If you’re on the lookout for new and fun ways to rev up your furry best friend’s diet, adding fruits & vegetables can be a really healthy way to do that. Of course, certain ones are better for your dog than others.
Just like we do, dogs love food treats. And just like us, dogs sometimes get too many calories from their treats.
Dogs Like Veggies, Too!
A few things to keep in mind:
NEVER feed your pet the following foods, which are potentially toxic: Grapes, raisins, garlic, onion, avocado and chocolate.
The 10% Rule: Treats and snacks should only make up 10% of a dog’s daily calories. To get an idea of how many treats that is, ask your vet. They can make a recommendation based on the treats your dog likes, his weight, and how active he is.
But dogs love treats. And people love giving their dog treats. It’s a way to bond with your pet, and that’s a good thing.
- Asparagus – Asparagus is high in fiber, has a lot of vitamins, and is an excellent source of potassium. Dogs can be at risk of choking on an asparagus stalk, so they should receive bite-sized pieces that have been softened through cooking to allow easier digestion before partaking in the nutritious benefits. If cats express interest in eating asparagus, there’s no harm in also giving them a small piece.
- Carrots– Carrots are a great treat for your dog. They contain beta carotene, are high in fiber, and rich in vitamins A, C, and K. That means they are great for the eyes and skin. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. They are great for your dogs teeth, and they are known for being delicious! Many dog foods actually have carrots listed right in the ingredients.
- Sweet potato – Similar to the benefits of pumpkin, sweet potato offers dogs and cats fiber, water, and nutrients that aid with digestive problems. Sweet potato offers even more nutritional value, containing vitamins, thiamine, niacin, and even copper. Because of these nutrients, sweet potatoes are much more beneficial to pets than regular white potatoes.
- Green Beans– Green beans are high in vitamins such as A, K, and C, and also contain manganese. This treat is great for a dog who is overweight because you can replace some of their food with green beans which will nourish them, but not load them up with calories.
- Zucchini – Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Shredding it on top of their regular food is a good way to incorporate it into their diet and may help protect them from infections, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
- Pumpkin– This can be a great treat for you dog, especially if they happen to have diarrhea, constipation, or simply a sensitive stomach. Pumpkin contains lots of fiber that absorbs water and helps ease stomach upset. It also contains vitamin A and has lots of antioxidants.
- Spinach – For pets or for people, spinach is widely regarded as a super food for containing almost every vitamin and mineral. It may help in all area of your pet’s health. Avoid giving in large amounts or if they have kidney disease, as it can be harmful or exasperate problems with their kidneys.
- Brussels Sprouts- Maybe if your kid sees your dog eating her Brussels sprouts, she’ll hop on board and eat them, too. And your dog should be eating Brussels sprouts for their vitamins K and G, manganese, folate, fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B1 and B6.
- Peas – Peas offer vitamin B, thiamin, and potassium that can boost energy levels and improve bone health in pets. Frozen, thawed, steamed, or mashed, peas can make a nice snack or compliment to a cat or dog’s normal diet.
- Lettuce – Lettuce helps add water and fiber to a pet’s diet which helps keep them hydrated and full. The leaf should be cut into very thin slices to make it easy to eat, and can be placed on top of their usual food.
- Bell peppers (red, green, yellow) – All bell pepper varieties provide beta carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. Make sure to cut peppers up into manageable sized pieces and feed with the stem removed to help boost immune function.
- Cucumber – Aside from vitamins K, C, and magnesium, cucumbers contain very little carbohydrates or fats, making them a good treat for overweight pets. Cucumber may also help lower cats and dogs blood pressure. In addition, it may help freshen their breath.
- Broccoli – Broccoli is high in fiber and vitamin C, but too much can cause stomach irritation in some dogs. Small pieces of broccoli without the large stems can make a good treat for dogs, and cats tempted to chew on broccoli florets are welcome to indulge in small bits.
- Celery – Celery is low in calories and is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. It also has high water content that has been shown to help freshen your pet’s breath!
- Cabbage – Eating cabbage can aid in digestion, fight cancer, and improve skin and fur health for cats and dogs. Shredding the cabbage over food is a good way to slowly introduce it into their diets, but give in moderation to avoid harmful effects to your dog’s thyroid gland. It is best to cook the cabbage before feeding to allow for easier digestion.
