Do’s and Don’ts When Feeding Your Dogs Fruits and Vegetables
There are many benefits to incorporating fruits and vegetables into a person’s diet. When it comes to dogs, however, it’s a little more controversial. Some believe that canines don’t need vegetables and an all-meat diet is enough to give them the nutrients they need. But some, like raw food pioneer and veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst, believe that vegetables can be good for your pet.
Unlike cats, who are pure carnivores, dogs fall more between the omnivore-carnivore continuum. Dogs have a more varied diet, having eaten vegetables and fruits for thousands of years. However, this doesn't automatically mean that all fruits and vegetables are good for them.
Here's everything you need to know when feeding your dog fruits and vegetables.
Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables to a Dog’s Diet
There are many benefits to adding fruits and vegetables to a dog’s diet.
- Vegetables help balance alkalinity.
Too much acidity can lead to inflammation, leading to many chronic diseases. Organs like the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder work better in a more alkaline environment. Vegetables like lettuce and cauliflower have good alkaline-forming effects.
- Vegetables and fruits are nutrient-rich.
Herbivores survive off plant-based diets because they’re rich in nutrients. Fruits and vegetables contain proteins, fats, fiber, carbohydrates, and other essential phytonutrients. They help balance out a dog’s diet.
They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals that help with energy, immunity, and nervous system functions.
- Fruits and vegetables help with hydration.
Fruits and vegetables add moisture to a dog's diet, helping keep them hydrated. Dehydration contributes to bladder stones and kidney issues, so providing your pet with plenty of fluid sources helps.
- Fruits and vegetables help with digestion.
Enzymes found proteins help in food digestion and other metabolic processes. Vegetables like spinach or asparagus are especially enzyme-rich.
- Fruits and vegetables may help kill cancer cells in dogs.
Fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols that have been found to protect from cancers, heart disease, and more. While dogs can't digest polyphenols directly, they pass them to the colon, where bacteria eat them. This results in the production of short-chain fatty acids.
Polyphenols also inhibit cells that cause DNA methylation, which is a cancer driver.
What Vegetables Can My Dog Eat?
Vegetables are high in nutrients such as proteins, lipids, carbs, and fiber. Furthermore, veggies offer significant phytonutrients that are lacking in meat. Here are some veggies that your pup can snack on:
Juicy and crisp carrots are delicious to dogs and incredibly healthy. Carrots are a great source of beta carotene and vitamin A. They're high in fiber and low in calories. They also benefit your dog's teeth because of their added crunchiness. Since carrots contain a lot of carbohydrates, use them moderately.
Spinach is particularly beneficial for your dog because it helps ward off inflammatory and cardiovascular conditions and cancer.
Dogs can eat broccoli but shouldn't eat it in large amounts. Broccoli has many health advantages for dogs, including being high in fiber and vitamin C and low in fat. However, dog owners should be warned that some dogs may experience mild to severe stomach problems after eating broccoli florets (the top part). Keep an eye on your dog's stools and general health when you first give it broccoli. Cut the broccoli into small pieces before feeding it to your dog to help prevent choking or digestive issues.
This crunchy green snack has vitamins A, B, and C and the nutrients required to support a healthy heart and fight cancer. Additionally, celery is said to help dogs with bad breath.
- Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are full of minerals and antioxidants that are healthy for humans and dogs. However, because they might produce a lot of gas, don't give them to your dog in excess. Dogs can eat cabbage, but it comes with the same gassy warning.
- Green Beans
It will probably be simpler to get your dog to eat his green beans than to get your kids to do the same. Due to the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C, and K in green beans, they are beneficial to dogs. They are also a good source of beta carotene, calcium, copper, fiber, iron, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamine. It's superpower-vegetable for your pooch!
Peas provide thiamine, potassium, and vitamin B, which can help pets' bones and energy levels. Peas can be a tasty snack or addition to a dog's regular diet, whether they are thawed, steamed, mashed, or frozen.
