Did you know that your dog can eat vegetables? Not only that, but your dog should eat vegetables. This surprises many dog owners because the general consensus is that dogs are carnivores.
But the truth is, dogs can benefit greatly from vegetables. And even their canid ancestors, like the wolf, scavenge for vegetation in the wild.
But unfortunately not all vegetables are safe for dogs. So today I want to talk about some of the vegetables you can feed your dog. I also want to talk about vegetables that are bad for dogs.
Vegetables Dogs Can Eat
Vegetables (and fruit) should make up about 10% of your dog’s diet. And when you feed your dog vegetables, you want to be sure you give him a rainbow of colors. Each color of vegetable has its own unique nutrients and benefits.
Feed it in small amounts to avoid digestive upset and blend or steam the vegetable before feeding it. This will help your dog absorb more nutrients. You also want to remove the tough fibrous part of the stalk.
The fibers in many vegetables are prebiotic, which means that they’ll feed the good bacteria in your dog’s gut. When prebiotics are fermented in your dog’s gut they provide many benefits. This includes short-chain fatty acids that boost the immune system and protect your dog’s health.
Bell peppers can be good for dogs to eat, especially the red ones. They’re highly nutritious and contain powerful antioxidants like lutein and quercetin. And they have 4 times more vitamin C than an orange. But peppers also have solanine, which increases inflammation and can be toxic to dogs.
If your dog has an inflammatory disease like arthritis, then it’s best to choose a different vegetable. You’ll also want to remove the skin and seeds – this will prevent digestive upset.
Peppers are not the only vegetable that contains solanine. Other nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant also have solanine. While dogs can eat these vegetables you should use some caution. They should be fed in moderation and shouldn’t be given to dogs with inflammatory diseases either.
Broccoli is the Crown Jewel of Nutrition. It’s full of powerful nutrients that protect your dog from disease, improve your dog’s gut health and detox your dog’s body. It also contains sulforaphane, a compound in cruciferous vegetables that can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Looking to boost the health benefits of broccoli even more? Feed your dog broccoli sprouts. They pack even more nutrients than mature broccoli.
If your dog has hypothyroidism you want to go easy on cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens. They are goitrogenic and can cause the thyroid to enlarge. That doesn’t mean you can’t feed them to hypothyroid dogs, you just want to do so in moderation.
Brussel sprouts are rich in fiber and antioxidants, which makes them a great addition to your dog’s diet. But, like other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, too much can upset your dog’s stomach.
Introduce it slowly and watch how your dog feels. If he’s okay, you can add more to his diet.
Cabbage can make your dog gassy if he eats it too often. But as an occasional treat cabbage can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.
It contains immune boosting antioxidants and fiber to help regulate your dog’s digestive system. It also helps promote a healthy skin and coat by helping to produce keratin, a protein that makes up skin, hair and nails.
Many pet owners have heard that letting your dog chew on a whole carrot can help scrape plaque off their teeth. While there isn’t any research to back this up, carrots do contain vitamins and minerals that help keep teeth healthy. They also help with digestive health, prevent disease and improve eyesight.
Your dog can eat other root vegetables like parsnips and turnips as well. But remember, some root vegetables have more sugar so moderation is key.
Cauliflower is full of nutrients that can help protect your dog’s eye health, liver, and muscles. And because it contains sulforaphane, it can help boost your dog’s immune system and prevent cancer and other diseases.
But like other cruciferous vegetables, don’t get carried away. Too much can cause gas and digestive upset.
Celery is low in calories and a great source of fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins. It helps boost the immune system, protects against chronic disease and detoxes the body. It can also help freshen your dog’s breath.
If you’ve been staying away from garlic because you’ve heard it’s toxic, this one might surprise you. Dogs can eat garlic … in moderation.
And it’s actually really good for dogs. Garlic is antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, immuno-stimulating and anti-cancer. It’s also an antioxidant and is full of nutrients.
To help your dog get the most out of garlic, you must chop or crush it and let it sit for 10 minutes before you feed it to your dog.
Green beans contain fiber, vitamins K and C and manganese. Vitamin K helps with blood health, ensuring that the blood will clot if your dog gets an injury. Vitamin C is important for the immune system and adrenal gland function.
Lettuce And Green Leafy Vegetables
Your dog can eat leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and collard greens. They’re rich in chlorophyll, which is a plant pigment that adheres to toxins and removes them from the body. It also boosts the immune system, breaks down bladder stones and promotes digestive health.
While you should never let your dog eat wild mushrooms there are mushrooms that are safe for dogs. These safe mushrooms are rich in prebiotics, which are soluble fibers that feed beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut. This helps your dog maintain a healthy microbiome and supports his immune system.
Some mushrooms also contain a powerful compound called beta-glucan. When double extracted from mushrooms, beta-glucan has immune-boosting and anti-tumor properties. This can help prevent kennel cough, cancer and other diseases.
But you should never feed mushrooms raw as they can be toxic or cause irritation. Always cook or dehydrate them without seasoning first.
