As a pup parent, it’s so important to make sure your canine companion has a healthy and happy life.
From trips to the dog park, to finding a reliable veterinarian, to endless belly rubs — dog parenthood is a huge (and super rewarding) responsibility.
Aside from feeding your dog healthy, nutritious dog food at mealtimes, it’s possible that you’ve considered introducing vegetables into your dog’s diet as an additional, nutrient-dense bonus. Veggies are great for people, so it’s easy to assume that the same goes for dogs, right?
The short answer is yes, certain vegetables are good for dogs. You can even find veggies in various types of dog food. Nonetheless, it’s important to educate yourself before incorporating even small amounts of veggies as nutrient-dense additives to your dog’s routine.
Of course, check with your veterinarian before introducing a new veggie, especially if your dog has any pre-existing health conditions. As trained professionals, they’ll be able to give you a holistic picture of the benefits and limitations of vegetables for dogs, and give you a complete rundown of what vegetables would be best-suited for your dog’s specific needs.
You don’t need to confine your dog’s vegetable intake to ingredients in dog food. There are many healthy foods you can feed to your canine.
Here’s a list of vegetables that are good for dogs, along with what vegetables you should avoid.
What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?
The nutritional value of a small serving of sweet potatoes is almost unmatched when it comes to both human and canine diets. Loaded with nutrients like carotenoids, vitamins C and vitamins A, antioxidants and phytochemicals, the sweet potato can aid in preventing disease, improving immune function and maintaining healthy skin, coat, and muscle function. They’re also a great source of minerals that perform a myriad of functions in cells: everything from transporting oxygen to assembling proteins in the body.
Sweet potatoes should always be cooked when serving them to your pup. To maintain optimal nutritional value, opt for steaming or boiling, rather than roasting or baking. An even quicker, easier way to sneak this nutrient-dense treat into your dog’s diet is in dehydrated chew form.
Perhaps the most functional dog-friendly veggie, the cucumber is a nutrient-dense snack, low-calorie training treat, and a great teething toy for puppies when served frozen. At 96% water, they’re also a great way to keep your dog hydrated on hot days. To serve, cut them into small chunks to avoid choking.
When prepared without oils or seasoning, broccoli is a safe and healthy treat for your dog to enjoy either cooked or raw.
If you have an older dog, broccoli is a particularly great snack to maintain optimal health in their later years. As dogs age, they tend to have a more difficult time producing an adequate amount of vitamins on their own. That’s where a nutrient-dense vegetable like broccoli can be a great dietary addition.
Broccoli is also a great source of vitamin K, which is linked to improvements in bone density. It also contains vitamin C that can aid in warding off certain diseases and cancers often found in older dogs.
Rich in fiber and antioxidants, brussels sprouts can help reduce inflammation and improve overall blood circulation when added to your dog’s diet. They’re also loaded with vitamin K and vitamin C, which can aid in maintaining and improving bone health and immune system function.
To prepare, remove the hard, nubby stem, and slice in the sprouts in half. Steam or boil without oils or seasoning. Avoid overcooking, so they don’t lose their nutritional benefits.
Serve brussels sprouts in very small amounts, (between 1-3 sprouts is usually the sweet spot, depending on your dog’s size), as they can cause some gastrointestinal upset.
Carrots are another nutritionally-dense and functional snack for dogs. They’re a great substitution for a teething toy for puppies, and can even support dental health in older dogs. They’re perfectly safe to serve cooked, but simply cutting them into bite-sized chunks and feeding them to your pup raw will provide the most functional benefit.
For being a vegetable with such high water content, celery is actually packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for dogs. A simple stalk of celery contains vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, flavonoids, and numerous antioxidant nutrients.
High-levels of potassium can help your dog stay hydrated, and prevent muscle cramps after a run or walk on hot summer days.
In addition to being super hydrating and functional for active canine companions, they’re also a great low-calorie snack for pups who need to lose a few pounds. Celery is a crunchy, satisfying snack, while contributing almost no additional calories to daily intake.
To serve, simply cut into bite-sized chunks and feed them to your pup as a treat, or as an addition at mealtime.
Another highly nutritious and safe veggie you can feed your dog is green beans. This vet-recommended treat should be served plain, so avoid canned beans that have salt or other additional ingredients.
Green beans are a great source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as protein, iron, and calcium. Packed with fiber, green beans can help your canine feel full and reduce overeating. This low-calorie treat can be served raw, steamed, or chopped.
Snow peas, sugar snap peas, garden peas and English peas (for all the non-pea experts out there, that means any kind of green pea), are all great options for training treats, snacks or mixins with food at mealtime.