- Cauliflower – Cooked or raw, cauliflower is a treat you can share. The vitamins and antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and help older pets with arthritis. Its fiber can support digestive health, but too much may lead to an upset stomach. Serve plain and in small bites without the stem and leaves.
Steer clear of: Never feed your pet onions or garlic as they are toxic in all forms: cooked, raw, and even onion powder. These cause damage to the red blood cells, ultimately causing them to burst. Rhubarb and wild mushrooms also contain toxins. We suggest avoiding corn as it is a common allergen among pets.
- Banana – Bananas are a great source of potassium which can support heart and kidney functions. Bananas are high in carbohydrates and the high sugar content in bananas mean that they should be given to dogs sparingly. When sliced into reasonable sizes this can make a good occasional treat.
- Cantaloupe– Believe it or not, the same fruit salad staple that humans have come to know and love is just as good for dogs. They’re full of vitamins that will help with your canine’s eyesight, as well as lots of vitamin A and lots of beta carotene, which helps reduce the risk of cancer and prevents cell damage. It’s also a good source of vitamins B-6 and C, fiber, folate, niacin and potassium.
- Blueberries– Blueberries, with their high levels of resveratrol and their anti-cancer and heart disease fighting qualities, make a great option for your dog’s diet. As an added bonus, the tannins found in blueberries also help prevent urinary tract infections.
- Apples– Apples are a great source of vitamins A and C. They also are rich in antioxidants. Apples also contain pectin, which is a fiber that creates shortchain fatty acids which help get rid of toxins in the intestinal tract, strengthens intestinal muscles, and ward off dangerous bacteria.
- Watermelon– If it’s lycopene that you’re looking to add to your dog’s diet, watermelon is your best source for that. The health benefits don’t stop there, though. Give your pooch a piece of this delicious summer treat and you’ll be loading him with up with tons of healthy vitamin A, B-6 and C, as well as thiamin.
- Cranberries- Besides being high in antioxidants and minerals, and rich in vitamins A, C, B1, and B2, cranberries can also greatly improve your dog’s urinary tract health. They can also help prevent and control urinary tract infections by lowering the pH of your dog’s urine, therefore making it more acidic. They can be fed to them raw, frozen, or cooked. They are also great for you as well!
- Apricot -The fleshy fruit of apricots can make a good treat for cats and dogs. They are full of potassium and beta-carotene which can help fight against cancer. Just be sure your pet doesn’t eat the poisonous pit, stem, or leaves.
- Mango – Mangoes are a vitamin-packed treat for cats and dogs. As with all pitted fruits, be sure to remove the hard middle pit which contains poisonous amounts of cyanide. Giving small pieces of mango with the skin removed will allow for easier digestion and as a result lessen the chances that fiber from the fruit will upset your pets’ stomach and digestive tract.
- Orange – Cats may not be interested in eating oranges, but dogs have been known to enjoy this sweet treat. The nutrients and Vitamin C can help their immune system and flush toxins out of the body. However, the seeds, peel, leaves, or stem of the orange contain oils that are poisonous, so make sure you only feed pets the fleshy part of the fruit.
- Pear – Pears are full of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber, and make a great snack for cats and dogs when served in moderation. As with apples and oranges, pear seeds contain traces of cyanide and should be removed before feeding to your pet. You can give cats or dogs small slices of pear to help promote anti-cancer properties.
- Strawberries – Fresh or frozen strawberries can help pets stay healthy whether they eat them raw or pureed over their normal pet food. The nutrients in strawberries help strengthen the immune system and slow issues related to aging.
- Raspberries – Raspberries are low in sugar and contain lots of fiber and vitamin C. Their anti-inflammatory properties make them great for older pets. However, they should be given in moderation as they contain very small amounts of naturally occurring sweetener called xylitol. In large amounts, such as is found in xylitol containing gum, this sweetener can be fatal to dogs and cats.
- Pineapple – From folate to zinc, pineapple is bursting with vitamins and minerals that can help your cat or dog’s digestion and immune system. Like any other sugary fruit, it is best to feed pineapple to pets in small quantities. The spiky skin and hard core should be removed before giving to a pet to prevent choking hazards.
Steer clear of: Cherries are toxic to cats and dogs, and grapes and raisins can cause kidney damage. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and grapefruit as well as persimmons can cause an upset stomach.