When we think about dog food, our minds usually go to chunks of meat dripping with gravy, little crunchy kibbles, and biscuits shaped like bones. But veggies? It’s not something that dogs tend to eat in the wild, so is it something we should give our pooches?
As it turns out, not only can dogs eat many vegetables, they’re actually some of the healthiest and most nutritious foods that you can use to supplement your dog’s regular diet. What’s more, many dogs love eating them!
So many veggies contain especially high concentrations of a wide variety of essential nutrients that can help your dog thrive – nutrients like calcium, iron, a whole alphabet worth of vitamins, anti-oxidants, and more. And at the same time, these veggies also contain very little calories, fat, or sugar.
Check out some of the awesome nutritional benefits of vegetables as a doggy snack:
- vitamins A, B, C, and K, for healthy skin and coat, immune function, and healing
- a big shot of calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron for healthy bones and heart
- anti-oxidants which protect against cancer
- naturally anti-inflammatory properties
- tons of fiber for digestion
- anti-microbial to fight harmful germs
Even just fed occasionally or in small amounts, the right veggies can prevent many illnesses and increase your dog’s lifespan. For example, in one recent study, dogs fed leafy green and orange vegetables at least 3 times a week were 90% less likely to develop certain types of cancer! That’s a huge difference, for a relatively small dietary change!
Just make sure you feed your dog veggies in moderation. If you feed too many veggies and not enough protein, that can lead to an amino acid deficiency. Additionally, some veggies also contain compounds which in excess can cause mild tummy trouble for dogs. So use these superfoods to supplement your dog’s meals, but keep the total amount under 10% of their total daily intake.
Here are some recommendations for my favorite veggies to feed dogs!
Kale is, in my opinion, one of the best and most nutritious foods for both humans and canines, for a whole lot of reasons. It’s so nutrient-packed that every bite of kale has more nutrition in it than almost any other food.
If you’re serving kale directly to your dog, I recommend steaming it first to make it a little easier for them to eat. Homemade kale chips are also a great option for dogs who like a bit of crunch.
My dogs LOVE carrots, and I love feeding carrots to them! In addition to all the usual benefits of feeding veggies, they’re also extremely high in beta carotene, which is both important for eyesight, and also functions as an additional anti-oxidant.
Carrots can be served to your dog in any form, raw or cooked, though I generally just give my dog the whole carrot cleaned and washed, because crunching on whole carrots is a great way to help keep dogs’ teeth clean. Serve them frozen for a long-lasting, healthy chew!
Closely related to kale, broccoli is another fantastic superfood with many of the same properties as its slightly leafier counterpart. Additionally, like carrots, their crunchy stalks can provide some dental benefits, scraping teeth clean as your dog chews.
Broccoli can be served to your dog fresh or cooked, though raw broccoli is a little tougher to digest, so dogs with sensitive tummies might do better with steamed broccoli.
Green beans are a classic dog snack I recommend often, especially for dogs working on weight loss. They are very filling, while still extremely low calorie, so they’re a great “diet” snack for overweight pooches.
Green beans are another veggie that can be served cooked or raw. It’s not a great idea to share them from the table, though, since most of us serve green beans with lots of seasoning, butter, and other stuff that just isn’t good for dogs.
Cucumbers are a fantastic snack for dogs and humans, especially on a hot day! They’re well over 90% water, and the rest is made up of all those healthy veggie nutrients.
Cucumbers are generally best served raw to dogs. If you can’t get your hands on organic cucumbers, I’d suggest peeling them first, but otherwise, I usually slice them raw into small cubes and mix them into my dog’s dish. They also make good veggie chips if you have a dehydrator, or you can slice them into spears and freeze them for a chilly chew that’s especially good for teething puppies.
While these happen to be some of my personal favorite veggies to feed, you don't have to stop there! Spinach, asparagus, chard, bell peppers, brussell sprouts, and many more vegetables can offer your dog a great boost of real whole food nutrition. I encourage you to experiment and find out which veggie snacks your dog likes best.
And if you'd like to give your dog a little bit of encouragement to snack on this unfamiliar food, try pureeing the veggies with some low sodium chicken or beef broth to make a tasty fresh veggie soup, no additional cooking necessary!
Wishing you and your dog the best of health,
Dr. Edward Tuk
At Canine Sciences, we put lots of healthy veggies into all our products! From the kale in our Nutrient Heaven treats, to the broccoli, carrot, kelp, and parsley in our Naturally Scrumptious diet and Radiant Canine supplement, every single bite is packed with beneficial nutrition for your dog.
Click on one of the products below to learn more!