It’s no secret that Labradors love food. Most of us tend to give our dogs whatever scraps we have, including me! But it’s important to remember that not all foods are good for dogs. So, what foods can Labradors eat?
Labradors can eat some human food – mostly lean meats and fish, such as beef, chicken, pork, duck, turkey, salmon, and tuna. They can also eat some fruits and vegetables, plain white rice and pasta, some dairy foods, such as plain yogurt and some nuts. All treats should be fed in moderation.
Labradors can be prone to weight gain, which can lead to a variety of health problems. To help your dog stay at a healthy weight, it is important to understand what he can and can’t eat. For example, some human foods can be dangerous for your Lab, but others can be a great way to supplement his diet and live a long, healthy life.
This article will list 35 of the best human foods that your Labrador can eat, and I’ll include tips and advice on how to feed them. You’ll also learn about the foods you can’t feed your dog due to their toxicity.
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Welcome to my complete guide on the human foods your Lab can eat. Let’s get started!
- Can Labradors Eat Human Food?
- What Human Foods Can Labradors Eat?
- Green Beans
- Peanut Butter
- Potato (Cooked)
- Sweet Potato
- Tuna and Mackerel
- How to Feed Dogs Human Food: Safety First!
- What Foods Can Labradors Not Eat?
- Final Thoughts
Can Labradors Eat Human Food?
Labrador Retrievers can eat human food. We mustn’t forget that dogs historically ate “people” food long before the invention of dog food!
But what’s the real story?
Dogs evolved from wolves thousands of years ago, and as they lived alongside humans, they shared food. A dog’s diet was much like that of its owners – they got whatever could be spared, such as scraps of bone with leftover meat and cartilage, horsemeat, cabbage, potatoes, and stale bread.
As society progressed and dog ownership grew, there were never enough table scraps and leftovers 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. In 1922 canned wet food was introduced, the main ingredient being horsemeat.
You’ll love the below video explaining the history of dog food. It provides the scientific answer to why dogs can eat “people” food.
Why does this matter?
In short, it doesn’t, as nothing has changed! These days, you can buy luxury dog food containing duck, salmon, berries, and pumpkin – but IT’S LITERALLY HUMAN FOOD IN DOG PACKAGING!
What Human Foods Can Labradors Eat?
Let’s now dive into the complete guide to the human foods your Lab can eat and learn everything you need to know.
Apples are a great source of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. The vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy bones and tissue.
They also contain antioxidants to reduce the risk of many diseases, are good for the heart, and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Most dogs enjoy the crunchy texture and the sweet taste of apples. They also help to keep their teeth clean and freshen their breath. Cut the apple into small pieces and do not feed the seeds or cores.
Labradors can eat bananas. They are high in potassium to support kidney and heart functions and are high in vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper. Bananas are also low in sodium.
However, they are high in sugar, so only feed sparingly and do not give the peel as your dog may have difficulty digesting it. My dog enjoys a few slices of banana during a long hike and they also help to provide a quick energy boost.
Labrador Retrievers need a high protein diet to provide the energy they need. Beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein and contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Beef provides your dog with healthy joints, muscles, skin, and a shiny, healthy coat.
All meats you give your Labrador should be cooked unless your dog is used to a raw diet and the food is prepared hygienically. Meat should be lean, plain, without salt or seasoning. A few shredded pieces always go down a treat and can be part of your Lab’s nutritious and well-balanced diet.
Your Lab can eat blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and they are ideal for sharing 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 many 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 warm weather to help cool your dog down and keep him hydrated.
Labradors 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.
This is because 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 bread at home, you should not allow your Lab 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 your Lab 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 snag is that it contains a chemical that can cause major gas in some dogs! So you should experiment first as things could end up being quite unpleasant! 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 reduce the risk of serious diseases such as cancer and arthritis.
Melon (including honeydew and watermelon) are low in calories and high in water, making a nice and refreshing treat for your Lab. It is, however, high in natural sugars, so only feed sparingly. Always remove the seeds and rind before feeding.
