It’s summertime, the season of fresh and nutritious vegetables when even those of us are more likely to eat healthy local produce who otherwise opt for the convenience of processed foods.
Yet, you may be unsure as to what to do with the excess amounts in your fridge or on your plate, curious whether your pets could perhaps consume any of them.
Have you ever wondered whether you could share some vegetables with your dogs, hoping that they could enjoy all those health-promoting benefits along with you?
Maybe you have; yet, as a conscientious pet owner, didn’t want to risk their well-being, not having reliable information about what vegetables are safe for your four-legged friend to eat.
This article should answer your most important questions when it comes to your dog’s safety and choosing the right types of vegetables to feed them, as well as avoiding the ones that could potentially prove to be harmful or even fatal to their health.
It also attempts to explain in what ways vegetables can prove to be an essential part of your dog’s regular diet.
Can My Dog Eat Vegetables?
Dogs are, by nature, carnivores, primarily thriving on eating the meat, bones, and organs of other animals.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t normally eat freshly grown foods, like various vegetables, every now and then. As the website of Honey’s Real Dog Food explains, dogs do, in fact, eat some plants and vegetables in the wild.
The right types of vegetables are certainly appropriate additions to most dogs’ diets, with plenty of nutritional and health benefits to enjoy.
While an entirely vegetarian diet is not recommended nor feasible, your dog can indulge in a variety of vegetables you choose to share with them, even on a daily basis.
Does My Dog Need to Eat Vegetables?
While there are certainly various health benefits related to feeding vegetables to your canine friend; technically, they do not need to eat plant-based food -including vegetables- to maintain their well-being and vitality, at all.
Dogs can acquire all necessary macronutrients from the proteins and fats found in an all-meat diet.
When they do have access to fruits and especially vegetables, however, these can enrich their diet and lives. After all, just like their human owners, dogs do like variety and sharing some delicious treats together.
What Are the Most Important Health Benefits of Vegetables for My Dog?
There are indeed many health benefits associated with allowing your dog to consume a limited amount of carefully chosen vegetables.
The most important ones, according to the Dogs Naturally Magazine are related to the following upsides of eating vegetables:
Alkalization of the Body
Since dogs mostly eat a meat-based diet, their bodies naturally tend to be acidic. This environment promotes inflammation, which is often the direct cause of various chronic diseases, such as liver, pancreas, gallbladder, heart, kidney, or even hormonal problems.
Most vegetables have an alkalizing ability, helping your dog’s body to fight off inflammation-related illnesses. This will likely support your canine friend in living a healthier, longer, and better quality of life.
Extra Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamins, such as some types of B, C, A, E, and K are abundantly found in vegetables. While dogs can create vitamins within their bodies from meat sources, additional vitamins help to speed up this process and support the optimal vitamin usage, as well.
Calcium, potassium, magnesium, and a whole range of minerals present in vegetables, especially the dark, leafy kind, also provide a health boost to your dog, supporting growth and development physically and neurologically.
Again, while many of these nutrients are found in meat sources, dogs can undoubtedly consume these from vegetable sources too.
During the hot summer days, many dogs are slightly dehydrated, seemingly never being able to consume enough water.
Juicy vegetables provide a solution, offering extra sources of fluids for your four-legged friend. Not only will these help with rehydration, but they also replenish them with dissolved sugar, vitamins, and minerals.
Essential Enzymes and Antioxidants
Enzymes and antioxidants are phytonutrients found in vegetables that further improve health and promote longevity.
Enzymes support optimal digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, while antioxidants prevent inflammation, protect against free radicals that cause aging, and even eliminate the risk of deadly diseases, like cancer.
Extra Supply of Fiber
Natural, plant-based fiber helps to bulk up your dog’s stool to make it easier to pass. Meat, bones, and organs are lacking this dietary material.
As a result, dog food makers usually supplement this by adding grains to their product, which is a solution, albeit an imperfect one.
Vegetable fibers are soluble, therefore, much healthier for your dog. These are digested in the large intestine, slowing its speed, and creating a feeling of fullness for a longer period, something your dog can benefit from too.
What Vegetables Can My Dog Eat?
Now that you understand the basics and the benefits of offering vegetables to your canine companion, you may be wondering about the best types to pick to supplement their diet.
Take a look at the list below; it should provide you with all the information you need when planning your dog’s next healthy snack.
According to Dr. Peter Dobias, the founder of Dr. Dobias Natural Healing, the following vegetables are the best for your dog:
Green Leafy Vegetables
As dogs eat greens in the wild, raw leafy vegetables are a fairly straightforward and safe choice to feed your dog with.
Lettuce, dandelion, parsley, basil, cilantro, carrot tops, kale, and even sprouts are excellent options; they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, alkalizing agents, and antioxidants.
An ideal sweet treat for your dog, a sweet potato is not only delicious, but it’s also full of fiber, vitamin B6, C, and manganese, a mineral supporting your pet’s joint and tendon health. In addition, they are very low in fat, while rich in healthy carbohydrates.
