Human Foods Safe for German Shepherds: And What to Avoid


german shepherd surrounded by food

When we have a lovable German Shepherd in our lives, it can be tempting to reward them with a tasty human food treat. Though we have the best intentions when we offer them a special snack, is all human food actually safe for German Shepherds? 

There are a variety of human foods that are safe for German Shepherds to eat. It is, however, very important that you familiarize yourself with what is safe and what is not safe to give to your dog, as there are a number of seemingly harmless everyday foods that humans eat which can be harmful or even fatal to a dog.

In this article we’ll dive into a list of human foods that are safe for our German Shepherd friends, and help you understand which foods to avoid going forward. 

Can German Shepherds Eat Human Food?

Though German Shepherds thrive on a diet made specifically for them, your Shepherd pup can benefit from the addition of human food as well.

While not all snacks are deemed healthy for our canine friends, some food items can offer a healthy treat from time to time!

So how do you know which human foods are actually safe for your German Shepherd?

Let’s dive into a detailed list of safe human foods for Shepherds, and explain how each item can benefit your furry BFF.

We’ll also discuss the dangerous food items that you should always avoid, and help you understand how to keep your German Shepherd safe. 

Safe Human Food for German Shepherds

Our German Shepherds deserve a tasty treat from time to time, and some human foods are a wonderful option.

Let’s discuss some of the safe food items that you can offer your canine companion, and the ways each item can benefit their health. Based on researchOpens in a new tab. by veterinary professionals, we’ll break it down into protein, fruits, veggies, nuts, and carbs. 

Safe Proteins for German Shepherds

chicken

Chicken

Boiled and unseasoned chicken is a wonderful protein option for German Shepherds. Since chicken is a leading ingredient in so many store bought diets, your Shepherd is likely already consuming it each day!

Chicken can offer the tasty protein that your Shepherd craves, all while helping them build lean muscle mass. 

fish

Fish

Fully cooked fish that’s free of any seasoning and oil can be a healthy treat for your German Shepherd. Fish can be a great source of protein for dogs, and is in many store bought diets for dogs with sensitivities to poultry.

Just be sure that the fish you offer your Shepherd is free of any bones, as this could cause intestinal irritation and blockage. 

turkey

Turkey

Turkey is a lean poultry that can offer a safe treat for your German Shepherd. While turkey itself is safe for dogs, it’s important to follow a few staple rules when offering it to your favorite Shepherd.

Turkey should only be consumed by our dog if it is cooked without salt, butter, onions, garlic, or any other typical seasonings. In order for your GSD to enjoy it safely, it needs to be plain. 

beef

Beef

Lean beef is another safe protein source for German Shepherds. Though some beef options are known to be fatty and can cause gastrointestinal upset, lean ground beef is a safe and tasty treat.

Just be sure to only offer a lean beef source, and refrain from adding any seasonings or sauces.

eggs

Eggs

Eggs are a nutritious protein option for your German Shepherd. Eggs are not only a safe protein source, but are filled with vitamins and minerals that promote overall health.

Eggs can offer your Shepherd Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Selenium, and beneficial fatty acids. Just be sure to cook the eggs before serving them to your dog, and leave out any butter or seasonings. 

Safe Fruits for German Shepherds

apple

Apples

Apples are an incredible snack for your German Shepherd pup. Apples can offer our Shepherds beneficial vitamins, dietary fiber, and can even help to clean their teeth.

Just be sure to remove the core and any seeds before serving, as they can cause intestinal obstructions and irritation. 

blueberries

Blueberries

Blueberries are an easy and healthy snack for your favorite German Shepherd. Blueberries can offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can fight free radicals in your Shepherd’s body.

A handful of blueberries are perfectly safe for your pup when offered a few times a week. 

watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelon can be a safe and refreshing treat for your German Shepherd on a hot day. Though watermelon can offer beneficial vitamins and added hydration, there are a few safety rules to keep in mind.

When giving your German Shepherd watermelon, it’s best to remove the seeds. Watermelon seeds are known to cause gastrointestinal upset when offered in excess, and can even cause intestinal blockage in some dogs.

You should also keep the watermelon rind away from your pup, as swallowing large pieces of rind can be dangerous. 

strawberry

Strawberries

Strawberries are another sweet treat that is safe for your German Shepherd. Strawberries are filled with Vitamin C, dietary fiber, as well as an enzyme that can help to whiten your dog’s teeth.

Just be sure to limit your dog’s strawberry intake to a few times a week, as they are high in sugar. 

bananna

Bananas

Bananas are a wonderful low calorie treat for your German Shepherd. Bananas are not only a healthy treat for your furry friend, but are packed with nutritious benefits. Bananas are high in potassium, fiber, vitamins, and a list of other impressive nutrients.

Though they are low in calories, bananas are high in sugar. Because of this, it’s best to only offer bananas as a limited treat. 