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Carrots are an excellent human food to feed your dog, either cooked or raw. They are low in fat and contain high amounts of fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene that produce vitamin A which is excellent for healthy eyes, bones, and the immune system.
Carrots are good for blood pressure and cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of cancer. They are also good for the immune system and weight loss.
My dog loves crunching on a piece of raw carrot, which also helps to clean her teeth. I reckon carrots are one of the best human foods you can give your dog.
Cashews are by and large safe for your dog 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 don’t feed chocolate-coated cashews as both of these are highly toxic to dogs, especially if eaten in large quantities.
This high-value protein treat is a great human food that your Labrador 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.
I love to feed small chunks of cheese to my dog for a well-deserved treat. It’s full of nutrients, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A and B12.
Some dogs may be unable to tolerate cheese due to the inability to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products. So you will need to experiment first. However, it’s one of the dairy foods containing a lower amount of lactose.
Warning: Blue cheese, and other moldy cheese, should not be fed as the mold produces a mycotoxin, which is poisonous to dogs.
Countless dog foods contain chicken. This high-protein food will provide your Lab with lots of energy. It’s also a great source of Omega 6 fatty acids that are excellent for your dog’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 Labrador’s mouth and cause nasty injuries or choking.
I often add pieces of leftover roast chicken to my dog’s bowl – and it certainly doesn’t last long!
Coconut is an enjoyable human food to give to your Labrador. It can be kind of confusing, but coconut is actually a fruit! Therefore, it does not contain most of the proteins that cause tree nut allergies or sensitivities, such as almonds or cashews.
Coconut contains an abundance of antioxidants to support the immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent viruses. Your dog’s skin and coat will also benefit from the oil coconut contains. You can try feeding your Lab 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 Labrador. But, as it’s high in carbohydrates, you should only feed a small amount. It’s not the best choice of vegetable for your dog – I’m sure you will have noticed that it tends to pass through the gut pretty much intact!
I do think it’s a great choice, though, if your dog needs a quick energy boost during spells 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 fed to your dog. Plain popcorn can be okay, but as there’s a risk that the kernels could get stuck in your Labrador’s 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 Labrador.
They contain calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium and are loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1. Cucumbers are 96% water and make a healthy, low-fat, and refreshing treat for your dog.
Eggs are safe for Labradors to eat. They are a fantastic protein, 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 low and can be further minimized by using free-range eggs and storing them in a cool, dry place.
Your Labrador will love green beans, and they are highly nutritious. Most dogs tend to enjoy them. They are full of essential 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. However, as with all dairy foods, it depends on whether your dog can tolerate the amount of lactose. My dog enjoys a small bowl of milk once a week without suffering from any adverse effects.
Milk contains high amounts of calcium, which is good for healthy teeth and bones, and it includes vitamin D, which also helps keep bones healthy. It contains potassium, which is good for the heart and contains all essential amino acids, with many vitamins, minerals, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
A few tablespoons of either cow’s milk or goat’s milk are enjoyable foods for your dog.
A small treat of plain noodles is a safe human food for Labradors. 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 Lab 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 your dog should not eat these.
Labradors can eat oatmeal as long as it’s given sparingly. 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 dog is sensitive to grains or wheat, although, contrary to popular belief, a food allergy in dogs is rare. This is due to the often misleading marketing of grain-free dog foods.
Mix the oatmeal with water and serve cooked with nothing added, such as butter or syrup. Your Labrador 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 Lab 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 dog’s metabolism and contain antioxidants to help fight cancer.
They are better fed cooked but can be eaten raw as long as they are cut into small pieces. Sometimes I will 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, as parsnips are quite starchy (like other root vegetables such as beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots).
Labradors can eat pasta as long as it’s cooked and eaten plain. Once thought of as fattening and starchy, this staple food is now considered nutritious, providing lots of energy.
Pasta tends to be 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.