It is essential, however, to remember: never offer raw sweet potatoes for your dog, as these could be toxic, potentially causing gastrointestinal problems or even heart complications.
Cook or bake them thoroughly, instead, and serve them cubed or sliced when completely cooled off.
Similar in their benefits to sweet potatoes, pumpkins are also extremely rich in fiber, balancing your dog’s digestion, offering relief both from constipation or diarrhea. Feed it raw, cooked, or baked; pumpkin seeds are perfectly safe to offer, as well.
When it comes to pumpkins, there are only two major issues to be cautious of. First, make sure that the fresh pumpkins you offer are not rotten or moldy, which could cause massive gastrointestinal disturbances.
Second, if you feed canned pumpkins to your dog, choose a brand without spices or extra additives that could also upset your pet’s stomach.
Green Peas and Green Beans
Legumes, like green peas and green beans, are excellent snacks for your dog, full of vitamins, minerals, iron, and protein. Both are safe and beneficial to feed, either in raw or cooked format.
It is important to keep in mind that canned peas or green beans are usually high in sodium, something that could be detrimental for your dog’s kidneys.
If you wish to offer canned legumes anyway, try to find the low sodium version to avoid any associated problems, in the long run.
Cucumbers are safe, low-fat, and low-calorie options to consider when looking for an optimal fresh snack for your dog. Not only they are nutritious, but they are also rich in water, offering extra hydration on these hot summer days.
While excess liquids are usually a welcome addition to your pet’s daily diet, make sure not to overfeed cucumbers: their high fluid content could lead to gastrointestinal disturbances and even diarrhea.
Also, remember that cucumbers are slippery and potentially challenging to bite down on. Cut them into easy-to-manage chunks instead of offering them whole.
Fibers, vitamins, and minerals are abundant in zucchini, a type of squash that many consider one of the best vegetables to offer to canine companions, especially ones with health complications, such as obesity.
As zucchini is low in calories yet flavorful, it could be an excellent alternative to high fat or calorie dog treats like biscuits.
Whether fresh, raw, or cooked, zucchini is a safe option to feed to your dog. When preparing it yourself, remember not to add extra salt, spices, or oils, as these could be harmful to your dog’s health, upsetting their delicate stomach.
Red, yellow, orange, or green, cooked or raw, bell peppers are another excellent choice for your dog, full of vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
Make sure to avoid spicy peppers though: not only they may cause extreme discomfort when your dog eats them, they could cause gastrointestinal issues too.
Another powerhouse of vitamins, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates, beets are safe, well-liked, and well-tolerated by most dogs, if you choose to offer these.
Similarly to cucumbers or zucchini, beets can be a slippery choking hazard too; cutting them into small, manageable chunks is crucial. Remember, beets do stain the carpet or your couch!
Finally, an all-time favorite: carrots are healthy and nutritious treats, and you are safe to offer them both raw or cooked. Fresh carrots are particularly great for your dog’s teeth, too!
The large amount of vitamin A found in carrots will support your dog’s optimal bone growth, immunity, reproductive health, and excellent eyesight throughout their lives.
What Is the Best Way to Offer Vegetables to My Dog?
While many vegetables are safe and can be eaten raw; often, dogs prefer to consume them in a way that’s somewhat similar to the texture of the rest of their meals.
This can be achieved by lightly steaming and then pureeing vegetables, either separately or mixed together.
As the website of Homemade Dog Food explains, the best way to prepare vegetable purees for dogs is by adding a digestion-promoting substance, such as apple cider vinegar.
Steam your chosen vegetables and add a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar while pureeing them; it will help to break down the food for your dog while digesting these.
You don’t have to feed vegetables on their own. Feel free to experiment and see what combinations your dog prefers.
A homemade meal that includes various veggies and some meat may just become their favorite.
How Many Vegetables Should My Dog Eat per Day?
If you are feeding premade food to your dog, it includes all the necessary nutrients needed on a given day; therefore, you can offer a few pieces of vegetables, on occasion, as nutritious treats.
If, however, you make your own dog food, keep in mind that vegetables and fruits together should not exceed 15-25% of your dog’s total food intake.
What Vegetables Are Toxic for My Dog?
It’s important to remember: not all vegetables are safe for your dog. According to IHeartDogs, when feeding vegetables, avoid the following ones completely, to prevent a potentially fatal toxicity:
- garlic, fresh, or powdered
- raw and green potatoes
- tomatoes (technically these are not vegetables but fruits; yet, since many consider them as vegetables due to their savory flavor, it’s important to mention them here)
Final Words; Are Vegetables Good for My Dog?
Most vegetables are indeed wonderful for your dog, rich in nutrients they too can greatly benefit from; others are delicious snacks to indulge in, on occasion.
Avoid toxic vegetables at all times; this way you can rest assured that you offer the very best nutrition to your dog, support their longevity, and enjoy their company, for many healthy years to come.