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  • Yvonne

12 Tips to Get Your Dog to Eat Vegetables

Are you having trouble getting your dog to eat his veggies? Dogs haven't read all the PubMed peer reviewed articles on why vegetables and fruit are good for long term health - which means pet parents may need to get creative when offering up a side of plants to their dog's meals. But the effort is worth it. I consider a small amount of fresh vegetables to be an essential component of a dog's diet. Even if vegetables and fruit are listed in the ingredients on your dog's bag of kibble you still need to add fresh vegetables daily.

Finicky eaters and adult dogs who have never been offered fresh veggies and fruit may balk at the idea of a broccoli floret or a teaspoon of berries in their food bowl and need extra time to adjust to new food. Their tummies may also need additional time to adjust. It's better to be slow and successful than rush the process and find that your dog has gas or diarrhea.

Always remember to add one new food at a time. Offer a treat sized amount on the first day, monitor for any sign of digestive upset and slowly increase amounts over the next few days. If it's clear the new food isn't digesting well, wait a couple of days and then move on to something else.

Here are 12 Tips to Get Your Dog to Eat Their Vegetables

Experiment With Different Preparation Methods.

1) Dogs who are just starting to eat vegetables may do better with vegetables that are steamed, roasted (without oil or spices), or sautéed. Cooked vegetables are more easily digested than raw vegetables and dogs with a sensitive digestion might need their vegetables cooked. Once you've got your dog eating cooked vegetables, depending on the vegetable, you can try offering them in raw puréed form.

2) Alternately, your dog might prefer his vegetables raw and grated. Carrot, zucchini, broccoli stalks, and red cabbage, for example, can be grated and added as a topper to the meal.

3) Some dogs may enjoy vegetables served crudité style. While whole vegetables tend to pass through a dog's digestive system and exit looking much the same as they went in (which means the nutrients weren't absorbed), this may be a good place to start. Slices of cucumber, bell peppers, or carrot can be fed while your dog gets used to the idea that vegetables are food.

Time and Placement

4) Offer your dog vegetables at the meal where they are the most hungry.

5) Try the Two Bowl Method. With this method, the meal is served in dog's regular bowl and then one small piece of vegetable is offered in a separate bowl placed beside the main meal. You might have to repeat this style of feeding over many days to see if your dog will eventually eat the vegetable.

6) Feed vegetables on a platter. Some dogs might be extra sensitive to the scent of certain vegetables which becomes concentrated in a bowl. Offering the vegetable on a platter - or even on the floor - diffuses the smell.

7) Alternately, you might try mixing a very small amount of vegetable into the meal. Use your best judgement on this approach to avoid wasting food or spoiling your dog's meal time enjoyment.

8) Try offering your dog a vegetable as a treat from your hand. Offer your dog a cooked green bean, a piece of cooked carrot, or a slice of steamed broccoli stalk as a midday treat.

Mix it Up

9) Incorporate vegetables into a Kong or another type of puzzle toy. One of my favourite ways to add vegetables to a dog's diet is to make a mixture of hard boiled or scrambled egg, gently cooked vegetable, and canned salmon and stuff into a Kong or topple toy.

10) Mix vegetables with dog-appropriate bone broth or kefir and freeze in ice cube trays or molds.

11) Experiment and see if your dog likes different parts of a vegetable or different sizes. For example, she may prefer broccoli stalks to florets, frozen cubed butternut squash to baked squash, cubes of cooked carrot to grated carrot.

Watch Your Attitude

12) Put forth a totally blasé "it does not matter to me if you eat this" attitude as you offer your dog vegetables. Dogs are masters at reading our body language and we want to add zero stress to eating.

Do not stress yourself. There are so many different varieties of vegetables, fruit, and fresh herbs we can feed dogs - and many have very similar health benefits, so it's not worth worrying if your dog doesn't like or tolerate something. There is always something else to try!

Further Reading

Feeding Vegetables: Tips to Save Money and Time

Phytonutrients & Why They Matter to Dogs

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