Dogs should not eat pasta sauces, so go easy on the spaghetti bolognese! They often contain garlic and onions, which are both poisonous. Labs with a wheat allergy or a sensitivity to grains or eggs also shouldn’t eat pasta.
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 Labrador to try one or two plain unsalted peanuts. However, you must not forget about their high-fat content – which can cause him to have a stomach upset as fat is harder to digest.
Peanuts are also high in calories, and you should also consider the general risks of choking. Although they are okay for your dog to eat, as they are not toxic, there are the risks 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 fed to your Labrador, although some brands contain xylitol (sweetener) that should not be consumed. Xylitol can be highly toxic and can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop, cause seizures, and lead to liver failure.
Make sure you carefully check the label and always choose an organic brand with nothing added.
Peanut butter is a high-value treat and is therefore ideal during training sessions. It’s also great for smearing into interactive toys such as the KONG Classic Toy from Amazon, which will keep your dog busy for a while! I love the KONG range of toys as they last a lifetime, and there are so many to choose from.
Peas are good for boosting energy levels as they are starchy carbohydrates. They are also gentle on your Lab’s digestive system.
They are good for the eyes, heart, and skin due to their 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 food that you can easily add to your dog’s bowl at mealtimes. Fresh or frozen peas are fine, but avoid the canned variety due to the high salt content.
Pineapple is a juicy 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 Labrador needs a quick energy boost during periods of intense activity. Frozen chunks of pineapple make an excellent treat in warm weather -they will help keep your dog cool and hydrated. However, avoid canned pineapple due to its high sugar content.
Your Labrador can enjoy eating 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 eaten as it contains a parasite that can cause an infection – unless your Lab 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.
Never let your dog have cooked pork bones as they are very brittle and can splinter into sharp pieces in his mouth or along his digestive tract. They are also a choking risk.
Processed pork meats such as bacon, ham, and sausage, should also not be eaten due to their high salt content.
You can give your Labrador potato to eat as long as it’s cooked and the skin removed. Raw or green potatoes contain solanine, which is a toxic compound. However, the cooking process eliminates this danger.
Potatoes are starchy vegetables containing vitamin C, B6, iron, and magnesium. 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 Labrador, and the seeds are also okay. It’s full of insoluble and soluble fiber and is therefore ideal if your dog happens to be constipated or has 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 best cooked – your Lab 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 some pumpkin.
Labradors can eat cooked plain rice, and this is a common ingredient of dog foods. However, brown whole grain rice is a healthier option so look out for this when choosing your brand. It’s an excellent source of calcium, fiber, iron, vitamin D, thiamine, and riboflavin.
Rice is a carbohydrate and therefore must be eaten in moderation, but as long as your dog maintains a healthy weight, a little rice added to his meal now and again will cause no harm.
Cooked plain white rice (not brown) is fed to a dog suffering from diarrhea. It’s easy to digest, low in fiber, and helps with runny poop as it binds stools together.
My dog adores salmon! If we are eating salmon for dinner, it’s the only time she will come over to the table, lie down, patiently wait, and hope for a taste!
Salmon is an excellent choice of fish for dogs. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that have 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 in many top-quality dog foods. Never feed raw salmon to your dog and ensure it’s thoroughly cooked as it contains parasites that can cause poisoning. Also, make sure it has no bones, so it’s best to choose a boneless fillet if you give your dog some of this tasty “people” food.
Labradors can eat sweet potatoes, and they are a better option than cooked white potatoes as they’re more nutritious. They contain beta-carotene that is great for growth and vision. They are also a natural source of fiber and contain vitamins such as C, B6, E, and A. They are superb for the overall health and wellbeing of your dog.
But, as sweet potatoes are a starchy carbohydrate, they are probably best avoided if your Labrador is overweight, less active, or diabetic.
Sweet potatoes should be cooked (and the skin removed) before feeding to your dog. You can bake, mash, or puree them. Due to their nutritional value, they are a popular source of carbohydrates in high-quality dog foods.
