golden retriever dog being fed a raspberry from a woman in a white sweater and brown pants holding a cheese board

What Cats and Dogs Eat Besides Pet Food?

Imagine if you had to eat the same dry kibble or can of meat every day. You’d get pretty bored, right? That’s why you should shake up your pet’s diet now and then. Just make sure anything you feed them is safe and healthy.

What’s the best diet for my pet?

There’s a lot of choices when it comes to choosing food for your dog or cat. Looking over the pet food options online or at the grocery store can be overwhelming.

A great place to start is with your veterinarian. They know your pet—their health history, age, weight, and lifestyle. They can give you the best advice on figuring out your pet’s diet, including how much and what types of food your pet should eat.

Any food you buy for your floof should have a label that claims it’s “complete and balanced” or “100% nutritious.” This means it contains all the good stuff your pet needs to stay healthy and that they’re included in the right proportions.

As for other claims, such as “organic” and “human-grade,” many of them aren’t standardized or regulated. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a useful resource for learning about pet food regulations, labels, and recalls.

Be sure to clean your pet’s bowls regularly too. Otherwise, yucky and potentially harmful bacteria and mold can grow in them.

devon rex cat eating wet canned tuna off a white plate on a striped blue placemat atop a table

What can cats eat besides cat food?

Cats are typically more finicky when it comes to food than dogs. Our pups will eat almost anything, including things we wish they wouldn’t. But there are plenty of foods you can offer your cat besides their usual kibble or canned meals, like these:

  • Cooked, skinless chicken or turkey—no bones or seasoning, please.
  • Scrambled eggs or egg whites—leave off the salt and pepper.
  • Bit of tuna packed in water—no need to add extra calories with oil.
  • Lean, non-spiced, and unprocessed deli meats—feed them small amounts only.
  • Carrots, peas, green beans, or broccoli—boil or steam them to make them easier to eat.
Quick Tip

Want to get your cat to try a new vegetable? Sprinkle a little tuna water on it for a tempting flavor boost your cat can’t resist.

Can I share sushi with my cat?

Cats like fish, so it’s seems like a no-brainer to give them a bite of your sushi. But it’s best to keep it all for yourself.

Raw fish contains thiaminase, which can break down B vitamins and cause a thiamine deficiency in your cat. Also, while rice is generally fine in small amounts, sushi rice has added ingredients, such as salt, sugar, and vinegar, that are not so healthy for your kitty.

Can cats eat pepperoni?

Pepperoni is a no-no for cats. It’s full of flavor, but it’s also packed with preservatives, colorings, and ingredients like garlic that are not good for your feline. If your cat happens to steal a small piece of pepperoni off your party platter, it’s not the end of the world. But large amounts can be harmful.

Can dogs eat chickpeas?

Chickpeas are great for dogs! They’re rich in fiber and a good source of protein. Avoid feeding them canned chickpeas since they contain preservatives. And don’t give them hummus, which has other ingredients that might not sit so well in your dog’s tummy.

You can cook up chickpeas without any seasoning and mix them in with their usual meal, serve them blended, or offer them whole as a snack. You can also replace your regular flour with chickpea flour and whip up a doggie-approved snack.

Can cats eat shrimp tails?

Shrimp are a yummy treat for cats—and that goes for a shrimp’s head all the way down to their tails. Shrimp heads and tails aren’t appetizing to us, but they’re awfully enticing to our kitties. Plus, they’re rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and Omega 3s.

It’s best to cook the shrimp yourself, so you know what’s in them and how they’ve been prepared. Boiled deveined shrimp are a wonderful feast for your feline. Just make sure they’re not too hot when you serve them and leave off the butter and seasonings.

You shouldn’t give your cat ready-to-eat shrimp from the grocery store. Those tend to be high in sodium.

Keep an eye on your cat while they’re eating shrimp. You’ll want to make sure they don’t choke on the shrimp legs or tails. Also, some cats have shrimp allergies, which can cause tummy upset or worse.

Avoid giving your kitty shrimp if they’re on a low-iodine diet for hypothyroidism. Shrimp contain lots of iodine. And if your cat is on a prescription diet, check with your vet before giving them shrimp or any other treats.

Did you know?

Omega 3 fatty acids found in shrimp have lots of health benefits for our pets. They help support their brain and heart function.

Can dogs eat poppy seeds?

Poppy seeds can contain small amounts of opiates, which are harmful to dogs. They can make your dog feel super sleepy or overly excited.

Your dog probably won’t get sick from licking up the few poppy seeds that fell off your bagel. But larger doses can cause trouble for your pooch. In any case, it’s best to keep them away from your best friend.

What berries can dogs eat?

Berries are a sweet and healthy doggie treat, but not all berries are safe for your pooch. Most berries we eat are fine for dogs, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. In fact, lots of fruits and veggies are safe for our dogs.

Some berries that are harmful to dogs are pokeberries, baneberries, and juniper berries. Don’t let your dog get at these toxic wild berries when you and your dog are exploring outside.

Quick Tip

Put some berries in the freezer and offer them to your dog on hot summer days. They’re the perfect treat to help them cool off.

What herbs can dogs eat?

You can liven up your dog’s meals with certain herbs. Many herbs aid digestion or have health-boosting properties, like antioxidants. Some that are safe for your pup include:

  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Dandelion
  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Chop up fresh herbs finely, so they don’t get caught in your dog’s throat. If you use dried herbs, choose the powdered form.

Fun Fact

Fresh mint can help improve your dog’s breath and digestion. It’s a win-win for you and your dog, especially if they like to smother you with kisses.

What kind of nuts can dogs eat?

Lots of dogs go nutty for nuts—and there are plenty of healthy nut choices. Steer clear of nuts that are salted or otherwise seasoned. Also, avoid giving them nuts that can cause choking, like almonds and pistachios.

Some great nut choices for dogs include cashews, English walnuts, and peanuts. If you give your dog peanut butter, choose a brand that does not contain xylitol. This artificial sweetener is very harmful to dogs.

Nuts are high in calories and fat, so it’s best not to feed them to a dog who needs to lose weight. It’s also not a good idea to give them to dogs with sensitive stomachs or pups prone to pancreatitis.

Never give your dog macadamia nuts or black walnuts. They can make your dog very sick and lead to seizures.

What if my pet eats something harmful?

First off, don’t be too hard on yourself if your pet eats something they shouldn’t. It can happen to anyone. Dogs like to snatch things out of the garbage when we’re not at home. And clever cats can get at food left on a high countertop.

The possibility of it occurring is more likely if you have a happy-go-lucky, optimistic pet. Optimists are known for their outgoing and curious natures. They tend to act before they think. Pessimistic pets are more reserved and less open to taking chances.

If your pet ingests something harmful, call your veterinarian or animal poison control right away. They can help you determine the severity of the situation and what you should do next. In serious cases, you may need to rush your pet to an emergency animal hospital.

If you have Hartville Pet Insurance, poison control consultation fees are covered under your accident coverage. Find out what you need to know about pet insurance before you buy.