Most German Shepherd owners like to give their dogs human food now and again, and that includes me! But have you ever picked something up from the refrigerator or your plate to give to your dog, only to stop and wonder whether it’s actually safe, or even healthy, for him to eat? So, what foods can German Shepherds eat?
German Shepherds can eat a range of human foods as long as they are given in moderation. These include proteins such as lean meats and fish, and some fruits and vegetables. Plain cooked rice and pasta can also be fed, along with dairy foods, and some nuts.
Although most top-quality commercial dog food is optimized for dogs’ needs, adding human food is a great way to supplement your German Shepherd’s diet.
This article will list 34 human foods that your German Shepherd can eat, including tips and advice on feeding them.
We will also take a quick look at the history of commercial dog food and touch on some foods your German Shepherd can’t eat due to their toxicity.
Welcome to my complete guide on the human foods your German Shepherd can eat. Let’s dive in!
- Can German Shepherds Eat Human Food?
- How to Feed Dogs Human Food: Safety First!
- What Human Foods Can German Shepherds Eat?
- Green Beans
- Peanut Butter
- Potato (Cooked)
- Sweet Potato
- Foods Toxic to German Shepherds
- Final Thoughts
Can German Shepherds Eat Human Food?
German Shepherds can eat human foods. Dogs evolved from wolves thousands of years ago and as they lived alongside humans, they shared food together. Therefore, we mustn’t forget that dogs historically ate “people” food long before dog food was invented.
As society advanced and dog ownership grew, table scraps and leftovers were never enough to feed our dogs and so in the 1850s, the first dog biscuit was created by businessman James Spratt.
The biscuit was made from wheat, vegetables, beetroot, and bound with beef blood and was the start of commercial dry dog food as we know it. By the 1920s canned wet food was also in production.
Check out the below really interesting video from “Seeker” which explains the history of dog food and provides the scientific answer as to why dogs can eat “people” food:
How to Feed Dogs Human Food: Safety First!
Before we take a look at the human foods your German Shepherd can eat, there are a few important safety rules you need to consider:
- Human foods given to your German Shepherd should be fed in moderation. The general rule is that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
- Different foods should be introduced gradually to avoid any unwanted side effects.
- Meats should be cooked unless your GSD is used to a safely prepared raw diet. Make sure the meat is lean with all fat removed and free of bones as small bones can easily splinter and cause damage to your dog’s mouth or throat, cause choking, or a digestive blockage.
- Avoid processed meats such as sausage, ham, and bacon as they contain high amounts of salt or seasoning.
- Dogs with lactose intolerance should not eat dairy products. There are different levels of lactose in dairy foods so your German Shepherd may be able to tolerate some foods and not others. For example, my GSD can eat cheese and plain yogurt, but she cannot tolerate even a few licks of heavy whipping cream! You can check out my article, Are German Shepherds Lactose Intolerant? for more helpful information.
- Fish should be cooked as it can contain bacteria and without any additional oils or seasonings, and all bones removed. Longer living species of fish such as mackerel and tuna may contain high amounts of mercury so if you opt for these types, feed sparingly.
- Seeds or pits must be removed from fruit such as nectarines, peaches, and plums as they contain traces of cyanide which is toxic. The pits are also a choking hazard. I haven’t listed all fruits here, just some popular ones, as I have a separate guide that lists 29 fruits you can give your German Shepherd.
- Most vegetables should be cooked as the majority of dogs will find them easier to digest, however, some can be given raw such as carrots and green beans. You can find out loads more on what vegetables German Shepherds can eat in my complete guide of 24 examples.
What Human Foods Can German Shepherds Eat?
Let’s now dive into the complete guide to the human foods your German Shepherd can eat. I have listed them alphabetically for ease of reference.
Apples are a good source of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. The vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy bones and tissue.
Most dogs like the crunchy texture and the sweet taste of apples which also helps to keep their teeth clean and freshen their breath. Cut the apple into small pieces and do not feed the seeds or cores.
