In many households, dogs are looked at as a furry family member, not just a pet. We love our dogs and care for them almost like we would a child. It is important that our dogs get a good amount of exercise, be clean and free of ticks and fleas, and to get fed a healthy and nutritious diet. Although there are dog foods out there advertising a brand as “made with healthful vegetables,” there is nothing like feeding your loyal friend a real piece of fresh vegetable. It’s good for his teeth, coat, bones, eyesight, and overall health.

Fruits and vegetables can provide your dog with essential vitamins and minerals naturally rather than in supplement form. Vitamins such as A and E can help your dog lose weight by promoting fat burning while fighting disease. This is good news since a high number of dogs in the United States are currently overweight or obese. Vitamin C is an immune system booster while minerals like iron is needed for healthy blood and potassium supports heart health.

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Whether you feed your dog fresh fruit or vegetable slices as a snack or are incorporating some into their existing commercial dog food, you can rest assure that your dog will be getting important vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy. If your dog is new to eating fruits and vegetables, sit with him and enjoy an apple or cucumber together. Don’t share taking bites back and forth — unless you really, really want to! — instead, share thin slices. Since dogs tend to eat fast and not chew their food like we do, put a slice in your mouth first and chew slowly, then calmly give your dog a slice while indicating to him verbally to eat it slow. There’s a chance he may just do it!

Here is a list of 8 fruits and vegetables to keep your dog happy and healthy:

1. Apples are an excellent fruit choice for your dog’s health and a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Make sure to not give the seeds or core because they could be chocking hazards. Best of all, juicy apple slices clean residue and build-up on a dog’s teeth.

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2. Carrots are high in beta carotene and loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, while also high in potassium and fiber. Good for skin, eyesight, and for cleaning teeth and gums.

3. Sweet Potatoes. Heart-healthy and easy on the digestive tract, sweet potatoes contain more nutrients than white potatoes. They are great for weight management and contributes to lowering blood pressure. High in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and B-vitamins.

4. Celery is rich in many vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, and calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, and sodium. This vegetable improves heart health and can lower blood pressure while helping to fight cancer. Bonus: celery freshens doggie breath!

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5. Watermelon is made up of 92% water. Therefore, it’s excellent for hydration and skin! Watermelon is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, potassium, and magnesium.

6. Green Beans make a fantastic low calorie and filling snack. A great source of natural plant fiber and high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.

7. Bok Choy contains calcium for healthy, strong bones and teeth, and is good for the heart while protecting against cancer. This low calorie veggie is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and potassium. What is bok choy? It’s a type of Chinese cabbage with thick white or green stems filled with water and green leafy tops.

8. Pumpkin is a low calorie food rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. About one cup of cooked pumpkin contains 3 grams of filling fiber.

Feed these fruits and vegetables to your dog raw, or slightly steamed is okay, as long as you do not add any seasonings or oils. Dogs don’t chew their food like we do and will likely swallow foods whole, so it is best to give them fruits and vegetables either thinly sliced, chopped well, or even pureed.

You can learn more about the good reasons to include vegetables in your dog’s diet by checking out this One Green Planet article, here!

Image Source: Oscar Vikman/Flickr