Foods you can and can’t use in recipes for dogs

The most important foods to avoid are:


A small amount of ripe tomato is unlikely to cause any problems, but green tomatoes can cause serious stomach upsets and even heart problems, so it’s best to avoid them.

Onions (and garlic)

Can cause blood problems including anaemia. Again small amounts are very unlikely to cause any problems, but to be on the safe side I only use small amounts of garlic and very little onion in my recipes.

Grapes and raisins

Both can cause very serious illness including kidney problems, and large amounts have been known to be fatal to dogs, so avoid wherever possible.


One of the ingredients of chocolate, theobromine, is related to caffeine, and some dogs react very badly to it, showing signs such as hyper-excitability, increased heart rate and muscle tremors. Dark chocolates contain the most theobromine, but I’d advise keeping all chocolate away from dogs.


Best avoided as some dogs will not tolerate mushrooms well and they can cause serious toxicity.

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On the other side of the equation, there are a few rather surprising ingredients which are really healthy for your dog, such as:


In the wild, dogs would have scavenged windfall fruit as well as digesting the remains of fruit eaten by other animals when they pick over the carcass, so giving your dog fruit is not as strange as it might sound. Fresh fruit is packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and all sorts of other healthy nutrients, so it’s great for keeping your dog in top condition. The only tricky part is persuading him that he really does want to eat fruit – which is where some of my more ingenious recipes involving fruit and liver come in!


This is a great source of protein, calcium and vitamins, and is particularly good for dogs with diarrhoea thanks to the probiotics it contains.

Cottage cheese

Another surprisingly healthy dairy food which is great for growing puppies and lactating bitches.

Raw bones

There’re a lot of scare stories about feeding bones to your dog, but in fact, as long as they aren’t cooked, they are really safe and very good for your dog in many ways (never feed cooked bones as these will splinter and cause lots of trouble).

Raw bones provide an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, as well as keeping your dog’s teeth clean, and keeping him entertained for hours on end. So don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for a good big juicy marrowbone every now and then – your dog will love you for it!

Puppy Food

Healthy nutrition is one of the most important things to get right when you’re bringing up a puppy, which I why I would recommend that you generally stick to a proper complete diet at this time.

Getting the right mix of essential protein, vitamins and minerals is hard to achieve with home cooked recipes if that is all you are feeding, whereas the complete diets have been specially formulated to contain everything a growing puppy needs. However, that’s not to say there isn’t a place for the occasional puppy treat and special meal.