Proper nutrition is among the most important components of any animal’s healthy life. And dogs are no exception. Although they’re primarily carnivorous, vegetables are still beneficial for them, as they are for us. Still, a dog’s digestive system is very different from ours.
As a pet parent, you may ask yourself: “What vegetables can dogs eat?” To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of the good veggies and the absolute no-nos for your pet. I’ll also go over the factors that determine whether a vegetable is safe for a dog or not.
To Nourish Is to Flourish
Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, and potassium. But can dogs eat vegetables? The answer is yes, although the variety of produce they can consume is narrower than ours.
Dogs Eat Veggies in the Wild
Although carnivores are perfectly adapted for meat digestion, that’s not the only food group beneficial for them.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with vegetables is necessary, primarily because plant-based foods are a source of fiber they need to maintain healthy digestion. Unlike felines, dogs can get a good portion of their necessary nutrition from veggies. They’ll also consume grass and sometimes other vegetation to aid digestion.
Benefits of Eating Veggies
So, are vegetables good for dogs? Yes, they are. A dog’s body needs vegetables to create the right prebiotic environment and regulate the digestive tract. The six biggest veggie health benefits for dogs are:
- Maintain pH Balance. Veggies have an alkalizing effect on dogs’ bodies, allowing their blood pH to remain balanced.
- Hydration. Keeping your furry friend properly hydrated is essential, and vegetable intake can help with that. The best hydrating veggie options include cucumber and iceberg lettuce.
- Nutritional Content. Vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They’re rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Vitamins are biocatalysts of many biochemical reactions in a dog’s body. Veggies also contain dietary fiber, which creates the right prebiotic environment for digesting meat.
- Improve Gut Health. Next time someone asks you, “Do dogs need vegetables?” tell them vegetables are the best source of nutrients for a healthy microbiome. Fresh and fermented vegetables serve as nutrition for the bacteria in a dog’s gut.
- Support a Healthy Heart. Leafy green vegetables are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function. Increased leafy green intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Prevent Cancer & Chronic Diseases. Vegetables contain natural antioxidants that have cancer-protective effects. According to Purdue University and the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog diets high in vegetables have a preventative effect against cancer development.
Meet the Dog-Friendly Veggies
While some vegetables are safe for dogs, others can be dangerous. So, let’s check the list of vegetables dogs can eat.
Butternut squash is a natural antioxidant with the unique property of slowing down aging. What’s more, the flavonoids in it inhibit tumor growth by preventing the degeneration of normal cells.
The minerals in butternut squash are crucial for normalizing blood formation and strengthening bones and teeth. It also contains vitamins B, C, E, and beta-carotene, all of which are vital for dog health, too.
They’re rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, C, K, and A. These veggies will provide your dog with a healthy dose of fiber. Also, the iron in them promotes healthy red blood cell production, and the calcium maintains strong bones.
Both raw and cooked beets are dog-friendly vegetables. They have excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although they shouldn’t take up too much of your dog’s diet, beets are among the best ingredients in puppy dog food with veggies.
It’s one of the healthiest veggies dogs can eat. The beneficial ingredients of Brussels sprouts for dogs include immunity-boosting vitamin C and cancer-fighting glucosinolates, making it one of the best superfoods.
A little boiled broccoli is a good option for adding a vegetable to dog food because it’s non-toxic and has enough nutritional health benefits to make its inclusion worthwhile, but don’t overdo the amount.
Celery is a real treasury of valuable vitamins and minerals. It contains:
- Vitamins A, K, PP, E, D
- Vitamin B complex
Introduce this veggie into your pet’s diet gradually, in small quantities, and adequately prepared while studying the reaction of your furry companion.
Cabbage is rich in vitamins C, A, K, potassium, and fiber. The best serving option for dogs is boiled or stewed cabbage. Avoid fresh cabbage or feed it to your dog in small amounts, as excessive amounts of this vegetable can cause stomach upsets.
Carrots have a particularly positive effect on the canine digestive tract and are among the top vegetables for dogs. The pectins within act as a protective layer in the gastrointestinal tract. Carrots also have an antibacterial effect and may even help with diarrhea in dogs.
This is one of the healthiest vegetables for dogs due to its antioxidant content. It reduces inflammation, which can benefit dogs with arthritis. Vets also suggest that this veggie has anti-cancer properties.
What vegetables can dogs eat? Cucumbers are ideal for dogs, and their low calorie and sugar content means you don’t have to worry about the effects of an occasional piece of cucumber on your furry friend’s weight.
Green beans are healthy and dog-safe vegetables in moderate amounts. They aid the digestive system and discourage weight gain. From a nutritional point of view, they contain a lot of fiber and a comparatively high protein level for a vegetable.
