When your dog makes pouty eyes at your family while you’re sitting at the dinner table, your heart breaks a little. It’s not difficult to imagine that eating little brown dried-up nuggets for every meal isn’t satisfying or enjoyable. On the other hand, you don’t want to risk your dog’s health by feeding them “people food” that could be potentially harmful.
There may be a valuable solution to this conundrum hiding in the drawers of your refrigerator.
Dogs can, should, and do eat vegetables in moderation. Vegetables are an excellent compromise in terms of healthy snacks and people food. Your dog can experience new flavors and textures without added fats, sugars, or artificial ingredients that may be harmful to your pet’s health.
Most high-quality dog foods already contain some vegetables that provide flavor, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to the formula. Fresh whole dog food often contains visible pieces of carrots and peas, and it’s what we recommend!
Since most pet food formulas contain at least some vegetable ingredients, dogs technically do eat vegetables every day. Dogs can eat additional vegetables every day as long as they’re incorporated into a balanced diet. Although vegetables are healthy, every bit of food you give your dog needs to fit into a bigger picture.
Quality dog food is designed to accommodate your dog’s overall nutritional needs. It contains the fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals your dog needs. When fed as instructed, your dog won’t need anything else in their diet.
Most experts recommend that dogs adhere to a 90/10 rule. This means that 90% of your dog’s nutrition (and calories) should come from high-quality dog food. The other 10% can come from treats.
If you’re using vegetables instead of packaged dog treats, their low density and marginal amount of calories mean that vegetables can easily be integrated into your dog’s diet.
There are many vegetables your dog can eat. Some vegetables are safe for dogs when fed infrequently and in small amounts, and can supply your pet with plenty of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.
These vegetables are a low-calorie means of supporting your dog’s overall health, especially their immune system, and canned pumpkin specifically may be beneficial for dogs dealing with constipation.
You may be wondering about corn — while corn isn’t poisonous to your pup, it isn’t really beneficial either. A lot of low-quality dog foods specifically include corn as a filler ingredient because it’s a heavy grain that’s cheap to include.
Dogs can safely eat asparagus, but it won’t provide much nutritional value. Cooking asparagus destroys most of its nutrients, leaving your dog with empty calories.
Spinach and broccoli can also be enjoyed sparingly, but can be detrimental to your dog’s health when fed regularly.
Broccoli contains compounds that may cause an upset stomach, and spinach contains compounds that can negatively impact calcium absorption. These aren’t ideal vegetables to feed your dog, but there isn’t a need to be concerned if your dog accidentally ingests some.
Cabbage and Brussel sprouts can safely be consumed in small amounts, but dog owners should be mindful because both of these vegetables can cause gas, and your dog has no concept of how to pass gas politely. Every breeze may turn your living room into a less and less pleasant environment while your dog is digesting these veggies.
Your dog’s digestive system is very different from yours. You’ll notice that virtually everything you’d find on your favorite veggie pizza is not safe for your dog to consume.
The mushrooms you buy at the store are probably safe for your dog to consume, but you’re still taking a risk if you choose to feed them to your pet. It’s better to avoid getting in the habit of allowing your dog to associate mushrooms with snacks.
Aromatics like onion, garlic, shallots, and chives are toxic to dogs. These vegetables and herbs contain a toxic compound that will damage your dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia that can be fatal if left untreated. You should never allow your dog to ingest anything that may have come into contact with plants in the alum family.
Tomatoes are technically okay for your dog to eat, but the green leaves of the tomato plant contain compounds that are toxic to your dog. Avocados, too, contain toxins in the pit and flesh, and can lead to diarrhea or vomiting. It’s best to keep your dog as far away from tomatoes and avocados as possible.
Although eating vegetables is simple for people, dogs have a few special requirements. The way your vegetables are sourced and served matters nearly as much as the vegetables themselves.
Many prepared vegetables are made with butter, oils, and seasoning. Your dog shouldn’t have any of these things. Your dog won’t mind that the vegetables are bland.
If you’re preparing vegetables for your family, set aside some plain vegetables or serve them to your dog before they’ve been seasoned.
It can be hard to keep fresh vegetables on hand. Frozen vegetables are virtually just as nutritious and they last a lot longer. Canned vegetables also last a long time, but they may not be suitable for your dog since many canned food items contain sodium as a preservative. Your dog doesn’t need any added sodium in their diet, so skip the canned stuff.
Your dog might enjoy raw vegetables. Large dogs that like crunchy snacks might appreciate baby carrots cut into bite-sized pieces. Celery, broccoli, and green beans also make great raw treats. Keep in mind that while dogs can eat potatoes, you should never give a raw potato to your pup. Always thoroughly cook potatoes before adding them to your furry friend’s dish.
Steamed vegetables are easy to prepare. Many frozen vegetable brands offer plain, unseasoned vegetables in bags that automatically steam the vegetables in the microwave. You’re probably planning to add some butter, salt, and pepper before you serve them to your family. After you’ve steamed the veggies, open the bag and set aside a small portion for your pup before you doctor them up.
Baked sweet potatoes are a wonderful addition to any meal. Before you dress them up for the rest of your family, pull the skin off of a small sweet potato and cut it into small chunks for your pup. Serve half of the baked sweet potato when it reaches room temperature and save the other half for a dinnertime treat tomorrow.
Vegetables and fruit can be the perfect replacement for those processed dog treats full of mystery ingredients. They also give you the perfect opportunity to share a family meal with your pup in a safe and healthy way. It’s a simple way to take a holistic approach to your dog’s wellness.
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