RELATED: Top 5 medicinal mushrooms for dogs …
Pumpkin And Squash
Dogs can eat vegetables like pumpkin and squash. They’re a good source of fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene. Fiber helps food move through the digestive tract. And that helps keep the cells in the stomach and colon healthy.
Pumpkin is gentle and easy to digest but also has more sugar than other vegetables so moderation is key. And it isn’t just the flesh of the pumpkin that’s good for your dog. Pumpkin seeds are a great natural dewormer!
Zucchini is a tasty vegetable that’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. This makes them a great choice for dogs. They can be especially effective for dogs with weight or digestive problems. But there’s one caution …
Be sure to avoid bitter zucchinis. They contain a compound called curcubitacin, which can be toxic to dogs. To avoid curcubitacin, buy healthy, organic zucchinis and try a piece before you give it to your dog. Smaller ones are also less likely to be bitter.
How To Feed Vegetables To Your Dog
You need to serve some vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers and garlic, a specific way. This will help stop your dog from getting sick and it will help him get the most out of his veggies. That’s why it’s so important to research individual foods before you feed them to your dog.
But there are some general rules you should follow for all vegetables.
The first rule I have already mentioned … vegetables and other produce should make up to 10% of your dog’s diet. When possible, always buy organic vegetables. This will reduce the amount of pesticides in your dog’s food, which will help keep him healthy.
You also want to lightly steam or mulch your vegetables before your dog eats them. This will increase digestibility so that your dog can absorb more nutrients. If you leave the vegetables raw and in large chunks, your dog won’t be able to digest them properly. (It’s why a lot of vegetables come looking the same as when they went in).
And introduce new vegetables slowly. Watch your dog’s for any signs of digestive upset. If everything goes well, you can continue to increase the amount.
Vegetables That Are Bad For Dogs
Now that you know what vegetables are safe and have a general understanding of how to feed them, let’s look at vegetables you should avoid.
Some of these vegetables are toxic to your dog and you should avoid them. Others are safe to eat but can aggravate or cause diseases while offering no nutritional value.
Corn isn’t toxic for your dog and it does have some nutritional value. But corn is also a starchy carbohydrate, which dogs don’t need in their diets.
Corn is also on of the most genetically modified foods. In the US, 88% of corn crops are GMO. That’s why it’s so important to buy organic if you want to share corn with your dog.
And remember, if you do want to give your dog corn as a treat, never give your dog corn on the cob. Corn cobs are a choking hazard and may cause obstructions that can lead to sickness, surgery and death.
RELATED: Corn cobs are dangerous for dogs …
Beans are legumes that are high in protein so they’re often found in processed kibble. This can be misleading to dog owners because beans really aren’t that great for dogs.
Beans are high in phytic acid and lectins which can stop your dog from absorbing important nutrients. Lectins can also damage the cells lining your dog’s gut, which can cause leaky gut, metabolic endotoxemia and allergies.
Beans are also high in starch, which can lead to or worsen many diseases. And starch feeds the harmful bacteria and yeast that live in your dog’s gut.
Onions contain a compound called N-propyl disulfide, which can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. Your dog’s body will see his own red blood cells as invaders and begin attacking them. This will inhibit the red blood cells from transporting oxygen throughout your dog’s body and can be life threatening.
Pat Jordan, DVM says small amounts of onion used as seasoning likely aren’t harmful. But if you can, you should avoid feeding them to your dog.
Leeks, chives, scallion and shallots are also toxic. You also want to avoid any products with powdered or dehydrated onion.
RELATED: What to do if your dog eats onion …
Peas are also starchy carbohydrates. That means they have a higher glycemic index that can spike your dog’s blood sugar. This can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and more. Starchy carbohydrates also feed the harmful bacteria and yeast in your dog’s gut.
Peas also contain antinutrients like phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to important minerals like iron and zinc, which makes it so your dog can’t properly absorb the minerals. This can lead to mineral deficiencies.
Like corn, potatoes are a starchy carbohydrate that your dog doesn’t need to survive. Not to mention, starchy carbs feed the harmful bacteria in your dog’s gut and are the preferred fuel for cancer cells. Some potatoes are also genetically modified or sprayed with glyphosate, which can be harmful to your dog.
And while potatoes do contain important vitamins and minerals, there are better vegetables your dog can eat. So steer clear of potatoes and pick one of the many vegetables that are good for dogs.
Note: Raw potatoes can be toxic to dogs.
Sweet potatoes are in lots of dog treats and dogs seem to really like them. They’re also bright and colorful, which usually means a vegetable packed with healthy benefits. But like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are also a starchy carbohydrate.
But there are some times when sweet potatoes may be useful. For example, the fiber in them can help firm up your dog’s stool if he has diarrhea. If you’re going to feed your dog sweet potatoes, boil or bake them first to lower the glycemic index. And always feed them in moderation.
Vegetables For Dogs
Sure, there are vegetables that aren’t safe or healthy for your dog to eat. But there are also tons of vegetables that will help keep your dog healty and protect him from disease.
So, if you haven’t already, steam up some veggies and add the to your dog’s dish. He’s sure to be happy with his new treat!
Not convinced your dog needs vegetables? Here are 11 reasons your dog should eat vegetables …