German Shepherds can eat bananas. They are high in potassium which supports kidney and heart functions and they are high in vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper. Bananas are also low in sodium.
They are, however, high in sugar so only feed sparingly and do not feed the peel as your dog may have difficulty digesting it. I like to give my German Shepherd a couple of small pieces of banana when we are out on a long hike and it helps to give her a quick energy boost.
German Shepherds need a high protein diet to provide the energy they need and beef also contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to give your dog healthy joints, muscles, skin, and a shiny healthy coat.
All meats you give your German Shepherd should be cooked unless your dog is used to a raw diet and the food is prepared hygienically. Beef should be lean, plain, and with no salt or seasoning. A few shredded pieces always go down a treat and can be part of your dog’s nutritious and well-balanced diet.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be given to your GSD and they are ideal to share with your dog especially in the summer. You may need to experiment though as some dogs may not quite like their taste, whereas others will love them.
Berries contain a high amount of valuable antioxidants that prevent or slow down damage to cells and strengthen the immune system. They are full of vitamin C and fiber, and are low in sugar, making them kind to teeth.
Frozen berries can be a welcome treat in hot weather to help cool your dog down and keep him hydrated.
German Shepherds can eat a small piece of bread as long as it’s plain white or brown. However, it should only be given as a treat now and again and as long as your dog isn’t sensitive to wheat.
Bread is high in carbohydrates and calories, and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It has no nutritional value to dogs as long as they are eating healthy balanced dog food.
Warning: If you make your own bread at home, you mustn’t allow your dog to eat the uncooked yeast dough as this can rise in his stomach causing all sorts of serious problems, from bloat to alcohol toxicosis from the fermented yeast.
Broccoli is okay for you your dog to eat in small quantities. It’s high in fiber and vitamin C and is good for the immune system. Broccoli also helps to protect against heart disease and helps to maintain healthy skin and bone.
The only downside is that it contains a chemical that can cause major gas in some dogs, so you should experiment first as it could end up being quite unpleasant for everyone in the home! If you are feeding the stalks, make sure you cut them into small pieces.
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and potassium. Its high antioxidant qualities promote healthy cell function and help to reduce the risk of serious diseases such as cancer and arthritis.
Melon (including the honeydew variety) is low in calories and high in water content, making a nice and refreshing treat for your dog. It is, however, high in natural sugars, so only feed one or two pieces. Remember to remove the seeds and rind before feeding.
Carrots are an excellent human food to feed your German Shepherd either cooked or raw. They are low in fat and contain high amounts of fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene which produces vitamin A that’s good for healthy eyes, bones, and the immune system.
Either raw or frozen carrots are great to give your puppy if they are teething.
My German Shepherd loves crunching on a piece of raw carrot which also helps to clean her teeth. I think carrots are one of the best “people” foods you can give your dog as a treat.
Cashews are generally safe for your GSD as an occasional snack. Their high protein and fat content make them ideal for active dogs on a long hike.
Make sure they are free of salt and do not feed chocolate coated cashews as both chocolate and salt are highly toxic to dogs, especially if eaten in large quantities.
I have a more in-depth article all about nuts and which ones are safe for German Shepherds to eat. You can find the post here.
I love to feed small pieces of cheese to my dog for a well-deserved treat. This high-value protein treat is a great human food that your German Shepherd will love, as long as it’s given in moderation, as it’s high in calories and fat.
Healthier options are low-fat varieties or cottage cheese. Cheese is full of nutrients, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A and B12.
Some dogs may be unable to tolerate cheese so you will need to experiment first, however, it’s one of the dairy foods containing a lower amount of lactose, so they may be just fine.
Warning: Blue cheese and other “moldy” cheese mustn’t be fed as the mold produces a mycotoxin which is poisonous to dogs.