Rich in protein and fiber, peas are perfectly healthy to serve to your dog either frozen or thawed. Canned peas should be avoided, due to excess sodium that is often added to canned foods. Although eating pea pods isn’t inherently dangerous for dogs, they can be a choking hazard, so remove the peas from the pods before serving.
Note that if your dog has pre-existing kidney conditions, steer clear of feeding them peas. They contain uric acid, which can lead to additional kidney complications, especially when consumed by already at-risk dogs.
Rich in iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene and roughage, spinach is a great additive to a dog’s diet to maintain or improve digestive function. It also contains high levels of vitamins A, B, C, and K, which are important in aiding bone health, immune function, nervous system and brain function, and digestive support.
When it comes to introducing spinach to your dog’s diet, preparation is key. The best way to prepare spinach for your dog is steamed. Boiled spinach loses most of its nutrients, whereas raw spinach is difficult for dogs to digest. Note that when steaming your spinach, it’s important to not add any spices, herbs, salt, oil, onion, or garlic, as these additives can be toxic for dogs. It’s also important to chop the spinach, as dog’s digestive tracts can’t break down vegetables as effectively as humans can.
It’s important to flag that spinach is very high in oxalic acid, which can block the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. A healthy dog would have to consume a huge amount of spinach for this to be an issue, but dogs with pre-existing kidney issues should steer clear of spinach as part of their diet.
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are shown to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases in both dogs and humans — especially those related to aging and inflammation. Perhaps most notably, cauliflower contains high levels of isothiocyanate, a carcinogen blocker that’s been shown to keep cancer cells from spreading.
Cauliflower is safe to give to your dog either cooked or raw, but keep in mind that cooked cauliflower will be easier for your dog to chew and digest. Consuming large quantities of cauliflower can irritate the lining of the intestines, producing gas and loose stools. While not dangerous, opt to serve cauliflower to your dog in small, infrequent servings to avoid unpleasant side effects for the both of you.
If you’re looking for a protein-rich treat for your pup, edamame is the way to go. It’s also packed with Omega-3s that help in maintaining a healthy coat and skin.
Stick to plain, fresh edamame — either raw, cooked or frozen. Steer clear of feeding your dog processed edamame often found pre-packaged in the grocery store, as it almost always contains sodium and other additives that could be dangerous to feed your dog.
Because soy is a common allergen in dogs, be cautious and slow when introducing edamame into your dog’s diet. If you notice excessive scratching or licking, hair loss, chronic ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea, back off on the edamame, and opt for a different treat that does not contain soy.
What Vegetables Can Dogs Not Eat?
The green parts of tomatoes (including stem, vines, and unripened areas) contain a toxin called solanine that can be fatal when ingested by dogs. Although this toxin is most prevalent in the green parts of the tomato, steer clear of this food altogether, just to be safe.
If you have a tomato garden, make sure it’s properly fenced in, so your dog cannot gain access and help themselves to a potentially dangerous snack. If you notice that your dog suddenly becomes lethargic, confused, uncoordinated or experiences GI issues, and you suspect they may have consumed tomatoes, call Animal Poison Control, the Pet Poison Helpline, or your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin, which can cause serious health issues, or even death, in dogs. If your dog does get a hold of some avocado, it’s very likely that they will experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. It’s recommended that you monitor them for 24-48 hours, and if symptoms persist or become any more severe, call your vet immediately.
All parts of the onion plant are extremely poisonous to dogs — this includes the flesh, leaves, juice, as well as processed powders. Keep in mind that this is inclusive of the entire onion family and includes garlic, shallots, leeks and chives.
Consuming any vegetable from the onion family can severely damage a dog’s red blood cells, and even lead to a serious medical condition called hemolytic anemia. Because onions are among the most dangerous foods out there for pups, definitely call Animal Poison Control, as well as your veterinarian immediately upon consumption.
Identifying toxic species of mushrooms can be a challenge, even for an experienced forager. Because of the breadth of varieties, the best rule of thumb is to keep this vegetable completely off the table when it comes to feeding your pup, as so many species can be fatal when consumed by dogs.
If your dog does accidentally consume a mushroom, it’s safest to consider it poisonous until you’re able to prove otherwise. Immediately contact your veterinarian, and they will likely induce vomiting to rid your dog’s system of the potential toxins.
The Right Ruffage
When it comes to the benefits and limitations of vegetables for dogs, educating yourself and connecting with a veterinarian with questions or concerns regarding your pet’s specific needs is of the utmost importance. With the right knowledge, veggies can be a great additive to an already balanced diet, and help your canine companion live a happy, healthy life.
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