If your German Shepherd is a big fan of bananas, you can even mix it up and offer them a tasty dehydrated banana dog treat. These treats offer your dog the benefit of banana and coconut oil, giving them the best of each impressive fruit. 

coconut

Coconut

Coconut is gaining popularity in the pet wellness realm for its incredible health benefits. Raw coconut or coconut oil can be offered to your German Shepherd in small amounts, and may even boost your Shepherd’s immune system in the process.

Coconut can offer immune support, inflammation control, and even add extra shine to your dog’s coat. Just be sure to offer coconut in small amounts, as large amounts may cause diarrhea. 

melon

Melon

Melons like honeydew and cantaloupe can be a safe treat for your German Shepherd in moderation. Both fruits offer Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and antioxidants that fight free radicals.

Though melon is filled with added nutrients, they are both extremely high in sugar. Because of this, it’s best to only offer melon to your German Shepherd in moderation. 

mango

Mango

Mangos are another safe fruit treat for our German Shepherd pups. Mangoes are packed with vitamins, minerals, and even potassium.

Though mango is a healthy snack for dogs, it is high in sugar. Because of this, it’s best to only offer mango in moderation. 

Safe Veggies for German Shepherds

carrot

Carrots

Carrots are the perfect low calorie snack for your German Shepherd. Carrots are not only low in calories, but are packed with dietary fiber and Vitamin A.

Just be sure to serve the carrots in bite size pieces for your furry friend, as large pieces of carrot can be a choking hazard. 

green peas

Green Peas

Peas are a nutritious addition to your German Shepherd’s diet. Green peas are a great source of protein, fiber, essential vitamins, and more.

Peas are often supplemented into the diets of overweight canines, as peas can help to fill your dog up with fewer calories.

Just be sure to avoid canned peas, as they often contain extra sodium. 

brocolli

Broccoli

Broccoli is a safe veggie for German Shepherds if it is offered in small amounts. Broccoli is a wonderful occasional treat as it contains fiber, Vitamin A, and is extremely low fat.

Though it is okay to offer in small amounts, an excess amount of broccoli can cause gastrointestinal upset in our Shepherd friends.

Because of this, it’s best to only offer small amounts once or twice a week. 

bell peppers

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are an incredible, low calorie treat for your German Shepherd. Bell peppers are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, meaning they can offer impressive health benefits with each bite.

Just be sure to avoid any salt or pepper when serving, as this can cause GI upset or irritation. 

cucumber

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the perfect low calorie snack for your German Shepherd. Cucumbers can sub as a tasty treat for dogs on a diet, as they have little to no fat or carbohydrates.

Cucumbers are packed with vitamins, copper, magnesium, and even potassium. The next time you are chopping up cucumbers for a snack, be sure to offer your Shepherd some!

corn

Corn

Corn can be a safe treat for your German Shepherd, but only when certain safety rules are followed. The actual kernels of corn themselves are filled with vitamins, protein, and healthy carbs. Though this can be beneficial for your Shepherd, there are some things to keep in mind.

First, you should never offer your dog corn on the cob. Corn cobs can be a serious choking hazard, as well as cause intestinal obstruction.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that many dogs have corn allergies. Just be sure to monitor your dog after consumption for any sign of itching, gastrointestinal upset, or any other abnormal behavior. 

Safe Nuts for German Shepherds

peanuts

Peanuts 

Peanuts can be a safe treat for your German Shepherd when following a few rules. While many pet owners assume peanuts are always safe due to dogs loving peanut butter, that’s not always the case.

If you are going to offer your German Shepherd peanuts, be sure they are plain and unseasoned. Salted or honey roasted peanuts are extremely high in fat, which can cause gastrointestinal upset.

A few plain peanuts can be a safe occasional treat for your canine companion. 

Safe Carbs for German Shepherds

sweet potato

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a popular addition to a canine diet. Sweet potatoes can offer your German Shepherd dietary fiber that improves digestion, and healthy carbohydrates to help keep them full. Sweet potatoes are low in fat, filled with vitamins, and contain beneficial potassium.

If you are looking for a healthy carbohydrate to add into your dog’s dietary routine, sweet potatoes are a great option. 

If you would like to skip the prepping process of cooking sweet potatoes, you can offer your dog a delicious dehydrated sweet potato chewOpens in a new tab.. This is a wonderful option for dogs with food allergies, as this chew is free of any artificial ingredients. 

rice

Rice

Brown and white rice are a safe carb option for German Shepherds. Both forms of rice are easily digestible, and can help to soothe your dog’s stomach if they are experiencing GI upset.

Rice is so safe for our furry friends that you will often hear vets recommending boiled chicken and rice for dogs with stomach sensitivities. 

Human Foods to Avoid Feeding German Shepherds

Though there are a list of tasty human foods that our German Shepherds can enjoy, there are some that can cause our pups great harm.  Some of these common household snacks can make our Shepherds extremely ill, and should be avoided at all costs.