Many dog foods are made from chicken. This high protein food provides your dog with lots of energy. It’s also a great source of Omega 6 fatty acids which are good for your German Shepherd’s skin and coat. Chicken also contains glucosamine for healthy bones and essential amino acids. Make sure the chicken is plain and avoid the skin as this is high in fat.
Don’t feed raw chicken due to the risk of salmonella unless your dog is used to a raw diet and you buy specially prepared raw food for him. Never feed cooked chicken bones as these are fragile and can break in your GSDs mouth causing nasty injuries. They can also cause your dog to choke.
I always add pieces of leftover roast chicken to my German Shepherd’s bowl – and it certainly doesn’t last long!
Coconut is a great human food to give to your German Shepherd. It may seem kind of weird but coconut is actually a fruit! It, therefore, doesn’t contain most of the proteins that cause tree nut allergies or sensitivities such as cashews or almonds.
Coconut contains an abundance of antioxidants to support the immune system, reduce inflammation, and help prevent viruses. Your GSDs skin and coat will also benefit from the oil coconut contains. You can try feeding your dog a small piece to see if he likes it, but make sure to remove the shell first.
Corn is a starchy vegetable that can provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals for your German Shepherd. As it’s high in carbohydrates, you should only feed a small amount. It’s not the best choice of vegetable for your dog and I’m sure you will have noticed that it tends to pass through the gut pretty much intact!
I do think it’s a good choice though if your dog needs a quick energy boost during periods of high exercise. Do not feed the cob as this is a choking risk and avoid canned corn as it’s usually high in sodium.
Popcorn containing butter or salt should not be given to your dog. Plain popcorn can be okay, although as there’s a risk that the kernels could get stuck in your GSDs teeth, I would avoid it.
Cucumber is often the topic of many discussions. It’s technically a fruit, although you may find it amongst the vegetable display in the store.
In any case, cucumbers can offer lots of nutritional value to your German Shepherd.
They contain calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium and are loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1. Cucumbers are 96% water and so make a healthy, low-fat, and refreshing treat for your dog.
Eggs are safe for German Shepherds. They are a wonderful source of protein and are loaded with healthy vitamins minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids.
Eggs are known for having a perfect balance of nutrients. Despite the controversy around eggs decades ago, scientists have since concluded that their high levels of dietary cholesterol are not associated with heart disease and that saturated fat has a far greater effect on blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs are best cooked first before feeding to your dog as there is a risk of salmonella in raw eggs although this risk is extremely low and can be further minimized by using free-range eggs and storing them in a cool dry place.
Your German Shepherd will love a green bean and they are highly nutritious. Most dogs tend to enjoy them. They are full of important vitamins and minerals, fiber, and are low in calories.
It’s best to cut them up into small pieces to prevent choking and aid digestion. You can also give canned green beans to your dog as long as they don’t contain salt or other additives.
Dogs can drink milk as you can see in the photo of my German Shepherd enjoying a small amount in her bowl. However, as in the case of all dairy foods, it depends on whether your dog can tolerate the amount of lactose it contains.
Milk contains high amounts of calcium which is good for healthy teeth and bones and is fortified with vitamin D which also helps keep bones healthy. It contains potassium which is good for the heart and contains all of the essential amino acids, along with many healthy vitamins, minerals, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
A few tablespoons of either cow’s milk or goat’s milk are safe enjoyable foods for your dog.
A small treat of plain noodles is a safe human food for German Shepherds. Noodles are made with soft flour milled from common (bread) wheat and mixed with either water or eggs. They contain micronutrients such as iron, folate, manganese, and B vitamins.
If your German Shepherd has an allergy to eggs, then make sure to avoid egg noodles! Likewise, if your dog has a wheat allergy, noodles should be avoided altogether.
One other thing to watch for is that dried noodles often contain a high amount of salt (sodium) so you will need to check this first. Japenese ramen noodles are loaded with sodium or flavored with soy sauce and these should not be fed to your dog.
