Eat The Rainbow: 10 Super Veggies For Dogs
Ask 20 people what they feed their dogs and you'll likely get 20 different answers. The role of fruit and vegetables in the diet continues to get some debate, but I strongly encourage you to add vegetables and fruit to your dog's bowl.
Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber; their role in disease prevention is well documented.
Vegetables need to be pureed, finely minced, or slightly steamed in order for your dog to be able to properly digest them and absorb the nutrients.
In general, feed leafy green vegetables more often than starchy ones, and aim to feed a variety of vegetables over the span of a few weeks. Don't hesitate to use frozen vegetables, and remember to save the stalks, ends, and bits and pieces of vegetables you prepare for yourself so that you can feed them to your dog.
If your dog is new to eating vegetables try cooking the vegetables at first to test tolerance and then try them raw. My rule of thumb is that vegetables you would eat cooked can be served cooked to your dog and vegetables you eat raw can be fed raw to your dog.
There is a wide variety of vegetables you can feed your dog but here is a list of some of my favourites:
My Top Veggie Picks for Your Dog
Broccoli - Broccoli is among the most studied and proven vegetable for its cancer fighting properties. Broccoli can be fed raw, but you may need to lightly steam it to make it more digestible for your dog. Since broccoli has so many amazing health benefits, dogs with hypothyroidism should limit, but not completely omit, lightly steamed broccoli. Cooking broccoli reduces the amount of glucosinolates that can affect the thyroid.
Leafy Green Vegetables - A few suggestions include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, and parsley. Dogs with a tendency towards calcium oxalate stones, or who need a diet low in oxalates should avoid spinach, Swiss chard and parsley. Feed leafy greens raw and minced or pureed.
Cabbage - Like broccoli, cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family and contains cancer fighting, inflammation reducing compounds which support the immune system. You can choose red cabbage, savoy, or the regular green cabbage variety. Cabbage can be fed raw or slightly steamed depending on your dog's tolerance. Fermented cabbage might be a good option for your dog as a source of natural probiotics.
Butternut Squash - Butternut squash is a low calorie, low glycemic starchy vegetable full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - including manganese which is important for joint health. I find that frozen, cubed butternut squash is the most convenient and only needs to be lightly steamed before feeding.
Celery - Celery, including the leaves, can be served raw and pureed.
Red Beets - Beets are a nutritional powerhouse that you can feed to your dog from time to time. Beets are full of antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory and promote good liver health.
Green Beans - Green beans can be fed lightly steamed or served raw. Green beans make great treats.
Zucchini - Low calorie and full of potassium, zucchini can be fed raw and finely grated.
Asparagus - Asparagus will need to be steamed and pureed for most dogs since raw asparagus can be difficult to digest.
Sweet Potato - Sweet potatoes, while packed with nutrients, are higher in calories than other vegetables on my list - you may need to be cautious of how they fit into your dog's diet if he needs to slim down. Sweet potato might not be a fit for dogs who are prone to yeast.
As with any new food, start with a small amount of one new food at a time, build up slowly over time, and watch your dog for signs of digestive upset or intolerance. No matter how amazing the nutrient profile of a food, if it doesn't agree with your dog, you shouldn't feed it. Amounts matter. Every dog is different, and what works for one dog, may not work for yours.