The ASPCAOpens in a new tab. has researched each toxic food item in depth, and has helped us understand the possible risks of the human foods we will discuss below. 

chocolate

Chocolate

Chocolate is a common toxin in our furry friends. With the concentrated ingredient of theobromine in chocolate, this sweet snack can cause serious toxicity in our German Shepherds.

If your Shepherd gets their paws on chocolate, they cna experience a list of concerning symptoms.

Chocolate can cause diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, tremors, hyperactivity, and even seizures. Because of this, it’s important to keep all chocolate away from your German Shepherd.

avacado

Avocados

While avocados may be a healthy snack for us, they are potentially dangerous to our canine companions.

With avocado containing the ingredient called persin, our German Shepherds can experience serious gastrointestinal upset when consuming.

Because of this, it’s important to avoid offering any avocado to your Shepherd BFF. 

grapes

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins pose a huge risk to our German Shepherds. Even one grape can cause devastating kidney failure, which can be irreversible if it’s not treated in time.

One of the worst parts of a grape toxicity is that it can take a few days for symptoms to begin, and the kidneys are often severely damaged at this point. In order to keep your Shepherd safe, it’s important to keep grapes and raisins away from them at all times. 

onion

Onions

Onions are extremely toxic to our canine companions. Onions cause severe red blood cell destruction, often leading to anemia in German Shepherds.

Severe anemia can be deadly for our furry friends, and often require life saving blood transfusions.

It’s important to keep onions away from your dog at all times, and never serve them a meal that contains this toxic ingredient. 

fruit pit

Fruit Pits

Fruit pits can be extremely dangerous for German Shepherds. Not only can fruit pits be a choking hazard when they are consumed, but they can also lead to life threatening intestinal blockages.

Because of this, it’s important to always dispose of your fruit pits properly. 

xylitol

Xylitol

Xylitol is one of the most dangerous toxins on the list. Though xylitol is not a food in itself, it is a common artificial sweetener used in low calorie snacks.

Even a small amount of xylitol can cause a severe drop in a dog’s blood sugar, often leading to life threatening symptoms.

German Shepherds that consume xylitol can experience vomiting, weakness, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death. Be sure to scan your food items for xylitol, and always keep these items away from your dog. 

dairy

Dairy

Though this is often debated, it’s best to keep dairy away from your German Shepherd. Dairy can cause severe gastrointestinal upset in our canine companions, and can lead to weight gain if it’s offered frequently.

While a small amount of dairy may not cause your dog to become ill, it’s best to just avoid the risk. 

macadamia nuts

Macadamia Nuts

Though macadamia nuts are still a bit of a mystery, we know they can make German Shepherds extremely ill.

Scientists are unsure of the exact ingredient in Macadamia nuts that causes toxicity in dogs, but we know they can cause serious symptoms when consumed.

A dog that consumes macadamia nuts can experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperthermia and weakness. It’s best to keep macadamia nuts away from your Shepherd at all times.

Symptoms of Food Toxicity in German Shepherds

As you can see, there are quite a few common food items that can cause toxicities in our dogsOpens in a new tab..

Aside from this, our German Shepherds are similar to us in the sense that they can have adverse reactions to certain food items. Because of this, it’s important to understand the possible signs of food toxicity in our furry friends. 

Some of the most common signs of food toxicity in German Shepherds include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Disorientation
  • Itching and skin irritation
  • Tremors

The possible symptoms of food toxicity in dogs can vary based on what food is consumed.

If your Shepherd is ever displaying any of the symptoms above, or any other strange behavior, it’s best to have them seen by a vet immediately. 

What to Do if Your German Shepherd Eats Harmful Food

Accidents happen, and sometimes our German Shepherds get their paws on food that can cause them harm. Knowing how to react when our dogs eat potentially toxic food is extremely important, and can often save them from possible illness.

So what do you do if your German Shepherd eats harmful food?

The first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you understand if the food your Shepherd consumed is toxic, and if they need to come in to be seen.

Though it can be tempting to find answers online, it’s always best to seek advice from your veterinarian if your dog eats potentially toxic food. 

If your veterinarian instructs you to bring your dog into the vet, it’s important to make sure that you have all the information on the item your dog consumed.

For example, if your German Shepherd eats a candy bar, it’s important to bring the wrapper in with you. Knowing the ingredients of an item can help your vet determine the best treatment plan going forward. 

Final Thoughts

Our German Shepherds are the center of our world, so of course we want to reward them with a tasty treat from time to time!

Be sure to review the different food items we discussed above, and you can offer your Shepherd safe human snacks going forward!

Amber LaRock LVT

I am a Licensed Vet Tech that took my career online to spread knowledge on animal health and welfare. I grew up with a deep passion for helping animals and knew that it was my life’s purpose. With the experience I gained from my time working in emergency medicine, I have been able to spread accurate information online in all realms of pet health. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find!

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