Giving your dogs pumpkins is a terrific way to keep them healthy. Due to its high fiber content, it may benefit dogs who are experiencing diarrhea or constipation. Pumpkin is also an excellent water source and is high in vitamins and minerals. However, stay away from pumpkin pie filling because it has extra sugar and spices.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide dogs with fiber, water, and nutrients that help with digestive issues, similar to the advantages of pumpkin. Even more nutritional benefit is provided by sweet potatoes, which also contain vitamins, thiamine, niacin, and even copper. Sweet potatoes are considerably better for pets than plain white potatoes since they include these minerals.
Cauliflower is a tasty treat that you may enjoy, both cooked and raw. Antioxidants and vitamins may assist older pets with arthritis by reducing inflammation. Although too much of its fiber could cause stomach upset, it helps support digestive health. Serve sans the stem and leaves in little bite-sized portions.
- Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are generally safe for dogs. Still, some dogs may experience stomach discomfort, especially when consumed in large quantities. Also, avoid the seeds. All varieties of bell peppers contain beta carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. If you plan to feed your dog bell peppers, cook or purée them first because the outside peel might be difficult for dogs to digest.
Cucumbers are a treat for overweight pets since they are low in carbs and lipids and high in magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. The significant benefit of cucumber is that it can help dogs breathe fresher while also lowering blood pressure.
Vegetables help balance a dog’s diet. But know that they must still eat meat to receive the entire range of amino acids required for their diet.
What’s Better than a Juicy Fruit?
Boost your dog’s immunity with these funky fruits:
Apples are loaded with vitamins A and C and fiber for your dog. Feed apples to your pet in moderation. Remove the core and seeds because they contain cyanide. Apples are a fantastic snack for dogs of all ages because they are low-fat and protein. Want to give your dog a more pleasurable summertime treat? They'll love it if you freeze some apples!
Potassium is abundant in bananas and can support kidney and heart health. Because of their high sugar and carbohydrate content, bananas should only be fed to dogs in moderation. This can be a tasty treat on occasion when cut into modest portions.
People have come to know this fruit salad staple is also beneficial to dogs. Cantaloupes contain plenty of vitamin A and beta carotene. These help lower cancer risk, prevent cell damage and benefit your dog's eyesight. Additionally, it's an excellent source of potassium, fiber, folate, niacin, vitamins B-6 and C, and folate.
Since watermelon contains over 92% water, it is excellent for hydrating your dog. A, C, and B6 vitamins and potassium support normal muscle and neuron function.
Blueberries are a fantastic addition to your dog's diet with their high resveratrol content, ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, and other health benefits. The tannins in blueberries also have the added benefit of preventing urinary tract infections.
Whether they consume them raw or pureed over their regular pet food, strawberries, whether fresh or frozen, can help pets stay healthy. The vitamins and minerals in strawberries support a healthy immune system and delay aging-related problems.
Dogs enjoy the vitamin-rich delight of mangoes. As with all pitted fruits, remove the hard middle pit because it contains deadly cyanide levels. Giving mango in little pieces with the skin removed will make the fruit easier to digest. It will also reduce the likelihood that the fiber will upset your pet's stomach and digestive system.
Pears are a healthy snack for dogs when given in moderation. It's packed with fiber, vitamins A and C. The seeds should be removed before giving them to your pet since they may contain traces of cyanide, just like in apples and oranges. Give thin slices of pears to dogs to assist the fruit's anti-cancer effects.
Pineapple is rich in vitamins and minerals that can support the digestion and immune systems of your cat or dog, from folate to zinc. Giving dogs small amounts of pineapple is preferable, as with any other sweet fruit. To avoid choking concerns, the core and spikey skin should be removed before feeding a pet.
Dogs can enjoy the apricot's luscious fruit as a treat. They are rich in potassium and beta-carotene, which can stave off cancer. Watch out that your pet doesn't consume the deadly pit, stem, or leaves.
What Fruit and Vegetable Should I Avoid Feeding My Dog?
Cherries' pits, stems, and leaves contain cyanide. If your dog consumes too much of the poison, they can die. The fruit itself is safe, but since the stems, pits, and leaves are frequently still attached, your dog may not know the difference.
Grapes and raisins are incredibly harmful to dogs. Researchers are still unsure why, but avoiding them is still best. The ASPCA cautions that grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs.
