Regular dog food is optimized for most dogs’ needs, but adding vegetables can provide great health benefits too. Vegetables for dogs can act as a supplement to a healthy diet. “The active components of a plant can provide powerful micronutrients,” says Dr. Jane Morse, a veterinarian and holistic care provider in the Washington, D.C. area.
Dr. Morse says colorful vegetables have a high concentration of phytonutrients rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and help eye and brain function.
It’s important to remember that dogs are natural carnivores and don’t need vegetables like you do. “Adding additional foods to a dog’s diet has the potential to make the diet unbalanced,” explains Susan Lauten, who has a doctorate in biomedical sciences and is the owner of Pet Nutrition Consulting in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Supplements are safe when kept within 10 percent of the daily diet. If he doesn’t eat his entire day’s food because he likes the supplements better, his diet becomes unbalanced.”
These are the 10 best vegetables for dogs to add to your pet’s diet:
Add one to two ounces of lightly steamed asparagus tips (cut into small pieces to prevent choking) to add variety, flavor, vitamins, and minerals to a dog’s meal. Sometimes a new flavor or texture is all it takes to renew interest in his usual food.
Broccoli stalks boost immunity, help ward off cancer and fight arthritic inflammation. Also, chewing on stalks creates a natural, plaque-fighting toothbrush! Beware: too much broccoli, especially the heads, can upset the digestive system and cause major gas. Broccoli should make up less than 5 percent of your dog’s food intake.
Chewing raw, crunchy carrots eases anxiety and cleans teeth! Eating carrots is great for eyesight and boosts the immune system with antioxidants. Some dogs find raw carrots hard to chew and can choke. If you see undigested carrot pieces in stool, chop into smaller pieces and serve cooked, which can also help avoid choking. The Nest recommends giving a dog one carrot, pureed, only every two days or so.
- Green Beans
If your puppy is carrying extra weight, replace up to 5 percent of her food with low-calorie green beans. They’re high in fiber to help aid digestion and bowel regulation, and have heart-healthy omega-3s.
Kale isn’t just a superfood for people! It boasts tons of benefits like fighting heart disease, arthritis, allergies and urinary tract problems. While too much can cause gas and bloating, adding one ounce of steamed, chopped or dried kale to your dog’s meal can boost its health value.
Button mushrooms can stimulate the immune system and help with allergies. While some mushrooms are great, others are toxic. Talk with your vet before adding mushrooms to your dog’s diet to determine what kind and how much you can feed your dog.
Dog breath begone! Parsley is an ideal breath-freshener. It also adds potassium for muscle and joint health and beta carotene for eyes. Add just a sprinkle of chopped parsley to your dog’s meal.
The high fiber content in pumpkin helps regulate bowels whether your dog is suffering from constipation or diarrhea. Most dogs love the taste of canned, pureed pumpkin! Replace a quarter of your dog’s meal with the same amount of canned pumpkin until his system has regulated itself.
- Sweet potato
Cooked mashed or pureed, sweet potato is a healthy and tasty treat that fills a dog’s tummy and boosts his system with vitamins, minerals and fiber. A dog could choke on a whole potato, but you can cut it into wedges to prevent that. Replace up to a quarter of your dog’s regular food with mashed sweet potatoes to change up her routine while boosting her health at the same time!
A few ounces of raw or frozen zucchini shredded over a meal adds water and fiber to a dog’s diet and fills up his tummy too, keeping him lean.
Feeding your dog vegetables isn’t a replacement for taking him to a licensed expert who can diagnose and treat illnesses or serious conditions. However, supplementing your dog’s diet with safe amounts of healthy vegetables may improve his health and prolong his life for many happy years!
Having trouble getting your pup to eat? Read 5 Things to Help Even the Pickiest Pooch Love His Food.