Dogs can eat oatmeal as long as it’s given in moderation. This staple food is high in fiber and loaded with other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also contains linolic acid that helps to keep your dog’s skin healthy.
Oatmeal is also a great alternative if your German Shepherd is sensitive to grains or wheat, although, contrary to popular belief due to how grain-free dog foods are marketed, a food allergy in dogs is rare.
Mix the oatmeal with water as opposed to milk as some dogs can’t tolerate milk, and serve cooked with nothing added such as butter or syrup. Your German Shepherd will enjoy one or two spoonfuls added to his food. Remember, this food is a carbohydrate and is high in calories.
Parsnips are a great vegetable to give to your dog as they contain plenty of potassium, folic acid, vitamins C and B6. They are good for healthy kidney function and for supporting the nervous system. They are also good for your GSDs metabolism and contain antioxidants to help fight cancer.
They are better fed cooked but can be given raw as long as they are chopped into small pieces. Sometimes I like to mash some cooked parsnip and add it to my dog’s bowl as she enjoys the sweet taste. Make sure you only feed in moderation though as parsnips are quite starchy (like other root vegetables such as beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots).
German Shepherds can eat pasta as long as it’s cooked and given plain. The photo is of my dog “Willow” with a huge plate of pasta in front of her. Of course, she can’t have all that, just a few pieces!
Pasta was once believed to be fattening and starchy, however, this staple food is now considered to be nutritious, providing lots of energy.
Pasta is usually made from semolina flour, which is milled from durum (hard) wheat. Water or eggs are then added where it’s mixed into a dough and made into various shapes and sizes and finally cooked by either baking or boiling.
You need to avoid pasta sauces as they often contain garlic and onions which are both poisonous to dogs. GSDs with a wheat allergy or a sensitivity to grains or eggs shouldn’t eat pasta. I have a more detailed article on German Shepherds and pasta that you may find helpful.
This is kind of weird but did you know that peanuts are not actually nuts! Technically speaking, peanuts are legumes, similar to peas and lentils, as they grow in pods that mature beneath the ground. However, for nutritional and culinary purposes, peanuts are considered a nut.
Peanuts are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals. It’s okay for your German Shepherd to try one or two plain unsalted peanuts, however, you must not forget about their high-fat content which can cause your dog to have a stomach upset as fat is harder to digest.
Peanuts are also high in calories and you must also consider the general risks of choking. Although they are okay for your dog to eat, in that they are not toxic, there are the risks to consider I’ve mentioned above. It isn’t something I’ve fed my dog, but when it comes down to whether you should feed your dog peanuts, I’ll let you decide!
Peanut butter can be given to your German Shepherd although some brands contain xylitol (sweetener) and these must be avoided as xylitol can be highly toxic. It can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop, cause seizures, and can lead to liver failure.
Make sure you carefully check the label and always choose an organic brand with nothing added such as Spread The Love from Amazon.
Peanut butter is a high-value treat and is therefore ideal during training sessions. It’s also great for smearing into an interactive toy such as a KONG toy which keeps them busy for a while. These are my favorite all-time KONG toys for German Shepherds.
Peas are good for boosting energy levels as they are starchy carbohydrates. They are also gentle on your dog’s digestive system.
They are good for the eyes, heart, and skin, and contain several vitamins such as vitamin A, K, and many B vitamins. Peas also contain iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
I think peas are an excellent human food that you can easily add to your GSDs bowl at mealtimes. Fresh or frozen peas are fine, however, avoid the canned variety due to the high salt content.
Pineapple is a tasty treat that’s full of vitamins and minerals. It also contains fiber that is good for your dog’s digestion and immune system and bromelain to help absorb proteins.
As it’s quite sugary, only feed sparingly unless your dog needs a quick energy boost during periods of intense activity. Frozen chunks of pineapple make an excellent treat in warm weather and will help to keep your GSD hydrated. However, avoid canned pineapple due to its high sugar content.
Your German Shepherd can enjoy pork as long as it’s cooked and free from seasonings and spices. This high protein food is rich in many vitamins and minerals.