Dogs can eat store-bought mushrooms without problems, but you shouldn't give them wild mushrooms because they could be harmful. When a dog consumes a toxic mushroom, symptoms like wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea and abnormalities may appear in a heartbeat. At its worst, consuming poisonous mushrooms can put canines into comas, organ failure, and seizures.
4. Onions & Garlic
All aromatics, including onions, garlic, chives, and leeks, are toxic to dogs. It can induce red blood cell rupture, resulting in anemia and renal damage.
The stalks of rhubarb may mildly upset the stomach, but the leaves are highly poisonous. They have the potential to produce tremors and coma.
6. Green Tomatoes
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. While still green, they contain high levels of solanine and tomatine. Both are harmful to dogs in large concentrations. Red tomatoes are safe for dogs to eat.
Avocados contain a lot of persin. The peel and pit contain the most significant quantities of this fungicide, which is harmful to dogs. Although it's recommended to steer clear of avocado as much as possible, if your dog eats a small amount of the green avocado fruit, it's unlikely to cause significant injury.
What Should I Do If My Dog Has Eaten a Toxic Fruit or Vegetable?
Dogs are naturally curious animals. When you're not looking, they could consume unhealthy foods. Do not hesitate to act if you suspect your dog has ingested something harmful. Make sure to record what and how much food your dog has consumed, and of course, remove any leftovers to prevent further consumption. Immediately contact your veterinarian. Some symptoms don't appear for a few days. Your veterinarian will advise you whether to come in or monitor for signs when you phone them, depending on the circumstances.
You can also contact the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435 if your veterinarian isn't available. This number is open every week, including weekends and holidays. They also have a mobile app informing you of additional drugs that might harm your dog.
Symptoms in dogs who have eaten something toxic may include:
- Standing with a hunched back
How Much Fruit/Vegetables Should My Dog Eat Each Day?
Even if they are safe, fruits and vegetables should still be consumed in moderation. Additionally, pet owners should speak with their veterinarian before introducing a new fruit or vegetable if their dog is receiving treatment from a vet for an underlying medical problem.
Small amounts of vegetables can be added to your pet's usual mealtime food. You can give your pet pea-sized portions of fruits or vegetables as a nutritious, low-calorie treat. However, because they contain high quantities of sugar, avoid giving your pet fruits like strawberries, bananas, and pineapple too frequently.
Identifying Fruit or Vegetable Allergies
To prevent any stomach issues, you should always add new items to your pet's diet gradually. Feed your tiny pet portions of the fruit or vegetable first, and only introduce one kind of fruit or vegetable at a time. This will make it simpler for you to identify the root of any reactions your pet may have. Corn may cause allergies but is much less prevalent than other allergens (including beef, dairy, wheat, chicken, and egg in dogs).
Sickness, diarrhea, and skin issues are signs of a food allergy. Still, only your veterinarian can determine for sure if your pet is allergic to food and recommend the best course of treatment.
Do’s of Feeding Your Dog Fruits and Vegetables
- Do feed fruits and vegetables in moderation.
- Do cut the fruit or vegetable into smaller pieces to prevent choking.
- Do keep an eye out for possible gastrointestinal issues and allergies.
- Do check with your vet before introducing a new fruit or vegetable to your pet’s diet.
- Do call your vet or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately if you suspect your dog has consumed something harmful.
Don’ts of Feeding Your Dog Fruits and Vegetables
- Don’t feed your dog vegetable or fruit pie fillings. These are usually high in sugar and spices.
- Don’t serve the fruit or vegetable with stems, leaves, seeds, pits, skin, or core.
- Don’t feed your dog raisins or grapes.
- Don’t feed your dog onions, garlic, or other aromatics.
- Don’t feed your dog wild mushrooms.
- Do not let fruits and vegetables be more than 10-20% of your pet’s overall diet.
Raising a dog is a huge responsibility. You've welcomed a new living person into your home and family, just like you would a kid. You probably don't need us to advise you to take proper care of your dog, but it will require nourishment very differently from your child.
Given your dog's size, age, and any specific health needs, ask your vet what kind of food would be appropriate for them. This way, you'll be aware of what your dog can consume and less likely to experience food-related problems.
Curious what you should be feeding your dog other than fruits and vegetables? We have some tips on what to look for in pet food.