Tuna and Mackerel
Tuna fish and mackerel are superb human foods for your Labrador, and along with salmon, my dog adores them. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and eye health and make your dog’s coat shiny. They also contain many healthy vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, B12, B6, iron, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.
There is a mixed opinion on whether dogs should eat tuna and mackerel due to their higher mercury levels. However, as with most human foods you give to your Labrador, moderation is key.
When feeding a small amount of canned tuna, make sure it’s 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 B vitamins, including thiamine and riboflavin. It’s also loaded with minerals, including zinc and phosphorous. Turkey also contains selenium, helping to regulate metabolism.
It’s no wonder this high-energy food is a prevalent ingredient in commercial pet foods, and it’s no surprise that cooked turkey is wonderful 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 no bones are in the meat as cooked bones can easily splinter in your dog’s mouth or become a choking hazard.
There are two types of yogurt that your Labrador can enjoy. They are greek yogurt and low-fat plain, natural yogurt. Yogurt is great for dogs as it’s high in calcium and protein and can also act as a probiotic, which is excellent for your dog’s digestive system.
Check that 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. I like to add a blob or two to my dog’s food, which always goes down a treat!
How to Feed Dogs Human Food: Safety First!
When feeding your Labrador human foods, there are a few important safety rules you should follow:
- Human foods that you feed your Labrador should be in moderation. The general rule is that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
- Introduce different foods gradually. This should prevent any unwanted side effects.
- Cook all meats – unless your Lab is familiar with 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, choking, or a digestive blockage.
- Avoid processed meats such as ham, sausage, and bacon as they contain high amounts of salt or seasoning.
- Dogs with lactose intolerance should not consume dairy products. There are different levels of lactose in dairy foods, so your Labrador may be able to tolerate some foods but not others. For example, my dog can eat cheese and yogurt, but she reacts to even a few licks of heavy whipping cream!
- Fish should be cooked – due to the risk of bacteria. Don’t add any additional oils or seasonings, and remove all bones. 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.
- Remove seeds or pits from fruits. Examples are nectarines, peaches, and plums. They contain traces of toxic cyanide, and they are also a choking hazard. Check out my comprehensive guide, 29 Fruits Labradors Can Eat: And 5 They Can’t! for greater insight.
- Vegetables are better cooked. This is because dogs will find them easier to digest, but some can be given raw such as carrots and green beans. You can find out loads more on this topic in my article, 28 Vegetables Labradors Can Eat: And 8 That Are Toxic!
What Foods Can Labradors Not Eat?
Poisoning episodes in dogs are usually due to a lack of knowledge by the owner, as reported by Frontiers in Veterinary Science. So, as we learn what human foods Labradors can eat, we should also find out what foods they can’t eat.
Below is a list of the poisonous foods that your Labrador can’t eat. Some poisonings could result in severe illness or worse – depending on the amount consumed and the potency.
You can find out loads more detail about poisonous foods to Labs in this article.
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, etc.)
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Macadamia Nuts (Australian nuts)
- Onions, Shallots, Leeks, and Chives
- Potato (raw or green)
- Rhubarb leaves
- Star fruit
- Tomatoes (green)
- Xylitol (sweetener)
- Yeast dough
- Walnuts (black)
If you are unsure about the toxicity of foods, plants, medicines, and household items your dog has accidentally consumed, the Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day for expert help and advice.
Alternatively, if you suspect your dog has consumed something potentially deadly, consult your veterinarian immediately as timing can mean life or death in serious cases of dog poisoning.
There are many foods your Labrador can safely eat. However, you should remember that all dogs are different, just like humans, and it’s always best to get advice from your vet if you have any doubts about whether a particular food is okay for your dog.
Although I feed my dog high-quality food, I enjoy adding different foods to her bowl. I think it’s nice to mix things up for her and to let her taste different flavors and experience other textures. She tends to agree too!
Whatever you decide to give your dog, remember to follow the safety guidelines outlined above.
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