Raw pork shouldn’t be given as it contains a parasite that can cause an infection – unless your dog already eats a specially prepared raw diet. All fat must be removed as too much fat can lead to an upset stomach and inflammation of the pancreas.
Avoid cooked pork bones as they are very brittle and can splinter into sharp pieces in your dog’s mouth or even lower down his digestive tract. They are also a choking risk.
Processed pork meats such as bacon, ham, and sausage, should also not be given to your dog due to their high salt content.
You can give your German Shepherd potato as long as it’s cooked and the skin removed. Raw potato (or if the potato is green on the outside) must not be given as it contains solanine which is a toxic compound, however, the cooking process removes this danger.
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable containing vitamin C, B6, iron, and magnesium, and being a high carbohydrate food they provide lots of energy, so only feed sparingly. You can mash, bake, or boil them but don’t add butter or salt.
Pumpkin is a great human food to give your German Shepherd and the seeds are also safe. It’s full of both insoluble and soluble fiber and is therefore good if your dog happens to be constipated or is having a bout of diarrhea!
Nutritionally, it’s loaded with a range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, and iron, and contains a high amount of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Pumpkin is better cooked as your dog will have a hard time digesting it raw. It can be mashed and added as a topping to your dog’s food. As it’s low in calories, it’s also great for overweight dogs especially if you want to reduce some kibble and replace it with pumpkin.
German Shepherds can eat cooked plain rice and this is often added to commercial dog foods, however, brown whole grain rice is a healthier option so look out for this when choosing your brand of food. Rice is an excellent source of calcium, fiber, iron, vitamin D, thiamine, and riboflavin.
Rice is a carbohydrate and therefore must be fed in moderation but as long as your GSD maintains a healthy weight, a little rice added to your dog’s meal now and again will cause no harm.
Cooked plain white rice (not brown) is often given to a dog suffering from diarrhea. It’s easy to digest and low in fiber and helps with runny poop as it binds stools together.
My German Shepherd adores salmon. If we are having salmon for dinner it’s the only time she will come over to the table, lie down, and patiently wait!
Salmon is a great choice of fish for dogs. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that has a range of functions including keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy, supporting his immune system, and reducing any inflammation.
Salmon is a high source of protein and is found in many top-quality dog foods. Never feed raw salmon and ensure it’s thoroughly cooked as it contains parasites that can cause poisoning. Also, make sure it contains no bones so it’s best to choose a boneless fillet if you are going to give your dog some of this tasty “people” food.
German Shepherds can eat sweet potatoes and they are a better option than cooked white potatoes as they’re more nutritious. They contain beta-carotene which is good for growth and vision. They are also a natural source of fiber and contain vitamins such as C, B6, E, and A. They are good for the overall health and wellbeing of your dog.
As sweet potatoes are a starchy carbohydrate, they are probably best avoided if your dog is overweight, less active, or diabetic.
Sweet potatoes should be cooked (and the skin removed) before feeding to your German Shepherd. You can bake, mash, or puree them. Due to their nutritional value, they are a popular source of carbohydrate in high-quality dog foods.
Tuna fish is a wonderful human food for your German Shepherd and along with salmon, my GSD adores it. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and eye health and makes your dog’s coat shiny. Tuna also contains many healthy vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, B12, and B6, iron, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.
There is often mixed opinion as to whether dogs should eat tuna due to it’s higher levels of mercury compared to other fish, however, as with most human foods you give to your German Shepherd, moderation is key.
If feeding a small amount of canned tuna, make sure it’s prepared in water with no added salt. My dog quickly devours a few chunks of canned tuna scattered over her food.
Turkey is a high protein food rich in nutrients such as many of the B vitamins including thiamine and riboflavin. It’s also loaded with minerals including zinc and phosphorous. Turkey also contains selenium which helps to regulate metabolism.
