balls = 10 calories

Honeydew melon: 2 melon balls = 10 calories


Vegetable Options

Carrots: 1/2 cup chopped or slices = 25 calories

Baby carrots: 1 baby carrot = 5 calories

Green beans: 1 cup of 1/2 inch pieces = 30 calories

Sweet red peppers: 1/2 cup chopped = 23 calories

Broccoli: 1 cup chopped or diced = 30 calories

Tomatoes: 1 cherry tomato = 3 calories

Green peas: 1/4 cup green peas = 30 calories

Zucchini: 1/4 cup slices = 7 calories

Celery stalks: 1 stalk = 7 calories

Cucumber: 1/2 cup slices = 8 calories

Asparagus: 1/4 cup or 3 spears = 10 calories


Low Fat Meat Options

Cooked ground turkey (99% fat free): 1/2 ounce (14 grams) serving = 15 calories

Baked chicken breast: 1/2 ounce (14 grams) serving = 14 calories


Harmful Human Foods

Many foods are very high in calories or salt, which your pet may not be able to tolerate. Other foods are simply utilized differently and can be toxic to pets. Here are foods that it’s better to avoid:


Toxic Foods for Pets

Macadamia nuts






Xylitol (in most sugar-free gum and other products)


High Salt Foods to Avoid (if your pet has a heart condition or otherwise should have lower salt)

Deli meats


Most bread products

Potato chips

Fast food


Always check with your veterinarian to make sure you know what foods are ok for your specific pet, especially if they have any medical conditions. Happy Snacking!


Dr. Deborah Linder, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, is the head of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals and has had articles appear in Eating Well, the Boston Globe, AARP, SHAPE, and XM Sirius Radio Doctor Channel. She has spoken at national and international conferences and a Capitol Hill briefing, and is an expert in pet obesity, nutrition communication, and in the human-animal bond. 

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