Can Humans Eat Dog Treats?

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: March 22, 2024
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Did you catch the viral TikTok trend of 2023 where some fitness influencers started eating dog food? On the face of it, this may seem ridiculous but there was some science behind it. Dog food is high in protein and this is a prized nutrient for fitness enthusiasts. Protein helps you to build lean muscles and for many people, this is important to help them reach the body shape they are aiming for. So, if this has got you eyeing up your dog’s treats, let’s first answer some critical questions. Can humans eat dog treats and what are the benefits and risks of doing so?

What Is In Dog Treats?

The precise recipes of dog treats are highly variable but most contain some sort of animal products, grains, fruits/vegetables, and added micronutrients such as vitamins.

The animal products found in dog treats may not be the type of meat that you would find attractive. It can include scraps of meat, ground bones, organs, and skin. That said, it would normally be dangerous for humans provided it has been heat treated. The fruit and vegetable content should be perfectly safe for you.

However, the vitamins are added to suit a dog’s metabolism and in higher doses, they could present a health risk for humans. Also, dog treats may contain other additives that have not been passed as safe for human consumption.

Of course, if you make your own dog treats you will know exactly what is in them and if they are safe for you.

Are Dog Treats Safe For Humans?

Relying on dog treats for your long-term nutrition is not safe for humans. Dogs have very different nutritional needs to humans and you will not be getting the nutrients that you need.

The FDA regulates dog food and requires that it is safe to eat, is produced under sanitary conditions, and contains no harmful substances. However, things can go wrong when processing dog treats and it is not unusual for recalls to be released. For example, harmful bacteria such as salmonella can contaminate the products and present a danger to humans. Extreme caution is needed as some treats may not have been heat treated and could contain harmful pathogens. Your dog’s digestion can cope with these far better than yours can.

If you make homemade dog treats from your own food and cook them thoroughly, you and your pooch can enjoy them together.

What Do Dog Treats Taste Like?

Human Omnivore

Humans have more taste buds than dogs.

©Billion Photos/

The whole point of dog treats is that your dog goes mad for them. You won’t get your pooch to ‘sit’, ‘down’, or ‘stay’ for something they don’t like the taste and texture of! This means that dog treats have been designed to appeal to dogs – not humans.

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs have only 1,700 tastebuds but we have 9,000. They can identify sweet, salty, and bitter tastes and the rear of their tongue is most sensitive to sweet flavors. Dogs can taste salt but not as well as we do. They have a strong preference for ‘meat’ flavors, particularly beef and pork. That said, just like humans, each dog has their own preferences.

Very few people admit to eating dog treats but what we know about dog taste buds does  back up what people say about the taste! Search online chat groups and you will find a few people who claim to have tried dog treats and report that they taste like “stale cardboard”, “mildy salty” and “bland”.

Can Humans Eat Dog Treats?

Most dog treats are not inherently toxic for humans but they are not completely safe either. They may contain ingredients that have not been passed for human consumption and vitamins in the wrong concentrations for our metabolism. Dog treats can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Plus, they don’t taste great! Try making homemade treats from dog-safe and human-safe ingredients so that you can enjoy them together.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Michael Ebardt/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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