It’s no wonder this high-energy food is a very common ingredient in commercial pet foods and it’s no surprise that cooked turkey is perfectly fine to give to your dog from your plate as long as it’s plain and without seasonings, onion, or garlic. Turkey breast is healthier as the legs contain more fat.
Avoid feeding the skin too as it’s also high in fat. Ensure there are no bones in the meat as cooked bones can easily splinter in your dog’s mouth or become a choking hazard.
Check out the photo of my German Shepherd lapping up some yogurt! She loves an occasional blob of yogurt added to her food.
There are two types of yogurt that your German Shepherd can enjoy. These are greek yogurt and low-fat, plain, natural yogurt. Yogurt is good for dogs as it’s high in calcium and protein and can also act as a probiotic which is great for your dog’s digestive system.
As with all dairy foods some dogs cannot tolerate them so you will need to experiment with a small amount first.
Make sure the yogurt doesn’t have artificial sweeteners (like xylitol) or added sugar and fat and only feed a tablespoon or two to prevent a tummy upset. To find out loads more about yogurt, check out my article, Can German Shepherds Eat Yogurt?
Foods Toxic to German Shepherds
Poisoning episodes in dogs are usually due to a lack of knowledge by the owner, as reported by Frontiers in Veterinary Science, so whilst we are learning what human foods German Shepherds can eat, we should also take a look at what foods they can’t eat.
Below you will find a list of the human foods that your German Shepherd can’t eat due to their toxicity. Some of the poisonings could result in serious illness or even the death of your dog, depending on the quantity of the food consumed and their level of toxicity.
You can find out loads more about these poisonous foods in my top article here.
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, etc)
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Grapes (and raisins)
- Macadamia Nuts (Australian nuts)
- Onions, Shallots, Leeks, and Chives
- Potato (raw or green)
- Rhubarb leaves
- Star fruit
- Tomatoes (green)
- Xylitol (sweetener)
- Walnuts (black)
The above list covers the main foods that you German Shepherd can’t eat, however, if you are unsure about anything your dog has accidentally consumed, the Pet Poison Helpline not only lists foods, but also includes plants, medicines, and household items.
Alternatively, if you suspect your dog has consumed something toxic, consult your veterinarian immediately as timing can mean life or death in serious cases of dog poisoning. The sooner it’s treated, the better chance your dog has of a full recovery.
There are many foods your German Shepherd can safely eat however, it’s important to remember that all dogs are individuals, just like humans, and it’s always best to get advice from your vet if you’re in doubt about whether a particular food is okay for your dog.
Although I feed my dog a high-quality nutritious food, I do like to occasionally add “people” food to her bowl as a topping. I think it’s nice to mix things up for her and to let her taste different flavors and textures.
I also enjoy giving my German Shepherd other foods as treats, such as small pieces of cheese, raw carrot to crunch on, or a frozen strawberry or two in the summer months. Whatever you decide to give your dog, remember to follow the safety guidelines outlined above!
My 5 Favorite German Shepherd Products to Make Life Easier:
- Walk Your Dog With Love. I love this no-pull harness as there’s just no way your dog can pull. Easy to fit and inexpensive.
- Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate. A crate is a must-have product. This cool all-inclusive one has a ton of features and there’s nothing extra to buy.
- FURminator Undercoat deShedding Tool. This grooming tool is by far the best – it gets right through to the undercoat.
- KONG Classic Dog Toys. I love KONG toys as they’re super tough and made for your German Shepherd’s teeth!
- Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed. Scientifically proven to prevent and reduce joint pain in big dogs. The 10-year guarantee is also pretty cool.
My full list of recommendations can be found here.
Related Posts You May Like:
- Pet Food Institute: History of Pet Food
- Cummings Veterinary Medical Center: What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Food Allergies
- NCBI: The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health
- Harvard Medical School: Legume of the Month – Peanuts
- Frontiers in Veterinary Science: Household Food Items Toxic to Dogs and Cats
- Pet Poison Helpline
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