Dog owners are used to their dogs begging for food. In fact, dogs have come up with all kinds of ways to persuade us to feed them at any time of the day.
Of course, many owners relent and can’t resist giving their precious pooches a snack or two. They may even feed them right off their own dinner plates. But just because your dog begs for food does not mean that it should eat everything.
Human Food And Dog Food
Dogs can survive quite well on a diet that is largely made up of meat because they are actually carnivores. Dogs by nature are scavengers, though, and this means that their digestive systems can digest lots of other foods as well, including cereal and vegetables. The problem is that some vegetables are no good for your dog and some can even be toxic.
Should You Vary Your Dog’s Diet?
So what happens when you feed your dog the right kinds of vegetables? Or fruits?Should you stick to a meat diet or is it okay to mix in some vegetables as well?
Can you dogs eat vegetables?
A good rule of thumb is that vegetables should not make up more than ten percent of any dog’s diet. Some dogs are fussier than others and will always look for meat first in their bowls. They might even reject anything that isn’t meat. So how you vary its diet can depend on the dog’s appetite too.
In general, vegetables are good for dogs in strict moderation. You should not be giving them out during the day as treats but adding vegetables to a few bowls of kibble and meat throughout the week is a good idea.
Vegetables not only contain lots of vitamins and minerals that are also helpful for dog health but they also contain plenty of fiber too. This can certainly be helpful in moving food through the gut and ensuring that the bowels are regular. Of course, too many vegetables can result in much more of a mess so that’s another reason to limit intake!
There is one other important reason to add some vegetables to your dog’s diet now and then: it can help to regulate weight.
By nature, dogs will eat just about anything. A dog owner who can’t resist those puppy eyes will often feed it all kinds of snacks.
Unfortunately, this can result in an overweight pooch. This can have all kinds of health effects, including placing pressure on the spine and hips.
Vegetables are great for dogs that have a weight problem because they bulk up the food and cause the dog to feel full more quickly. This can help to regulate caloric intake since they will crave less food during the day. As a bonus, vegetables are generally low in calories too.
Renewing Your Dog’s Interest in Food
There is one other benefit to varying your dog’s diet. Some dogs lose interest in the food that you give them, especially if it’s the same boring old kibble they have day in and day out. One way to make your dog interested in food again is to add foods such as vegetables to their diet. New tastes and new textures will more likely interest your dog and keep it from becoming bored.
Good Vegetables for Your Dog
If you want to start adding some vegetables to your dog’s diet, you should do so carefully. If your dog is used to eating mostly meat and kibble, make sure that you introduce the vegetables slowly. Just remember the ten percent rule and try not to relent when your dog begs for human food from the dinner plate.
Some vegetables are better for your dog than others so here are some of the best vegetables that you can add to your dog’s diet:
You might not care much for broccoli but it’s considered a super-food because it has tons of micronutrients and antioxidants in it. It is also really good for dogs too. It can help their immune systems, help with arthritis in older dogs, and can even help them to get their teeth clean if they chew on the woody stalks.
One thing to bear in mind is that you might want to stick to giving them the stalks only. The heads might be good in human salads but too many broccoli heads can cause the dog an upset stomach and loads of gas.
Asparagus is yet another so-called super-food that is fantastic in human diets but it can also be healthy for your dog too. As with broccoli, the woody stalks can actually help to clean the gunk from their canine teeth. You can also give them the asparagus tips too. You just need to ensure that you carefully cut any asparagus into small pieces so that they don’t choke on it.
You might not like green beans much but your dog can really benefit from them. They contain Omega-3 nutrients. This is great for heart problems so adding it to the diet of an elderly dog that might be a bit on the weighty side can really help to give it a boost.
The other great benefit is that green beans hardly contain any calories and they also have lots of fiber. This means that your slightly overweight dog will feel full for longer and will be regular.
Carrot sticks are a very convenient snack for kids but they are also a great snack for dogs. As with the woody broccoli stalks, the crunchy carrots can help to clean off canine teeth and get rid of the gunk.
Furthermore, carrots are as good for dogs as they are for us. They have lots of immune and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants and they help eyesight.
One thing to remember with carrots is that sometimes your dog might not be able to digest them thoroughly. Chunks that are too big can slip through the digestive tract and come out the other side.
If this happens, the best thing to do is make sure that they are cut into smaller pieces or puree them in a blender. Once pureed, the carrot paste can quickly and easily be added to any bowl of dog food. You can even keep a zip-lock bag of pureed carrot refrigerated throughout the week.
Sometimes your dog might have trouble with constipation. This can be the case if it is having too much dried food and not enough water to drink. In this case, pumpkins are a great way to help regulate its bowel movements.
Rather than use pumpkin in your dog’s regular ten percent vegetable diet, the best thing to do is keep it until it is a little constipated. The huge amount of fiber it contains will help move everything through. As a bonus, dogs also tend to love the sweet taste of pumpkin and the texture.
Vegetables to Stay Away From
There are plenty of vegetables that your dog can eat but there are definitely some that you should not give to it, including:
Onions and other types of allium vegetables, such as shallots and garlic, should never be given to your dog. They contain a substance that is toxic to dogs and can even result in organ failure if ingested in large enough amounts. At the very least, your dog will suffer from stomach upset so stay away from them.
In general, spinach is okay for dogs in small amounts. The problem is that it contains a substance that blocks calcium absorption. If you’re unsure about how much is too much, there are better vegetable options out there.
The kinds of mushrooms that you get from the supermarket are actually okay for dogs but there are also wild mushrooms that are toxic. For this reason, it might be best to avoid adding them to your dog’s diet.
Good Advice on Adding Vegetables to Your Dog’s Diet
If you want to ensure that your precious pooch is healthy, adding the right kinds of vegetables can be very beneficial. Here’s some advice on how best to add vegetables without putting your dog off its food:
- Introduce any new addition to the diet slowly and cautiously over time and in small amounts.
- Puree the vegetables if possible to make them easier for your dog to digest and so that they can easily be mixed in with regular dog food.
Even though dogs don’t actually need vegetables in their diet, they can definitely benefit in terms of their health. Just remember to either cut up the vegetables into very small pieces or puree them and add them slowly to a diet.
You should also ensure that the vegetables don’t exceed more than ten percent of your dog’s total food intake.
Vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals that are great for both humans and dogs. They can also help to fight off serious disease and improve day-to-day life, including relieving inflammation from arthritis.