This famous leafy green is safe for your pet raw or cooked. There are a bunch of vitamins and minerals in kale that are beneficial to your dog, including vitamin A and copper. It’s also an excellent fiber source and can help keep your pup on a regular digestion schedule.
Peas are among the common veggies dogs can eat. Filled with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, they’re an appropriate supplement to a dog’s meat-based diet but should never become a regular staple. But not all types of pea for dogs are good. For instance, you should avoid canned peas.
Dogs can eat some types of peppers. Bell peppers are veggies safe for dogs, packed with numerous nutritional benefits your puppy might enjoy. In contrast, giving your dog spicy hot peppers can lead to gastrointestinal problems.
Potatoes are among the healthiest vegetables, high in iron for dogs. They also contain carbohydrates, fiber, B and C vitamins, and minerals (magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc). Plain boiled, mashed, or baked white potatoes are fine occasional dog treats.
Sweet potato contains high amounts of fiber, making it an excellent treat for puppies with constipation issues. Boiled, baked, steamed, or dehydrated sweet potatoes are all safe for dogs, so long as you don’t add any salt, seasoning, or toppings.
Spinach contains many healthy nutrients your dog can benefit from. The biggest concern vets have with feeding dogs spinach is that it’s high in oxalates; these compounds may increase the risk of kidney damage when consumed in high amounts.
Zucchini is one of the best vegetables for dogs. It’s rich in folic acid, manganese, beta-carotene, calcium, vitamins B6 and K, and many other useful substances. Adding zucchini to your pet’s food will help keep their skin and coat healthy and prevent them from getting fat.
Cooking Time — The Best Ways to Feed a Veggie
Before serving your pet a healthy meal, you should know how to prepare vegetables for dogs. Let’s get right into it:
- Blanched Veggies. Blanching vegetables softens their texture and makes them easier for dogs to chew. Also, that cleanses the surface of dirt and microorganisms, brightens the color, and helps slow down the loss of vitamins in frozen vegetables.
- Steamed Veggies. Steaming vegetables and cutting them into small pieces is ideal for dogs since some veggies (e.g., raw carrots) can be difficult to digest.
- Pureed Veggies. Pureed veggies are suitable not only for people but also for pets. Just remember to pre-cool them to room temperature. Hot meals are hazardous for your four-legged friend.
- Frozen Veggies. Dogs can eat frozen vegetables just like they can eat any regular food. Small pieces of frozen vegetables like carrots, peas, and broccoli are the perfect treat for your dog on hot days. After all, most frozen food is pre-blanched to prevent nutrient loss, so they’ve already been thermally processed.
Caution — Toxic Veggies For Dogs
Although many veggies are healthy, the question remains, “What vegetables are bad for dogs?” As a dog owner, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with more foods dogs shouldn’t eat. Here are the veggies that may be toxic to your pet:
While humans can easily eat tomatoes, substances in the stems and leaves of the plant are toxic for dogs. Tomato poisoning isn’t typically fatal but will definitely cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Some mushrooms are hallucinogenic, and eating them causes ataxia (impaired movement coordination), howling, eyeball movement disturbances, hyperthermia, and changes in habitual behavior patterns.
While not toxic to dogs, they cause stomach discomfort. Whole radishes can be a choking hazard, and raw whole radishes can cause intestinal blockages.
Don’t share it with your furry friends because rhubarb is one of the vegetables dogs can’t eat. The leaves can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth irritation.
Onions are toxic for dogs, whether they’re raw, boiled, or dried. They contain substances that destroy the red blood cells of dogs, causing anemia.
You should never feed dogs meals that contain garlic. All species of this vegetable have compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates, which can cause the red blood cells circulating through the dog’s body to become very fragile and burst.
Leeks also belong to the vegetables dogs can’t eat. If your furry friend eats leeks, that can cause oxidative or burning damage to the hemoglobin within your dog’s red blood cells.
Eggplants are dangerous to your dog. Due to the high content of poisonous solanine in eggplants, they’ll cause more harm than good.
Getting the Right Dietary Balance
You may be wondering how many vegetables to add to your dog’s food to avoid over-feeding it while still providing all the nutrients.
Although vegetables have some benefits, exceeding the 10% mark of your dog’s daily food intake can cause health issues. The one-tenth rule is good for striking the right dietary balance because it ensures your pet will receive all the essential nutrients from the vegetables it consumes while avoiding malnutrition.
You should also check the ingredients of commercial food, either on the official manufacturer’s website or in reviews. For instance, my Ollie dog food review gives a detailed overview of the ingredients and whether they’re actually good for your pet.
If you’re wondering, “What vegetables can dogs eat?” while trying to resist sharing a meal with your pet, be sure to check the information above.
Though you can feed your dog many types of vegetables, some can be very dangerous. My list highlights some of the most common vegetables that dogs can and cannot eat.